Original Article from: The Orange County Register
How many different ways can you watch a movie in a theme park?
With screens that wrap around you and seats that jiggle and shake in every direction imaginable, theaters in theme parks aren’t anything like the darkened boxes in your local multiplex. And new types of movie theaters are on their way to theme parks.
Last week at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, I saw several companies offering new twists on movie theaters for theme parks looking for something different to offer visitors.
Theater attractions are appealing to parks because they often can be installed for far less than the cost of a roller coaster or dark ride, and they appeal to a wider range of visitors than less-expensive carnival spinner rides. Just look at the long lines of visitors who keep queuing to watch Soarin’ at Disney California Adventure.
Soarin’ creates the illusion of flying by positioning long benches of seats in the air in front of a giant, IMAX-style screen. Despite the illusion, those seats barely move once they’re raised into position, tilting gently in a few spots during the film. But some of the next generations of “flying theaters” offer a much wider range of motion … and the possibility for much wilder rides. These theaters behave a lot less like Soarin’ and more like Star Tours.
An Austrian company called DyMoRides was showing its line-up of flying theaters, which seat up to 120 people and are mounted on floors that can pitch, roll and heave while the film plays. In one version, visitors stand up in the theater, while on another, a drop ride component pushes the theater floor down during the show.
I can’t wait for that promo campaign: “Like Soarin’? Try Fallin’ next!”
These new-style flying theaters offer a big advantage over flight simulator rides such as Star Tours because they can play in larger theaters with much more impressive screens. And unlike many simulation types of attractions, you get to enjoy the social energy of watching the film with a big crowd, not just the six-to-eight people in a small ride vehicle.
Will we see one of these theaters in the United States? A DyMoRides spokesperson said the company is working on a “custom ride system for a classic flying theater” at a “leading Orlando theme park” to open next year.
That sounds a lot like the “Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon” flying theater ride slated for Universal Studios Florida next summer. That attraction promises to blend a fast-paced New York City travelogue with non-stop promotion for “The Tonight Show” and its host, which conveniently enough airs on Universal’s sibling TV network, NBC.
It’s not just a thrill ride – it’s corporate synergy!
Canada’s Dynamic Attractions won the IAAPA show’s Brass Ring Award for Best New Product Concept for its Dynamic Motion Theater, a mash-up of a tilting, rotating theater floor and a 360-degree theater with sliding screens and practical stage sets for live performances.
To translate this for Disney fans, imagine the old Carousel of Progress, but inverted. Instead of a moving theater circling a series of stages in the middle of the building, the theater would stand in the middle and turn to face the sets on the perimeter. Screens would block the view of upcoming scenes and be used to show filmed transitions from one live set piece to the next.
And, oh yeah, the whole time that theater floor will be bucking and twisting, amplifying the action seen on stage of screen in front of the audience.
With all that at their disposal, a theme park could pull off the old David Copperfield “Statue of Liberty vanishing trick,” playing with the audience’s assumptions about what they are facing, only to redirect them toward other sights.
Dynamic Attractions’ concept video featured a James Bond-like action thriller, in which audience members watched filmed high-speed chases that led them from one explosive live-action stunt to the next, as their theater rotated from set to set.
They haven’t sold the theater to any parks yet, but the company has established a history of building show and ride systems for Disney and Universal theme parks, so maybe we’ll see this latest generation of theme park theater coming to a local park in the next few years. After watching the demo, I certainly hope so.
Robert Niles is the founder and editor of ThemeParkInsider.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThemePark