The Queen Mary has been holding this annual Christmas event every year for some time now. In fact, I’m not really sure how long it’s been going on but this year we finally made it to Chill! I should be happy that I was able to go but the adventure has left a lack-luster experience in my gut. However I don’t want to be a total Debbie-Downer for those still planning to attend this year’s Chill event so I will start with the “Good” before moving on to the “Bad.”
The Good Side of Chill
I really liked the international-theme idea and I really wanted to take advantage of trying other foods all in one place. While I didn’t get to try as many foods as I hoped to, I did get to try out all the beers at Germany’s Beer tavern. Hint #1: There’s only 1 bar in the entire Chill event and this is located in Germany but….right next door, enter through the white canopy into the “Tasting Room” where for $15 you can sample 4 different authentically German beers. That’s right, no Coors or Bud Light here! I was extremely surprised because I’ve been to several Oktoberfest events throughout SoCal and American beers always make their way there but not at Chill. The Tasting Room also boast a much much smaller line and an actual bar that you can order from. I lied, there’s another bar in Russia but you have to pay to enter or something like that.
The giant soft pretzels right outside go great with these beers as well. There’s several things to do with the kids but if you’re children are under 40″ tall, they can’t get on anything!!!! That’s a bummer because I have two little daredevils that were totally upset about not being able to tube because they’re a few inches shy of 40. The grounds are very small so you can easily get from one side to the other in minutes. We indulged in a little chocolate fondue and danced to the live German band before venturing through the rest of the event.
I would call it a perk to be able to venture onto the Queen Mary itself as access does come with your ticket however after 5pm, entry to the ship is free anyway so it almost doesn’t matter that it comes with your Chill purchase. Christmas trees were everywhere and the walk-through Snow Globes were pretty neat too and had a festive light display. If you’re an ice skater you also get to skate through the globes. Hint #2: to access the ship you need to exit the Chill event (don’t forget to get your hand stamped). Don’t go through the entrance at the end of China, you’ll just get turned away like I did. I know, I know, there’s a big “Entrance” sign there but you can’t use it!
The Queen Mary itself is a beautiful ship and I highly recommend it be on your “to-do” list in` the future as it is worth seeing. In addition, you can also use the restrooms on the ship which is way better than the port-o-potties outside in Chill. While I’m on a “toilet” note, don’t stand in line to use the one potty in Germany, take a little walk past Switzerland and right across from China are the rest of the toilets. Don’t blink too much or you’ll miss the rest of the park as it is easy to miss the different regions. I still don’t know where Holland and Switzerland actually where. China was noticeable by the red lanterns and you can’t mistake Germany for anything else. Apparently American was where the Claus’ called home or something like that and Russia was where the light shows were at a.k.a. the walk-through snow globes I mentioned a paragraph ago.
The Chilly Side of Chill
Where to start. Oh yes, at the starting line…the very, very long line to get in! We arrived at the event at 4:50pm and it took us an hour to go through the line to get in. It seemed everyone had the same idea to arrive early. I think next time, if there is going to be a next time I would have to get there at 4pm in order to beat the rush. Once inside there are no maps! As a mom of two young children I hate this. I need a map to not only tell me where everything is but it helps me plan out the evening and to take advantage of as much things as possible. It started out as a frustrating event because of the long line to get in (and yes I had prepaid my ticket). The ambience of the event was somber despite the festive appeal. There was no definitive landmarks that told you exactly what region of the world you were in unless of course you were in Germany or China or walked under the big Switzerland sign. I think the sign was the only thing there that was “Swiss.”
Disappointed and sullen faces were everywhere. Was anyone actually happy to be there? If you thought the long line issue stopped at the front entrance you are wrong, my friend. By 8pm there were long lines to ice skate, long lines to tube, long lines to get a bratwurst, and long lines for a beer. Even the music was muted and without life. I expected the band in Germany to at least sound like a band and not a radio playing on the lowest level possible. Was there a sleeping child we were trying not to wake up? You had to stand next to the band to hear them. And don’t ask me where the stage was that the Chillettes were performing because I couldn’t find it. I saw one acrobat balancing on a ladder of chairs and that was it for the performances I took in: a muted band and a lonely acrobat act. While the décor was definitely festive it lacked the holiday cheer. I expected to be engulfed in an experience from the moment I walked in but I was not. The only areas decked in lights were the ice skating and bumper car areas…both areas I couldn’t go with two small children. What’s a mother to do? I drank beer and gave them sugar!
This was the one time I didn’t take into consideration all the bad reviews that Chill has received over the years. I had hopes for this event. I hoped for fun. I hoped for excitement. I hoped for a different experience than what I was used to: free access to neighborhoods decked out in lights…maybe I should have went to a free event instead. At least I can look at this as a learning experience. I learned that I would most likely never go again. On the other hand I would much rather just visit the Queen Mary instead. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the worse and 10 is the best, this event gets a 5. The reasons for the 5 is that they actually had beer that was not domestic!, the ship access was cool, and…that’s about it. My pictures came out nice but I would have liked to get a bratwurst but the line was light-years long and “ain’t nobody got time for that!”