What can fans expect from parks' next generation of moving theaters?

November 25, 2016, 2:13 PM · Screen-based attractions take a lot of grief from theme park fans active on social media. But when it comes to the metrics that really matter — cost, attendance, and guest satisfaction — screen attractions in unique theater environments deliver for the parks that install them. Have you seen how many people queue for and rave about Soarin'?

That's why I saw so many companies offering flying theaters and other, similar installations at the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando earlier this month. In my Orange County Register column this week, I highlight two of the new products getting parks' attention at IAAPA: the Flying Theater from DyMoRides and a Motion Theater from Dynamic Attractions.

DyMoRides is widely believed to be developing the Flying Theater for Universal Studios Florida's Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. And Dynamic Attractions boasts an impressive client line-up, having worked on ride systems for Universal's Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Disney's Soarin'.

The Dynamic Attractions' Motion Theater — which hasn't been attached to any specific park installations yet — was one of my favorite demonstrations at the Expo. With a moving, rotating theater platform, sliding screens and practical sets, the Motion Theater supports the best of screen and live performances, while creating opportunities for some truly fascinating visual tricks. Applied to the right IP, it has the potential to support a top-rated in-park theater experience.

Read Robert's column:

What's your favorite all-time movie theater experience in a theme park? And what do you think of this next generation of flying and moving theaters?

Replies (18)

November 25, 2016 at 4:15 PM · I have never said that movie screens have NO place in theme parks. Heck Walt even put in Circle Vision 360. What I hate is that screens have become the cheap go to for parks these days. Universal is by far the worst offender. They have gotten to a point that I am not interested in visiting their parks anymore.
November 25, 2016 at 6:44 PM · I really got to say, the screens is one of the reasons why I greatly dislike Harry Potter. I think it looks like the park is cutting corners and really is not pushing the theme park attraction forward. It was fun with Spiderman, but its getting really old now!
November 25, 2016 at 7:41 PM ·
November 25, 2016 at 9:12 PM · Moving theatres remind me of Honey I Shrunk The Audience. It's watching movies on a motion base. The video shows a minor upgrade. It isn't enough to base an attraction. They are hard to update when the movie is outdated. A motion base movie ride is very much embodied in Epcot's Universe of Energy, which is going away for good.
November 25, 2016 at 10:22 PM · There's nothing wrong with screen based rides as long as a theme park has a well balanced lineup of attractions. SFMM has the problem of too many rollercoasters so the Justice League dark ride will be a welcome addition over there. On the other hand the last thing USH needs is yet another screen based ride.
November 25, 2016 at 10:31 PM · I think that this would be a good ride system for the secret life of pets attraction that Universal is developing.
November 25, 2016 at 11:26 PM · It certainly looks like designers are trying to blend the elements of a ride with the elements of a show, and while I think the concept is neat I'm not sure if the attractions will have as much appeal among general audiences. Using the Dynamic Motion Theater as an example, if it is promoted as a show, those who can't do motion may not enjoy it, and if it is promoted as a ride, those expecting a motion simulator may be underwhelmed (personally, I classify it as the latter). I really think attractions like this are much better for standalone experiences outside of the theme park environment, while theme parks should stick to attractions that can be clearly defined as rides or shows. When it comes to screens in theme parks, I am not against it, I just think some parks (particularly Universal) are too reliant on them, and a proper theme park should have a balance of attractions rather than several similar rides with different themes.

As for my favorite theme park movie theater attraction, I'd probably have to go with Cinemagique at Walt Disney Studios Paris. It's a basic movie attraction, but the film itself is quite good. If you have to include a ride component, the original Soarin' Over California wins.

November 26, 2016 at 12:18 AM · As others have noted, screens have become a crutch for Universal. I don't know about the potential of "moving theatres", but every new ride these days is screen-based. A theme park is not a souped-up movie theatre.

The funny thing is that they haven't even topped their first 3D ride, Spider-Man, despite technological advances.

November 26, 2016 at 2:16 AM · My favorite:
November 26, 2016 at 7:02 AM · I don't think screen based attractions had such a bad rap, until Gringott's Coaster. Spider-man, Transformers, and Forbidden Journey all relied on screens, and generally got nothing but praise. I think that's because the screen based visuals were integrated into the movement of the rides.
But when it got to Gringotts, you had a such a beautifully themed stand-by line, with a fully immersive setting that makes you feel like you are in the movie, and then you board a fun coaster, that stops every so often to look at screens of people shouting at you. Then they did King Kong, which seems to have similar backlash. You move along, in order to stop, to watch action on screens.

Theatre based attractions are a bit of a different beast. You already go in, planning to be static. The more effective the attraction experience, the more you feel like you're not being static - Minion Mayhem, Soarin', Terminator 3D, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids were at their best when the theatre effects made you feel like you were actually moving within the confines of the theatre.
So, in my humble opinion, if you want to put screens to enhance a moving ride, don't make people stop to watch them. If you want to make people feel like they're moving within the confines of the theatre, do it well, and people will love it.

November 26, 2016 at 8:44 AM · Seth Kubersky of Touring Plans.com & author of Unofficial Universal & Disney books, just confirmed the Dymo Rides theater for Fallon in an answer to one of my posts on Orlando United. Seth said he spoke privately to the Dymo Rides spokesman and the spokesman confirmed that Dymo Rides theater was for Fallon, Race Through New York. However, it is a customized version for Universal and Dymo Rides will not be doing the installation.....Confirmation of Mr. Niles speculation in his Orange County Register column.
November 26, 2016 at 8:52 AM · By the way, the problem I have with Kong is that it relies on almost the exact same screens as its Hollywood counterpart. The difference in Hollywood is that its put there for necessity and in a tight place. USO could have done anything, but just relied on the same tram tour scene.
November 26, 2016 at 2:43 PM · For me, a screen's best use is for set extensions or environmental effects. I still remember how the rural farm set of Twister just ...blew me away (pun intended).

Seriously, you're inside a show building at 1pm on a 100 degree day, standing on the porch of an Oklahoma or Kansas farmhouse on a cool Autumn evening. No practical set could do what a screen can, when it comes to making you feel like you're there. That attraction required you to be outdoors in the dust bowl. New York building facades aren't going to cut it.

I don't want all the action taking place on a screen, and my Twister example is kind of a unique case, but I do think they can serve a purpose when used sparingly.

Ultimately, I agree with everyone that Universal has become too reliant on screen-based attractions, and I hope they change course soon, because people WILL become tired of it.

November 26, 2016 at 11:48 AM · I don't consider Forbidden Journey to be a "screen-based" attraction. It offers so much more than that. And it makes great use of the Kuka arm. It's a perfect hybrid of a thrill ride and dark ride, with screens at the end.
November 26, 2016 at 2:55 PM · I don't get the Dynamic Motions Theater, it's just a giant revolving platform, where do you move like that in real life? Also Minions and Simpsons are just motion bases in front of a big screen, they are not true simulators. I consider Star Tours a true simulator, because the screen is integrated into the vehicle, so the illusion is that you're looking out of a window in a vehicle, not just wiggling in front of a screen.
November 27, 2016 at 12:23 AM · I think forbidden journey is a great ride, except for the screens. For me those sections take me out of the reality of the environment and remind me "It's only a moooovieee".

Screens can be effective if used properly, but also can easily become standard movieplex fare. The Jimmy Fallon ride will be exactly that.

November 27, 2016 at 5:07 PM · That's a good point, Disfan. It does feel as if you were looking out of the windshield of the vehicle in which you are riding.

Have you ever tried sitting in the back seats on Star Tours? The motion is much stronger, more pronounced than in the front. It really feels like you're part of the action on screen.

November 30, 2016 at 7:48 AM · So how can the effects on FJ or Fallon be accomplished without screeens? Flying around Hogwarts in a limited space without screeens is possible? Don't think so. Kong ride with a WWA fight of dinosaurs without screens is possible? Nah.

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