Monday, September 23, 2013

Times Scare: A Recap That May Or May Not Involve Getting Kicked Out Of Times Scare

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 It's been nearly two weeks since I've made a post here on Freddy In Space, and that quite frankly bums me out something fierce.  The one massively depressing side effect of starting to write for a living, and contributing to several different websites in an effort to be able to do so, is that I don't really have the time any longer to contribute to my own blog.  Here I find myself with more time than ever to devote to writing and yet my own corner of the blogosophere is lying dormant, which admittedly makes me so depressed that I often don't even want to look at it and see when the last time I posted was.
For five straight years, a span of more than a few days never went by without me posting something here on Freddy In Space, and it feels very unusual now that the cobwebs are starting to form.  Especially during the Halloween season, which was always the most active month or so of blogging for me, it just feels very wrong and I feel incredibly guilty (though the cobwebs are quite festive, you must admit).  But believe me when I say that it's not laziness or a loss of interest that's been the result of me not posting around here.  It's just that I need to devote most if not all of my writing time to these other gigs I've got going on, or else I'm pulling no income in and it's back to the unemployment line or a job at the grocery store for me.  Gotta just deal with those trade-offs in life, sometimes.
That said, you can always find me over on the Freddy In Space Facebook page, which I will keep as active as possible, no matter how inactive the blog itself is.  That page pretty much serves as my blog now, a place to not only share quick posts but also links to all the other stuff I'm writing for different websites.  So even if I go a few weeks without a post on here, don't give up on the Facebook page!
There's also going to be plenty of content that comes up that quite frankly isn't fit for publishing on any of the sites I write for, and that stuff will be posted on here whenever I get around to it.  Personal recaps of events and things of that nature only really make sense to write on my personal blog, so that'll give me something to do around here from time to time.  I don't think FEARnet cares to post a recap of my pumpkin picking adventures with my wife, is what I'm getting at.  Nor do I blame them!
And hey, guess what?  I went to an event this past weekend.  And now I'm going to recap the event.  So let's clear those cobwebs off the screen and inject a big ole dose of Herbert West's reagent into the blog, shall we?!
Before we even get to the recap though, I just want to give a quick rundown of the players involved.  Pictures of said players will not be included, because I don't know if said players want me posting pictures of them...
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- Matt from Dinosaur Dracula (and Mrs. Dinosaur Dracula). I've been a reader and follower of Matt's work for far too long now.  Though he nowadays runs the site Dinosaur Dracula, he used to run a site called X-Entertainment, which a large portion of you are probably familiar with.  It kinda sounds like I'm sucking up to say it now that we're friends, but X-Entertainment is in fact the site that inspired me to start my own site, many moons ago.  Matt has clearly served as that same inspiration for many other budding bloggers, and though a handful of people try to do what he does, nobody does it better than Matt.  He's like the CM Punk of reviewing old food products from the 80s; the best in the world. 
 As for Mrs. Dino Drac, her and my wife have been getting along better than I've ever seen my wife get along with anyone, which is pretty wonderful.  It's kind of eerie how similar the four of us are, individually and as couples.  Jen and I have always kind of preferred to just hang out with ourselves, so it's pretty nice to finally have friends that are essentially alternate versions of ourselves.  Not that we love ourselves or anything, we just find ourselves more tolerable than other peoples' selves.
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- Jay from The Sexy Armpit.  After a series of brief Monster Mania encounters, and even a totally unexpected run-in at this year's Wrestlemania, I finally got to hang out with Jay for an extended period of time at last month's Monster Mania, spending the majority of that Saturday night drinking tequila and talking about blogging with both he and Matt.  Jay runs the New Jersey-themed blog The Sexy Armpit and quickly went from a guy who has a lot of the same friends as I do to a guy that's now a personal friend of mine.  Needless to say, it's not hard to figure out why he has so many friends within the blogging community, because he's a really cool dude.
After having so much fun together at the aforementioned August Monster Mania, the five of us have been trying to plan out some kind of fun Halloweeny get together for several weeks now, and we ultimately ended up deciding on meeting in New York City, this past weekend.  Once that decision was made, our destination became clear.  And our destination was not Times Square.  It was Times Scare.
I'm not sure when Times Scare opened up, but it's basically a year-round haunted attraction/restaurant, in the heart of Times Square.  But let me back up a bit, because we'll get to all that fun stuff in a minute.
 Jen and I got into the city a couple hours before Matt, Mrs. Dino Drac and Jay were able to, so after spending nearly half of that time trying to find a parking garage that wouldn't rape us too badly, we headed over to Heartland Brewery, which has a few locations in the city.  We had been to one of those locations in the past and had a few glasses of their pumpkin beer, a treat that was sounding pretty good after the always stressful adventure into the city.
Though my full intention was to order a pint of pumpkin beer, the woman who was sitting at the stool next to me at the bar leaned over as she was leaving and told me to go for something much stronger, so that I'd get more bang for my buck.  She was right, and who was I to disregard her words of wisdom?  So I ordered the beer with the highest alcohol content on the menu, figuring her drunken words of advice could be some sign from God that I was supposed to be getting really drunk.  I don't know about you, but when God tells me to get drunk, I listen.
As for Jen, she ordered something called the Jack O'Lantern, a half pumpkin beer/half hard cider mixture that quite frankly made me wish I didn't listen to drunk lady/God, and had ordered the same.  Goddamn was that thing good, and I predict I'll be making a few of those at home this Halloween season.
I took the liberty of assuming you cared what we drank and I'm probably pushing it to assume you also care about what we ate, but we had cheese fries.  And on that note, I'm hearing crickets chirping, so I'll hit the fast forward button, and even bypass the bit where I stepped in a puddle of urine in Heartland's bathroom.
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After suckling the last bit of cheese sauce off our fingers, I got a text from Matt saying that they had arrived, and we headed over to Times Square to meet up.  At this point it was around 5:30 and they were pretty hungry, but we were able to stall a bit and digest some of those gobs of melted cheese by making a pit stop in the Times Square Toys R Us, which I can only assume is the biggest and most extravagant Toys R Us in the world.  There's a goddamn ferris wheel in the center, for Christ's sake.  And a T-Rex.  An actual T-Rex.
After snapping a few pictures in there to fill out our respective blog posts with, and make it look like we had more fun than we did, we found our way over to a bar, to grab a few drinks before taking part in our touristy fun.  I don't even remember what I had, but it was in a fancy glass and it tasted like beer, so I was happy.
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From there, it was over to Times Scare, where the real fun was supposed to begin.  Truth be told, having been to so many touristy haunted houses in the past, I was looking more forward to the attraction's restaurant, The Crypt Cafe, than I was the attraction itself.  Cleverly named cocktails and entrees filled out the menu, and I figured if we got drunk enough and had a good enough time in the so-called Crypt Cafe, it wouldn't even matter how shitty the attraction was.  We'd be pretty easy to please at that point, we all figured.
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 There are a few different package deals available at Times Scare, the one we all went for giving us each a meal, a ticket inside the haunted house, and even an absinthe tasting, for $55.  Not too shabby of a deal, especially considering that's about the price you pay for a beer and a burger inside most wallet-sucking Times Square restaurants.
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Though it lost a lot of cool points by being so empty and having such an unexciting atmosphere (aside from the decor), the Crypt Cafe is a pretty cool little place, the tables lining the walls made to look like drawers at the morgue that have been pulled out (sans corpses).  The tables in the center have that same hospital/morgue quality to them, and there was even a black and white version of The Shining playing on the TV at the bar.  When it comes to stuff like this I again say that all parties involved are easily pleased, and I think I speak for us all when I say that we were totally pleased with the ambiance of the Crypt Cafe.
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I think I also speak for us all when I say we spent as much time in there as possible, because we knew the attraction itself was going to be far less enjoyable.  As promised, we each got a meal and a series of three different glasses of absinthe, the first of which was given the full fiery sugar cube presentation.  The drinks were as vile tasting as absinthe by all means should be, and the food about as good as you'd expect food from a haunted house to be.  In other words, the meals weren't exactly gourmet, and tasted more like the frozen TV dinners I've had far too many of, than food you'd typically pay more than $3 for.  But hey, it's a restaurant inside of a haunted house we're dealing with here, so it wasn't exactly shocking that my taste buds weren't doing happy dances inside my mouth.
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It was at this point in the night, right when we finished eating and drinking and asked for the bill, that a series of unfortunate events was set into motion.  Since we all got the $55 package deal, everything that we ate and drank while in the restaurant was supposed to be included in that, except for a couple beers and hard ciders we had on top of that.  The food, the absinthe, the tickets; it was all already paid for, in advance.  And yet, the bill was exorbitantly high, about as high as you'd expect the bill to be if we hadn't already paid for the food and absinthe.
We summoned over the waitress, confident that a mistake was made, and she informed us that no such errors had taken place.  A 30% fee is for whatever reason added to each item on the restaurant bill, essentially forcing you to again pay for all the stuff you already paid for.  I've seen this kind of bullshit at other tourist traps in the city, but I totally didn't expect it from this place, given the fact that we each invested in a package deal that promised to cover everything.  Not much you can do after you've already eaten the food and drank the drinks, but it would've been nice to have been told this prior.
While everyone went off to the bathroom, I decide to try and erase the sour taste that had been left in all of our mouths by buying us all 'Embryo Shots' at the bar, which a friend of mine had told me about prior to going.  I'm not even sure what's in the shot but it's some kind of mixture of liquors that they pour something on top of, which creates this ooey, gooey embryo-looking grossness that drips down into the shot.  I had seen pictures of the thing and it looked pretty awesome, but the douchey bartender totally botched its creation.
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Rather than making each shot in a small shot glass, which would allow for us to really see how gross the thing looked, he made them all in much bigger glasses, to the point that the liquid was barely visible in the bottom of the glass.  Kinda killed the presentation, which was a pretty serious bummer after spending so much money in the place.  And the shots weren't cheap either, so the least he could've done was make them look cool for us.  In any event, they tasted pretty good, and the consistency was very true to the consistency of actual embryos.  I know this because I eat embryos.
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$500 later, we were finally granted access inside the actual Times Scare haunted attraction, having more than paid our dues and by this point going into it just a tad bit annoyed with the whole place.  Things started off on a sour note when the ticket taker was pretty rude and yelled at us for asking if we could take pictures of him, and then the night took a complete turn for the toilet when the walk-through ended about 60 seconds after it began.  I couldn't believe how short the whole thing was, and I soon realized why it was so short.
We were escorted out prematurely, booted from the attraction.
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Turns out, Matt had taken a picture inside the attraction, and as a result they kicked all five of us out.  Mind you, we were never told we couldn't take pictures inside there, and I had snapped a few pictures myself (which you'll see above and below this paragraph).  But I guess they saw Matt's flash go off, and decided we were all far too much of a threat to be in there.
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Now believe me when I say that none of us were looking to break any rules or cause any problems.  If we had been told to not take any pictures before going in or were asked to put our cameras away after they saw the flash go off, we all would've complied.  But to not be told about their stance on cameras and then get kicked out after the first offense, that was just plain messed up, especially considering how much money we had sunk into the place.

 Feeling like we got robbed, we had a long talk with management, explained the whole situation, and about an hour later we were able to each get $30 back.  The whole ordeal was just a total bummer, considering we really did nothing wrong and were just looking to have a good time and use the pictures we took as positive press for the place, on our individual blogs.  Even if the attraction was total shit we all probably would've written glowing reviews of the experience, our drunken selves easily pleased by bloody props and dangling skeletons.  But now I've unfortunately been left with no choice but to warn everyone away from the place. 
We were treated like total derelict criminals for taking a couple silly little pictures, and even the $30 we got back wasn't much of a compensation, considering the only reason we spent so much money to eat there was because of the attraction that we never even got to go through.  We could've spent hundreds of dollars less at a restaurant that didn't double the bill for no good reason, which was the real stinger of it all.
 My advice?  If you find yourself in the city, get drunk at a dive bar and then find a cool haunted attraction that's not called Times Scare.  Or just stay in the dive bar getting drunk all night.  The concept is cool, and I love the idea of the Crypt Cafe, but the place is ultimately nothing more than a tourist trap, designed to suck as much money out of your wallet as possible.  That's what the entirety of Times Square is all about, if we're being truthful.  So I guess ya can't really fault the place too much.
You would think that after this horrible experience we'd get as far away from Times Square as possible, and stop being gullible tourists, but after leaving there we headed straight for Dave and Buster's, which is basically Chuck E. Cheese's with alcohol.  The night only got worse from the moment we stepped foot inside there.  As soon as I walked up to the bar to order an overpriced drink, I began getting yelled at by a large woman and her young child, who were absolutely furious that I was 'invading their personal space.'  They were sitting at a table right by the bar and the mother was incredibly upset by the fact that I was standing by the bar, which I guess she had claimed as her own personal bubble.
Mind you, I was just waiting for a drink and there was literally nowhere for me to stand while waiting for a drink than by the table that she was sitting at, a table that was mere inches away from the bar.  We went back and forth a bit and her 5 year old son started poking me with an umbrella and telling me to leave his mom alone, a ridiculous spat that quickly escalated and resulted in security getting involved.  Of course, the security guard just told me to go stand on the other side of the bar, even though he knew she was being out of control.  So thanks for that, sir.
The whole situation was utterly ridiculous, and I couldn't believe that I had found myself in yet another nightmarish ordeal.  Jen and I never have problems with anyone when we go out, so to have two back to back situations like these left me feeling that we should probably just get the hell out of the city and never return.  In a desperate bid to restore some good karma to our night, I ended up tracking the woman down after we played some games, and gave all my ticket winnings to her son.  Despite the fact that she was the one who was out of line, I apologized to her and her son, an apology which they both accepted.  I'm not sure she deserved my apology, but I figured I'd take the high road and maybe teach her some sort of lesson.  I'm not sure what that lesson is, and I'm sure she didn't learn it, but I felt good about making amends with the little kid, if only so I didn't feel like a total heel.
Needless to say, we hightailed it out of there and did what we probably should've done at the beginning of the night; found a hole in the wall Mexican bar, and spent the remainder of our stay there.  Chips, salsa, beer that didn't cost $20 a glass and a bartender that actually liked us; it's just what we needed at that moment, the perfect way to end the night on somewhat of a positive note.  Well actually, the night really ended with a half hour walk back to our car in the pouring rain, at 3am, followed by a treacherous drive home that I still can't believe we survived.  But the Corona fueled nightcap restored some of my faith in humanity, and made me realize that one really needs to stay away from the tourist traps, to have fun in New York City.
Despite the fact that we encountered several nightmarish situations, and never even got to experience what we went to the city to experience, I had a hell of a good time just hanging out with Matt, Mrs. Dino Drac, Jay and my wife, which taught me yet another valuable lesson; when you're hanging out with people whose company you enjoy, it doesn't even really matter what you're doing.  I kinda felt that for us to all get together we'd have to plan the hangout around some kind of event, being that we don't exactly all live within a stone's throw of each other, but I now realize that the events aren't what makes hanging out with our new friends fun.  It's the hanging out with them part that's fun.  So thanks for the $500 lesson, Times Scare.
Our next adventure together will be to Six Flags' Fright Fest.  Here's to hoping we don't get kicked out!


Matt said...


First off, I had no idea that you got any photos. That's hysterical. While I'm being beheaded for my one photo of mannequins, you're somewhere behind me treating it like a red carpet event. Love it.

And yeah, the more I think about it, the funnier the fact that "no photos" was never established gets. We ALL had cameras out, the whole night. We were both taking pictures of the entrance. Hell, I took ten pictures of the damn embryo shot just outside of the entrance. Wouldn't somebody at this point maybe ask us to put our cameras away?

In truth, nothing short of a full refund was going to leave me fully satisfied, so it was a lose/lose for all involved. They weren't going to refund a night's bar bill, and we weren't going to ask. But I think everyone knew the unspoken PITA of it all: We'd have never spent that long buying that much alcohol without the full experience in play. Maybe we would've gone in there for a drink or two -- but just a drink or two.

The girl who did the official tossing was obviously not in a great mood, even before said tossing begun. Hell, the whole reason our group was splintered was because she couldn't be bothered to lead us in the right way. She just stormed up the stairs and left us to chase her, with a sense of urgency that said "now or never." If a few photos were such a grievous offense, I don't know how that correlates with a host who's okay with leaving more than 50% of the group behind, to their own devices.

Even beyond all that, the simplest thing would have been to say, "Put the camera away or you're off the ride." Going to such extreme measures was obviously out of bounds, otherwise the staff wouldn't have openly admitted it.

Two days removed, I see the hilarity in all of it. Though now I'm reminded of our almost-as-bad experience at D&B's. Maybe there was something in the NY air that night. At least we had The Margarita Guy to make everything right with the world.

Shawn Robare said...

So rad to hear about you guys hanging out, even if you all had to suffer through some costumed douches during the process. I've been reading both Matt and Jay's blogs for years (and even got a chance to chat with Jay about Halloween last year on the Nerd Lunch podcast - he really is the coolest dude.) Can't wait to see where your (mis)adventures take you guys next!

Cliff said...

Well, despite getting kicked out, having to deal with the rude employees, and a disgruntled lady at Dave & Busters, it sounds like you all had a great time enjoying each others company. I'm happy you tried the Embryo Shots, even if they were in the larger glasses.

Very cool of you to apologize to that woman and giver her son your tickets. That takes a lot, especially after having so many problems as it was, so much respect for that!

And, you're right about Matt and X-Entertainment. He's the reason I started The Holidaze, too and nobody can compare to what he's been doing for 10 years.

Great post, John! I enjoyed reading it. I'm going to try and make the Chiller show in October. If I can make it, my girlfriend and I love to meet you 5 (if you go.) You all sound like good guys and gals, and that's not always easy to find.

Vinnie said...

Sorry to hear you had a shitty time. I work in NYC and have passed Times Scare a bunch of times, but never went in, and I guess I never will after hearing about the crappy experience. But great article as always.

Angel The Alien said...

I think the little kid should have had to apologize to you for poking you with an umbrella! If his mom makes a habit out of yelling at random people for dumb stuff, maybe by apologizing and giving the little kid your tickets, you gave him a better example to possibly remember. Anyway, it sounds like you had fun wreaking havoc that night!

j said...

i always thought it was how people would spin a lot of money on bad food because the place looks pretty

Dick Morton said...

Damn, that looks awesome. I got to go there. I love the huge T-Rex. They need a display for John Carpenter's The Thing.

Jay Amabile said...

I just got to my blog reading today since things have been pretty crazy on my end. This truly is the BEST and BUSIEST time of the year. Thanks Johnny for the kind words and the entertaining recap of the night! Both yours and Matt's posts were very accurate so if anyone ever had an inkling that any of us might be embellishing - WE ARE NOT - THIS IS HOW IT WENT DOWN. You were super nice to that lady. I think I could've been that nice when she was just flat out rude. But you had good karma there. That kid was kissing his mother on the lips repeatedly so I knew something was up with them. Cannot wait for our next adventure! See you soon brother.