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Dungeons and Dragons tavern, adventure castle proposed for Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva is the birthplace of the now famous Dungeons and Dragons fantasy game, where players create a role playing adventure.

Now, Daniel Colwell wants to take the fantasy game to the next level by creating Griffin & Gargoyle Tavern, an immersive themed restaurant and amusement center in Lake Geneva.

Colwell, a senior manager at Lake Geneva’s Emagine theater, said he started developing the idea a few years ago. When the theater temporarily shut down due to COVID restrictions in 2020, that is when Colwell really had time to start working out the details.

The plan is to create a 32,000 square foot immersive experience on part of the vacant land near the Emagine theater on Highway 120, just north of Downtown Lake Geneva.

He is currently working with investors and is also considering possibly doing some crowdfunding to allow more people to invest in the project.

Ideally, he would like to break ground this spring and open by spring 2024 – in time for the 50th anniversary of the creation of Dungeons and Dragons.

But there is a lot of work that needs to be done first before the project can become reality, including getting building permits and other approvals for the project.

When built, the fantasy land would include a restaurant as well as an ax-throwing area in the lower level, gift shop and game playing rooms.

The servers would all be in character and encourage guests to play along, Colwell said. Some visitors may dress up in fantasy garb, while others may come more as spectators, Colwell said.

In addition, he envisions a special events space where people could have outdoor weddings.

“Our vision is to provide a unique space wherein our customers’ have the freedom to step out of themselves and share in creative, interactive, and collaborative experiences,” the website for Griffin & Gargoyle explains.

In recent years thanks to franchises like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things, the genre of fantasy has evolved from a niche interest to full-fledged economic market, Colwell states on the Griffin & Gargoyle website.

Companies like Disney and Universal Studios have built immersive environments.

“In Griffin & Gargoyle we are presenting a new model for small scale entry into this lucrative market. Serving as one part cultural tourism and one part fandom celebration, The Griffin & Gargoyle can use this platform to build a greater appreciation for group storytelling, build empathy through the freedom of role-play, and unlock the imagination as our customers participate in this inclusive and fantastical environment,” the site explains.

The fantasy restaurant would include wooden tables and extensive otherworldly décor. The wizard’s antiquity shop would be called Curated Curiosities and would include an ever-changing variety of items for adventurers including clothing and other hand-made artifacts. And up a narrow staircase from the tavern will lie the hidden Gnome Alchemist, where adventurers will be met with rainbow colored concoctions, including some bubbling and smoking.

As the website says, “You never know what will happen as you enjoy this unique space and magical interactions between our colorful cast of characters and our patrons. Sit back and lose yourself in the enchanting environment.”

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