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Worth the Trip
UCI Cinema (Norwich)
Member Name: sharrowing
UCI Cinema (Norwich)
Date: 12/05/02, updated on 12/05/02 (2921 review reads)
Advantages: Superb Auditoriums, Excellent "Gallery" service, All-round quality
Disadvantages: Tickets sell out quickly, No online booking
"Are you here for the Cinema?" he asked.
"Yes," we said.
"And where have you travelled from?"
The man looked at us as if we'd just said "Singapore", before commenting "wow, that's a long trip."
For those of you unfamiliar with East-Anglian geography, the journey from King's Lynn to Norwich is around 45 miles. But my friends and I make it regularly, because this Cinema is actually worth it.
The UCI in Norwich is part of the Riverside development that has flowered in was once a wasteland between the football ground and the railway station. The development is one of the new "leisure factories", designed to provide alcohol, dining, dancing and entertainment all in one place. UCI's cinema is the cornerstone of this factory.
A wide box-office desk greets you as you arrive, with several attendants to keep queues to a minimum. You can avoid the queues altogether by booking tickets on the phone and simply swiping your credit card through a dispenser in the foyer, which then prints your tickets for you. One minor niggle is that there is no facility to book tickets from the web site (www.uci-cinemas.co.uk),
Standard tickets are currently £4.50 for an Evening Adult ticket, with discounts for Students, children, OAPs and tickets for daytime shows. Even a full-price ticket is 50p cheaper than my local 3-screen pit, so I look on this a great value.
But as you may know Cinema's don't make huge amounts of money on ticket sales. The major moolah is in the snacks. Compare the price of a hotdog from a movie theatre to a pack of 6 from a supermarket and you'll get some idea of the mark-up on these items. But if the price were to go down on snacks, then the price
of tickets would go up, so it's "swings and roundabouts".
UCI Norwich has plenty of foyer snack emporiums in which to unload your change. These include the obligatory hot-dog stand, a Ben and Jerry's concession and a pick-and-mix stand that Willy Wonka would be proud of.
At the back of the foyer is a small open auditorium where you can watch trailers before going into the cinema proper. This is a good way of killing time if you're early for a showing (more on killing time later).
An extra £4.50 on your ticket price will take you away from the cinema-going riff-raff and elevate you to the realms of minor royalty. Pay £9 for certain showings and this entitles you to enter "The Gallery", and a number of exclusive extras, including:
A VIP waiting area including bar. Free film food (basically as much popcorn and nachos as you can eat), free soft drinks, and a great big comfy chair to watch the film from. This chair is in a cordoned-off area at the back of the auditorium, so you can look down on haughtily on the plebs below.
£9 may sound a lot, but I think it's worth it. The seating is great, and as my mate Andy says "I'd pay a lot more that £4.50 for all the food I ate," and I can vouch for that, he can definitely put it away.
A word of warning about the big seats. Each one has a receptacle for placing your monster-sized drink cup. But this receptacle is only a fraction larger than the cup. Consequently it becomes impossible to extricate a full cup from the receptacle once placed. It's always dark, so maybe there?s a magic button that I've missed. Or maybe there's a secret supply of extra-long straws.
The auditoriums are excellent, even the standard seating is very comfortable and no seat has a bad view of the action. One of my big bugbears in multiplexes is bad sound-proofing between auditoriums, but I've not once heard anything from the next
screen at the UCI Norwich, which is a big plus-point considering the power of the sound systems.
Each auditorium has a minimum 6-track Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) system, with 2 of the larger auditoriums running 8-track SDDS systems. This makes for a very good sound experience indeed.
Some negative points. Tickets sell out very quickly for popular films. A mistake we made one evening was not booking early enough and having to take a later showing. We went for the 12-midnight screening, which basically meant 3 hours waiting around in the foyer. The bar closed, the food place closed, the arcade next door closed. It was as dull as a three-hour overnight ferry crossing. The only thing to do was watch trailers in the foyer, which repeated every 20 minutes. Moral of this story... BOOK EARLY!!
Overall though UCI have got it right. They've made going to the cinema a good experience again. Until King's Lynn gets a multiplex I'll keep making the trip, and keep surprising the survey teams!
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