Original article from Kent Live
Knights Park in Tunbridge Wells is a place where I have many happy memories from my childhood.
The complex has a bowling facility, a Frankie and Benny's restaurant and even a pub – what more could you want?
But my favourite attraction among the cluster of buildings has to be the ODEON cinema.
As the place where I had my first taste of the cinema, watching Finding Nemo in 2003, it holds a special place in my heart.
But since the coronavirus pandemic struck, my trips to sit in front of the big screen have sadly become less frequent.
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However, several months on, it was time for that to change.
I set off to visit the ODEON in Tunbridge Wells on Wednesday (June 9) for my first cinema experience since lockdown, and this is how it went.
Upon pulling into the car park, it was clear to see that there was plenty of space.
I was arriving for the 1.15pm showing of A Quiet Place 2 and was already thinking about where I should sit.
I waited at the open doors at the front of the building and was greeted by a member of staff, who was there to book my ticket.
The booking was done entirely by the employee on a takeaway-style tablet screen to the side of the entrance.
Food was also ordered through the same system, and that was when the lady uttered the words nobody wants to hear in a cinema.
"We're out of popcorn today," she explained, so I settled for some nachos and a medium-sized coke.
Maybe not the best start.
My adult ticket to watch A Quiet Place 2 cost £10.50, and I was given a 'premier seat' which was actually the same price as a standard one.
This was also my first experience of sitting in ODEON's 'premier' section, and it was very comfortable indeed.
Back to the food and the nachos came with three sides, two were salsas and then I chose to add in some jalapenos to spice things up a little.
This came to a total of £6.50, and my medium-sized coke cost £4.81.
However, as you can see from the picture of my cup, I think they were rather generous with the sizing there.
The total cost of my cinema trip including the ticket, food and drink was £20.20, which may be a little on the expensive side but I don't think it's an unreasonable price to pay for an enjoyable day out.
Especially given we've had to wait so long to be back in the cinema in the first place.
Moving through the cinema
After paying I was given four receipts, one of these had an order number.
The process was just like a fast food restaurant where you come forward and collect your food and drink from the counter once your number has been read out.
This system was very quick, and the use of signage stuck to the floor made the route easy to follow.
When moving around the cinema, a mask was to be worn at all times, however this could be removed once seated – the only problem was, I had to get there first!
The lighting was almost pitch black towards the back of the cinema where I was seated, and the usual row letters were not clearly illuminated.
This left me having to place my food and drink on the ground, before using my phone torch to guide me to my seat.
As if that wasn't difficult enough to manage, once I was seated I noticed some of the salsa sauce went down my freshly-washed white top while I was scrambling trying to find my seat. Lovely!
The cinema was very quiet during my visit, which is probably as expected for a Wednesday afternoon.
It's also rather handy when you're going to see a film that's almost silent.
The staff were very welcoming and helpful with the booking process and implementing safety measures.
Inside the screen itself, there was one couple seated on the back row. Apart from that, we had the room to ourselves to relax and enjoy the film.
The cinema was kept spotless, so much so that I didn't even spot a stray popcorn on the floor!
This was really encouraging, particularly in these times, and the screening rooms were cleaned as soon as each session had ended.
There was also a hand sanitiser station a couple of metres after the main entrance, which ensures customers are maintaining good levels of hygiene throughout their visit.
Overall, I was very impressed with the new measures that have been put in place.
These changes made the cinema experience really enjoyable, with no queues and interaction with the staff was consistently
The film itself was also a fun watch.
If you've seen the first A Quiet Place I would thoroughly recommend you go and watch the second. But there will be no spoilers here.