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Amusement Parks: Dollywood’s Polar Express Creates “4D” Viewer Experience

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Two Digital Projection LIGHTNING 45 HD-3D Projectors are Bringing the Polar Express Holiday Experience to Life in a Dazzling “4-D” Display. The 3D projection is so realistic we’ve had guests take off their 3D glasses thinking that the snow in the Polar Express 4D experience was being “blown into” the theater.   – Pete Owens, Dollywood Public Relations Manager

Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas celebration, which was named the best theme park Christmas event in the nation during the 2008 Golden Ticket Awards, is creating holiday magic this season with the debut of their Polar Express 4-D Experience.  As their first production in the newly upgraded theater, the Polar Express 4-D Experience has seen both unprecedented ticket demand and raving reviews from the viewing audience.

"We’re calling it 4-D because it combines the 3-D movie with motion seats and smells and a lot of other features that make this a really amazing addition to our Christmas celebration, " Dollywood Public Relations Manager Pete Owens says. "We spent about $1 million to basically gut the screen area and build a new, rounded screen plus install the best projection equipment in the industry."

In anticipation of presenting the future of digital cinema, the facility recently upgraded to a state-of-the-art 4D simulation theater.  Industry veterans Julian Angus and Shane Nichols served as consultants during the theater’s technological upgrades.  After comparing the image quality of the top projection manufacturers on the market, the two Digital Projection LIGHTNING 45 HD-3D projectors were selected because of their superb image quality and immersive 3D projection abilities.  "We’ve heard from people at parks all over the place and they’re telling us there’s no better 3-D in the world, " Dollywood Construction Manager Mike Teske says. "That’s not just us saying that."

The two LIGHTNING projectors are working in conjunction with an impressive technological lineup, including a 34 x 63 slightly curved screen that has been treated with a metallic 3D surface coating to enhance the 3-dimensional effect.  A Quvis cinema player serves as the video source, and Iwerks motion pods are creating the seated motion effects.  Each movement of each chair was meticulously programmed using the Iwerks motion pods and a joystick.  "This is a very unique thing, " says Julian Angus. "It’s a really good multisensory experience, and that’s what makes it so novel here."

Polar Express 4-D Experience viewers can expect a truly encompassing event, as they’ll smell the hot chocolate as the tap-dancing serving crew makes its way through the car and feel the wind rush past as the train bumps and lurches along it’s route.  "This Christmas, I’m inviting families to take a spectacular holiday journey where dreams become real, and everybody knows I dream bigger than just about anybody else, " says Dolly Parton. "On the Polar Express 4-D Experience, all you have to do is believe, and I sure do."

The Polar Express 4-D Experience is now open to the public and will run through January 3rd, 2009.  Operating hours and schedules for certain attractions at the park, like the popular stage shows and the Polar Express, can be found at www.dollywood.com.

™Digital Light Processing and DLP are registered trademarks of Texas Instruments. Emmy is a registered trademark of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

About Digital Projection International

Founded in 1989, Digital Projection International (DPI) has been instrumental in the development and application of Digital Light Processing™ technology by Texas Instruments for projection systems. DPI introduced the world’s first 3-chip DLP™ projector in 1997, and has since delivered expert system engineering and world-class customer services, thus maintaining its position as a digital imaging pioneer.

DPI’s groundbreaking projection research and development has garnered the admiration of industry professionals around the world. This has earned the company many awards, including two Emmy® Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. DPI remains the first and only projector manufacturer to win the coveted award.

Today, DPI manufactures and distributes an extensive line of ultra high-performance 3-chip and single-chip DLP™ projection systems. These projectors are the reference standard for demanding applications such as large-venue, live-event staging, fortune 5000, homeland security, education, medical and scientific research, command and control, digital cinema, commercial entertainment, worship and elite home cinema.

Contact:                   
Michael Bridwell, Marketing Communications Manager.  T- 770.420.1350  F- 770.420.1360.    mbridwell@digitalprojection.com

See also:
Life in the Theme Park Business: An Interview with Dollywood GM Barbara Joines

Dollywood wins Third Consecutive International Heartbeat Award
Dollywood was excited to announce Adventure Mountain for 2009
Dollywood recently selected Nashville-based TVX Group, LLC as the theme park’s official sponsorship and strategic marketing alliance firm.
Dolly Parton and Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) President Joel Manby has announced the promotion of longtime employee Ken Bell to President of the Dollywood Company.  

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