Sundance 2014: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A couple weeks ago I hopped on a west-bound plane and left sunny Florida for the snowy mountains of Park City, Utah for the 30th Sundance Film Festival with my best friend, Lisa. I’m a huge movie buff so this trip has been on my list for quite some time.

Sundance is a 10-day film festival that takes place every January in Park City. Typically a small town of only 12,000 people, the number of people in PC TRIPLES during Sundance. In addition to the locals, movie fans, entertainment industry execs, and celebs fill the streets and theaters, seeing the premieres of films, attending parties, lounges and networking. Although I didn’t stay for the full 10 days, I was able to experience a big chunk of the Festival.

The Good:
Overall, Sundance was an INCREDIBLE experience. I was able to see 9 films (4 premieres – where the actors attended). One of the coolest things about seeing movies at Sundance is that typically directors, producers and/or actors are on site and do a Q&A after the movie. So those burning questions you often have after seeing a movie are answered by the people directly involved in the creation of the film. Amazing.

I highly recommend purchasing the Adrenaline Pass if you’re an early bird or a late night person – it’s awesome and gives you access to ANY move before 10 a.m. and after 11 p.m. as long as you’re in line 30 minutes prior to the movie start time. We were able to see the bulk of our movies with this.

The Bad:
Tickets and e-waitlisting were pretty bad for the SFF. If you’re planning on getting a ticket package or pass for the Festival, you have to be ready to go a couple months prior to make your purchase. Although Lisa and I had chosen the package we wanted, it was already sold out by the time our time slot rolled around (it truly is luck of the draw – I registered for a time slot the minute it opened and ended up getting a time on the very last day of ticket purchasing). Lisa’s time slot was the day before mine and so we ended up splurging on the Discovery Package (giving us 5 movie tickets each and 2 Festival credentials) and the Adrenaline Pass (mentioned above).

Movie selection was a month later (a few weeks before the Festival started) and although we had looked over the options and picked our favorites, we were also last to select our films, so as you can imagine, most of the ones we wanted were sold out. In the end, we only ended up using 4/10 tickets from the Discovery Package which we agreed (afterward) that it was kind of a waste of money. We were able to pass the remaining tickets on to friends we met in the box office line and also a waitress at our favorite restaurant in Park City (Riverhorse on Main, in case you were wondering). Also, if you’re wondering whether to have your tickets/passes mailed to you or if you should pick them up, DEFINITELY have them mailed.

E-waitlisting was new at Sundance this year. From what we learned, you would just line up at the theater a few hours in advance and sit there if you had hopes to snag tickets to a movie. This year, you were able to sign up on the waitlist via the Sundance app, which unfortunately, had many glitches. Additionally, just because you’re on a waitlist, doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get in. We were unable to even get numbers on the list for several movies, but I was luckily able to get in for 2 during the Festival, both being premieres.

The Ugly:
As far as “the ugly” is concerned, I’d have to say transportation and lack of sleep. Oh, and the box office, which was so rough it gets put in a separate category than the other tickets. So, transportation. City buses are free in Park City and they have specific buses that loop around specifically to all of the Sundance stops. However, they don’t start running until just after 7 a.m. which is cutting it close if you’re not staying right at Main St. We were about 10 minutes up the road at the Canyons Resort so we ended up having to drop $20 on cab fares most mornings to make it to the theater in time. Ugh. Although we loved the resort, we decided next time we’d stay somewhere closer to the Main St. area (the central location for all Sundance events).

Sleep was also a rare thing during Sundance. Combine that with the super cold weather (especially coming from Florida), and you get sickness – which was everywhere! Our daily routine consisted of taking Emergen-C (2x a day) and Zicam to help stay healthy. Definitely do this!

Well, that’s a generic overview of things to keep in mind when preparing for a trip to Sundance based on what I learned during my first Sundance trip. Stay tuned next week for some more details on the lounges, celebs and movies at the annual film festival in Park City!

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  • I went to Sundance in 2007 and I couldn't agree with you more on this post. I felt the same way about the whole experience. I am glad I did it but would never go again unless I had some sort of VIP credential (and that will never happen!). It's such a magical town and amazing time overall. I really want to go again when the festival isn't going on! Oh and they should warn FL people about the steep snowy icy hills :)