There was a new event to look forward to on the Peninsula this year: Enchanted Halloween at Heritage Acres. Organised by the folks who put on the spectacular Luminara in Victoria, we turned up with high expectations of a great evening out in exchange for the rather stiff entrance fee.
We came away sadly disappointed.
There were good points, to be sure. The grounds were well-decorated in Halloween themes.
We enjoyed the musical performers and the comical elf in the creepy boathouse.
But beyond that, there was in fact very little to see.
Furthermore, we'd skipped our evening meal intending to support the event at the concession stall. We lined up, hungry, for about 20 minutes and ordered hot dogs. For $3 apiece we were given the tiniest, stingiest hot dogs I've ever seen in my life. About two mouthfuls each, even for the children.
We wandered around the rest of the village and stopped off last of all at the miniature train ride. The miniature railway, snaking for hundreds of yards through the forest, through tunnels and over bridges, is a must-do every time we visit.
But the line-up was staggering. Probably a combination of the number of people there and the fact that there was not much else to do. In the end even Matthew conceded that we were not going to wait over an hour for a ride and, sadly, we turned away.
To cap it all, stomachs rumbling, we headed back to the car intending to raid the freezer at home - and got stuck for half an hour in a traffic jam. An unbelievable first for this venue. The event organisers had allowed people to park on both sides of the narrow, kilometre-long road from the highway, leaving room in many places for only a single line of traffic down the middle. Half-way down this road, where it was at its narrowest, a convoy of exiting traffic came head-to-head with a line of vehicles trying to enter.
Obviously only a rocket scientist could ever predict out how that was going to work.
In summary, we felt that Heritage Acres usually put on a far more lively, atmospheric, and enjoyable evening out for their annual Christmas in the Village, and for half the price.
We thought this would be a great event to put Heritage Acres, a place we enjoy visiting but which seems to be little known in Victoria, firmly on the map. In the end our most fervent hope is that this disasterous event has not damaged the place's reputation for people who've never been before, and who are unlikely to want to return.