By Ray Hanania
It only took me two years after receiving a gift card for iPic Theaters that I finally used it. And I am glad I did.
The whole iPic experience may cause you to hesitate. They’re not very good at explaining how it all works. Basically, you see a movie and eat a very good dinner inside the movie theater while watching the movie. And the seating is phenomenal. (We were assigned out seats and they are easy to find.) But it still required, for this first-time patron of the iPic Theater in Bolingbrook, to call the theater first.
And unlike with many other businesses, although I received a long boring menu of Pick 1, Pick 2 etc., I could just hit Zero and get a live human being.
I just wanted to know how it works. And the lady explained it.
Do I have to get there early to order food? Can I bring the food into the theater, or does someone else bring it in. What’s the difference between Premium Seating and Premium Plus seating? You have to select one or the other online when ordering tickets. The premium seats are $13 for members and the Premium Plus seats are $18.50 each for members. You can become a member by registering with the website. Does selecting Premium or Premium Plus seating also include the ticket? Non members pay $4.50 and $7.50 more for the Premium seating and the Premium Plus seating.
By the way, all of the regular seats are “premium” seating. The Premium Plus are roomier and located along the top rows of the theater, which, in the one we were at, held only 80 people total.
What if I don’t eat?
Turns out you can get the food from the little restaurant in the lobby, which is laid out to look like a sports bar with pool tables and lots of flat screen televisions.
You order the food, go into the theater, and they give you a pager with those heavy vibrating red lights, which makes a racket if you put it on the little movable trays that each seat has.
The seats are roomy. The food was great. The tickets cost $39 for the three of us. And the food cost $80. I had the steak trio sandwiches (three little sandwiches). My wife had the quesadillas. And my son had the meatball sandwich trio (three small sandwiches). I also bought the lobster “roll,” which really was fresh lobster chunks inside of a long bread roll. Plus we had drinks.
Sure, it cost about $25 more than eating at the Marcus Theaters in Orland Park, but this theater was spotless. And the food was phenomenal.
The screen is huge, too. We saw the 3rd installment of the Hobbit movie, but I am excited about the upcoming SciFi films that will be out this year including another Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator film. It looks great. But so does the other two SciFi films. You’ll see.
This was a great experience. The Gift Card was a great gift, too. The $100 covered the food — and I left a $8 tip, too, although $8 doesn’t really go very far considering a sandwich meal at most fast food restaurants cost you about $10 to $14. Try ordering Chinese takeout these days. $35 for small containers. Prices for fast food have skyrocketed.
This is really worth the time.
Although when we went, the theater wasn’t crowded. I am not sure how easy it is to order food when it is crowded. But now I know it’s not as discouraging having been there as I was imagining. Grab your seats when the theater is ready, and send the old man out to order the food. Go back and enjoy the film, and when the buzzer blinks and vibrates, get up (the row of seats is not that wide so even sitting in the middle of the row, you’re only walking past about 4 other people) and get the food from the special area where readied food is served on trays.
Each seat has a movable tray attached to one of the arms. There’s only one cup holder, behind the shoulder for every two seats, so you’ll have to put the food and a drink on the movable tray. The trays are not uncomfortable because the seats are heavily cushioned and wide. The Premium Plus are very spacious but at $7.50 extra, they had better be.
I definitely enjoyed this experience and encourage you to try the iPic Theater in Bolingbrook, too.
Excellent experience. Well worth it. I’m going to go back there to see the three upcoming SciFi features this year, too.
And by the way, the theater in the Promenade Shopping Center off Boughton Road where the theater is located, is nested in a very large shopping center.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and managing editor of The Illinois News Network online news site. He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at [email protected].)
Hanania covered Chicago political beats including Chicago City Hall while at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and later for the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.
The recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, Hanania was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hananiaalso received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
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