On Sunday September 22nd, Theme Park Adventure hosted its first Autumn Nights at Sam’s event at the Disneyland Hotel – and it was without a doubt, one of the most wild and epic fan gatherings we have ever held! Over 80 TPAers gathered and mingled under glowing Tiki torches as we kicked off the 2013 Halloween season!
This month’s gathering was the first Autumn Nights at Sam’s mixer of 2013. The first 30 fans last night received the first of the Autumn Nights at Sam’s buttons, featuring a Halloween version of our TPA Tiki, whimsically decorated by its original artist, our dear friend Tom “Thor” Thordarson! The first batch of 30 buttons were gone in less than five minutes and everyone loves the Autumn Nights design overlay; good spooky fun!
Not only were we celebrating the kick-off of the Halloween season, we also commemorated Theme Park Adventure’s 19th Anniversary!
“On September 4th, 1994, I was riding all by my lonesome on the PeopleMover,” explained TPA Founder Rick West as he addressed the group at Trader Sam’s. “I was trying to come up with a name for a fan publication that I wanted to start up – we started in print, because we pre-date the Internet. That’s when Theme Park Adventure was born. Over the years, we pioneered a lot in the way of Halloween event coverage, beginning with Knott’s Scary Farm with the first Build pictures and of course, our flow-through maze videos, as well as streets and the stories behind various monsters and designers. That spread over the years to other haunts such as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and stand-alone events, like Sinister Pointe and Delusion. As we merged onto the Information Super Highway, our coverage of haunts and all things expanded. Many haunt monsters began as TPA fans a long time ago, and we love that. I can truly say that in 19 years, the greatest adventure of all has been getting to know all of you. Without you, TPA wouldn’t exist, so thank you!”
That led to a “virtual pinata” that Rick explained would shower the group with sugary goodness, because every celebration should have a pinata! Tayler Brown from Chambers of the Mausoleum/Garner Holt Productions was called out of the crowd to do the first honors by “whacking it” in front of everyone; we made her close her eyes and spin around, and when she stopped, she had to keep screaming, “WHACK! WHACK! WHACK!” as we rained handfuls of candy down on everyone! It was ridiculous, and after several minutes and a couple other whacking participants, we unloaded 10 pounds of candy on all of the TPAers in attendance! Completely insane!
After the rain of sugar ended, we commenced with a raffle prize giveaway session that lasted the better part of 40 minutes – again, epic in proportion due to the kick-off of Halloween! This month, Theme Park Adventure visited Cedar Point in Ohio for the first time, and brought back a cool GateKeeper figure that went to one of our lucky TPAers! Along with that, our wonderful friend Danielle P. donated several vintage Halloween Haunt shirts and a hoodie from Knott’s – all new – which was really awesome!
The main portion of the TPA raffle was called SEAL YOUR OWN FATE. Winners had to select a single white envelope from a large stack – sealing their own fate and setting their destiny with whatever prize waited inside for them! Basically, we gave away a flood of haunted attraction tickets from the following events:
Haunt S.B., Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, The Empty Grave, The Purge: Fear The Night, Knott’s Scary Farm’s Halloween Haunt, Reign of Terror, Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, Delusion: Masque of Mortality, Blackout: Elements, Evil Willy’s Candy Factory, Sinister Pointe, and Chambers of the Mausoleum/Labyrinth of Lost Relics. Theme Park Adventure thanks all of the participating companies and attractions for their awesome gift donations – everyone was really excited, and we sealed a whole bunch of fates for Halloween 2013!
Our great friend and industry treasure John Waite surprised both Rick West and Johanna Atilano with a TPA Anniversary goodie bucket, complete with yummy pastry and candy treats. John led the entire TPA group in a “Happy Birthday” sing-along, which was heartfelt and nothing short of humbling. It was the perfect touch to an evening of wild shenanigans and epic prizes!
As usual, the TPA gathering was a who’s who – from haunters including Russ McKamey from McKamey Manor in San Diego to Kris Golojuch from Evil Willy’s Candy Factory in Irvine (both guys drove up from the San Diego area to be with the group), to Jeff Schiefelbein and many of the crew from Sinister Pointe in Brea, monsters from Knott’s Scary Farm, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and several members of the ScareLA team! Our pal Mark Silverman hung out and talked to fans as well – he’s best known as the voice of Disney’s Tower of Terror attraction!
The staff and crew at Trader Sam’s were great sports as usual, and the TPA group did a pretty good job at keeping the walkway open for them as they worked and we played!
It was a fantastic night of mingling, mixing, Tiki drinks, prizes and great friends, including several new faces, which we absolutely love – watching the Theme Park Adventure family grow each month with new folks showing up is very exciting to us and a testament to the great friendliness of this group and gathering.
For the first time, TPA will be hosting an October Autumn Nights gathering! We realize that many of our people are haunters and will be either working or exhausted; however, not all of our group work at haunts, and so, we are excited to announce that Autumn Nights at Sam’s II will be held on October 13 at Trader Sam’s beginning at our normal time, 7:00 P.M! There will be candy, prizes and of course, good ol’ Tiki fun! For those of you who can make it, we look forward to seeing you soon! And for those who will be working haunts around Southern California – kick ass, and we’ll see you in November!
Have a safe and awesome haunt season, everyone!