* * * +
Type: Special effects extravaganza
Time: About 25 minutes
Short Take: Chaotic fun, but not everyones
cup of tea
Behind the ruins of Poseidon’s statue lies his enormous temple, now cracked and crumbled by earthquakes, where his devotees once worshipped. Before entering, take a moment to drink in the scene. This is yet another of the park’s triumphs of fantasy architecture. The scale alone is awe-inspiring. Check out the huge feet of Poseidon’s now tumbled statue and the towering trident that stands nearby. Marvel at the once-gorgeous mosaic floors now running with water diverted from its ancient course by long-ago earthquakes. Stare up at the towering facade, its massive columns seemingly ready to topple at any moment. The art direction that has created not just the iconography of an ancient and imaginary religious cult but its language as well is truly impressive.
With understandable trepidation, we step inside to something of a disappointment — a cool, dimly lit, snaking passageway. The overall design and the fragmentary murals on the crumbling walls are vaguely Minoan in appearance, but other than the flickering lights, some hard-to-read signage from “Global Discovery Group,” and the ominous music, there’s nothing here to hint at what lies ahead, certainly no advancing “plot line” to keep visitors informed and entertained as the line inches forward.
When we reach the front of the queue line, we are greeted by Taylor, a very young and very nervous volunteer assistant to ace archaeologist, Professor Baxter. The prof seems to have disappeared along with everyone else on the dig while Taylor was on a lunch break. Too bad, because the professor had announced the discovery of a “secret message” but disappeared before he could tell anyone what it was. Taylor, played by a young guy or gal, gamely carries on with our tour of recent temple excavations.
The first chamber, which Taylor tells us is the Chamber of Sacrifices, contains an altar and ancient wall paintings documenting an epic struggle. Legend has it that a high priest of the temple, the dumbly named Lord Darkenon, seized power from Poseidon, sparking a battle in which all perished, and that the spirits of those combatants still haunt the ruined temple. There is another terrified transmission from Professor Baxter, and then all the lights go out. Taylor grabs an ultraviolet lamp for illumination and in so doing reveals a hidden message written on the frieze that circles the chamber. Fortunately, the ancient Greeks had the foresight to write the message in English so Taylor can read it aloud. This turns out to be a big mistake because reading the message aloud awakens the spirit of Darkenon, who is no one's idea of a gracious host.
Without spoiling it for you, suffice to say that your journey will take you into an even spookier chamber and finally into the middle of a pitched battle between Poseidon, who uses water as his weapon, and Lord Darkenon, who responds with fire. We're talking heavy artillery here, with more than 350,000 gallons of the wet stuff and 25-foot exploding fireballs. The highlight is a "water vortex" that lets you walk underneath a seemingly impossible wall of rushing water.
It should be noted that this attraction has its detractors. Some people find the story line confusing and, in the heat of the battle, some of the dialogue does get hard to hear. Others just don't seem that impressed with the effects. For many people, their enjoyment of the show will depend on how long they have waited to see it.
The best seats in the house. The entire show is experienced standing up. In the second and third chambers, the audience stands on a series of steps set in a semicircle, with a guardrail on each level. In the first two chambers, it really doesn't matter where you stand.
For the final battle scene, however, you will have a good deal more fun if you are in the very first row. It seems like most people instinctively climb the steps, not realizing that you can actually stand in front of the first guardrail, on ground level so to speak. That means that you can simply walk to the front as you enter. Despite being almost on top of the action, you won't get terribly wet, although some of those towering explosions of water find their way into the audience.
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