Sundance Survival 101

There are few images more iconic than the oft-published pic of the Egyptian Theatre marquee, its black letters spelling out “Sundance Film Festival” as snow swirls down toward festival-going pedestrians on Main Street.

The photo you won’t see is one depicting the bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling at a snail’s pace down Deer Valley Drive, winding down Bonanza, and creeping toward the Eccles Center, where the bulk of premieres are scheduled each year. Though the annual 10-day homage to independent cinema can put even the most even-tempered local on edge, a little bit of planning can go a long way to ensure the best festival experience for residents and visitors, alike.

To begin, we all know Sundance is coming, so the best approach is to just deal with it. There is no better PR for Park City than Sundance, which translates to increased global awareness and, ultimately, higher property values. So make like a Boy Scout and be prepared.

One surefire way to avoid the traffic crush is to avoid Main Street, Prospector Square and Park Avenue. At all costs. Keep to the outskirts of town, approach Kimball Junction via I-80, and if you have to go to Prospector Square, approach via Hwy 40. That said, Main
Street can offer excellent star-gazing, plus there are a few lounges open to regular folks, even those without festival credentials, so if you’ve got time on your side, head to the heart of Old Town via Park City’s expansive network of free buses.

If you scored tickets during the locals’ presale, utilizing the free buses is a necessity, especially for screenings at the Temple and Prospector theatres. But parking is often available after school hours and on the weekends at Treasure Mountain Junior High and
McPolin Elementary, both of which are an easy walk to the Eccles Theatre.

But if you missed the locals’ ticket timeframe, it’s still possible to see a few flicks. Day-of-show tickets for screenings that haven’t already sold out are released each morning at the main Box Office at the corner of Heber and Swede Alley in Old Town, and wait list
options exist at each theater. Check out this Park Record article for details about the wait list. They tweak it each year, but essentially, it entails going to the theater 90-minutes before a screening and lining up to receive a number, then returning 30-mintues before
the screening, and lining up in the same order. After ticket and pass holders are seated in the theater, they begin to fill the remaining seats with folks from the wait list line. You must have the $15 for the ticket in cash, and the chances are pretty good you’ll get in for
films early in the day and later in the festival, but the chance of getting into the hottest premieres via wait list is usually pretty slim. Many of those films end up screening at the Park City Film Series, one of many local gems.

Finally, Sundance can be one of the best times to hit the slopes. While the hotels are at capacity and films are screening to sold-out crowds, the ski areas tend to be under-utilized. And with the recent round of snowstorms, Sundance 2013 can be a skier or snowboarder’s dream.

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