‘Zootopia’ Outdoor Screening at Home

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Zootopia-SetupProjectorDisney’s Zootopia is one of our family’s favorite films of the year, so when we were given the opportunity to host an outdoor film screening, we jumped at the chance!

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Disney Under the Stars Kit. Photo by Will James.

We just finished putting a new deck on our house, so setting up an outdoor movie screening was the perfect way to break it in this summer. Armed with an Ion Tailgater, an Axaa P300 Pico Projector, an Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter, an HDMI cable, and my iPhone, I set out to build an outdoor movie theater for our family on our deck.

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The Tailgater looks as good as it performs. Photo by Will James.

I cracked open the Tailgater first–it’s a great portable sound system. It can be operated plugged into an outlet but is also battery-powered. I was surprised to find it had a full charge already, so I plugged in the included microphone and let my son go to town singing. He chose the Dinotrux theme song. I then easily connected my iPhone to it via Bluetooth and was instantly playing music direct from my phone through the speaker. The sound quality was great and better than any portable speaker I’ve tried previously. And although I’ll probably never use it, the Tailgater also has an antenna and an AM/FM radio. I easily tuned in our local Indie Rock station.

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Aaxa Pico Projector. Photo by Will James.

I then moved on to the Aaxa Pico Projector. The kit comes with a mini tripod, power cord (a battery pack is optional and not included so I did have to run an extension cord), multiple video cables, and a handy little remote. Using the HDMI Cable and Apple Lightning Adapter I was able to quickly connect the projector to my iPhone and, with a couple clicks of the remote, switched over to HDMI and my iPhone home screen was projecting.

I handed my son my phone to play his new Dinotrux game while we finished getting setup and ran into our first small snag. Once I connected the HDMI to the projector, the audio started playing through the projector instead of the Tailgater! I’m hopeful there is a way to specify the audio output, but with an impatient toddler sitting beside me, I opted to just plug-in the AUX cable that came with the Tailgater and be done with it for this first go round.

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The screen ended up a little smaller than originally intended. Photo by Will James.

Lastly, I grabbed some white flannel from our fabric pile and cut a 16:9 sheet off of it and thumb tacked it to our window frames. They were almost the perfect spacing for the fabric (I didn’t think to check this BEFORE cutting the fabric). Our screen was set.

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Owen is a blueberry-holic. Photo by Will James.

While I was setting up our theater, my wife was making our Zootopia-themed snacks. Carrots and blueberries were an easy choice, of course. We also had broccoli, bell pepper, and two kinds of hummus for dipping along with a giant bowl of popcorn because, well, it’s a movie–you have to have popcorn. While I got plenty of veggies, hummus, and popcorn, my son scarfed all the blueberries down before we even hit the five-minute mark!

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Watching ‘Zootopia’ on the small big screen. Photo by Will James.

With everything ready to go, our whole family (and my son’s Star Wars toys) sat down to watch Zootopia. I hit play and ran into our second snag of the evening. At the peak of summer at our northern latitude (we live in Seattle) even in the shade, it was just too light out for the Aaxa to shine the picture from our deck table to the screen. We quickly adjusted by propping a styrofoam lid on top of a stepstool and putting the projector on our bench. Granted this made the viewable size no bigger than a decent-sized laptop, but we all still enjoyed sitting outside in the cool shade and watching the movie.

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Watching together. Photo by Will James.

The only other possible snag we narrowly avoided was that with the Apple lightning adapter plugged in to my phone, I couldn’t charge my phone while we were watching the movie. When we stopped, I was down to 10% battery life. So just keep in mind that you’ll need to have a full charge before you start if you plan to go with a similar setup. We do plan to try again another day later at night–maybe a mommy and daddy movie after the kids are asleep (as I type this I facepalm as we should have watched the finale of Game of Thrones like that last night).

We received a copy of the Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD combo version of Zootopia for our screening. We love these triple packs as we have a Blu-ray player in the house, DVD player in the van, and do a fair amount of plane travel so the iPad becomes a portable television.

For more details on the extra features available on the Blu-ray, you can read all about them in Patricia’s recent review.

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