The Adventure Theater (also known as Cinema 180) was an attraction found in many amusement and theme parks in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The simple tent-style structure could be built just about anywhere and offered a family oriented sensory experience.
Just as parks across the country and around the world had installed these theaters in the time frame, they were removed or turned into other attractions by parks throughout the 1990's. Like many parks Great Adventure converted the theater for other uses, and eventually removed the structure to make way for newer and more exciting attractions.
|The Adventure Theater
was added to the park for the 1980 season along with the Buccaneer,
taking the place of the Grand Prix ride. The Adventure Theater was a
tent-type structure with a steel frame with a canvas roof.
The interior of the building featured a wraparound screen stretching 180 degrees side to side, and from the floor to the peak of the roof. The screen was made of a canvas material which was held in place with a vacuum, which pulled the screen taught. The vacuum was created with a blower at the rear of the building which constantly pulled the air out of the space between the screen and the tent structure. When the motor was turned off, the screen would sag into the building's viewing area.
The viewing area in the theater was a simple flat concrete floor covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting, and guests were required to stand for the duration of the 10 minute film. There was an aluminum railing at the front keeping guests from touching the screen.
In the rear of the theater was the projection
booth, which was a large steel box with a window in the front for the
projector. The projector was a standard Simplex 70 millimeter fitted
with a special anamorphic lens which was designed to match the
proportions of the screen and surround the audience.
The film itself ran in a reel to reel setup, with the projectionist needing to rewind the film between showings. The projection booth featured a rewinding bench which made quick work of the process, but would often damage the ends of the film over the course of the season, making the film shorter with more abrupt opening and closing scenes. Adding to that was the lack of any dimmer switch for the house lights which would abruptly turn off at the start of the film and end of the film.
The exterior of the theater featured twin queue lines covered with a pergola for shade. Generally only one side of the queue was used to minimize staffing, with the left side doors being used as an entrance and the right side doors as the exit. In later years as the theater lost its popularity, a single employee ran the entire facility as both usher and projectionist. Film ran continuously from noon until evening, approximately every 15 to 20 minutes depending on staffing and the size of the crowds in the park.
One of the main draws of the theater was as an escape from the heat of the summer day. The air-conditioning system kept the theater nice and cool and offered a 15 minute break the whole family could enjoy with mild thrills. With the vacuum system used to hold the screen in place, the air was constantly circulated, enhancing the cooling provided by the twin air-conditioning units.
The films shown in the Adventure Theater were variations of thrill ride films, usually featuring planes flying through canyons, car chases and roller coasters. Generally there was little to no storyline, just a series of spectacular sequences which created a sense of motion for the audience as the scenery wrapped around them.
|With the introduction of The Right Stuff across the park, the 1994 season was the final year for the Adventure Theater presenting films, with a meet & greet called "Backstage with the Looney Tunes" utilizing the building in 1995 and 1996. The building then sat dark for two more seasons before being removed in the 1998-99 off season to make way for Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train in spring of 1999.
|SHOWS AT THE ADVENTURE THEATER THROUGH THE YEARS
1997 & 1998
THEATER DARK -
|Published: July 15, 2008; Updated: August 29, 2016