We were invited to a screening of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at a movie theater featuring new 4D technology you may have heard of. 4DX adds in-theater effects to the more traditional movie theater experience helping the movie leap off the screen.
Each theater has 20 different kinds of effects that range from strobe lights, to wind machines, to the infamous ‘snoap’ blowers. The effects extend to the chairs you’re sitting on as well.
Each bank of four chairs is on a motion platform that tilts in a wide range of motion, there are various actions built into the chair itself that help punctuate what you see on the screen with a real world element. One of the big innovations in the 4DX system is how quiet the system and movements are.
In ‘Solo’ this works out into what Disney fans may think of as a 2 hour and 15 minute Star Tours attraction. Like in Star Tours, the experience is at its best when the POV of the movie is first or third person and your chair movements are matched with what you see on screen. In those moments, it really does connect you to the action in an entirely unique way. When the action is filmed at a distance (such as the Millennium Falcon soaring across the screen), the direct connection isn’t as strong.
This was my first visit to a 4DX movie, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The first time some of the effects were used were quiet a surprise and even had the effect of taking me out of the film a bit, but by the end of the movie, I was ready when they were activated and it actually added to the experience. I get the feeling that the more movies you see in 4DX the more you appreciate the experience.
Here is a sample of what 4DX seat action looked like for the ‘Solo’ feature trailer. It’s 360 degree, so feel free to pivot around with your mouse:
The 4DX theater does come with a few safety guidelines. Be sure to read the posted rules before entering the theater. Some of the key ones are a 3 1/2 feet tall minimum and lap seating is not permitted. The guidelines also cautions you against bringing valuables into the theater. So you may want to store those at home. Eating or drinking while your seat moves around could prove to be challenging and even dangerous if you’re drinking hot coffee or tea. Lastly, there will be wind effects and water effects, so don’t wear anything that is easily ruined by either.
My complaint has less to do with the 4DX elements themselves, but with the general discomfort of the seat. First, the seat felt a little slippery and at times I felt a seatbelt was in order to keep me from sliding off of it. Worse, after about 30 minutes of sitting in the seat (aka, just about the time the previews were over) it became so uncomfortable that much of my attention was focused on how hard the seat was instead of what was on screen.
The uncomfortable seats was the only complaint I heard from other patrons as well. They loved the ride and the movie, but wished for the comfort of more traditional movie seats.
If you’re looking for a movie experience that goes beyond what you find at a normal experience – you should check out 4DX and find out what makes it a great 4D movie experience.