Every year, my wife and I kick off the holiday season by celebrating our anniversary. We view this as a mystical, portentous time during which we like to undertake whimsical activities and experience fun times.
This year, we were delighted to learn that Vancouver would be hosting the WORLD’S LARGEST LIGHT MAZE.
For obvious reasons, we immediately decided that this would be the perfect way to celebrate our seventh year of glorious matrimony.
We did not pause to consider the following red flags:
A) Being the Largest something doesn’t necessarily make you the Best something. Nobody chooses a lawyer based on which one is the tallest, for example.
B) The Light Maze industry is not exactly a highly competitive one. Probably because a Light Maze is not a real thing, and is instead just two concepts that sound neat on their own, but don’t improve each-other in any way if mashed together. (Eg: puppy chroming, friendship cannons, winter olympics).
I threw that last one in there in case anyone from Vancouver reads this so they can be filled with blind, crippling rage and become an incoherent mess until well after the Enchant Christmas Light Maze & Market has packed up its grim edifices and rolled on to a new town of fresh rubes to swindle.
Because you see, this light maze is an atrocity; a cruel trick played on the world by Satan (“Lucifer” means “The Light Bringer”...coincidence?).
I consider the sobering anniversary we spent entombed in this gulag to be the hand of God choosing Fiona and I as prophets to warn humanity away from the Vancouver Light Maze. Heed me, children, for the maze is bright and full of terrors.
I know it’s hard to tell whether the above image is the scene in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds where the mass of people swarm onto a ferry Terminal, or the part in X-Men where Magneto first unleashes his metal-warping powers at the crowded gates of a concentration camp, but SURPRISE - it’s neither! It’s actually the entrance to the Vancouver Light Maze! It’s true - look again!
That line-up snakes around the corner and out past that building towering in the distance, passing by what looks like an abandoned canning factory, and a partially flooded gravel lot, both lined with festive, mood-setting barbed wire.
The gravel lot is also where an angry gentleman with a glowing wand will direct you when you first drive up the street toward the maze, having become trapped in gridlocked traffic long before you saw the signs saying “PARKING $20”.
The above shot was taken as we exited this exclusive parking arrangement, but rest assured it’s the same shit. By which I mean I am confident there are literal feces mixed into this bog. Thank God it’s flooded, even days after rainfall!
Okay. So you’ve paid twenty dollars to abandon your car in what looks like the No Man’s Land between German and Allied encampments. You’ve stood in a gloomy Soviet-era breadline for a half hour, and finally you’ve handed over your $20 tickets, passed under the reindeer’s ass…
...and entered the Light Maze. Naturally this is where the authentic Light Maze experience begins. BEHOLD:
As you can see, the primary difference is that the illusion of order created by the lineup to park, then the lineup to get inside, has been cast wantonly aside. This sea of harrowed, bewildered people is literally what comprises 90% of the light maze. This is all there is. A giant human amoeba. Some huddle for warmth, glaring hungrily from side to side, having long since been convinced that they are living in a post-apocalyptic dystopia:
Others scavenge for nourishment and scraps at the “market” which is, again, filled mostly with writhing bodies, and garnished sparsely with racks of $60 scarves:
There are also food trucks that you can buy food from, in case you don’t know what that’s like, and aren’t willing to wait until those same trucks return to their usual routes, which are not behind an arbitrary $20 paywall:
Oh, and someone was luring kids into a van:
But what about the MAZE OF LIGHT, I bet you’re wondering. Isn’t it...cool? In some way? Well, look, I’ll level with you. They have six things worth looking at in there. Among them, a big cone thing:
And this bunch of dangly lights:
We’re pro photographers so we used what’s called a “low angle” to hide the crowds in the first shot, but if you compare the second one with the promo image of the delighted family at the top of this article, you’ll notice that the main difference is the WALL OF PEOPLE. The wall of people is everywhere. And the organizers of the Light Maze have tried to obscure that there are only six things to look at by hiding them willy nilly behind randomly-placed barriers:
This results in the seething sea of people crashing repeatedly into itself as these wayward souls funnel around the “maze” trying to figure out what the meaning of their life is now. I was celebrating my anniversary (which I’m super good at normally) and if you look into my eyes above, they just look like pieces of fire-blackened glass. It was not the camera that stole my soul. It was the light maze.
As a final riddle from Lucifer, being pulled this way and that by the baying crowds, one can catch occasional sight of this:
Who are these VIPs? How could they possibly be having an experience worthy of the title? Is there perhaps a completely different light maze inside that lounge? Would a big cone with lights on it even fit in a lounge? Or am I not even able to imagine the kinds of geometric shapes a VIP would get to see with lights on them? Have they got an LED-covered tesseract in there? Only an elite cadre of people I NEVER saw know. Not one human came or went from that VIP area the whole time I was watching. (and you could see it from the line-up to get in, so I watched it for a while…)
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before we fled the Light Maze like humans leaving a terrible, terrible place. To add insult to injury, or in this case I guess injury to insult, as we made our exit and I attempted to document the squalid parking area by taking a photo, I walked into a low, concrete barrier that was shrouded in pitch darkness. As this occurred, and I doubled over in pain, a large brazen man knowingly bespoke unto me: “That’s why ya shouldn’t walk and text!”
He was gone before I could thank him from the bottom of my heart, and/or ask him if he knows what texting is, given that it isn’t often done by holding your phone above your head with both hands, as I’d been doing… but the magic of the light maze had left its mark upon me just the same: