The 4D Theater at the Downtown Aquarium Puts You in the Movie

The new 4D theater at the Downtown Aquarium.
The new 4D theater at the Downtown Aquarium.
Jamie Swinnerton

We all understand the idea of 3D: When you wear funny glasses, it looks like something is jumping off the screen at you. But the Downtown Aquarium is taking the concept one step beyond, with its new 4D theater. Along with the 3D glasses, movie-goers are treated to smells, splashes of water, bubbles, flashing lights and heavy gusts of wind -- all timed to coincide with the adventures on the screen.

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The aquarium already had a theater, but as Chad Ashley, the facility's general manager, explains: "This is an updated version of that same style." While the old theater played six-minute movies, the new, forty-seat theater plays fifteen-minute movies, complete with sensory stimulators. You still wear 3D glasses, but those stimulators add other sensory impressions. When the theater opened on Christmas Eve, for example, a showing of The Polar Express included the smell of hot chocolate.

The two movies currently being screened in the 4D theater are Spongebob Squarepants, the Great Jelly Rescue and Planet Earth: Shallow Seas. Keep your cell phone in your pocket, since both shows involve spraying the audience with water and bubbles.

Sit in the middle seat for the best experience, the staffer at the door advises. And small children might need to sit on a parent's lap in order to see the screen -- but the movie works for any age. "That's the great part of this theater," Ashley says. "No restrictions."

You do not need to pay admission to the aquarium to go to the 4D theater, and included in the $6.95 theater ticket is your choice of two of the following: Stingray Fish Food, Coconut Tree Climb, Face Painting or a Small Soda. The theater is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day the aquarium is open.

For more information, go to the Downtown Aquarium website.


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