- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 16, 2005

American history, archaeological discoveries and the mysteries of the sea can be seen, heard and felt at PassPort: Voyages of Discovery.

The attraction, which opened at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor two years ago, is part action-adventure movie, part theme-park ride. It’s a unique and educational addition to the Inner Harbor’s sights and sounds.

“We like to call PassPort: Voyages of Discovery a sensory, interactive experience,” says spokeswoman Julie Stewart.

Patrons watch one of four 45-minute live-action movies on a panoramic screen in a small theater. The movie seats are on hydraulic platforms, so the audience feels the action. If the character is riding ocean waves, the seats will rock gently, and a little mist will spray. A journey on an open train car means a bumpy ride and wind in your hair.

A ride on the time elevator — the central mode of transportation in three of the history-themed movies — is similar to a roller-coaster ride. In fact, theater employees warn visitors with certain medical conditions or who simply don’t like that much action to take a seat in the section of the theater where the seats don’t move.



The movies run daily from 10:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. “Oceanarium2” and “TimeElevator America” are the most popular movies, with screenings at least 10 times daily. “Oceanarium2,” which follows a sea captain and his crew to every ocean in the world, is suitable for families with young children, Ms. Stewart says.

“TimeElevator America” will appeal to children of late elementary school age and older. The story combines a history lesson with the action and gadgetry of an adventure movie.

“TimeElevator America” follows the story of fictional retired detective Len Freeman as he enters the science-fiction realm of the time elevator. The elevator takes him (and the audience, of course), careening and turning through time.

Patrons visit Freeman’s first American ancestors in 1689 and follow the family through the American Revolution. On the journey, Freeman meets President Abraham Lincoln and warns him his life may be in danger. In 20th-century America, Freeman sees his mother’s side of the family, who were more recent immigrants, in their Brooklyn barbershop in the 1920s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Through their eyes, he sees the struggle for women’s voting rights, World War II and the civil rights movement.

All along — especially as the lead character learns his firefighter uncle died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the theme of freedom rings.

“TimeElevator Rome,” which follows Julius Caesar and takes viewers to sites such as the Coliseum and the Sistine Chapel, plays weekdays at 12:45 p.m.; Saturdays at 1:45 and 6:15 p.m.; and Sundays at 12:45 and 4 p.m.

“TimeElevator Jerusalem,” which explores the city that is holy to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, plays Fridays at 2:45 p.m., Saturdays at 12:15 p.m. and Sundays at 10:45 a.m.

“TimeElevator Rome” and “TimeElevator Jerusalem” are also available for special screenings for church and school groups on request, Ms. Stewart says.

When you go:

Location: PassPort: Voyages of Discovery is located at the Pier IV Building, 621 E. Pratt St. in Baltimore.

Directions: The theater is located at the Power Plant Building, next to the Hard Rock Cafe at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Hours: Movies start at 10 a.m. and run about every half-hour until 9 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $13.50; ages 3 to 12, $9.25; seniors and military, $12.50. Children must be at least 40 inches tall to ride the motion seats and at least 3 years old to enter the theater.

Parking: Street and garage parking are located nearby.

More information: 410/468-0700 or www.passportvoyages.com.

Notes:

• PassPort: Voyages of Discovery shows four educational but action-packed movies that provide an interactive, sensory experience for viewers. Patrons sit in special seats that move — sometimes gently, sometimes jarringly — along with the movie action.

• “Oceanarium2” will appeal to younger children, while the three history-themed movies are geared for families with children who are school age and older.

• The attraction is located in the heart of the Inner Harbor and would make a good addition to an afternoon at the National Aquarium or many other sites.

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