Regal Irvine Spectrum, Orange County’s premier movie theater, is finalizing a multimillion-dollar renovation of all 21 theaters. Visitors compare the experience to attractions at Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Future of cinema comes to Irvine Spectrum Center

by LORI BASHEDA

Would you like your big screen blockbuster with a pizza? How about a cocktail? Or some rain? Or lightning? Or maybe a moody fog?

These are some of the latest offerings at Regal Irvine Spectrum, which is undergoing a massive makeover.

The Irvine complex is one of Regal and IMAX’s highest-performing locations in the nation, which is why it was selected to receive a multimillion-dollar reboot with the most advanced technology available.

21 theaters upgraded

Seats in the new 4DX theater rumble and twist, all while you are surrounded by climate effects.

Most notably, all 21 theaters have been equipped with the latest laser technology for sharper, brighter images. Luxury leather rocker seats have also been installed, and the lobby has gone Hollywood, with neon halo lights and digital rotating movie posters.

The coolest addition in my opinion, though, is the amusement-park-worthy 4DX theater. I watched “Jumanji: The Next Level” there and was floored. The theater was built “to stimulate all five senses.”

Special effects include wind, lightning, bubbles, snow, fog and scents. You’re not dreaming if you smell the sea air in a film set at the ocean – or burning rubber if you’re watching a car chase scene. It even rains in the 4DX. But you can push a button on your chair if you don’t want to get wet.

The chairs shake too, and vibrate and lurch, and I wondered a few times if I should be wearing a seat belt. I’m gonna say it: The 4DX is better than the Millennium Falcon ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

The IMAX theater has also gotten a big-time reboot with orange leather rocker seats and new carpeting. The front few “adventure seeker” rows have been removed too so that all the rows are more spacious.

Six-story screens

But movie buffs will be most stoked that the Irvine IMAX is now the proud owner of a next-generation 4K laser, which is considered the most advanced projection system available. It features IMAX’s groundbreaking 12-channel immersive sound system, with side and overhead speakers, “for sound the audience can feel” so that when your movie is splashed onto the six- story-tall screen in front of you, you feel like you’re part of it.

This isn’t the first time Irvine Spectrum Center was selected to be the recipient of the latest technology. In 2018, it became the first Regal location in the nation to get a ScreenX, a theater where multiple projectors expand the film to side wall screens during pivotal scenes so moviegoers feel like they’re immersed in the action.

If you prefer a smaller screen and a smaller audience, the VIP theaters (there are eight) are still an option. Servers deliver food and cocktails to your recliner, which is equipped with a little wooden tray table.

See you at the movies.