Need a little vacation? There’s a flight that leaves Canada Place every half hour, and it will take you from west to east and back.
The IMAX theatre there went through a nearly $17-million conversion to become Vancouver’s newest attraction, FlyOver Canada. The virtual flight experience has been in the works for nearly three years, and opened just this summer. Shot last year using the latest in high definition digital technology, the film features footage from coast to coast during all four seasons of the year. The accompanying score was composed Andrea Wettstein of Six Degrees Music in Calgary, Alberta, and recorded by the Vancouver Film Orchestra. It’s a flight with minimal carbon footprint, too; the attraction is Bullfrog powered with clean, renewable energy.
Visitors at the gate jostle about excitedly, anxious to get a good seat, but the great news is, every spot is front row. First, comes the pre-show, Uplift, created by visual media company Moment Factory. Videos are projected on faceted walls: a man practising parkour vaults over the urban environment of Montreal; a girl and her father fly a kite across a prairie field; a climber conquers the Chief in Squamish; children play ice hockey on a frozen pond. Then, for the main event, sitting five abreast on one of three levels, you face a colossal 20-metre half-spherical screen. With everyone strapped in, it’s time for takeoff. The seats swoop forward and you’re suddenly soaring, a breeze through your hair, on an aerial cross-country journey. It’s a fully immersive and exhilarating ride: paddlers below you navigate the Riviere Rouge during falltime, framed by trees ablaze in colour; a sweet smell of hay is present as you fly high over cowboys herding cattle in near Strathmore, Alberta; taking the plunge down Niagara Falls, mist spraying at your dangling feet.
The film is short, but sweet, leaving you with a profound appreciation of the beauty right in our own backyard.