For a little under a month, “Pennywise the Dancing Clown” awaited his guests at the corner of Hollywood and Vine as they lined the sidewalk for hours to catch a glimpse into “The Derry Canal Days Festival and Funhouse.”
If you favor this dancing clown as much as I do, you have already been to the funhouse and reveled in all of the horrific clownery your little heart could dream of. The experience was launched on Aug. 15 as part of a promotion for the new movie, “IT Chapter Two,” which comes out Friday.
This experience is completely free to the public, however, if you do not want to wait in line for around 27 years like Pennywise, you either had to have made a reservation prior to opening day, or pre-purchased an IMAX movie ticket for the film’s release date.
Although I had an IMAX ticket, the wait time was still around two and a half hours to my dismay. Some may not agree that waiting over two hours in line is worth it for a mere 20-minute maze, but I beg to differ.
The setup was that of a circus complete with a miniature Ferris wheel, those iconic red balloons, and several carnival games that actually won me a free poster. This all took place before guests even took a step inside of the maze, which proved to be a terrifying yet exhilarating experience throughout.
Walking through a revolving tunnel filled with vibrant blue light, our guide dressed in the typical red and white striped carnival jacket led us into what appeared to be a living room.
If you are familiar with the first trailer for the second installment of the “IT” franchise, you would have easily recognized it to be what was once Beverly’s childhood home.
The guide told me to take a seat on the floral couch that shared a wall with several photographs depicting vintage images of a man with eerily similar features to Pennywise.
I was reluctant to do so, assuming it would make me the easiest target for any kind of scare.
All reluctance aside, I sat and was surprised when the jump scare had instead come from the kitchen setup directly across from the couch I was seated on. I was almost positive something was going to send me flying from those cushions.
Of course, there is no funhouse without a hall of mirrors, which happened to be exactly where we were headed next.
With our own horrified reflections staring back at us at every turn, I let out a scream when the lights went pitch black just long enough for “Georgie” to come out and “play” with the group.
“Georgie” parted our group down the middle, and it was uncannily silent as we all watched him disappear into the darkness of the next room.
The guide asked which of us was brave enough to lead the group in following “Georgie,” to which I volunteered.
Dragging my best friend by her wrist, we followed “Georgie” with the rest of the group in tow.
Walking into what, unbeknownst to us, was the last room of the maze, I was perplexed as to what was to come. The chain link fence lining the room was “electrified,” and there was a set of metal bleachers behind that fence.
As we all gathered around, I heard another guest say she was going to stand in the corner because there was no way anything was going to come from back there to scare her, in which I followed suit.
Cue the strobe lights, the shaking bleachers and the sound of static and electricity in the air, we were all so honed in on the scene in front of us that nobody saw what came next.
Up until that point, Pennywise had made no grand appearance in the maze. But do not fret, Pennywise introduces himself in a way that no one was expecting, especially not my best friend who was chased around the room until she fell to a ball on the floor full of fear.
The corner that we all deemed the least likely spot for any jump scare happened to be the dancing clown’s exact hiding spot. Through a wait time of what felt like 27 years, Pennywise was finally there in the flesh and all I could do was scream my head off in response.
For those who could not make it to this once in a lifetime experience, you are in luck. The funhouse will remain open through Sunday, from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m., and I am sure Pennywise would rather see you now than have to wait another 27 years.
Jocelyn Arceo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.