In 2009 it's a totally Refurbished Experience!.
I went to visit the renowned Alaska Experience Theatre during Iditarod 2009, and can tell you that I didn't recognize anything of what Wolfbreed had to deal with back in 2006!!! I asked around and found the obvious answer...the cinema has moved and is under new management. Alaska Experience Theatre was bought by the owner of the up and coming 4th Ave Marketplace on Anchorage's historic 4th Avenue and moved there from its old dilapidated location. Hence it was in nice surroundings, with extremely helpful and friendly staff set in the midst of the Iditarod festivities that I sat down to watch "Alaska The Great Land" in the 90 seat IMAX theatre, free popcorn an'all...Sure, the film is maturing, but must have touched it up considerably since 2006 - the aerial shots made me feel like I was on the plane, skirting the treetops above the Majestic landscape, and audiences who might not be of the Jack London ilk here have a chance to experience all the wild life, the nature and freshness that is Alaska!
The Earthquake movie in the small 30 seat theatre was very enlightening. We always hear about the San Fransisco Earthquake, but the AK one was much bigger, and there was very little infrastructure to deal with the aftermath? Yet, locals stuck together and through slow heroism cleared the rubble and rebuilt their town... There is an evocative pictorial exhibition of what the 9.1 Earthquake did to 4th Ave - in fact, now the movie is housed in its true home, right ON THE FAULT of the quake! This was a thought that sent shivers through my spine as much as the shaking chairs ( no chewing gum or rubble in sight underneath, by the way, everything is spick and span, I felt completely safe, but shaken)
After the movies were over, I benefitted from the stimulus discount combo price... I strolled around the place browsing the market and the lovely permanent exhibit of Macketanz Prints - the only complete collection on public display I am told. Underrated and Highly recommended!
Do Not Attend.
If you are planning on a thrilling IMax experience this is NOT the place for you. Yes it is on a 180 degree panoramic screen with surround sound, but thats only good if the movie itself isn't playing. This film was originally shot in 1981 and has since been re-copied and re-recorded literally to death. I find it sad and disturbing that the company who owns this theatre would not take the time or spend the money to remake the film entirely, yet they expect tourists to pay $7.99 a piece to see it.
The movie is horrible. The sound fades in and out, there are pops and scratches all over the film and it is so incredibly blurry that one is unable to distinguish even a quarter of the images displayed. Sadly people come from all over the world to view this presentation and find themselves disgusted with the lack of quality it presents.
But onward to their next presentation. The earthquake experience is...questionable, it really depends on you seeing it when they're quake platform is operational and even then it's a sad attempt at keeping something that is very old. One has to wonder when sitting on that thing if the chairs are going to fall through the floor and into the empty pit below, which is packed with very old garbage, bubble gum, candy bar wrappers and soda bottles that are so old they've changed colors. No offense but it kind of stinks in there from all the junk UNDER they're floor and I am surprised they don't have a rodent problem. The earthquake exhibit which is supposed to be the largest in Alaska is broken, and dillapadated. It almost looks as if the earthquake struck the exhibit portion of the building. (Of course it wasn't around then so who knows what natural disaster befell it.)
All in all the place is a mess, the floors are disgusting, the bathrooms explode on guests and nothing is very unique. My advice, buy the movies somewhere else, maybe on-line but don't waste your time in Alaska on these "experiences!"
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