Our annual trip to the Frightdome started off a little rocky. Actually, it was totally fucked up, but they pulled their head out of their ass and made it our best trip yet.
We decided to opt for the VIP Tour tickets this year. Andy and I were NOT up to fighting crowds and standing in line. We were also escorting two teenage girls (my daughter Rosie and her friend Malia) to this year’s event. We had tickets for the 9pm tour but showed up when the gates opened at seven. The nice lady on the phone for Frightdome walked me through the process on frightdome.com and said if we showed up early we would be given free fast passes to use while we waited for our tour. Cool. I was “totally satisfied with this call”.
We bought the tickets online at frightdome.com and printed those suckers up like we were told to. When we got there, the folks at the Will Call counter didn’t have a clue what our tickets meant. They called for a “manager” to help us. When he showed up he started grilling me about where I got these tickets.
- Him:”Where did you get these?’
- Me: “Frightdome.com”.
- Him: What’s your email?
- Him: “What credit card did you use?’
I’m thinking, “WTF?” With a thinly veiled threat he informed us that, “We’re getting a lot of these and they all come from the same email.” Apparently he was implying that either we forged the tickets or were ripped off by a “third party”. His tone was anything but pleasant.
I was already a little miffed because I had to surrender my lighter to the security amnesty bucket. Something odd for an event that has a smoking area on their map. As “The Manager” got on his radio, I called the nice lady at frightdome.com. I asked her where she was and she said, “In an office.” Hmmmmm? I explained what was going down and she said, “I’ll send someone right down.” At this point we were escorted out of the Frightdome by “The manager.” “Fuck this.” I said, “I want my lighter back. Rosie, get me my lighter.” Rosie reaches down and snatches my lighter back. “Security Chick” says, “You can’t do that.” I say, “That’s my daughter. That’s my lighter and we’re leaving.” Security Chick has that “Deer in the headlights” look and our group heads outside. Andy’s upset because he thinks he’s been fucked out of $400.
I’m telling “The Manager” to talk to the lady on my cell to straighten things out. He doesn’t want to hear me out. I say, “I guess we’ve been screwed out of 400 bucks. You better fix this right now.” He tells me to back off. Andy tells me to back off. I back off. “Manager” suddenly adopts a pleasant tone of voice for the first time. We get to hear his story about this “big problem” they’re having with the VIP passes. Now I don’t care. This is our only shot to do the Frightdome and things are going south.
Now “Manager Chick” shows up. She’s pleasant and asks me what email I used. I tell her. She asks if I got an email with a confirmation code. With the magic of my iPhone, I check my email. WA LA!! Here’s the confirmation code. She tells “Manager”, “They have the code, let them in”. We then are lead back in the ticketing area. “Security Chick” wants to wand us but “Manager” says, “They’re with me.” We sail past Security Chick (with my fucking lighter) and she still has that “Deer in the Headlights” look.
Oh Boy. Now we’re paying customers and get to go into the Frightdome. We hang out for about an hour and then head back down the huge flight of stairs to be 15 minutes early for our nine o’clock tour. We go to the holding pen with other VIPS wait for our tour guide. There are about ten of us on the tour.
All right! Let’s get the show on the road. With a hearty “Let’s go!”, our tour guide leads through the turnstiles. Revving his chain saw, “Tour Guide” parts the crowd as he leads us to the first haunted house. BUT….before we get there we get ditched. Suddenly our little party and a nice couple are standing alone wondering where the fucking tour guide went. Andy has the idea that we can catch them coming out of a house and we can rejoin the tour. After three or so house exits we give up. “Fuck this”, I say and we head back down the stairs AGAIN.
When we go through the turnstiles the crew working there greet us like long lost friends. Another manager steps up to the plate. He’s a 20ish young man named “Jason”. He apologizes for our experience mentioning opening night SNAFUs. He tells us to wait while he gets another guide. As he talks to his radio I get the feeling he’s kicking ass and taking names.
Licky split a new guide appears. I recognize him as a clown that has worked the Dome in the past. Jason introduces us to “Patch” and says we’re in good hands. Indeed we were. “Patch” explains that he will personally take us through the Dome and we won’t miss a thing. Once inside, he asks us what we want to see first. We tell him to pick a haunted house (there are six of them) and we’re moving. Slowly. Patch makes sure we don’t get lost in the crowd.
At the first house, Malia isn’t up to going in and Patch stays with her while the rest of us dive in. At each house he tries to gently urge her to go in. He’s really nice. He has worked hard on these attractions and truly wants Malia to enjoy them. But when she says no, no means no and he doesn’t question that. After two more Malia gets her nerve on and goes on in. She sure was scared but she Loved it. While we go along we learn that Patch has been in the business of scaring people for 18 years. Eight of those designing and working the Frightdome. He’s sharp and professional and really nice. Every now and then he stops to let people take pictures of him. We get to meet his clown friends. We get to see everything.
I can’t give Patch enough Kudos. He truly turned a bad situation around and made our trip to the Frightdome a memory of a lifetime.
Remember Jason? While I was wandering around trying to find the T-Shirt getting place Jason walked up to me, addressed me by name and wanted to know if everything was OK. He’s Jason Egan the owner and CEO of Frightdome! Yeah, go back and click that link.