Blacklight * By Mich Allen and Kara Dennison

Rage. by Kara
Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 9:58 AM

So yesterday I went to Busch Gardens with Onezumi and her husband Harknell, fellow webcomickers and the evil geniuses behind InterventionCon. This summer was their first time at BGW; Oni's a theme park fiend, and she'd been to the Florida one, but was well excited over my hometown park. When she found out about Howl-O-Scream up here, she decided she wanted to hit this one as she was going along the East Coast hitting as many haunts as possible.

Sadly, I haven't had the chance to hit HOS as much as I like lately. For one thing, it's not fun alone; for another, I tend to need someone with me to keep the strobes away. The Co-Writer with the Longest Hair has trained well over the years in keeping my head down and glaring at any of the haunted house cast to get me through strobe-equipped rooms, but our schedules haven't synched up for a HOS outing since I actually lived up there (a couple years ago now). That's the thing. I love these places. I do have light-sensitive seizures (that's one of my two main triggers, not surprisingly), but if I'm informed in advance I can make my own informed decision of whether to go in, and if I do I'm prepared. Fortunately, BGW tends to be good about using them sparingly in shows, and only once or twice in the haunted areas.

Oni and I were live-Tweeting our day since they'd set up an 'official' hashtag, and since Oni wants to convert her site to strictly theme park reviews and asked would I mind covering BGW since I'm like right here. I ended up posting strobe locations at first because, who knows, there might be other people out there like me who want to go but aren't sure how to gauge things.

Now, let me say the good stuff up front: one, Monster Stomp was AWE. SOME. It's been hard to get into since I first saw it, but I'm glad we sat in line because that place filled up quick and it was completely worth it. The main rides (coasters and DarKastle) were fun as always, and the Jack show in Killarney was ... well, it was new. I'd described Jack's makeup and costume to Oni and Harknell in detail, only to have him walk out looking entirely different: different gear and an animatronic head, as opposed to the pumpkin makeup/prosthetic from years past. I'm not always a fan of huge makeovers/rebranding, but this looked damned cool.

We did a couple mazes right off. One was Cursed early on, which seemed to be mostly witches and gypsies of some sort. Strobes in the first room and the last with a warning sign out front, and an outdoor area that would be scarier at night (but was still cool). I rather liked it, and you could tell they'd given it a lot of thought with the design and makeup. One thing I love is all the detail that goes into them -- there was one room with a shelf full of potion bottles, and each one was labelled by hand. Very nice.

Revenge of Pompeii is one of the old standards, and it's one that's okay for kids by day and switches over at night. We waited for after-hours (though I'll admit to being curious about the kid-friendly version). First thing? Strobes right away in the second room. And no warning sign. They were also somewhat visible throughout the rest of the maze from a couple rooms away, but bearable. Okay, fine. No warning, but they were inside a maze, so I should've expected it. I guess. Maybe.

When we were at the Jack show, though? They blasted a strobe in the middle of things. This was an outdoor public show. Should've been an indication of the rest of the night.

There's a bridge past the Pompeii ride in a little narrow area that leads to a fork, with one path leading to Festa Italia (where Apollo's Chariot is) and the other to San Marco (where shows and things are). For as long as I can remember at HOS, that bridge has been rigged with giant speakers underneath that will occasionally blare a nice big scream from Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein followed by some other creepy noises. This year, they added two things. Increased rumbling underfoot (cool), and ... strobes on either side during the run of the sound byte. Guys? GUYS?!?!

I was pissed, but how often would we have to cross that bridge for the rest of the night. Fine, fine, I'm pissed but I'll deal.

We get to Germany, where there are fully three mazes over behind the Festhaus. When I last went, aforementioned Co-Writer and I stood in line for what we thought was one but turned out to be two linked together. I figured two of them, placed as they were on the map, would be like that. Was rather eager. But then, walking up to the Festhaus ... every corner of every building was equipped with a strobe.

Oni and Harknell were very nice about walking me to the gates.

Before anyone gets on me about writing a 'strongly-worded letter' ... believe me, I'm taking care of it. I'm just gonna need a few proofreads to make sure I'm not raging too much about it. That's what the Internet's for: get it out here.

Though this morning, I got a few txts from Oni. And I quote:

9:08 AM: 'After you left HoS=BIG FAIL. Line so gnarly that we didn't get on anything. We left mad'

9:11 AM: 'Stayed up all night writing the review - have to make sure I didn't shred them too hard heh. It'll be up tonight. Poor hark didn't get to do much'

9:11 AM: 'thx to line from hell ... which btw the strobes went THROUGH. WTF'

So yeah. Even if the bridges and the streets up to the Festhaus hadn't been out to get me, I wouldn't have been able to stand in line for the events, much less see them for myself.

Let's just say I take back everything I said on Facebook about absent friends. The only thing that could have embarrassed and hurt and upset me more than being driven out of the park by lighting fixtures is sharing a ride and having had to take someone with me.

Fuck, I'm not even gonna bother signing off.

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