With afternoon temperatures hitting above 80 degrees, a warm breeze in the evening and folks walking around in T shirts and shorts, you’d never guess it was time to begin our first Winter Nights at Sam’s mixer of the season! Yet, with Christmas just days away, that’s exactly how Mother Nature was playing her winter card here in sunny Southern California while other parts of the nation are getting snowed in and frozen solid! In 2012, Theme Park Adventure held its first Winter Nights at Sam’s meet and we were lucky if 20 people showed up to socialize and chill with us; as our group of regulars grows each month, we felt certain that 2013 would be different…
And it was! Typically the second lightest mixer month for us, we saw about 60 TPAers come out to our Christmas gathering, which was definitely a huge shift in gear from last month’s monstrous 150-person mixer. At the same time, we love it when we have groups under 80, because it makes it easier for everyone to mingle and actually socialize with one another. The fact that we had about three times the amount of people this year as we did last year stands as a testament to the fantastic growth and sense of community TPA continues to foster within the haunter and themed entertainment fan communities each month – “…and that you’re all raging alcoholics with these tiki drinks!” joked Rick West as he greeted everyone during the evening’s welcome and raffle giveaway.
Under the glow of Sam’s tiki torches, TPAers laughed and shared an awesome assortment of cookies, brittle and other naughty goodies that people brought to share with fellow fans; the generosity and total yumminess were off the charts all night! Even Disney Cast Members were invited to partake and got their fill of Christmas cheer – our pleasure, since they are always such awesome hosts to us! A huge thank you to the entire crew at Trader Sam’s and Tangaroa Terrace for their hospitality! And a HUGE thank you to those TPAers that took the time to make and bring the group such delicious desserts!
Sweets and treats weren’t the only things given away during our Christmas bash. Theme Park Adventure along with several of our awesome industry partners made it possible to brighten TPAers’ holiday season a bit more, thanks to wonderful gifts donated to our mixer.
Sinister Pointe’s Jeff Schiefelbein was on hand to give away two tickets to his haunted attractions Not So Merry Holiday Haunt, which is in the middle of a very limited run; December 20-21st are the final two nights for this adults-only event that you don’t want to miss! Not So Merry Holiday Haunt is not for the prude or shy, and it is definitely not for children. It is a very R-rated overlay to the incredible Sinister Pointe attraction, which is located in Brea. Here’s a look at Sinister Pointe’s 2012 Holiday Haunt. For ticketing and operational information, visit Sinister Pointe’s website and whatever you do – get over to Brea and let this crew show you a world class naughty holiday event unlike you’ve ever seen before!
Disneyland Resort donated a huge gift basket – more like a pirate’s chest – full of a crazy assortment of merchandise and goodies that made everyone in the group green with envy and cheer with excitement when we unveiled it! The lucky winners were Josh and Katie Quillin from Stage 13 FX; the downside – they parked in Toy Story Lot! Doh!
Universal Studios Hollywood donated four tickets to the park, along with four Front of the Line passes to go along with them! Whether our TPAers use them to head over now and check out Grinchmas, or save them for spring 2014 when Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem opens is up to them; thanks to the good folks at Universal, four lucky fans are heading to Hollywood to ride the movies in style!
Knott’s Berry Farm came through with flying colors, delivering the grand prize of the night – two 2014 Season Passes! The group went nuts when this prize was won – while many TPAers work in some capacity for Knott’s, everyone loves the Farm and is truly excited by all of the change and excitement that has come to the park in the past two years under the guidance of Raffi Kaprelyan and Matt Ouimet. It was really great giving away the pair of Season Passes, because we know that 2014 is going to be a banner year for Knott’s, with the complete renovation of the Calico Mine Co., as well as Camp Snoopy! Theme Park Adventure is pumped for that, and we know our fans are, too. Knott’s just made that happen in a huge way for two of them, and we think that’s awesome! An added bonus this month was Jeff Tucker from Knott’s joining the group – fans love him, and were thrilled when he arrived! We hope he will become a regular at our mixers; he’s been a great friend for years – it was badass to have him at our event as a guest!
As with any new season, we had a brand new TPA tiki logo by Tom “Thor” Thordarson, which we unveiled to a group of fans – the first 30 TPAers that arrived at Sam’s received one free! It’s a really fun, Christmassy design that features our tiki sipping a tasty holiday brew from a Santa mug as snowflakes swirl nearby (forget the fact that it feels like summer here at the moment). If you didn’t make it to the mixer or came too late to get one this time, we will have 30 more to give away next month when we gather once again!
Traffic around the Disneyland Resort was utterly nightmarish, as it has become now around the holidays; this past weekend, it was due to Christmas vacation and Annual Passholders colliding – a total mess that unfortunately, made it very challenging for people to attend our Winter Nights mixer. Those who did brave the traffic snarls had a blast and enjoyed several hours of fantastic friends, food and drinks. We feel really bummed about some of our TPAers being turned away by the gridlock, and look forward to January, when traffic is practically non-existent around Disneyland Resort. Our event page will go live on Facebook so you can RSVP after the turn of the new year. Until then, we will tell you that Winter Nights at Sam’s 2 will be Sunday, January 19th 2014 at 7 p.m. so mark your calendar!
It’s been a year filled with 12 awesome TPA mixers. As we bring 2013 to a close and look forward to the promise of a great new year, no one knows what the future holds. What we do know, is that we look forward to being part of this very special community and can’t wait to watch it grow larger and stronger with new faces and friends very familiar to us. Thank each and every one of you that made it out to one of our gatherings this year. If you haven’t yet made it to a TPA mixer, then put that at the top of your new year’s resolutions list and we’ll see you in 2014!
Merry Christmas, everyone!