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by Ken Pellman (archives)
October 28, 2003
Ken on some local Halloween fun and other odds and ends.

Kenversations™ - San Francisco, Home Haunts, Returning to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Three Scary Disney Films from the Same Period

I like October. Summer is my favorite time of year, but October is a consolation prize for the loss of Summer. Why? It isn’t because of the drama of the Major League Baseball World Series, though that can be engaging. No, it is because it is the time of year you can transform yourself into someone something else, put on a good show for people, and nobody thinks you are strange for doing so. It is the time of the year where it is easier to find a good scare.

I’ll talk more about spooks and scares in a minute, but I wanted to get to some timely things in this edition of the column, so there's not a single topic or theme this time. Just bear with me, please.

Ken's Northern California Adventure
It had been about fourteen months since I'd been on a real vacation, so I decided to take a week away and go to stay with some dear friends in San Francisco. I've been to San Francisco several times before, but not really for more than a day.

One of the days I was there, I took a ScootCar ( and drove all over the city. ScootCar is on Beach in San Francisco, very close to Fisherman's Warf. I took the "2-Hour" route. You feel a little vulnerable at first, and I would think it would be easier with a passenger to do to the navigation, but once you are settled into it, it's a lot of fun. The route takes you past the Palace of Fine Arts to Fort Point, under the Golden Gate Bridge. I walked around there for a while, then continued on the route through the Presidio, through Lincoln Park, past Cliff House, and then to Ocean Beach, where I again stopped for a while.

I drove through Golden Gate Park, and that's there the route got a little hard to follow. I got back on track and drove up Haight Street (as in the Haight-Ashbury area), then on to Steiner Street, where I passed Alamo Square and the "Painted Ladies" - famous homes used in such things as the opening of the TV show "Full House". From there, it was on to Vallejo Street, then Hyde Street, which has a cable car line. The route takes Hyde to Lombard Street, the famous steep, crooked street. There were plenty of tourists there as I drove down the street, and some cheered and took pictures of me.

I got back to the shop on Beach in once piece, and went to scout out Fisherman's Warf, checking out some of the things there.

On another day, I took the Hyde cable car to Union Square. I checked out the Disney Store there, and couldn't find anything in the large store of interest to me. It's sad to think that the stores could go away and my life wouldn't suffer in the slightest. After hitting some of the other stores in the area and reading in the Square for a while, I went down to the end of the line for the cable car so I could take it back to the Warf area. Later in the day, Rick and I poked around Pier 39.

What does this have to do with Disney?

Well, as someone who grew up in southern California and has spent weeks in various parts of the rest of California, I know that Disney's California Adventure park still has a long way to go before it exhausts its potential. San Francisco in particular offers architecture, culture, and topography that are sorely underrepresented in DCA. Take that for what it is worth.

Pirates of Emerson
Here's something tied in to Halloween.

One of the nights I was in San Francisco, Rick and I went to the Pirates of Emerson in Fremont, California ( Rick had raved about the thing, which started off as one of the "home haunts" that spring up for Halloween. It has grown into something that takes up a vacant lot.

It is a big deal, with parking attendants, sponsors, "real" tickets - the works. When you enter, you see that there are facades for three themed mazes (they approach the level of Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt mazes), an Impaler mechanical monster (Knott's has one, too), a snack stand, a place to sit and watch a pirate movie, and a "graveyard".

One of the mazes wasn't open, but we were given the "backstage tour", and it was a very simple but effective experience. The first of the two open mazes requires 3-D glasses and is themed to being underwater. It even has a tunnel you walk through that it rolling around you. The other maze has a shipwreck theme, and even has a section where you have to choose which door and hallway to take.

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