Showtime for Discovery: New theater open at Imagination Station

The first thing that strikes a visitor to the new KeyBank Discovery Theater at Imagination Station is the sheer size of the screen. A 58-foot monster, it towers over viewers as they enter.

“We like to describe it as two killer whales, nose-to-tail, just to kind of give you an idea,” said Amy Mohr, senior information officer of Imagination Station. “But the seating is really well thought out, because we really wanted people to feel like they were a part of the films that they were watching.”

 

The gigantic screen is just one part of what makes this latest addition to the Imagination Station special, however. Versatility is the name of the game for the 278-seat hall. Though most people who enter the huge room will take in the educational films that the Station will show here on a regular basis, that’s not the theater’s only potential function.

“You can watch 3D movies, people can hook up their gaming systems and play video games on it, we can do different kinds of presentations where you can do picture-in-picture. So technologically, it’s really advanced. We can do pretty much anything on that screen, which makes it multi-purpose for this community,” Mohr said.

Delayed arrival
To say the opening of the Discovery Theater has been a long time coming is definitely an understatement. Ground was broken on the addition in 2019, but naturally, the disease-that-shall-not-be-named caused numerous delays.

Construction was finally completed in the fall of 2020, but the continuing closure of Imagination Station itself meant that the public couldn’t experience the Theater until its official opening in May.

“I don’t want to say that being closed was a blessing, but it did give us an opportunity to really focus those resources here, so we could get this project done and ready,” Mohr said. “So when people came, they were able to take advantage of it.”

The primary draw of the theater right now is the educational films that air throughout the day during the Station’s constricted-for-now business hours. Two short movies are currently being screened: A 3D documentary about scientists studying marine life called “Hidden Pacific,” and a profile of rescue animals named “Superpower Dogs.”

“Right now we’re open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but all the times are on our website. So we alternate shows, so you can see one and then the next one will play after that,” Mohr said.

Ability to adapt
Attendees can buy a combo ticket for both the science center and a screening of a movie, or just a ticket for the movie itself if that’s all they’d like to do. The two films now showing are slated to be screened throughout the summer, though that can change. The Station has a contract with a company called D3D Cinema out of Evanston, IL, which provides a library of potential content to choose from.

In addition, the theater can be rented and utilized for a wide variety of other events and purposes. “We are closed most of the week right now, but even before we opened fully to the public, we were open for private rentals,” Mohr said.

“We’ve had local businesses come in here and they’ve held different brainstorming sessions, or they have meetings, and they’ve been able to use the screen for their Powerpoint. We’ve had people do birthday parties, where they have their family come and watch whatever they want. We had a couple people come in and they just wanted to play Mario Kart…I think that’s what we’re most excited about— we’re going to be able to reach audiences that we haven’t been able to bring into the science center.”

Lifelong learning
Plans for screenings of films can always change, as well, if another movie feels particularly timely or appropriate for an audience. Screenings of other marine films are planned for Shark Week in August. There are also other upcoming events planned that the Station has yet to officially reveal.

“We’re really passionate about lifelong learning, so we’re hoping that we can bring people of all ages to experience science in a different way,” Mohr said.

On Saturdays through September 6, Lucas County children ages 12 and under can see films for free at the KeyBank Discovery Theater. For more information or showtimes, visit imaginationstationtoledo.org/keybank-discovery-theater.