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My first IMAX experience

at The Grove, Pretoria

· Lifestyle
What I knew about IMAX
I was very excited when I heard that a group of us were going to see Jurassic World in 3D at the IMAX Ster Kinekor at The Grove in Pretoria! A road trip AND a cool new movie experience.
I didn't know anything about IMAX, I'd never been before. I did some research (as I usually do with everything) but there were mixed opinions. Some people were saying that it's not noticeably different from a regular movie, some were saying that it's amazing. So I didn't really know what to expect going in to it. I couldn't find reviews on the seating or anything. So here I am to tell you about my experience. 
The cinema complex
First of all, The Grove has the smallest entrance area of any cinema I've ever visited! It was crazily congested, there were extremely long queues for people who needed to get their tickets (pre-booked and those who hadn't booked yet), the refreshment queues were even worse and they were moving SO slowly. All around me, people were complaining and shaking their heads. It was CHAOS. 
IMAX alone seats 296 people, then there are also two Prestige cinemas, as well as the regular cinemas. In total, Jurassic World was showing on IMAX, both Prestiges as well as one of the regular. So picture all those people in one tiny space, fighting to try get their tickets and refreshments in time. The whole process took about 40 minutes, just to get our popcorn, drinks and tickets. It was a nightmare.
The experience
We finally passed through all the chaos and picked up our special IMAX 3D glasses as we walked into the cinema room. The first thing I noticed was that it was a large, curved screen. Not as big as I was expecting, but still a great size. Along the walls was "IMAX" in large, glowing-blue letters. The room looked very slick and high tech. 
We got to our chairs and I immediately noticed they weren't your regular uncomfortable cinema chairs. They are slanted backwards slightly so you're in a much more comfortable position. They are also wider and a lot more comfortable (not as awesome as Prestige though). I also noticed that I had a perfect view of the screen (I was sitting in the centre).
We were asked to put on our glasses, then Ster Kinekor showed a little intro display welcoming us to IMAX and showing us some of the cool effects and the power of IMAX. Effects were popping out of the screen and coming at me and it literally looked like I could reach out and touch them, they came right up to my face. They also showcased the amazing sound effects, which surrounded the room. I was oooh-ing and aaah-ing and constantly turning to smile at my friend and express my amazement ;) I really thought it was so cool.
During the movie I definitely noticed a difference. It was extremely vivid, clear and sharp. I also noticed small details that I wouldn't generally notice, like a character's necklace and little elements like that. The sound enveloped us and it really helped me to completely get lost in the movie. My only issue is that I kept having to take off the glasses or move their position, because they were hurting my ears. 
If I thought getting into the cinema was a nightmare, getting out was just as bad. It had all the qualities to develop into a fully blown stampede. People pushing and trying to get out, people knocking through other people who were in the refreshment queues (and those people also moaning and groaning). Moving baby steps, trying to shuffle forward. I am not even exaggerating at all.
Is it worth it?
I would definitely go back. With the Vitality discount it really makes it worth it. I don't think I would pay R110 without the discount though. I enjoyed it and it's definitely cool for action-packed, blockbuster movies. San Andreas will be awesome in IMAX and I would recommend it :) And as I've already mentioned, Jurassic World was INCREDIBLE there (the movie and the experience). You just need to go extra early to beat the queues and have patience to deal with the chaos and disorder that is Ster Kinekor The Grove! I think that alone might encourage me to rather go to a Prestige at a different cinema.
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