The IT Experience Chapter Two: the Derry Canal Days Festival is a free haunted house that will run August 15 to September 8, 2019, with free tickets that can be booked here. In this post, we preview this new interactive experience with a review & photos of IT Experience: Neibolt House, which we toured prior to the last IT movie two years ago.
As with IT Experience: Neibolt House, IT Experience Chapter Two – The Derry Canal Days Festival will be open daily from 2 pm until 11pm at Hollywood Blvd & Vine St. and will offer free advance ticketing with a standby queue for guests who don’t score tickets. Expect long lines for standby (as you can read below via our experience last time); we’d highly recommend trying to book reservations.
Per the IT Experience Chapter Two – The Derry Canal Days Festival official site, “your cherished memories of the old carnival days will be turned inside out during this 40-minute spine tingling experience. There will be over 10 immersive and terrifying interactive spaces, giving visitors a glimpse into the upcoming film.”
If this description is accurate, the duration of the IT Experience Chapter Two – The Derry Canal Days Festival is significantly longer than its predecessor, which lasted around 12-15 minutes, depending upon how quickly you walked through the IT house.
Aside from this description and the dates, not much else is know about the IT Experience Chapter Two – The Derry Canal Days Festival. We do have the promo poster below, and following that is our review of the original IT Experience from two years ago:
Normally, we wouldn’t cover something with such a short run, but we waited in line roughly two hours for this, so dammit, it’s getting a blog post. 🙂 Note that after the jump, this IT Experience: Neibolt House Hollywood review is not spoiler-free, as there will be photos. If you want the short answer of whether you should do this, it’s yes.
The IT Experience: Neibolt House Hollywood is somewhat akin to a Halloween Horror Nights maze/house. The key distinction here is that the story isn’t a non-stop ‘flow’ of guests walking through a set path. Instead, small groups of seven guests (dubbed the “Losers Club”) are actively guided by Georgie, with prolonged stops in each room.
The reason for this approach is due to the more active nature of the storytelling here. Georgie interacts with effects that come to life in each room. Almost none of these effects are immediate or on an interval timer; they require Georgie to trigger, and then the show unfolds while guests are in a particular room, actively engaging with a particular scene.
This is really cool, and I definitely prefer this approach to the steady stream of guests that go through a Halloween Horror Nights maze. You get a chance to let things percolate, suspense builds, and the experience becomes more than just being about cheap scares and startling moments.
Not only does this make for a more suspenseful and satisfying experience as tension builds, but you also see more of the details in each room. It also takes more time to snake through the IT Experience, with an average tour duration likely to be around 12 minutes. (The hosts indicated it was 15 minutes, but our tour wasn’t quite that long.)
I would say that this makes it the ‘next generation’ of haunted houses, and that Universal should take note. However, there’s one glaring problem with this approach: capacity is abysmal. Seven guests enter the The IT Experience: Neibolt House every 5 minutes. That amounts to an hourly capacity of less than 100 guests per hour.
As mentioned, we were in line for roughly 2 hours. We had heard that the wait had been around 1-2 hours on weeknights, so we figured it we arrived at 12:30 p.m. on a Monday, we would wait under an hour. This belief was reinforced when we saw a short line in front of us. Unfortunately, due to capacity, that short line was still a two-hour wait.
When we exited the IT Experience: Neibolt House, the line was quite a bit longer than when we got into it. I’m guessing it was about three hours at that point. I cannot imagine what it will be on weekends or evenings, but then again, this is tourist season in Los Angeles, so maybe it’ll actually be shorter after Labor Day.
Circling back to the substance of the IT Experience: Neibolt House, there were a lot of cool details. I would say that, overall, the level of detail was about on par with an average (maybe even slightly below-average) Halloween Horror Nights house. In this regard, it probably hurts the IT Experience: Neibolt House a bit that you’re lingering in these rooms far longer than you’re in each HHN maze.
Where the IT Experience unquestionably trumps Universal’s mazes is in terms of special effects. There are animatronics, reasonably well-executed projections, and a lot happens on cue. Oh, and there are the aforementioned “holographic horrors.” (Something the world truly needs more of.)
Spoiler Alert: Hologram Tupac does not make an appearance, which is of course the biggest letdown of the entire thing. Now I don’t even care about this movie. What’s there in the IT Experience is pretty good, especially for something that only runs a month.
Where it falls short of Halloween Horror Nights is in terms of scares. There are only a handful of startling moments, and none were particularly effective on our tour.
This is a pretty big weakness of the IT Experience. In fact, some of the suspense that it builds ultimately just fizzles out. Those instances aside, the suspenseful execution here is pretty top-notch.
There are some great moments during the experience, and there is also a ton of excellent details and visual effects. As a geek for themed design, perhaps I put too much weight on this element of the IT Experience: Neibolt House. I also have to admit that I find the attempts at startling people as they walk through a haunted house somewhat lame and predictable, so this wasn’t a huge deal for me. To each their own, though.
From my perspective, a potentially bigger problem is that some of these details are going to be lost on literally everyone, since the movie is not out yet. There were things like magazines, toys, and other small touches that I assume feature in the plot of the film–or at least in the background.
I’m sort of used to this by now. Most of the films at Halloween Horror Nights I’ve never seen, so I’m usually oblivious to some of what’s going on and I need it explained to me by friends. I will say that I normally appreciate the houses for films I’ve actually seen (American Werewolf is my all-time favorite house), usually because I “get” some of these things, or the in-jokes that are scattered throughout the sets.
All things considered, I really enjoyed the IT Experience: Neibolt House and would highly recommend it if you’re a local, even with the long wait. In addition to the standby line, there are also tickets available–they’re “currently” sold out, but you can join the waitlist (we probably wouldn’t bank on that). If you’re visiting Southern California, I’m not sure the experience is “worth” several hours of valuable vacation time, but your mileage may vary on that. Be sure to pack sunscreen and a hat (the queue is all outdoors with very little shade), and your camera (photos are allowed!) for the IT Experience: Neibolt House. I’m hopeful that the IT Experience: Neibolt House Hollywood will have its run extended (at least through Halloween!), because this is too well-done to be only a month-long offering that ~1,000 people per day will have a chance to experience.
If you’re planning a trip, check out our Ultimate Guide to Los Angeles or our California category of posts. For even more things to do, The Best Things to Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas is an exceptional resource, which is written by other locals. If you enjoyed this post, help spread the word by sharing it via social media. Thanks for reading!
Have you done the IT Experience: Neibolt House Hollywood? If so, what did you think of it? Too scary? Not scary enough? Worth the wait? Any additional tips to add that we didn’t cover? Any questions about the IT Experience? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!