The hours leading up to the opening of Arachnid Wonder World that morning filled me uncontainable glee, though it filled Domina with sheer dread, the poor thing. It was a one hour drive to the park thanks to traffic, but I’ like to think the anticipation added to the experience. A mundane commute is a small price to pay for an extraordinary day, and it was indeed an extraordinary day at an extraordinary theme park, dear reader. I let Domina drive my blue Mirage Mitsubishi most of the way, as being in control of something helped calm her nerves. When we finally arrived to the Big City, it was a mere ten minute drive to AWW. She swiftly parked, and I drove the rest of the way. Her anxiety would have proven to be a road hazard otherwise. We arrived right as the park officially opened, 8:00 AM.
Without further ado, let’s hop into the first section of my review of Arachnid Wonder World, the Entrance section! Well, let’s read the review, anyway. It would be pretty strange for you to attempt to ‘hop’ into the review; you’ll likely break your computer, so I don’t actually recommend it.
My, oh, my! The importance of a first impression should never be underestimated! As some of you may know, AWW has one of the most uniquely jarring and awe-inspiring skylines in the world, and not just of theme parks. Imagine driving along your typical work commute, only to find yourself staring at a ten-mile stretch of spider web connected between several sky scrapers, fit with all manner of dreamlike activity you wouldn’t even find in a child’s most vivid of dreams, or nightmares, depending on your perspective. There are Gossamer roller coasters, colorful, gigantic spiders large enough to dwarf King Kong himself, and a general impression of an arachnid metropolis floating in the sky. Past the point of the skyline, photos are, of course, impossible to take if you plan on storing them. Plenty of photographs of the skyline itself have been taken and distributed on the World Wide Web though, so this is not my first visual experience with the skyline. Photos, however, don’t even remotely do the skyline justice; the sheer power of it simply cannot be captured in a still image. Photos helped peak curiosity, of course, more so than even that initial commercial. But the actual experience of witnessing it, and eventually driving under the spider web itself to the central entrance, was what I would imagine being transported to an enhanced alternate universe would be like. Past the skyline, my experience was totally blind due to the fact that no photographs or videos are available for AWW. This only enhances the majesty of the skyline, by generating immense excitement for my distinctly arachnid adventure to come. I recall being fixated on a ride that seemed to feature a giant spider juggling park guests. Oh, it wasn’t an illusion dear reader; we’ll get to that in a future post. Of course, I understand that this aspect of my first impression will not be possible on any repeat visits, however I cannot in good conscious mark points off for that. The first impression this park deliberately gives is nothing short of genius; from every angle, drivers are treated to a spectacular view of AWW (I witnessed a fender bender thanks to this fact.). I believe they were able to accomplish this feat thanks to the skyscrapers built exclusively for AWW, for secretive internal operations. Placement was in their control. To this day, I’m amazed that they were able to keep the numerous mega-buildings a secret for so long. The lack of visuals of the park itself, combined with candid internet photos of the skyline, was also a brilliant marketing tactic.
Regrettably, Domina saw none of this; she had her shut tight well before the skyline came into view. She simply shook her head at my persuasions to get her to open her eyes. I gave up when she started hissing. Fear not, dear reader, she had more than her fair share of spiders that day.
Well, we’re off to a pretty good start, wouldn’t you say? It wouldn’t be fair for me to give this anything less than a perfect score. Sure, nothing is truly perfect; however no venues, let alone theme parks, could compete with the first impression that AWW provides, so it’s all relative. Next I’ll be covering the special transportation guests take to enter AWW proper.
Score: 5 arachnids out of 5
Transportation to Park
Yes, Domina still had her eyes shut tighter than a hermetically sealed vault by the time it was our turn to enter the park. After we parked, I had to guide her like a dog; it was a bit annoying, but it was fortunately not to last. The wait in line was remarkably swift…In fact, it was nonexistent. When we arrived to the special transportation zone, we were immediately guided to our two transport “vehicles”, for lack of better term, despite what seemed to be an ocean of people in front of us. No real surprise considering the quantity of the special transports. Please note that, at this point, we were not greeted by any spiders, merely hired human help. AWW proper, however, is staffed exclusively by happy-go-lucky spiders, I could firmly attest to that now. I tried to reassure Domina that there were no spiders in our direct vicinity, but still, her eyes remained shut. Anyhow, there are three main positives to the special transport up to AWW. The first one I’ve already mentioned is a non-existent wait time. The second point, however, is the sheer uniqueness and thrilling nature of the transport. It essentially boils down to having a thick spider web-rope glued to your back, whilst a mile-high pulley system hoists up park goers individually. It was a quick process, and that’s’ the third positive; I would never fail to appreciate efficient transport. However, this wouldn’t be a review if I neglected to list out the negatives, and there are some, dear reader. For starters, whilst you would think being hoisted upwards would provide phenomenal views, the view was rather mediocre, especially coming right after that breathtaking skyline impression. The buildings surrounding us were too tall and wide to see past, AWW doesn’t extend past the height of its surrounding buildings. It wasn’t horrible, just a minor grievance. That being said, even if the view were phenomenal, no one would be able to properly experience it; everyone spins about like ragdolls during the ascension! It was honestly a bit fun for me, despite the discomforting dizziness that followed, however I know plenty of people who hate getting dizzy. It seems a questionable decision to have transport resemble an actual ride before even being in the theme park itself. Some people didn’t even buy tickets yet! Trying to get your guests to vomit before they even bought a ticket seems exceptionally counterproductive to me! However, some may argue it gets guests in the proper mood, but that seems a bit thin to me. Fortunately it is a quick process, but that didn’t stop the transport from having a certain, stop-and-start jerkiness to it. This is due to the volume of guests ascending at once, the complex pulleys are manipulated in a way that prevents unpleasant collisions, which leads to jerkiness. Still, perhaps I should go easy on the transport. After all, Domina certainly seemed to enjoy herself! Though I knew her whimsical shrieks and apparent fun she was having was a way of distracting herself from her intense phobia. There was a certain natural adrenaline to the transport, and I suppose I should appreciate that, potential easing in arachnophobes. To hell with acrophobes, I guess.
Score: 3.5 arachnids out of 5
Luckily there was little in the way of soreness after we disembarked from the web transport, so no lasting harm done. This leads nicely into the final section of this post, the central main entrance of AWW proper. Now, you may be wondering how on earth petty humans such our ourselves would be expected to walk around on a giant, sticky spider web, fit with the elegant hole-pattern you’d expect from any other web. The answer is the obvious one; we don’t. Naturally spiders don’t have a problem, but human park guests are expected to tight-rope walk the entire park. The web adhesive helps, of course, but I lost count at the amount times I witnessed people fall from the park…I jest, dear reader. As I stated, AWW turned out to be perfectly safe, as advertised. Immediately prior to disembarking transports, park guests are outfitted with specialty white shoes that function a little bit like Spider-Man’s mechanical web swingers, only on a more automatic level. Imagine stepping of a building into thin air, but rather than plummeting to your death, you simply continue walking onwards. This would be due to your specialty, omni-directional web-shooting shoes that, at lightning speed, attach a thick web to the nearest physical weighted object, and instantly detach once the foot is lifted. The web floor lines at AWW are crafted closely together, so all of this happens very quickly, to the point that it’s no different than walking upon pavement. I was utterly amazed by this casually presented feat of engineering, and so was Domina later that day, once she got over her shock and awe. Oh yes, Domina finally opened her eyes! I suppose the web transport gave her a surge of courage. She opened them right after two relatively small (about the size of our legs) spiders outfitted her in the specialty shoes, with a jovial and raspy “Enjoy your time at Arachnid Wonder World, weird human.’ For the next ten minutes, Domina and I had to wait in a booth line to have our ticket processed. There were eight lines in total, arranged in a symmetrical spoke fashion extending from the central entrance port, four of them dedicated to people just now buying their tickets, the other four dedicated to people like us, who just needed to have their tickets processed. Our line was quicker of course, but still, ten minutes was an age compared to seconds-long wait of the initial transportation. I wonder why the discrepancy? At least the wait allowed Domina some time to process the arachnid fest that surrounded us, and I use the term ‘process’ very loosely, dear reader. A more accurate term may be ‘shock’, though I felt that her state during those minutes represented something about ten steps beyond shock. Funnily enough, I noticed no fear, or any kind of emotion in her eyes. It certainly had me concerned; it was as if what she was visually experiencing was something so far beyond her wildest nightmares, to the point that any feeling of terror or panic were swiftly and wholly numbed. She simply surveyed her scenery in an almost robotic manner, seemingly not noticing my pleas for attention. But I didn’t allow that to take away my enjoyment during our wait in line. The skyline tips of some of the attractions were in view, but what really captured my attention were the spiders themselves, in particular, how strangely human they all were. Not anatomically, of course, but in terms of their demeanor. Overhearing them speak to guests as if it were just another day at the office (which it was.) was surreal, to say the least. Spiders are traditionally a remarkably alien species on this planet, so overwhelming unlike human beings. Yet there they were, cheerfully serving humans for a paycheck. It made them less frightening; I noticed some previously nervous guests, presumably arachnophobes, that seemed to loosen up and relax at this point. Domina remained ever the robot, of course. What particularly impressed me were the pink and purple polka-dotted spiders serving cheesy hors d’oeuvres to those of us waiting in line. This genuinely perplexed me, though in a positive manner, the cheese balls were exquisite! But theme parks are notorious for overpricing food and drink, and yet here these spiders are, giving away delicacies for free! The sheer wonder of it! Needless to say, AWW is off to a very, very good start.
Score: 4.5 arachnids out of five.
After our ticket was processed by a polite black spider, we were offered a park map, but I refused it. I wanted to truly embody the sense of unknown adventure and exploration, and I have no regrets about it. I was able to obtain one when we exited the park anyways. I’m afraid I’m prohibited from showing it to you, dear reader. But, boy oh boy! Are you in for an adventure! Stay tuned.
Final score for the entrance: 4.25 arachnids out of 5