Jaws on the Water Event Report

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On June 27th I braved the murky, “shark” infested waters of the Texas Ski Ranch for Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow’s screening of Jaws, first reported here. After the quick sellout, Rolling Roadshow added more screenings throughout July, though I believe those screenings have also been sold out as well.  And that’s no surprise, because this experience proved to be one of the more unique, rare adventures you’d be crazy not to grab hold when you get the opportunity.

Upon arrival at the Texas Ski Ranch, all of the business is handled up front.  Two waivers are required for this event, one from the Texas Ski Ranch and one from the Alamo Drafthouse.  You’re given a glow stick to wear in the water so the lifeguards can spot you, and your arms are covered in wristbands signalling admission, that you’re of legal age to drink, and optional drink tab wristbands.  Once you’ve signed your life away, just cross your fingers you don’t fall prey to any “sharks” and step outside into the fun.

Though the screening began at sundown, shortly after 9pm, there was still plenty of entertainment to tide attendees over.  Giant beer pong and bean bag toss set up in the grass, drink stations, a stage with a DJ and his two dancing sharks that often mingled with the crowd.

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The very impressive portable screen sat upon an island, where Rolling Roadshow crew were hard at work prepping for the screening.  The small island also appeared to be home to a trio of goats.  Huh.  Natural lawn care?  Surrounding the island was the man-made lake in which attendees would descend in their inner tubes, but leading up to the screening it was filled with wakeboarders exhibiting their skills.

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Once the queue opened for the inner tubes, the water was cleared of wakeboarders and a large shark fin cut through the surface closer toward the island. Once the shark fin reached the other side of the lake, attendees were free to enter the water if they dared. Those too afraid were able to watch from the safety of the beach.

Once Jaws began, a large cluster of floating viewers gathered toward the front and center of the screen.  I imagine this may have made if difficult for the scuba divers to grab at us, as I only saw one surface once when the crowd dispersed.  So the “sharks” were a bit quiet this night.  It was more unnerving seeing the lightening and storms in the distance, and I’d worried they wouldn’t travel close enough to interfere with the event.  Luckily it didn’t.

Watching Jaws on the water was far more peaceful than you’d think.  The crowd full of content movie lovers, enraptured with the classic film, just floating along quietly on a calm lake.  Everyone there was not just there for the experience, but for their love of Jaws, everyone cheering wildly at all the classic lines.

An exciting event such as this should always end with a bang, right?  And the Rolling Roadshow delivered.  The explosion of the scuba tank in the film coincided with fireworks, adding a special touch to the already very interactive screening.

One important lesson learned: I’m a tiny person not fit for one-size-fits-all giant rubber inner tubes.  Next time I’ll bring my own. Though I’m quite eager to experience more of what Rolling Roadshow has to offer, so perhaps I’ll stay out of the water for a bit.

The Queen Mary

Visiting California this weekend I had the opportunity to explore the famous Queen Mary, luxury cruise ship turned war transporter during WWII.  Time magazine voted the Queen Mary as one of the top ten most haunted, and the owners definitely capitalize on this.

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In fact, included with the purchase of the self guided tour of the ship, you receive a Ghost & Legends guided tour as well.

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The tour meets on the fourth deck, and your eyebrows raise right away when your instructed to pose in front of a green screen. We’re all instructed that photography is forbidden while on the tour.  Then you’re ushered down a few flights of stairs into a dark room where a video with ominous narration discusses the ship’s history in the war.  We were then introduced to our tour guide, who acted as though he came straight from Disney’s Tower of Terror right, eccentrically morose.  He slid open a wall to reveal a hidden door, bursting open with fog and special effects.  At this point I was confused, fully having expected a tour walked us through the ship while pointing out haunted areas…but special effects..what??

We’re lead onto walkways overlooking the first class swimming pool, which reminded me of the pool in Ghost Ship, though much larger and well kept.  The tour guide begins explaining of the deaths that occurred here years ago and how this area has been off limits for a long time.  This confuses me further because the bottom of the empty pool is still wet.  Then the lights go dim and the pool fills with fog while ghostly sounds echo throughout the room.  At this point I finally feel as though I’m in on the joke and start grinning.

The group is swept through multiple areas of the hull, all decorated with props and special effects straight out of a haunted house while the tour guide explains who died where.  We finally end up in the boiler room, a rather large dimly lit area filled with pipes where it’s explained where young men died in explosions there.  The tour guide makes a show of telling us to wait there while he wanders off and there’s a grand finale of the room appearing to flood while ghostly noises hover overhead before the guide retrieves us and leads us to safety of souvenir photo purchases.

I have to admit, this tour amused me a great deal.  I felt as though I was experiencing a haunted attraction a month early.  Even the gimmicky tour photos amused me- the green screen was replaced with haunted scenes from the tour with hidden ghosts in the background.  

While I’m more of a skeptic on the belief of whether ghosts exist, I can’t see how the Queen Mary could end up on any most haunted list.  Any ghostly presence is strictly man made.  During the month of October, the Queen Mary offers multiple mazes that just proves my point, though I do think the unique setting would make for some fun attractions.