Friday, September 20, 2013

Flyover Canada really takes off

IMAX move over, let Flyover take over.

If you are one of those who remember the very first IMAX film way back in 1971, you'll get it. For those who don't, well, let's just say if you missed the PNE, this might make up for some of the rides you didn't get to experience on the midway.

The "hangar"...all set to fly us across Canada
But this experience will be much more memorable, I assure you.

When IMAX first came out, and the movie North of Superior was playing at the Omni-theatre at Ontario Place, there was a buzz about it that it was like "being in a plane" while it was flying down a canyon, or it was like "being in a canoe as you flipped in the rapids."

I'll admit, there was a little bit of that element to it - but it was nothing like the Flyover experience I enjoyed at Canada Place in Vancouver earlier this week.

If you have ever wanted to experience extreme flying - without really flying - this is the place to do it.

The experience lasts about half an hour, spread through three segments.

In the first segment, we stood in darkened room with a more-or-less circular 360 degree movie screen around us, with Surround Sound and a constant collage-barrage of moving images flashing up on the screen.
Getting some pre-flight boarding instructions

After about five to 10 minutes of that, we're ushered into the "pre-boarding" area, we line up and watch a short video about safety and procedures on the "flight" we're soon to embark upon.

Then we file into the "flight room" and we're strapped into seats for "takeoff." The "flight attendant" has you tuck any carry-ons into the storage bin underneath your seat.

It was at this point the smart-ass in me could not resist asking, "When do you come around with drinks and snacks?"

I probably wasn't the first to ask, and probably will not be the last. She just smiled and laughed, saying, "Enjoy the flight."

You really do need to belted in, as the seats literally do lift up in the air. The screen opens up and suddenly you're "flying."

Our "flight crew" ready to serve us.
The seats bank and dive and climb as the camera pans around the vistas, which are from all over Canada, and took a year to film.

You even feel the mist from a cloud as you fly through it, the spray from rapids as you zoom down a river canyon. 

I'm not being poetic or colourful - there is a machine that is actually co-ordinated to spray you at the appropriate times throughout the film.

Up and down the mountains, across the prairies (where you can literally smell the flax seed), down rivers, past the CN Tower, along the seashore, flying above eagles soaring through mountain passes.

Hope I meet the height qualifications!
I felt myself grabbing the seat arms more than once during a steep climb or bank. At one point, the woman sitting next to me said, "Is it okay to scream?" I think she was only being semi-facetious.

All too soon, we're done our ride and the seats settle back into place as we prepare to disembark.

As we exit, I hear a horn blowing from one of the cruise ships docked at the Canada Place terminal, and for just a moment, I think, "I hope I my ship hasn't sailed without me..." before snapping back to reality and realizing I'm in a souvenir shop at the end of a virtual journey, not making an air-to-sea connection.

Before I even get a chance to look at the souvenirs available for purchase, my mind is already thinking:

Where do I get another "boarding pass...?"

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