Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Horror Night

Last year, my family went to the zoo's Spooktacular celebration and absolutely loved it! They must recruit hundreds of volunteers to carve HUNDREDS of Jack-o-lanterns, dress up like characters (pumpkin people, mayor of "Pumpkinville", pirates, fairy nymphs, trolls, etc.), decorate the zoo with lights, costume the giant elephant statues, and much more. There are smoke machines, DJs, spider webs, animals, and more! Our Spooktacular experience last year was a lovely night in the cool Florida evening, filled with dancing, candy, costumes, and fun.

This year, we invited my parents to join us. We love to go on outings to the zoo with them, why not experience Halloween together, too? They loved the idea and made the drive for the weekend.

What a horror. I was on the edge of a panic attack more than half the night!

Have you ever been somewhere and felt more like a cow being herded into a pen than a person? My family was six of a mere TWELVE MILLION PEOPLE! who chose to cram themselves into the Jacksonville Zoo last night.

The traffic through the zoo is limited to a one-way path that loops throughout various areas and exhibits in the zoo. At times, the path is wider than others. At times, there was room to move more than 6 inches away from the people around you. At times, you could actually have a conversation of your own, rather than just hearing EVERY ANNOYING WORD of the two daddies in front of you. (I almost asked what time we were supposed to show up to his house for the homemade wings his wife was making while he and his buddy clogged up pedestrian traffic.)

We enjoyed a few beautiful moments at the giraffe exhibit, taking in the beauty of the graceful animals. I even marveled at their speed and size as they ran from the enormous crowd of people and paparazzi-like flashing lights. This rare siting occurred only moments after my shortness of breath and hot flashes that accompanied the funneling of people down the four foot wide winding path through the African grasses and up the only slightly wider boardwalk ramp that led you to the viewing perch.

Throughout the night, I battled the panic of being trapped. WHAT THE HECK WHERE THEY THINKING??? WHAT IDIOT PLANNED THIS THING??? They allow UNLIMITED visitors into the zoo. ALL TRAFFIC is routed through a ONE-WAY winding path that loops around and through two-thirds of the zoo! There isn't even room enough between the people to even go around the thousand people standing in line to get their package of Sweet-tarts at the treat station, much less bail out on a moment's notice should the kiddies take a turn for the worse -- or, God forbid, A REAL EMERGENCY!

At one point I turned to my husband, Fireman Daddy, expert on all things emergency, and asked if this would pass fire code. NO, OF COURSE NOT! But, it's open I guess that doesn't really apply. BUT SHOULDN'T IT??? My head was filled with visions of stampedes and tramplings! Haven't you seen the news the day after Thanksgiving each year??? I guess it's a good thing those treat stations were giving away raisins and band-aids. I shutter to think what could have happened had there been a "jackpot" station -- FREE Wiis, iPODS, cell phones -- JONAS BROTHERS POSTERS!

Fireman Daddy was not happy with me when I kind of, sort of, maybe laid into a volunteer who happened to have a walkie-talkie in his hand.

"Is someone going to open an alternate path for all of us who just want to GET OUT OF HERE!?! This is ridiculous! I DON'T CARE about the CANDY...WE JUST WANT TO GO HOME!!!" As he quickly claimed innocence and threw his hands up (that's what I want - a volunteer who doesn't THINK FOR THEMSELVES - YOU HAVE A WALKIE-TALKIE! RADIO TO SOMEONE WHO DOES CARE!), I listened to the dozens of conversations all around me.

"It's going to be dead next year. I'm not coming back for this."

"The zoo made a killing on us, son."

"Daddy, I can't see." "There's nothing to see except the people around you. I'm your eyes and your ears. Just do what I tell you to."


"We've been trying to get out of here for an hour..."

"They ran out of candy...that's the hold up."

There's something the matter with an entertainment option when you find yourself just wanting it to be over.

And, get this...the REAL clincher! As we entered the gate at the start of the evening, they handed my little Princesses glow necklaces. "I want one..." I told the lady.

"There just for the children."

Whatever. Nine dollars for each person and only the kids get a necklace. What about the adults who came without children. Would THEY get a $0.25 necklace???

What a horror.


  1. My mother-in-law was trying to get us to go tonight. We went last year as well, and felt at that time, like you did last night, like cattle being herded. I advised my inlaws that it was pretty horrible last year, so why would we want to repeat the torture? There has got to be a better alternative in Jax... maybe the mall or the library?

  2. I was SHOCKED when the lady (near the end) told us this was on par for Saturday nights...she recommended Sunday night. Who with small children can do that?

  3. LOL. That would be my definition of hell. I can't stand crowds. I get crowd rage. I hate being touched by people who I don't know. I do not like it when I am the only one in the room or area who seems to be bothered by those sorts of things. It escalates my anger. Plus if you add kids to the mix, then you might have to just shoot me! So trust me... I understand! You should have grabbed the walkie talkie and radioed for someone to get you out of there.


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