I love the Navy Pier IMAX theater. It's probably the best IMAX in the state. Certainly the best in the Chicagoland area. It is not a LIE-MAX screen, like you see in so many AMC theaters. The Navy Pier IMAX screen is huge. The surround sound is fantastic. And loud. The theater has reserved seating, so you can choose where you sit. All of the big event movies screen there. We just saw Gravity in IMAX 3D (review forthcoming), and it was an incredible experience. I can't imagine watching that movie anywhere else and having it play just as well. The same can be said for previous all-star IMAX releases: The Dark Knight, Avatar, The Dark Knight Rises, and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. I will never forget seeing any of those films in the IMAX format. The Navy Pier IMAX theater treats me well, and I love it for that.
The Navy Pier IMAX also beats the shit out of me, and I hate its guts for that. If Step One is recognizing the signs of when you might be in an abusive relationship, then consider me ready for Step Two. The Navy Pier IMAX theater sucks for many reasons.
First, it's located at Navy Pier - tourist central. You have to navigate swarms of people every step of the way, and it is always crowded. Always.
Second, you have to pay $25 for parking. There is no validation. This is crazy. You're already paying $20 for each ticket, which I think is a fair price given the IMAX experience. But, if you are just seeing a movie, you should at least get $10 bucks taken off the parking.
Third, even if you order tickets in advance (which is really the only way to go, since most movies sell out), you might miss the option to print your tickets at home, which means you have to go to will call at the theater. Many don't have printers handy when they order tickets. There should be an option to just pull up tickets on your phone and scan the code. IMAX is one of the more technologically advanced ways of viewing a movie. It only makes sense that the method of getting into an IMAX theater should be equally advanced.
Fourth, when you go to will call to get tickets, there is a line about 150 people long to do so. The line stretches from the ticket booth all the way to the McDonalds. There is only one - ONE - person working at the booth. One big reason to buy reserved tickets is so you can get to the theater a few minutes ahead of time and sit down. Reserved seating obviates the need to show up early, but not at Navy Pier IMAX. You have to get there at least a half-hour early just to get the ticket you already bought. It's ridiculous. With advance ticket sales, the Navy Pier management should know each show's capacity and should staff appropriately. There is no reason why only one person should be working the will call window when nearly the entire audience is made up of will call ticketholders. We got to Gravity yesterday at 2:45 for a 3:10 show. We didn't get in to the theater until 3:22. Granted, the start time was delayed to accommodate all the people still picking up their tickets, so we didn't miss any of the movie, but still. Unacceptable.
Fifth, forget about concessions. There is only one line and it moves at a snail's pace. Don't even think about having time or patience to get a soda and popcorn. It's just not worth it.
Sixth, there are no bathrooms in the theater, so you have to use the same public restrooms as everyone else at Navy Pier. This inevitably leads to more waiting in line, especially for the ladies.
So, I know what you might be asking. Why don't you just stop going to Navy Pier IMAX? Go to the Lincolnshire one instead. Or go to one of the LIE-MAX theaters. It can't be worth the abuse, right? Oh, I wish I could, but I just can't quit the Navy Pier IMAX. I love it. But I hate it. I think it will always be that way. Please. Someone. Help me.
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