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May 27, 2004

History in the Making Beneath Gastown's Cobblestone Streets: Insight into the Design and Construction of Canada's Newest Attraction

Vancouver, British Columbia - Guests of Storyeum travel almost thirty feet below ground - and back in time - on two of the world's largest passenger lifts. These unique lifts carry audiences under the cobblestone streets of Gastown and into the Storyeum experience.

Created especially for Storyeum, the venue features such lifts which begin and end the magical history tour. Each lift presents a sound and light experience that transitions audiences of up to 199 people between the past and the present.

The walls of the second lift also serve as giant movie screens for a 360 degree multimedia sound and sight presentation which is featured during the five minute ascent.

Using state-of-the-art technology called Spiralift, Storyeum's lifts were designed exclusively by Gala Systems - a Canadian company that specializes in lift and prop handling systems for theatres, auditoriums, concert halls and other venues.

The 45- and 50-foot diameter lifts are each moved by six spiral columns made of steel. Each column is capable of lifting 25,000lbs, or a collective strength of 68 tonnes per lift.

"I feel that the state of the art technology that Gala has to offer the project suits both the performance and safety criteria needed; that is why I went after the project wholeheartedly when I heard of it," said Robert Heimbach, President of Gala Systems.

Gala Systems is a Canadian company based in Laval, Quebec. They have created machinery and handling systems for Cirque de Soleil, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the Chan Centre here in Vancouver, as well as hundreds of other projects worldwide.



Vancouver, British Columbia - One of Storyeum's most dramatic experiences features a locomotive that actually steams, smells, and rolls onto the set. The historic replica, created specifically for the attraction, took more than three months and a dozen people to build.

Storyeum's replica is modeled specifically after Locomotive #374, a Canadian Pacific Railway engine that was the first to pull passenger cars across Canada. The experience itself highlights the symbolic importance of the railway, completing Sir John A. MacDonald's dream of a united Canada. Now in the hands of the City of Vancouver, Locomotive #374 is fully restored and on permanent display in the Roundhouse, one of Vancouver's oldest buildings.

Created to 90% scale of the original, Storyeum's train runs electrically, but sounds, smokes and smells like Locomotive #374. The replica features both a coal tender and flatboard car which form part of the show.

"The biggest challenge we faced working on this project was to drive the train - to physically get the thing to move," said Kevin Davies, president of House of Kevin, a Canadian company that created the train under special commission. The company is renowned for its work in museums, science centres, and world fairs in places all over the globe.


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