As a geek with a 9-year old baby sister, before I could say “Yes” to any grown up Halloween parties this 2015, I had already agreed to go to Nickelodeon’s Takot Town as requested by the big pouty eyes my sister was giving me months before October 31st. Initially, like any other toy or anime convention, I expected tickets to be sold at the venue. But it was my sister who clarified what she saw on tv, “It said we have to go to Toy Kingdom and buy something first!” she said. And she was right. There were no clarifications on the Nickelodeon website that tickets were going to be sold at the venue grounds.
Wanting to claim a spot in the event, my mother brought her to the toy store where they bought P2,000 worth of toys to be able to claim 4 tickets to Takot Town(1 ticket was availed for every 500 peso purchase). 4 tickets, one for each member of the family; excluding my brother who had other plans that day. But by the end of the day, we wished we didn’t go anyway.
I could tell you stories- even scary ones in the spirit of Halloween! But there was nothing more scary and more exhausting than waiting to be accommodated by Nickelodeon’s Takot Town organisers on the night of October 31st, 2015.
My sister was excited, she had her costume on and everything! She never wanted to let go of her “Agimat” which was what Nickelodeon’s Takot Town decided to call their tickets. She waited for me to shower (she was the one who woke me up too!), and she was restless in the car on the way to SMX. There were no issues with SMX, whatsoever; there was plenty of parking space, the sun wasn’t searing hot. It looked like it was going to be a great day.
There was no line outside of the convention centre. The organisers said they moved the line inside Hall 2 to avoid the heat and rain. Alright, good thinking. I respect that. It was 2pm, plenty of time to have fun. This line isn’t very long, anyway. Besides, this would be a great way for the kids to meet new playmates. Right?
An hour passes, we’re all still in the same room. The line moves, but not toward Hall 3. The line moves because the organisers decided to have us take seats while we’re waiting. The line was literally moving so we could sit down. We were in a line to be able to sit on a chair, not in a line to get inside the venue.
This was where you’ll understand just how good kids are at keeping themselves occupied. Games were invented, running and laughing, role playing in their costumes. All the fun provided by their own imagination, and not of Nickelodeon.
2 hours passed. Children have needs, especially infants. Not thinking about how the event started at 2pm and would end at 6pm, at 4pm that afternoon I was not allowed to go to the other side of the convention centre to be able to purchase snacks from Café Benne. Instead, the bouncers directed me to a Café France whose employees did not know what they were doing as they served me “coffee” for 180 pesos. I could literally feel the sugar grains in my latte. It was the worse Latte I have ever encountered. But forget about me, the kids at the venue were cranky and starving. The parents had to make do with bottled water and biscuits because leaving the line would deny their children the Halloween party they promised them. Food and drinks were not allowed in SMX which prevented other families from ordering take-out. A lot of families just left altogether.
Mothers, including my own, decided to ask the organisers and representatives questions: Why is everything taking so long? When are we going to get inside? Why are you letting other people in? They were answered like this:
“Libre naman po kung ticket nyo ah! Kasama siya dun sa binili niyong toy!”
(I don’t know why you’re complaining when your tickets were free in the first place! It came with the toys you purchased!)
I did not ask my mom to give me the name of the representative she spoke to. Instead I asked my mom what else was happening outside of the waiting hall, as I was too busy accompanying my close-to-crying baby sister.
Other people were being let in the venue from the other entrance. When the mothers asked why, the guards told them “Kasi po may stamp sila” (Because they already have stamp marks). Tickets were also being sold individually, and the ones who bought tickets at the venue were immediately let in by the bouncers. Forget the ones who bought toys months before, right? Again the mother asked, “Why aren’t we being let in?” and the organisers replied,
“Kasi po hindi na po kasya. Aantayin po’ng may umalis muna bago kayo papasukin.”
(Because it’s full. We will wait until people from inside decide to leave before we let you in.)
Now, I don’t know about you but that usually happens at clubs. Drunk adults wanting to dance to EDM and listen to bands? I can accept that reasoning. But Nickelodeon wasn’t dealing with adults. Nickelodeon was dealing with 2-year olds who need naps and comfortable shoes. They were dealing with parents with breast-feeding infants. They were dealing with 8-year olds wearing itchy costumes. They were dealing with hungry kids, while not providing food booths in the waiting area. They were dealing with eager children who waited months for the event, but refused to let them in because they didn’t “anticipate” the amount of children.
First of all, these tickets have control numbers. If you’re not aware, Mr. and Ms. Organizer, you should have been able to estimate how many people were coming since you printed these tickets in the first place. Not having expected these people is not an excuse. But what do I know, right? I’m just a kid with a baby sister who had a really bad time at a Nickelodeon event.
5-ish pm, I say “ish” because every minute counts at this point since the event was supposed to end at 6pm, they finally let our “group” inside the venue. Since time is of the essence, we made sure my sister got to participate in every game she wanted, and got all of the freebies her tickets promised her.
When we got there, a majority of the booths had no more prizes to give away. But my sister tried the games at least, for the experience. We still got the freebies from Skechers, K-zone, and Alaska which made my sister happy at least.
The games happening onstage continued while the hosts apologised for not being able to accommodate everybody. They mentioned going over-time and having more games prepared for the newcomers. I watched the transition of prizes change from Toy-kingdom toys to a plastic bag containing candy and a very small slinky spring with a smiley face printed on it.
After the last batch of games at around 6:20pm, the hosts announced that the facilities can freely be used to make-up for the people who were not catered to.
Then Spongebob and Patrick started dancing on stage with the TMNT gang, confetti cannons were popped, and that was the end of the event. People were still coming in to claim their freebies, especially since they spent 500 pesos per ticket for those freebies, but the kids knew the night was over. There was a lot of waiting, but the event was done.
Nickelodeon’s Takot Town 2015 was the worst event I have ever gone to, and I’ve gone to a lot of events. I’ve been to free events catered by cartoon channels, concerts, comic events, moshpits. And coming from someone very optimistic while waiting for the advertisements to end during concerts, what Nickeloedon / Toy Kingdom presented to me was the worst event I have ever been to.
My 9-year old sister even agreed that she’d prefer to go back to those crowded Anime conventions I take her to, than to go to another Nickelodeon event like this.
So thanks, Takot Town. I don’t know who to address(Nickelodeon or Toy Kingdom or a different entity all together) but thanks for the candy and for wasting our time.