The Grand Hall at St. Louis’ Union Station re-opens to the public Saturday with fanfare that includes a 3-D light, video and sound show.
The presentation begins with the sound of a chugging train. You can almost imagine conductors calling “All aboard!” as you start to take in the show on the 65-foot ceiling.
The experience includes a musical soundtrack and narration to slides and video that range from Union Station’s golden days to highlights of a Blues game.
The presentation’s designer Andrew Atienza said it’s the largest multimedia show in North America. He told St. Louis Public Radio that the technology can also be used for public art projects or personalized for special events.
“Let’s say, your wedding, and you want your names and doves to come out and fly with the banner, that’s all very possible with this system,” Atienza said.
The show will run several times an hour, every day. It’s part of a $52 million renovation by Lodging Hospitality Management (LHM), which owns the facility.
LHM bought Union Station, including the hotel, for $20 million. Company chairman and CEO Bob O’Loughlin said it was a money-maker from the start.
“We bought the property right, and it made profits from day one. Adding all this will make more money, we hope,” O’Loughlin said.
A short video clip from the multimedia show takes us back to World War II:
Day Trips and Great Views
The Grand Hall renovation is only the start of things to come for Union Station. This summer, excursion trains will begin taking people to and from wineries, Cardinals-Cubs game in Chicago and other destinations.
In another year to year-and-a-half, the retail space will be transformed into a family area with bumper cars, rope-climbing and other activities. A Ferris wheel will be located outside.
“The Ferris wheel will be 200 feet high, and all the compartments will be heated and air-conditioned, and you’ll get a great view of the Arch and the baseball stadium and Highway 40,” O’Loughlin said.
Saturday’s opening coincides with National Train Day at Union Station, which includes actual historic trains as well as model train displays.
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