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Pacific Rim 5D Preview At Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

By on 02/08/2016

While I was at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this past weekend for a construction tour of The Joker, I was also fortunate enough to get a preview of the new Pacific Rim 5D Experience they will be running this year in their iWerks theater. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even know that SFDK had a theater. I sure didn’t. The theater was originally built in 1997 and showed a few 3D films until it was eventually closed in 2008 due to rising maintenance costs and an out of date control system.

On January 8, 2016 the park announced that it was bringing back the theater with an all-new Pacific Rim 5D ride experience. In partnership with Warner Bros., and from acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim 5D pairs the explosive special effects from the popular action-based science fiction film with a thrilling new ride simulation experience. The result is the world’s only motion-based “Pacific Rim”-themed ride attraction and the very first version of this film to be adapted as a ride in the U.S.

“Bringing in an intense, high-energy and popular movie like Pacific Rim to our Iwerks 5D Theater is a great addition to our thrill line-up. As Northern California’s most thrilling theme park, kids and adults alike will be blown away being part of the ground-shaking action.” – Don McCoy, SFDK Park President

I didn’t know the park had a theater because you can’t see it from the midway, and the path leading to it has been closed for years. Now you just follow the signs:

pacific rim 5d

Even when you’re standing right in front of the theater building, you still can’t really see it because the entire front is covered with tree logs, so it blends in with nature:

pacific rim 5d

The holding area just inside the entrance is where you get your 3D glasses:

pacific rim 5d

The second holding area is just outside the main theater. There are five doors, each for a different row of the theater:

pacific rim 5d

The monitors above each door play the pre-show, setting the stage for what you are about to see once you get inside the theater. Inspired by Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ sci-fi adventure “Pacific Rim,” the storyline follows monstrous creatures rising from the sea without warning, attacking cities and threatening mankind. In a unified show of force, the world’s most powerful nations have joined together and built massive robot fighting machines. When the rate of monster attacks suddenly increases, the inevitable showdown takes place. In a no holds barred brawl, the last standing robot fighter – Earth’s final weapon – must take on the biggest and baddest of the monsters.

Once the storyline setup is done, the doors open and you enter the theater. It seats about 100 people, spread across five rows of seats:

pacific rim 5d

These seats were awesome! You gotta kind of jump up into it, but it’s very comfy once you’re in it. Attach your seatbelt and you’re ready to rock and roll, literally. These seats have an incredible range of motion once the action starts:

pacific rim 5d

So here’s the bad news: I didn’t like it. First of all, we were told the front row was the best, so that’s where we sat. It was way too close and I had a really hard time telling what was what. The film was very dark, so everything on screen was blurry to me and the high-speed action didn’t help.

The other part I found very confusing and disorienting was the movement of the seats. Most motion simulators sync the seat to what you’re seeing on the screen, like a POV of a roller coaster, a plane ride, or a runaway mine train. However, we were just watching a fight sequence on the screen from a third-person point of view. I didn’t understand why my seat was moving. I think it was just moving for the sake of moving, but it didn’t make any sense.

Lastly, there was a lot of rain in the scenes that we were watching. Every now and then you’d feel a squirt of water, but it was very rare and did not sync up with the constant rain on screen. I’m not saying that I want to get soaked while watching the movie, but I’d rather not have anything as opposed to a small squirt here and there just for the sake of showing off the 4D effects. It was disruptive and distracted me from the rest of the experience.

Now these are just my opinions. Pacific Rim 5D wasn’t horrible and I did like getting thrown around in the chair. In the summer time, it’ll be a nice respite from the heat. I just think that they’d get more milage from a film that was specifically designed for a motion simulator. This felt like they were trying to force a square peg into a round hole by designing the experience around existing movie footage.

However, as you can see, I did leave the theater with a smile on my face:

pacific rim 5d

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9 Comments

  1. Sean Verheijen

    02/08/2016 at 5:01 pm

    The reason the seats were randomly moving is because it’s still in the soft-opened stage. They’re showing a sequence from the movie currently, once the attraction officially opens they will run the specialized video made for the movement of the seats.

    • The Coaster Guy

      02/08/2016 at 9:28 pm

      So you’re saying that the video being played right now is not the video that will ultimately be used? Then what’s the purpose of the soft opening? That’s usually when they try to work put any unforeseen kinks. If they don’t even have the actual video, then what’s the point?

  2. tina

    02/08/2016 at 5:43 pm

    so is it open to the public now or will it be opening on a later date?

  3. Steve Austin

    02/08/2016 at 9:00 pm

    Perhaps they are still getting it all synced together and working out the bugs. Let’s hope.

  4. Pingback: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Trip Report For 6 Feb 2016 - The Coaster Guy

  5. Sarah Lockett

    02/14/2016 at 7:32 pm

    I agree with you. I disliked this experience. What’s the point of watching a scene from the film from a third person point of view? This makes the movement make NO SENSE. Very very lame. Also, the film footage was grainy and very poor quality.

  6. Evelyn B

    04/02/2016 at 5:20 pm

    I just tried this for the first time today (4/2), and I totally agree with you. The seat motion was random, the movie seemed out of focus, the rain was random, and it was odd it didn’t really make us part of the action, we were just watching this battle & the 3D pretty much did nothing. I wish they’d build an indoor coaster like Flight of Fear there instead.

  7. Andrea

    05/31/2016 at 7:26 pm

    This is so spot on! My bf and I went on this yesterday and everything you mentioned is still relevant. The water squirts felt like spit. In fact, my bf thought I had spit on him! Ha! It would have been far better if we were seeing it from the POV of the Jaeger.

    Also, the “instructions” we were to have received in the queue were basically the long trailer for the film. No instructions, just back story.

    I feel like it could be really cool, but it needs more fine tuning.

  8. Laura

    09/18/2016 at 3:06 pm

    Stumbled across this “5D” movie experience while at the park this last weekend and found it to be disappointing. First they left people to build up in a room, with no attendant, video, or even a count down clock to know how long we would be waiting for something to happen. Finally a girl came out and told us to go through the door and “pick a line”. The back story video played and they opened the theatre doors. We all filed in, sat down, and strapped in, and what we watched was not good.
    We had the same experience as most here with the slightly confusing images and seat movement and water spray that felt completely removed from what was on screen. The worst part was they never even bothered handing out the glasses! What?!?!
    If they’re going to run this ride/experience so badly they may be better off just shutting it down until they come up with a better idea.

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