By ABE SELIG
Over the last decade, some 1.5 million people have traveled through 3,000 years of Jerusalem's rich history via the Time Elevator, a unique attraction in the capital's Beit Agron building that combines film, motion platforms and special effects.
Now this Jerusalem landmark has been joined by the Voyage Terminal - a new, NIS 6 million initiative unveiled at Beit Agron on Monday that provides simulated journeys to exotic countries, outer space and even inside the human body.
Using the latest multi-sensory technology, the Voyage Terminal relies on smart motion seats, 3D projection, surround-sound stereo equipment, lighting effects, and even water spray, wind, and scents to convey to the audience a sense of "being there" while they remain in their seats.
Part of the Cinema Park Network, the Voyage Terminal was founded by Ori Yardeni, an international attraction entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the tourist entertainment market.
Speaking to the audience before the presentation began, Yardeni explained that the primary method used in the Voyage Terminal, "edutainment," was effective precisely because it combined learning with an enjoyable experience, or as the name hints, education with entertainment.
"This is just one of 500 'edutainment' projects worldwide, including at Disney World, Yardeni said.
Monday's "journey" as it were, took the Voyage Terminal's first round of participants deep into the far east, to India, where hundreds of years of history and historical sites were covered throughout the 25-minute show.
On hand for the maiden voyage were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Indian Ambassador Navtej Singh Sarna, both of whom addressed the audience before the lights dimmed and the action began.
"We all know that there is amazing potential in Jerusalem," Barkat told the crowd. "And my vision for Jerusalem is to realize that potential. Part of that means investing in a 'tourism culture,' which includes attractions like the Time Elevator and the Voyage Terminal.
"I enjoy it so much when I see people realizing their own visions for Jerusalem," Barkat added, alluding to Yardeni and his team. "And I enjoy it even more when those visions include learning about Jerusalem and other places around the world."
Sarna, who took the podium after Barkat, told the audience he felt "privileged" to be at the Voyage Terminal's opening, and especially so, given that the first "voyage" was to his country.
"I hope you enjoy it," Sarna said of the India segment. "I've seen it and found it to be an absolutely thrilling film."
With that, the audience was asked to don their 3D glasses and headphones, and the room went dark. Within seconds, the seats began vibrating and an Israeli backpacker on the screen was seen talking to his Indian host, who began to guide him on a journey through India's lush geography and storied history.
T71he audience literally followed the on-screen duo, as their seats dipped and turned through the high peaks of the Indus Mountains and down into the Khyber Pass.
Oohs and ahhs were heard throughout the voyage, and by the time it ended, words of approval could be heard throughout the room.
"Wasn't that cool?" one woman asked. "I'll have come back with my husband and kids."
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