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“It Actually Compromised my Health” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Criterion Theater

Criterion Theater
35 Cottage St., Bar Harbor, ME 04609
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Ranked #18 of 19 Attractions in Bar Harbor
Attraction details
Enfield, CT
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“It Actually Compromised my Health”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2008

It is difficult for me to write this review because there I had such a negative experience here. I wouldn't recommend this to some I disliked, let alone to someone I care about.

The Criterion Theatre is an old art-deco landmark that sadly hasn't been kept up with the times. You can sit up in the balcony in group box seats, which are newer seats, but you're farther away from the screen and it's noticeably stuffy up there. You can sit in the orchestra section for a dollar less, but there are still problems from the environment. Everything is either dirty, dingy, or dusty. There's lots of drapery that adds to the neglected and depressing interior decor, and that terrible smell that indicates that the air is exhausted and carrying mold.

I had a difficult time breathing during the movie, and I used my hoodie as a pathetic air filter. I was never comfortable and when I came home I immediately took a shower and washed my hair. My lungs weren't back to normal for THREE DAYS after. If you have lung problems or have a compromised immune system, avoid this theatre.

Aside from the health concerns, I also had the sad misfortune of encountering some of the WORST customer service I've ever seen. We were persuaded to buy the balcony seats for a dollar more, but when we saw that we'd have better seats below we asked that our tickets be exchanged. This was well before the start of the show and it was not a busy time. The cashier pointed to the "no refund" policy that apparently applied to our exchange request. He refused to give us the difference in our tickets, and of course, with "no refunds" we couldn't afford to take the hit and walk out. There was no manager to speak to, and the cashier was rude and brusque.

Honestly, I don't know how this place stays in business. I hope you take your business elsewhere, and if you do take your chances, I hope you didn't get sick, like I did.

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11 reviews from our community

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English first
Windsor, Connecticut
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
14 attraction reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
74 helpful votes 74 helpful votes
“Wish I Could Give a Lower Rating!”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2008

This was the very worst part of our Bar Harbor trip. It's probably the worst thing that I've experienced this summer, really.

My best friend and I saw that MAMA MIA was playing, and we still hadn't seen it yet. We decided to patronize this old-timey movie palace, and the ticket salesboy sold us our $8.50 balcony tickets. Now, we debated about spending the extra dollar to sit in the balcony. He assured us that the view was the same everywhere, but the balcony was well worth atleast three times that amount. The seats are better, there are tables, etc. OK! He seemed very passionate about his job.

The theater lobby looked dated, but maybe they wanted it that was for effect...? First I went to the bathroom. The entryway to the ladies room was full of junk! I even pulled my best friend in just to see, like, all the old dressers, mirrors, furniture of other sorts that they were storing in the bathroom. Ok...maybe they use it for special events they have...?

We then headed to our special balcony seats. When we got up there, the seats were disgusting and upholtered. I can't take that combinations. Then you KNOW they've NEVER been washed, instead of just having a feeling that they've never been washed. Plus, the screen was really small, and I didn't have my glasses. There's no way the view was going to be the same.

Oh well, we'll just get our dollars back and sit downstairs, right? WRONG! No refunds of any kind, EVER! Even though the movie hadn't started yet, and we weren't even asking for full refunds. Our choices were: "Go away, but we'll keep your money." or "Stay, and sit where ever you want, but we'll keep all your money." There wasn't even a manager on duty (all night) for us to talk to. The theater's just run by young children, like, 6 years old (essentially). The boy told us that even if there was a manager there, he's sure he would be backed up because "NO REFUNDS!" is a theater policy. What?? What are managers for if not overriding policy? I've never heard of such lunacy.

We didn't want to totally throw that money away, so we opted to sit downstairs. Well, it smelled TERRIBLE down there. I'm sure it was full of asbestos and mold. We really should have just cut our losses at this point, but we had paid, and we really wanted to see this movie. Instead, we stayed through the whole horrible ordeal and got black lung for our troubles. Also, the movie was bad.

Recommendations: See other movies in other theaters. See MAMA MIA on Broadway.

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bar_Harbor_Maine, manager at Criterion Theater, responded to this review, September 1, 2008
I'm sorry, to hear that this person had a lousy time in our theater. It is also unfortunate that this person did not find our balcony seats to be adequate.

Our balcony seats are newer and offer more leg room than our orchestra seats and many of our customers enjoy having a direct view of the screen from these seats, rather than having to look up at it.

There is a one dollar difference in the movie ticket price between the balcony and the orchestra seats. Just like almost any venue, after you have purchased your tickets, you may not exchange these tickets for any sort of refund, except in the case of a power outage or technical error. If you buy a balcony ticket and would rather sit downstairs, you are welcome to do so at no difference in the price.

The Criterion Theatre is an Art Deco Theatre that was built in 1932 and has since been operating continuously as a movie theatre in addition to having live performances. For the past two years it has been operating under the guidance of a non-profit group which has the intention of restoring the theatre to the movie palace it once was. During the summer of 2008, the theatre has been undergoing lots of construction/renovations and therefore has had an increased amount of dust, debris, etc. throughout the theatre during the various stages of this work.

We are working hard to keep this theatre going and greatly appreciate your support and feedback (positive or negative). We will use your suggestions to help guide us in our improvements.

thank you

-house manager

ps- As house manager I only take one off night a week. Unfortunately it happened to be the night that this person attended the theatre and I apologize for not personally being able to help this customer out in any way that I could.
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