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What is 4DX: Soaring with Disney’s Live Action Dumbo (spoiler-free review)

Posted in TV/Film/Books

Disney’s new live action Dumbo (in theaters tomorrow, March 29, 2019) is an incredible story with a heartwarming message about how our unique qualities that may at first appear strange are actually a gift that can help us soar to new heights.

Disney’s Live Action Dumbo exceeded my expectations and then some, and my experience was only heightened by being able to see it in Real D 3D and 4DX. Last night I was invited to an early screening of Dumbo in 4DX at Regal Cinema. As someone who had never even heard of 4DX going in to this, I immediately took to Google and discovered that this movie viewing experience would involve moving seats. As the avid Disney park-goer you know me to be, my initial impression was that this would be something akin to “Captain EO” or “It’s Tough to be a Bug.” And while I have nothing against either of those attractions at a theme park, I just wasn’t sure that was the experience I’d want for a feature length film. But I really wanted to see Dumbo (and it was free) so I decided to attend the screening in spite of my concerns.

4DX moving theater seats

When Vince and I arrived at our seats, the very first thing I noticed was a button on the arm of my chair that when pressed toggled between “water on” and “water off.”

“Oh great,” I thought to myself, prematurely exasperated. “Moving seats and water gags.” I promptly turned my seat to “water off” and braced myself for what was to come, hoping that I would still be able to enjoy the movie. It had been quite some time since I’d last seen the animated version and I was just hoping the moving theater seats wouldn’t ruin Live Action Dumbo for me.

And then the film began. As the camera pans in on the opening scene, my apprehension is replaced with excitement and nostalgia as we see Casey Jr coming down the tracks. But I didn’t just see Casey Jr… I was riding it. Ever so subtly my seat was adjusting with the movement of the train, the wind (from fans I hadn’t even noticed) blowing gently in my face to make me believe I was truly along for the ride.

For the rest of the movie, I was on cloud 9. I galloped on horseback, I swung from a trapeze, and even soared with Dumbo himself. I will warn that it might not be suitable for people who experience motion sickness and my only criticism is that just as I had the option to turn off only water, it might be nice to have the option to turn off just motion. But again, it’s not a “ride” so don’t expect heart-pounding exhilaration (unless you’re watching a 4DX horror flick).

Is 4DX just a gimmick? Oh absolutely. It’s 100% unnecessary for the enjoyment of a film. Much like 3D. Would I do it again? In a heart-beat! Sometimes experiences are just good ol‘ fun, and seeing a movie in 4DX is one of those experiences.

That’s not to say that every movie should be viewed in 4DX. We already know that an engaging plot, beautiful cinematography, and dynamic characters are the elements that make a movie immersive. You don’t need to literally feel like you’re riding in the car with Ms. Daisy to enjoy watching the film. But it definitely adds to the experience when watching something as whimsical and fun as Disney’s Live Action Dumbo, and I would bet most Disney movies would be a similar experience.

Live Action Dumbo