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Sunday, March 9, 2008 10:52 PM
Brief Notes on the Franklin Institute "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" Exhibit
 by Fëanor

Poppy, Jill, Ross, and I went and saw this this weekend. It was pretty cool. I was surprised to discover that it's just one big room full of stuff. There are props, models, and costumes from the various movies, accompanied by informational plaques, audio, and videos. There are also some activity stations, which are pretty much just for the kids, and various other plaques and displays that attempt to connect Star Wars to real life science and technology. We went in the early evening on a Saturday, so the place was absolutely packed, despite the whole timed ticket thing, which I thought was supposed to prevent that. Because there's really no particular directional flow suggested by the exhibit's layout, it was pretty much just a huge mass of people milling around randomly, and it was a constant challenge trying to get close enough to things to see them, and to keep out of the way of photographers and children and so forth. Still, with patience, it was eventually possible to get a look at all the most interesting stuff, and it turned out to be pretty fun. Probably most fascinating to me was the case holding the various blaster and lightsaber props, but there are also some really amazing spaceship models, and really neat costumes.

In order to exit the exhibit, you have to pass through an extremely small gift shop, which is essentially just a narrow corridor packed with Star Wars-related trinkets (no, I didn't get anything; the only item that was interesting to me was too expensive. And it was the same story in the Institute's main gift shop, I'm afraid). After fighting your way out of this, you get to the entrance for the Millenium Falcon Experience - and the extremely long line to get into it, which trails off into the distance. The Experience is a kind of ride that you had to buy tickets for separately. We had done so, because it sounded like fun, but we didn't really know what it was. We were standing in line for about 20 minutes, watching people go in slowly in groups of five, when a staffmember came by and told us we were probably looking at another hour and a half worth of wait. If we were going to be standing there for that long, poppy wanted to know what we'd be waiting for, so she asked another staffmember for details. He told her it was a five minute ride on the Millenium Falcon. We decided an hour and a half was too long to wait for five minutes on a modified YT-1300 freighter, so we left and grabbed drinks and dinner at the nearby Rose Tattoo.

Overall it's a relatively fun exhibit, but we all agreed that it's pretty poorly designed. The exhibit floor has a lot of bottlenecks, and because there's no clear direction for everyone to follow, everyone is constantly getting in everybody else's way. The gift shop is just a mess, and then when you get out of that you have to cross in front of the doorway into the Millenium Falcon ride to get out, or to get in line for said ride, so there's a big knot of people there, too. And there has to be a better way to do the whole ride thing. Five people at a time? Really? And people waiting probably as much as two hours or more for five minutes of fun? Why not sell timed tickets for that?

Still, like I said, it's pretty fun. And it's Star Wars, so I had to do it.
Tagged (?): Star Wars (Not), The Franklin Institute (Not)
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