7 unique family movie theater experiences

Americans spent more than $10 billion buying movie tickets in 2014, and if you’ve taken your family to the theater recently, sometimes it feels like you’ve spent that much in just one night. But there are plenty of places left where you don’t have to break the bank to see a show (and a few places where spending the extra money is well worth it). As you start to look for some family fun indoors, check out these unique and different movie theater options.

A Classic Experience

Want to show your kids what going to the movies was like “back in the day”? Chicago has more than a couple of options to watch a film while feeling like you’ve traveled back in time.

In the city, nothing beats The Music Box. Located near Wrigley Field, it not only shows new films, but also independent releases, foreign films and even classic movies on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight such as Ghostbusters and Rocky Horror Picture Show. In fact, since 2009, The Music Box has screened more than 1,250 different films in all sorts of formats (from state-of-the-art digital projection to old 16 and 35mm films). Tickets start at $10 per person, but can be slightly higher for special events.

Out in the burbs, check out the Tivoli Theatre. Since Christmas Day 1928, it has been providing entertainment to couples and families alike. And while the theater might have a very cool classic look to it, its film and sound capabilities are state of the art. Tickets are just $5 per person and they offer free refills on any size fountain drink and popcorn. And for a real throwback experience, catch a show on Friday or Saturday and arrive early and hear the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ concert prior to your feature.

Pack Up the Car

Your car should be warm enough to pack up the family and catch a double feature at the Cascade Drive-In. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids (and that covers both features). And while it offers a full-service concession stand, they also allow you to bring in your own food. Show times vary (depending on when it gets dark).

Further up north, you can head to the McHenry Outdoor Theater. Tickets here are also $10 for adults and $5 for the kids and they offer a full concession stand.

And both outdoor theaters allow you to bring your dogs, so no need to leave man’s best friend at home.

Almost Futuristic

It seems like only a matter of time before holograms are a normal thing and smells are pumped into the theaters along with sounds, but in the meantime, you can experience the wonder and beauty of a 3D movie at one of the 17 IMAX theaters in the Chicago area. So why it is so good (and worth the higher ticket prices)? With state-of-the-art projectors, you’ll see images that are 60 percent brighter than a typical theater. And that’s in addition to the hundreds of other enhancements their Digital Re-Mastering process provides. To learn more about IMAX technology and to find theaters near you, visit imax.com.

Dinner and a Show

Want to sneak away for dinner and a movie but can’t find the time to fit in both? Head over to Hollywood Blvd Cinema or Hollywood Palms Cinema. At either location, you can see a show and also order food and drinks to be brought right to your seats (which are more like comfy office chairs with a small counter in front). Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for kids. The price of food varies depending on your appetite, and menus are online so you can even have the kids make their dinner choices before you go.

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