The D-Box Experience: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 1
I’ve just got home from flying over England, swimming through a lake in the Forest of Dean, and nearly being cursed in a Sky Battle with Death Eaters. No, I did not just leave Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter—I’ve just left the cinema.
For the first time, I experienced D-Box movies. “What is D-Box?” you are probably asking (I know I was asking the same thing up until a few days ago!). Well, D-Box is a simulator that is inside the chair at your local cinema which transports you inside the film. According to the website, D-Box is currently only available in 48 cinemas worldwide which means I was extraordinarily lucky to find a cinema only 20 minutes away from my house (the only one in my state!) that features it.
For more information on D-Box from their website, visit http://www.d-box.com/feelthemagicofharrypotter/
Now, as for the D-Box experience—it was incredible! I went with Heidi of Fiction Alley and HPEF and we both agreed that it was like having a little piece of the Forbidden Journey ride without the 3 hour drive (for us) to Orlando.
Before going to see the film, I had looked up some reviews on D-Box in general and found that most people found the simulator to be very successful, however, the first few minutes before you ‘get into the movie’, it is very obvious that the seat is moving. Well, this was remedied in a way I didn’t expect before the film even began. Our final trailer before the film began was for Tron Legacy (another film that will be shown in D-Box when it is released). Well, this is when they turned on the chairs and, boy, was it unexpectedly awesome! The Tron trailer allowed you to twist and turn, get thrown back in your seat with ‘G-Force’ and grow accustomed to the simulator all at once. Heidi and I couldn’t stop giggling with delight! By the end of the Tron trailer, not only were we prepared to watch Deathly Hallows part 1, but we were well accustomed to the subtle motions of the D-Box chair.
The D-Box simulator does a number of different things. Not only are its motions smoother than I had expected (it can go from stationary to “running” and quickly stop without feeling jerky), but it also has the ability to mimic flight, buoyancy, G forces, and rebounding spells, among other things.
I could go into detail about every single moment of amazing experiences and sensations that we felt while watching Deathly Hallows in D-Box, but instead, I’ll just point out some of the most memorable moments for me:
- The film begins, as every Warner Brothers film does, with the floating WB logo hanging in midair amongst the clouds. And even in that minor moment, our chairs float us up towards the logo and then downwards towards the houses below. It was a small moment but it was an incredible sensation nonetheless as it was our first taste of what was to come.
- After the opening montage, we are transported to Malfoy Manor with a wispy ‘smoke monster-ish’ flying Snape. Our chairs began floating us towards the manor and Heidi turned to me, glee emanating from her face: “Oh my gosh! We are flying with Snape!” Later in the scene, I noticed I felt mildly dizzy. Was the chair stationary and I was simply feeling effects of the prior movements or were we gently swaying with Charity Burbage floating above the table? By the end of the scene, we slithered our way towards the camera with Nagini—left, right, left, right, and then ATTACKED! Whoa!
- The Sky Battle scene was what I was waiting for. From the moment I saw what the chairs could do in the tiny online video, I knew the Sky Battle scene would be incredible if the chairs worked the way I hoped they did. And I was not disappointed—not one bit. As the engine revved on Sirius’ old motorbike, the chairs began to vibrate and then we felt the floating sensation again and just like that, we were flying over London. And as the attack began we were jolted. The chair threw us as Harry was thrown. It thumped back to a totally different sensation as we touched down on the busy London street. It was amazing to feel the difference. Actually, I think my favourite moment during the Sky Battle scene happened as Harry and Hagrid began to drive up the wall of the car tunnel. The driving motion felt smooth and fluid, though it was still getting impact from the spells being cast in the battle. However, as the motorbike climbed the wall, Harry fell from the sidecar and, just for a moment, ran along the top of an approaching double decker bus. In that moment, was my favourite sensation—it was a total change from the fluid motion of the racing bike. We felt a syncopated thud-thud-thud of Harry’s feet racing over the bus roof and the chairs vibrations reflected that without pause. And less than 5 seconds later, Harry has pulled himself back in the sidecar and the chair is floating fluidly all over again. The fact that the D-Box was able to adapt so seamlessly really impressed me. It showed how great the technology in use really was.
- The next stand out scene for me was just after the trio arrived in the forest and began trying to destroy the locket horcrux. I absolutely loved that the spells ricocheted off the locket and onto the chairs. Vibrations stung the seats and really put us into the scene with Harry, Hermione, and Ron. It wasn’t a very big scene, but I felt it made a big impact.
- The last scene I want to mention is Harry’s journey into the frozen lake. This was the only scene where we felt the buoyancy sensation that is included in the D-Box technology. Over 2/3 of the way through the film we had experienced flight, battles, spells, and driving, but this new opportunity to feel water was a breath of fresh air and an exciting change in the D-Box experience thus far. I loved how we bobbed along beneath the ice. I loved how the horcrux clamped and tugged at both Harry’s neck and our seats. I loved that the D-Box was able to convey a totally different experience constantly.
I could go on about how impressed I was with the D-Box, but there really aren’t words to describe how the technology feels without feeling it for yourself. It was subtle, had smooth transitions, and far more technologically advanced then I ever expected. All I can say is to try it out for yourself if you have a location nearby. It makes watching Deathly Hallows part 1 for the 5th or 6th time feel like the first time all over again.