By Adam Carlson
March 28, 2013 at 06:55 PM EDT
Joe Cascio/Delaware North
  • Video Games

First, Angry Birds was a videogame for your phone. Then it was several videogames. Then it became a cartoon. Now it’s an attraction at the Kennedy Space Center.

Last week, the center unveiled “Angry Birds Space Encounter,” which is fully interactive and almost 5,000-square feet. It features six different stations and sees the game’s characters on a new adventure as they track their kidnapped eggs through a wormhole. This isn’t the first time that Rovio Entertainment, which develops the franchise, has worked on “location-based” spin-offs, but it is the first such one (all-ages, comprehensive) in the United States. Even better, said company execs: “Angry Birds Space Encounter” will actually teach kids about space.

“If children begin to play and are engaging in things and they’re excited about Kennedy as a whole, then they start thinking about space exploration and then everything that you need to do to be a part of a career in science and mathematics,” said Dan Mitchell, director of location-based entertainment for Rovio.

The Kennedy Center partnership came out ofRovio’s relationship with NASA — but all of that is just one piece of a much larger plan that hopefully ends with Angry Birds not just on your phone and TV or in your theme parks, but everywhere.

“It’s really about our continued march to a full life-cycle entertainment media company,” Mitchell said, “And much quicker than may have been done in many mainstream venues.”

Rovio’s partway there, with location-based attractions already open in places as far flung as Finland. Mitchell said there are between 10-20 inquires weekly along the lines of people saying, “Hey, I’m building a theme park. I’d like to do something here. Hey, we have this. Hey, there’s a cruise line. Hey, there’s a hotel.” There’s a feature film in the works, too.

But what makes these Birds so popular? It’s simple: They’re simple.

“Anecdotally you would hear stories about our game and grandparents playing with children and moms playing with kids,” Mitchell said. “And my wife and I used to — before I had a phone that could play the game, before I worked at Rovio — [fight saying], ‘Hey it’s my turn.’ ‘No it’s my turn.'”

Read more:

‘Angry Birds Toons’ set for global small-screen domination — VIDEO

Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards 2013: Your slime recap!

‘Croods’ Zoo: 9 Specious Species

  • Video Games
Complete Coverage