Shaqtoberfest, an all-new Halloween festival co-produced by Thirteenth Floor and ABG Entertainment. But is this newcomer to Southern California's spooky season an event worthy of a champion?Last night next to the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal welcomed fans to the first night of
By the fading light of day, Shaqtoberfest offers a kid-friendly hay maze dotted with inflatable play zones and slides, as well as trick-or-treating stations. There is plenty of campy Shaq-meets-Halloween verbiage thrown about; skeletons loudly discussing their “Shaq-o’-lanterns” and talk of “exercising demons.” [Watch the videos below to share a few moments from Shaqtoberfest.]
When the sun sets, “Shaq’s minions” come out of the woodworks, chainsaws in hand. The minions wander through the crowd, scaring and chasing guests. It’s an environment similar to Halloween Horror Nights or Knott’s Scary Farm but at a smaller scale, which allows for more “one on one” scares. Be prepared to be singled out!
The haunted houses open at 8pm. These are fun if you’re able to walk straight in, but in my opinion not worth waiting in a line for - and there were lines on the event’s opening night. Each house provides a very short experience and is just as scary as being out in the crowd.
The carnival rides are pretty textbook: a carousel, Ferris wheel, etc. - sounding rickety and operating at jarring speed. I’ve never seen a Ferris wheel spin that quickly, and I definitely was not tempted to hop aboard.
I had more fun wandering around spotting bits of Shaq-themed Halloween decor, including Shaq as Frankenstein’s monster and some basketball trophies strewn among forgotten treasure.
There’s also a fun hoops-shooting station that provides severed heads in lieu of basketballs. That’s one way to make Shaq’s free throws even scarier.
Unexpectedly, my favorite aspect of the entire night was the DJ set. This took place on a huge stage in the center of the festival surrounded by fog, lights, and the occasional fire-dancer. The music blasted throughout the entire event space, which set a surprisingly fun tone as the minions wreaked havoc. I’ve never gone through a haunted house to the sound of a perfectly blended hip hop/EDM set before, but it was a pretty good time.
Overall, this was a very campy experience. Shaq and Halloween are not two things I’ve ever independently blended in my mind, but the chaotic vibe of this event makes the combination work. There were definite flops (like the Ferris wheel) and definite wins (the DJ set).
Overall, this event has a ton of potential and needs to be parsed for its weaknesses like a bag of Halloween candy needs to be parsed for Raisinets. I’m sure once that happens, we’ll be left with the Snickers-grade quality that Shaq and Halloween fans alike will show up for.
Shaqtoberfest runs select nights through October 31. General admission tickets start at $30 for adults and $25 for children and are available at shaqtoberfest.com.
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