Birthday girl Katie, meet the Laie Lady

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

3DHawaii's online production manager Katie McCanless hit the Polynesian Cultural Center's Haunted Lagoon this weekend for her birthday. Here's her guest blog (and a commercial for the Haunted Lagoon). Read on, brave souls, if you dare.

Since my birthday is on Halloween, you’d think I’d be the perfect person to write about the Haunted Lagoon, which just finished its third year at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

You couldn’t be more wrong. Being born on Halloween doesn’t mean you love scary movies and haunted houses –– though you do get massive amounts of candy. But for my parents and my mom’s best friend, who were coming out to the island to help me celebrate, I thought the Haunted Lagoon would be perfect. I swallowed a lump of fear thinking, Maybe I can sneak onto the less-scary keiki ride without anyone noticing... No such luck.

I met the family at Honolulu Airport’s baggage claim and they came off the plane ready to go: Mom dressed as Raggety Ann and her friend as her evil-Goth twin –– Dad skipped Raggety Andy, opting to be a grumpy old man. And we were off to the Polynesian Cultural Center. When we arrived, the place was packed and buzzing with excitement and people in crazy costumes. We had the fast passes, which I highly recommend: We were on the ride within 20 minutes. (Pictured: Debbie McCanless, Nancy McKean and a visitor at PCC who loved their costumes.)

As we stepped into the double hulled canoe, I was loosening up a little: I was maybe 90 percent petrified and 10 percent eager. Our announcer didn’t help: We were told we’d be lucky to come back alive, and that we’d better close our purses because we were sure to get wet. I positioned myself between my mom and my boyfriend so whatever tried to get us would get them first.

When we pushed off, it felt like the beginning of the Pirates of the Carribbean ride at Disneyland as we coasted under the first bridge and into the floating graveyard. The music from “Halloween” began, and our narrator started telling us about Lady of the Lagoon. No happy, drunken pirates enjoying a big glass of rum and songs of revelry –– just headless women, creepy clowns and creatures from the black lagoon ominously leering.

And then I screamed loud enough to wake the dead. The Lady of the Lagoon came running toward us on the embankment, then crawled on top of the water right up to our canoe. I didn’t see anything after that, my head was in my lap and I was clawing at my boyfriend, but I don’t think she got in.

When I looked up again, we were weaving past massive spiders, slouching swamp creatures and haunted children who were all eyes, staring and crying after us. We began to drift to the right, almost docking next to a girl chained to a tree, screaming, “They’re going to eat me!”

I was thinking, Let’s not stop here. And I was right.

The child got free and jumped into our boat. Zombies stumbled after her and started grabbing at us to pull us off the canoe. I felt the color drain from my face as I dodged their dead, outstretched hands. The boat started to pull away and we were free of the swarm. My heart started to resume a normal rhythm, but there’s no rest on this ride: Soon swamp creatures and a psycho swinging a chainsaw were trying to get at us. Then we plunged into this strange, hazy, spiral tunnel, an amazing special effect that made it look like we were diving into outer space. We couldn’t see anything beyond it and, of course, that’s the point. More creatures emerged from the haze. I dove into my lap and screamed.

Finally, it was over. We were told if we liked the ride to exit the canoe on the left (where the land was), if not we could exit on the right... back into the lagoon. I jumped left. I was mildly embarrassed when the aunty who was sitting in front of me turned and asked if I was okay. That and a six-year-old sitting behind me pulling on his mom’s blouse asking, “Can we go again? That was awesome!”

Kudos to the cast of the show and the folks in charge of the special effects. It was well done and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good scare next Halloween season.

Check out the grounds of the Polynesian Cultural Center in 3D »

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