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3-D 'Time Escape' at Chicago's Navy Pier


Written by: Ross Anthony
Date: January 2003

Next time you're in Chicago checking out a "Big Movie" at the Navy Pier theater, BMZ Reviewer Ross Anthony suggests you might want to try out their 3D ridefilm -- if they lower the price!


Category: Stories

While visiting Chicago and its fun Navy Pier (which btw, has a huge warm indoor component), my family and I decided to give the 3-D thrill ride "Time Escape" a go.

It's free to get into the building, which hosts more attractions/restaurants than any one family can do in a day; however, you'll end up paying a pretty penny for parking ($17 plus). The building also doesn't seem quite so ready for the crowds it attracts. Maneuvering, at times shoulder to shoulder, through some of the hallways could get pretty frustrating.

We stop at the "Time Escape," and are told the next ride will start in 15 minutes. We're encouraged to buy our tickets right then -- otherwise we can't be guaranteed seats. So we do. $9 for adults/ $8 for kids. 15 minutes turn into 25 minutes, and we are finally let on the ride. Btw, there's a count down to the next ride on the digital display, which is also not accurate.

Once "in," we're given orientation by a TV monitor army general who's upset that a robot will be piloting our flight. The robot is on display, showing off limited movement and barking like a C3P0 knock off. (Kids might like it -- I wasn't impressed.)

Next, we're shuffled off to a room to sit and watch on three smallish screens, some sepia footage of the World's Fair 1933, the great Chicago fire of 1871, and then even further back in time, a T-Rex attacks our ship. The 3-D and colors are all low-grade, but there's still something compelling about them. In short order, we need to shuffle off into individual "pods" to escape. This is where the "real" ride begins.

Here the seats of the pods are hydraulically manipulated sync'ing perfectly with the motion in the visual. While the sync is smashing, the graphics resolution is quite low as we speed above and about the windy city in the 24th century. Something akin to what Anakin and Obi-wan might have experienced in that early metro-vertical traffic action scene in "Attack of the Clones," but in profoundly poorer resolution. Though visually disappointing, the ride part is quite fun. In short order, we crash land safely and are shuffled back into daylight.

Of course, greater resolution would have helped the visuals; additionally, a deeper sense of history could have improved the presentation, rather than the small sampling of events offered. Perhaps, worth a look at half the price (or less), but at nearly $10 the dollar/entertainment ratio can't compete with other attractions.


Copyright (C) 2003.

Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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