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Park Theatre's classic exterior belies the modern technology and state-of-the-art upgrades being completed inside the Main street landmark. The theater will reopen Friday, Dec. 10. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Theater undergoes major upgrades

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Lights! Action! Camera!

Park Theatre, undergoing renovations and technological upgrades since September, will be re-opening Friday, Dec. 10.

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"Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will entertain audiences in the two "secondary" theaters.

The main theater is expected to open sometime in January, when theatergoers will experience one of the most expansive screens in the area, while relaxing in comfortable, body-conforming chairs.

The exterior retains a classic ambience. The marquee, painted last summer, reflects the era of the theater's inception. Construction began on the building in 1937; the theater welcomed its first audiences in the early '40s, according to owner Pam Wasche Wilson.

But once inside, audiences will experience state-of-the-art Dolby digital 3-D and 7.1 sound, the highest grade of sound available, Wasche Wilson said.

New curtains, speakers and White Castle burgers, frozen drinks and cappuccino at the concession stand will enhance the cinema viewing experience.

And the traditions of Tuesday bargain night and free popcorn Mondays will continue.

Wasche Wilson purchased the theater from her parents, Joe and Delores Wasche, in 1999. They had gained ownership in 1984.

Planning for the remodeling and upgrades for the Park Rapids landmark began in the summer of 2009. Wasche Wilson and husband Scott would return to the theater at 2 a.m. to talk over possibilities.

They originally decided to add digital and 3-D to just one of the theaters, but the need for new seating set the stage for the vast overhaul.

Seven blueprints later, work began.

"What do you want, Pam?" contractor Joe Edwards of E&E Theater Service posed of her ultimate goal.

"I want the biggest screen around," she replied.

A 37-foot-wide screen in the main theater will soon captivate audiences.

"It was a meeting of the minds," said Edwards of the numerous decisions made during the course of construction. "And the result is excellent."

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