What are the differences between simulators, flying theaters and motion base rides?

December 24, 2016, 12:02 AM

Theme parks, ride manufacturers, and fans use a lot of different terms to describe thrill rides that move you around while you watch a show in a theme park. But for a casual fan, it can be confusing trying to understand which experience corresponds to which term.

So let's try to figure it out. Feel free to crowdsource this in the comments if you think you can explain it better.

4D Theater: Your seat moves, but everything else in the theater, including the screen, remains stationary. (Example: Shrek 4D)

Flying Theater: The seats move, not individually, but together as one unit, mounted on a gimbal or some other "motion simulator" mechanism. However, the screen (or stage) remains stationary and does not move along with the theater floor. (Soarin')

Simulator: The theater floor moves as in a Flying Theater, however, the screen is mounted onto the moving floor so that the entire theater moves together as one. (Star Tours)

Motion Base Ride: Each ride vehicle is mounted on a moving base, like a simulator or flying theater. However the ride vehicle moves through some space instead of remaining in a fixed place. (Transformers)

How's that? Once we've nailed this down, I will go back into our attraction listings and reclassify the relevant attractions with our preferred terms.

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