Forget your Imax 3-D and your 3-D TV. I have seen the future, and it’s called Liberty 360. Philadelphia’s soon-to-be newest attraction, scheduled to open in July, will be a mind-blower: the first 360-degree 3-D experience ever devised. Audiences will stand on a cantilevered platform in the center of a cinematic cylinder, 50-feet in diameter and 8 feet high, and find themselves entirely surrounded by a three-dimensional movie that begins with Benjamin Franklin and a mysterious box in his workshop then takes viewers on a “journey of discovery” of America’s most beloved symbols.
The attraction, designed by Niles Creative Group (the same firm that created the 2,000-square-foot, gazillion-pixel HD Video Wall in Philadelphia’s Comcast Center), is part of the completely redesigned Lights of Liberty attraction at the remodeled Historic Philadelphia Center at 6th and Chestnut streets, near Independence Hall in the city’s historic core. Admission prices to the 12-minute film are $7 for adults and $6 for children, seniors, and military personnel.
As with other 3-D technologies, viewers will have to wear special glasses (think Jackie O circa 1968), but they’re far more comfortable than traditional 3-D specs. Moreover, the state-of-the-art interference filter technology used to display the three-dimensional images eliminates the headaches, discomfort, and eyestrain often associated with other 3-D technologies, according to David Niles, founder of Niles Creative.
“But it’s not about the technology,” said Niles, who designed and built the world’s first HDTV studio in 1984, “it’s about the content. The technology is pretty amazing, though.” Holding a pair of the goggle-like glasses, Niles was clearly charged up by his accomplishment. “3-D is an optical illusion. It’s a brain function, not an eye function. To see 3-D completely around you is literally mind-boggling. This is a first for Philadelphia and a first for the world.”
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is also the international editor at Travel + Leisure.