How Valuable Is Your Time?

This time of year, the pantheon of Southern California amusement parks – Knott’s Berry Farm, Magic MountainUniversal Studios, and even king of the ring, Disneyland (though to a somewhat lesser degree) – get into the spirit of the season by offering Halloween themed attractions. Disney decorates nicely, has a parade or two, hosts a party for the kiddies, and revamps The Haunted Mansion with props from ex-Disney animator, Tim Burton’s seasonal mainstay The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Magic Mountain, Knott’s, and Universal, take things a step further and go the mature route (13 and older only) by adding a number of terrifying mazes to the mix. They also re-theme their rides, generally giving them silly, spooky names and turning out the lights or something equally lazy. They decorate adequately (nobody trumps Disney in the decorum department though) and then hire a few hundred folks to dress up as ghouls so they can run around and terrorize their guests. It’s great, cheesy fun.

 


(Hangin’ with the freaks!)

Tonight, Michelle and I are going to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt is actually the premiere Southern California event. They’ve been doing it for thirty-nine years and they sell-out mostly every night and they do a hell of a job, but, man, oh man, are they ever crowded. It gets pretty ridiculous. Try any Saturday in October and chances are you’ll get on one, maybe two rides, and get through one, maybe two mazes, and that’s that.

If you like waiting in line for hours upon hours, you’ll love every tedious minute. As for Michelle and I? It takes the fun right out of fun.

Our choice, Universal, isn’t much better. Their otherwise wide walkways are teeming with rambunctious teens. Lines take one, two, sometimes even three hours a pop! Being a movies studio, they do an incredible job of outfitting their roaming beasties, and their mazes use the very latest in gruesome technology (though Knott’s is the haunted attraction industry leader, Universal does it even better), but standing in line for two and a half hours? For what? A five-minute experience? Oh lord, it’s miserable on top of miserable.

 


(Universal always has pretty cool promo stuff)

But what can we do?

We love the atmosphere.

We love that an entire thrill park dedicates its evenings to scaring the crap out of people.

The lines, the hassle, the human clutter – it’s almost worth it.

Almost.

And we almost decided to throw up our hands and say forget it.

But then, each park (except for those greedy, money-grubbers at Disneyland) offers a front-of-the-line pass for a sales premium. You pay the standard admission plus an additional fee (forty bucks or so) and you get to skip the lines and retain your sanity.

This is our first time trying it out – hopefully it’s worth the extra cash.

So long as there isn’t a crazy, long line for front-of-the-line pass holders (they only sell a limited amount of premium tickets) all should be well.

We’ll see. I’m still a bit leery, because if I’m willing to pay extra, tons of other folks are probably willing to pay extra, and something’s gotta give.

They claim they sell a limited amount of premium tickets, but when it comes to amusement parks and money and limiting admissions, they favor large amounts of cash over customer satisfaction. They figure you’ll be back, and hey, if you finally turn your back and write them off, no biggie, more consumers are born every second…

I’ll report back tomorrow and let you know how things go. This may be our last haunted amusement park visit (depending on how well these front-of-the-line passes work). In the meantime, why don’t you get out of the house and do something seasonal?

In three more weeks another Halloween will pass us by and then you’ll have to wait a whole year for the freakiness to return. Get off your butt and patronize a haunted maze or house. Go see THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2: FULL SEQUENCE. Roger Ebert calls it an “affront to human decency” so it’s gotta be good. Get out there and scare some kids (legally, please). Spend some money at an over-priced Halloween store. Whatever you do, take advantage of the season and have some ghoulish, Halloween fun. Life’s too short not to.

 

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)
(Great poster, huh?)

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