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Walmart Hosts Y2K-Themed Parking-Lot Parties This Summer

The 33-city “Summer Rewind” tour kicks off Aug. 18, bringing shoppers nostalgic experiences reminiscent of the early 2000s and how Walmart stores were then.
walmart summer rewind

Walmart is embarking on a 33-city “Summer Rewind” tour to bring shoppers across the U.S. interactive experiences reminiscent of the early 2000s.

On Aug. 18 in Austin, Texas, Walmart will kick off the parking-lot tour by debuting a temporary outdoor installation, or a “playground for grownups,” that allows shoppers to experience its stores the way they wanted to as a kid, according to a recent company blog post.  

“Whether it’s jumping into that famous Walmart ball cage or opening the freezer doors to snack on sweet treats, Summer Rewind gives our customers the chance to do all the things they were never allowed to do as kids — right from their local store parking lot,” the blog post communicated.

Attendees enter the experience, which the retailer calls “peak Walmart Y2K nostalgia,” by walking through an oversized smiley face reminiscent of Walmart’s “OG emoji,” per the release. Walmart’s Smiley icon originated as a marketing prop in the form of a sticker doled out to “lil shoppers” in the early '90s, before becoming the face of rollbacks in '96 then mostly going away after 2006. The Smiley returned in 2016 to signify low prices.

Attendees can partake in various throwback activities, such as climbing into Walmart’s “forbidden ball cage” (something the retailer says most children dreamt about back in the day), winning a surprise from a Walmart vending machine, or walking into a freezer “speakeasy” stocking a colorful collection of frozen summer treats.

In addition, customers can also climb into a large toy box for a photo op, play with an oversized Lite Brite installation and contribute to a giant “spin art” paint project.

Over the next several weeks, the Y2K experience will make stops in multiple cities, including Fort Worth, Texas; Norwich, Connecticut; Rogers, Arkansas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Mesa, Arizona. A dedicated microsite ( offers the event’s full details and locations. 

[Also Read: Walmart Dreams Up Socially Distanced Experiences]

This isn’t Walmart’s first time throwing events in its parking lots. In 2020, Walmart partnered with Tribeca Enterprises to temporarily turn 160 of its U.S. store parking lots into contact-free drive-in movie theaters as the COVID-19 pandemic called for social distancing. It also launched a back-to-school-themed Homecoming concert series as well as Walmart Free Skate, which celebrated students and the start of the school year, among other contact-free experiences.

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