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National Aquarium's 4D Immersion Theater

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The Bottom Line

Late in 2007, the National Aquarium in Baltimore converted its auditorium into a 4D Immersion Theater showing short 3D films with the added experience of special sensory effects such as mist, scents and wind.

Pros
  • Fun experience
  • Short duration (20 minutes) doesn't take away from touring time
Cons
  • Costs $3-4 extra

Guide Review - National Aquarium's 4D Immersion Theater

The conversion of the National Aquarium's auditorium into a 4D Immersion Theater gives visitors the opportunity to package one more experience into a day at the Inner Harbor attraction. I found the show to be a lot of fun as a novelty, though it could -- and likely will -- get a little fine-tuning as the offering evolves.

The show adds $3-$4 (the lower price if you've opted for the dolphin show as well) to your Aquarium admission. (Unlike the dolphin show, the Immersion Theater is not free for members.)

So, is it worth the extra dough? I'd say yes, given that it's only a nominal fee. And since the show is only 20 minutes it doesn't interfere with what you came for in the first place: A fun and intriguing "visit" to the underwater landscape.

The Aquarium's inaugural screening, The Polar Express, picked some of the best bits from the feature film -- such as the hot chocolate dance (though I thought the hot chocolate scent was a tad funky and unappetizing), the wind-whipping rollercoaster ride over the crumbling ice field and the ever-present rumbling of the title locomotive -- and brought them to a new level with physical stimuluii.

Added sensory effects included very realistic snow (though don't stick out your tongue to catch it; others in my party reported it tasted like soap), pine-scented bubbles, sprays of ice/mist and a big thump in the back of your seat. All of it was sychonized to perfection to give the viewer the feeling of actually being there.

While The Polar Express is not very scientific, upcoming 4D shows are more in line with the Aquarium's conservation and educational mission. For instance, the second show for the new theater is Plant Earth: Shallow Seas.

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