Over the years at the Sundance Film Festival, many things have stayed the same—the tricky logistics of moving between venues, sold-out screenings and temperatures that challenge the resolve (and wardrobe) of many out-of-state visitors. But regular attendees will notice a few differences in 2014.
On the downside: ticket costs. While individual screening tickets had been $15 since 2007, this year they’ve been bumped up to $20 apiece. Waitlist tickets, however, will remain $15 (cash only).
That’s one incentive to take advantage of waitlists, and the festival has added an even bigger one this year: electronic waitlist registration. In years past, festival-goers would have to spend long stretches of time queued up out in the cold, waiting for a waitlist number, only to have to return later and wait again, all without any guarantee of getting in. The new system allows individuals to check in for individual screenings’ waitlists up to two hours before the scheduled screening time—with only one waitlist check-in every two hours permitted—via mobile device or self-serve kiosks to obtain a line position “e-waitlist” number; you’ll then need only to arrive at the line physically a minimum of 30 minutes before screening time. The system also allows for checking in on your likelihood of admittance and linking with other festival-goers so you can “wait” together. Register at EWaitlist.Sundance.org to make use of the system.
For early birds, the day-of-show ticket release remains in effect at the festival box offices in Park City (136 Heber Ave.) and Salt Lake City (Trolley Square, 600 S. 700 East). A limited number of tickets are released for general purchase at 8 a.m. for all screenings that day; be willing to line up early.
As for making the most of your Park City festival scheduling, most of the same classic rules remain in effect. The most common mistake is underestimating the time required to get to your next screening after the previous one is scheduled to end. Keep in mind that screenings regularly start late to accommodate filling in seats with waitlisters, and even later—especially at Eccles Center premiere screenings—to accommodate the celebrities arriving on the red carpet. And transportation between venues can take much longer than you plan for, based on weather conditions, how long you’ll be waiting until the next shuttle, and the bumper-to-bumper traffic that develops on Park Avenue and Main Street after 4 p.m. While shorter turnaround times can work earlier in the morning, experienced festival-goers know that if you’re planning on making it from one screening’s late-afternoon or evening scheduled end time to another screening’s scheduled start time across town in less than an hour, you’re pushing your luck.
And of course, this above all in Park City: Park your car and take the shuttle. There is little to no public parking at most festival venues, and you’re unlikely to save any time trying to drive between venues and find a new parking spot. Limited free street parking can be found in the Prospector Square area (in the vicinity of the festival headquarters at the Park City Marriott), and pay-per-entry lots are available in Prospector Square, The Yard lot off of Kearns Boulevard, and in the China Bridge structure behind the Egyptian Theatre. Even if you’re just going to Salt Lake City venues (other than the Tower Theatre), consider taking Trax, or parking once and walking between the Broadway Centre, Rose Wagner Center and Salt Lake City Main Library venues.
Then, remember to have fun. Be patient, be flexible, be kind to the festival volunteers. And if you stay for the post-screening Q&As: “That was such an amazing movie, thank you” isn’t a question.