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The One-Day Park City Manual
You don't have to quit your job to get the full festival experience.
By Scott Renshaw
Yes, we know: Some people have lives and jobs to attend to during festival week. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend one weekend day getting the full flavor of the Park City Sundance experience, provided you’re willing to get an early start and follow some helpful hints.
Make an early morning of it. Some of the fun of the Sundance experience is about running on adrenaline—and another part is finding parking. Give yourself sufficient time to hit Park City no later than 8 a.m.; it takes anywhere from 40-60 minutes from most Salt Lake Valley locations, not factoring in possible weather. The Monitor Drive parking lot is free all day on Saturday; on Sunday, consider The Yard pay-park-and-ride lot or street parking in the Prospector Square area.
Catch a shuttle to the Eccles Theater. Not only is it the grandest Sundance venue—offering the best opportunity to get in from the wait list, especially for the 9:15 a.m. screenings—but it’s probably the best place to get a little glimpse of celebrity, if you’re fortunate enough to get in, enjoy the show, and stick around for the filmmaker Q&A. If not, don’t panic—and consider your conversation with fellow giddy waitlisters part of the entertainment.
Do Main Street
After your morning screening, it’ll be the perfect time to catch a shuttle to Main Street. Get off at the Main Street transit center, and walk up toward the Egyptian Theatre. Soak up the energy as you take your high-altitude stroll; keep your eyes open, as you never know what famous face will zip by buried under a parka hood. Enjoy watching the crowds that gather around photographers, wondering what celebrity may be about to emerge through a doorway.
When you’re done looking around, find a spot for a leisurely lunch (see Movie Buff Survival Manual for dining suggestions), catching the shuttle to your preferred destination, if necessary. And enjoy the shuttle experience, too—be sure to read the name badges of your fellow travelers, because you never know whom you’ll be sharing a ride with.
Maybe your early wait-list attempt didn’t pan out. Or maybe it did, and it got you enthused about trying again. Peruse the Film Guide and Screening Timetable, and find something for which you’ll have a healthy two-hour head start. Take the shuttle to your chosen venue, grab a place in the wait-list line and start up some conversations with your line-mates. Festival attendees’ stories can be as entertaining as some of the films.
Grab some dinner, then hit Main Street again before heading home. There’s an entirely different vibe to the festival hub once the sun goes down and everyone’s jockeying for room at the parties. Get in the middle of it, and you’ll hit your own comfy bed that night with a keen sense for what Sundance is all about.