Soon, the biggest screen in Chattanooga will once more transport audiences into amazing locations on larger-than-life cinematic adventures.
On Friday, July 17, audiences will be welcomed back to the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. When the IMAX with Laser projection system once again springs to life, the auditorium’s six-story screen will be the only option in Chattanooga for movie lovers to slake their thirst for cinematic fun.
The theater’s return to operation will be accompanied by new safety measures designed to ensure the only thing visitors need to worry about is arriving on time.
These protocols are in line with the aquarium’s phased reopening plan based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in alignment with state and local reopening guidelines.
Mark Anderson, an infectious disease specialist from CHI Memorial Hospital, has approved the reopening plan after touring and evaluating safety measures implemented throughout the aquarium campus.
All guests admitted to an IMAX film will be required to wear a mask or other protective face covering in compliance with guidelines from the Hamilton County Health Department. Masks will be available at an affordable price at the theater if anyone arrives without a face covering.
To ensure guests are able to maintain adequate physical distance between themselves and other guests in the 400-seat theater, each screening will have an audience cap of 50 viewers.
Guests will enter and exit the theater through different entrances. Families may sit next to each other, but unrelated groups will be spaced at least three seats apart and on every other row.
For the time being, films will be shown in 2D to eliminate concerns guests may have about wearing 3D glasses. When conditions improve and 3D projection is reinstated, the theater will return to its normal sterilization process, which thoroughly scours the glasses after each screening.
The theater schedule will include six daily screenings beginning at noon with a final showing at 6:15 p.m. Expanded Friday and Saturday evening schedules will not be offered initially.
This schedule ensures housekeeping staff have adequate time to sanitize the theater between films as part of a generally increased cleaning schedule for the entire facility. During the closure, additional hand sanitizing stations have also been installed, with emphasis placed on entrances, exits and other high-traffic areas.
IMAX tickets will go on sale on July 16 and may be purchased online in advance of arrival. No combo tickets bundling an aquarium visit and a film screening will be available online upon reopening. However, walk-up purchases and aquarium combo tickets will be available at the IMAX box office or aquarium ticketing center.
River Society, Deluxe and IMAX Club Members will continue to receive complimentary admission to 45-minute IMAX films. These members will need to show their membership cards at the IMAX box office to receive a timed-entry ticket.
For now, members will not able to purchase discounted member tickets online, but will be able to do so at the IMAX Box Office.
The theater’s initial cinematic offerings will include a trio of recent fan-favorites:
- “Turtle Odyssey” follows the 1,000-mile trek of Bunji, a puckish Green Sea Turtle hatchling, as she explores the life-rich waters of the South Pacific.
- “Superpower Dogs” showcases the diverse skill sets of some truly incredible pups and their human partners as they conduct ski and water rescues, provide therapeutic support, protect endangered species and more.
- “Great Barrier Reef” explores the incredible diversity of life in the world’s largest reef system through the eyes of a conservationist and underwater filmmaker who also calls it home.
As conditions in Chattanooga improve, some of these restrictions will be eased or lifted entirely.
To learn more about the aquarium’s health and safety guidelines, visit tnaqua.org/welcomeback. To purchase an IMAX ticket, visit tnaqua.org/calendar/month/category/imax-showtimes.