At Magic Lantern Theatres, darkened auditoriums with flickering screens draw audiences into magical worlds where fish can talk, motorcycles leap canyons, and love comes even for those who eat crackers in bed. The partnering multiplex theatres and cinemas show recently released blockbuster flicks at 15 locations spread across Canada, each of which retains its own unique personality and honours any historic roots. In Edmonton, the Princess Theatre’s original 1915 auditorium, complete with balcony, golden drapes, and red walls, accommodates moviegoers with babies or pet hyenas inside a soundproof cry room. In Saskatchewan, the circa-1930 Roxy Theatre preserves the ambience of a Spanish courtyard. As guests find their auditoriums at the Ontario locations, they can admire giant murals by local artist Fred Harrison.
He's out there somewhere—the notorious Pirate Pete. Over every sailor's adventure, the shadow of his greed looms. But the crew of Pirate Adventures is ready. On their 50-foot ship, 12 water cannons point toward the sea, guarding the vessel from his villainy while they search Davy Jones's locker for sunken treasure. If Pete should show his face, he'll get a face full of water. If he should happen to board anyway, it'll be the plank for him.
During Pirate Adventures' 75-minute treasure hunts, children and their parents sail into this exciting world of high-seas adventure. Crew members welcome aboard new mateys with face-paint, pirate garb, and a sea-worthy moniker, such as "Black Beard' or "Esmerelda, Princess of the Dolphins." Beneath the Jolly Roger flapping in the breeze, the crews decipher maps, solve puzzles, and sing sea shanties, eventually fishing their sought-after treasure chest from the water's depths. Throughout the hunt, the Pirate Adventures crew keeps their unpatched eyes on safety. Everything is kept up to Transport Canada's code: they have all trained in marine emergency procedures, marine first aid, and safe vessel operation.
Although those who wear masks typically do so to hide their identities, the players of Odyssey Theatre do so to transform altogether. They use disguises to play up archetypal roles, from the ruddy cheeks of a comic foil to the wide eyes of a performer who has forgotten his lines. In the summer, they don their faces under the stars in Stathcona Park, priming audiences for theatrical revelry with the open air and neighboring Rideau River.
As players sink numbered balls at 14 pool tables, competing in games of 8-ball or 9-ball, others choose to keep a classic sport alive. Though largely forgotten elsewhere, snooker thrives at The Orange Monkey, where six tables challenge newcomers with smaller pockets and deeper strategy. Within the 7,000-square-foot facility, marble pillars and vintage bar signs complement the old-fashioned decor, making the tables feel right at home in their green felt zoot suits. At the bar, pool sharks hunt down drafts of beer and snacks such as breakfast sandwiches, nachos, and hamburgers.
Sundance Balloons' vibrant hot-air balloons float adventurous passengers over scenic landscapes at sunrise and sunset. Each one-hour journey commences as sojourners greet their flight crew at a pre-determined location, receive a briefing on what to expect during the excursion, and observe their balloon as it swells to more than 10 storeys in height. Morning flight teams convene 30 minutes before sunrise.
The woven gondolas glide 1,000 feet above the ground but can sometimes gently skim treetops or cornfields when wandering over the countryside. Since balloons drift with prevailing winds, there is no wind chill and travellers feel only a slight sensation of movement. As is tradition for ballooning, explorers of the appropriate age end their flight with a champagne toast to tranquility, beauty, and neighbourhoods that appear as giant smiley faces only visible from the air.
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