On Sunday, November 17th, Theme Park Adventure held its final Autumn Nights at Sam’s mixer of 2013 at the Disneyland Hotel. In keeping with annual tradition, the November gathering was the largest in TPA’s history, bringing nearly 150 theme park fans, industry folks and serious haunters together in one spot for a night of socializing, tiki drinks and fantastic networking!
Back in 2012, Theme Park Adventure opted not to hold its monthly gathering in October at Trader Sam’s in Anaheim, California. This decision was simply because many of our TPAers are haunters each Halloween season, and the fact that our own event schedule is so daunting during that time that we figured we could use a break and no one would likely show up anyway. The following month, we held our final 2012 Autumn Nights at Sam’s mixer at the famous Disneyland Hotel tiki bar and were stunned by a record turnout; at that time, it was the biggest group we’d ever hosted for this event. In retrospect, it was easy to see what happened – people got their Halloween on in October and come November, were really anxious to relax with friends, share stories and celebrate the end of the haunting season together in one place.
As October 2013 rolled around, we made the decision to go ahead with an Autumn Nights gathering, because our monthly mixers have become more popular and attract fans of all types each month; they’re not all haunters. We also went one step further and incorporated a group trip into our October mixer to Sinister Pointe for a special late night behind the scenes tour of the attraction as an added bonus. Seeing that our October gathering was well attended – and at the same time, noting that a very large amount of TPAers were absent due to their haunt schedules – we figured that history would repeat itself in November, and we predicted the largest TPA gathering ever was about to take place.
Our prediction was correct, and with almost 150 TPAers gathering at Trader Sam’s, the stage was set for a wild night of tiki drink-infused shenanigans and good times! We even extended the hours when planning the event, thinking that with more people attending, more time would be needed for everyone to eat, drink and socialize; and we were glad we did, because fans came in waves even before 6 p.m. ready to party and hang out!
So many haunts were represented at our final Autumn Nights mixer, including Knott’s Scary Farm, Sinister Pointe, Haunt S.B., Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, Chambers of the Mausoleum, The Empty Grave, Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare, Evil Willy’s Candy Factory, Delusion and more! Industry peeps were there too, from Garner Holt Productions, ScareLA and Universal Creative. It was a fantastic mix, and the excitement in the air was palpable as everyone shared their Halloween tales and discussed what events they’d attended during October.
Of course, TPA held its monthly raffle giveaway, which was outrageous and over the top as everyone cheered and participated. A big tin of cookies (courtesy of Halloween Haunt legend John Waite – who wishes to remain anonymous) was a mouth-watering prize. We gave away a Glow With the Show Mickey ears hat, and have no idea who it eventually went home with – hopefully someone with an Annual Pass to Disney! A World of Color Winter Dreams gift pack was given away, which included a thermos and goodies with the new show’s logo adorning everything. Jeff Schiefelbein, owner of Sinister Pointe helped Rick West give away two pairs of tickets to the attraction’s upcoming Not So Merry Holiday Haunt. Jon Braver, owner of Delusion was also on hand and helped give away a really cool swag bag from his insanely popular haunt (yes Jon, HAUNT!). Theme Park Adventure also had the pleasure of giving away two tickets to Knott’s Merry Farm, as well as two tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Grinchmas celebration!
At the conclusion of our November raffle, Rick had John Waite (one of the original Scary Farm monsters/ride ops in 1973 at Knott’s) and Zach R., the youngest haunter from Chambers of the Mausoleum join him in a toast. John and Zach bookended the swath of haunters represented at our gathering, representing over 40 years of haunt fans and professionals from all walks of life; something that was both remarkable and extremely gratifying. Theme Park Adventure has worked hard over the past years to bring different groups of haunters and fans together as one huge, friendly family. Seeing John, Zach and everyone in between there at the Autumn Nights mixer was the ultimate payoff, and something we are very proud of. It’s the way this industry is supposed to be. Together, Rick and everyone raised a glass and called Halloween 2013 officially over; it was a tremendous season and everyone should be very proud of their events and what they accomplished this year!
For the remainder of the evening, the entire group continued to hang out, enjoy the company of one another, and continue sharing about their Halloween adventures, what their holiday plans are, and just being in the moment with sweet tiki cocktails in hand! It was a perfect night, and we were thrilled by the incredible turnout.
As usual, a huge thank you to the Cast Members at Trader Sam’s (BERNARDO!) and Tangaroa Terrace for being awesome hosts to our crazy event; the good news is, December’s will be much smaller and thus, easier to handle – and we won’t freak Disney Security out by the size of our group! Thank you to everyone who attended; we hope you had a fantastic time and look forward to seeing you in December as we kick off Winter Nights at Sam’s!