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Traveling Author: Epicentre Studio Movie Grill

Epicentre Studio Movie Grill seats

Charlotte has some great movie theaters, and one of my favorites is the Studio Movie Grill at the Epicentre in Uptown Charlotte.

Check out my view from my sweet seats in the theater.

Movie time! #theaccountant #Charlotte #movie

A photo posted by Jeannie M Bushnell (@jmbushnell) on

What Makes it Unique

Studio Movie Grill has the first-run movies you want and alternative/retro movies you can’t wait to see on the big screen. The in-theater dining includes the old popcorn favorite, but they have a full menu to order from, including a black bean burger for your veggie friends! There is a full-service bar, too.

As the video below shows, you push the little button on your seat table and an SMG team member appears at your seat and takes your order. You now sit back and relax in the reclining seats and enjoy the movie. Your food arrives hot (unless you order something chilled) and freshly made. The servers are not a distraction during the movie, and surprisingly enough, the smell of the various foods being eaten are not bothersome. Unless your bladder alerts you, you won’t have to leave your seat for a refill or to purchase the food. All transactions are brought to your seat.

Discounted Tickets

Studio Movie Grill frequently runs a promotion on Groupon for $5.00 movie tickets. If you are like me, and you consider movie tickets to be a nice treat, then you will want to scoop up the frugal ticket price when you see it on Groupon. At 51% off the regular price of a ticket, you will find yourself treating your friends and family to a night on the town and a movie.

Please note, food is not included in the Groupon ticket price, and you cannot use the Groupon discount toward food.

There are restrictions on the Groupon ticket purchase.  For example, the tickets are not valid for movies at 5pm or later on Friday – Sunday. They cannot be used for Special Event movies, Crowd Sourcing, or Film Series Movies. There are extra fees for 3D movies. See the link above for additional restrictions.

Buy Tickets in Advance or in Person

If you are attending a movie where you may be running late, or you anticipate the theater will be full, then you may want to redeem the Groupon tickets online and reserve the exact seat that you want (a $1.50 convenience fee/seat applies).

Otherwise, have your Groupon ticket ready to redeem at the counter, and you can pick your seat from the ones still available. You will know going into the theater what seat number you will be sitting in. Pretty cool, eh?

Parking

Parking in Uptown isn’t scary at all once you realize that SMG validates parking (up to 4 hrs)  in the self-parking area of the EpiCentre parking deck for guests of Studio Movie Grill. Valet parking will not be validated.

Be sure to check out the other restaurants and stores at the Epicentre. Fun events happen every day of the week, and if you are still hungry after the movie, you can swing into Five Guys and feed your french fry addiction. I know I’m not the only one who loves a potato.

Studio Movie Grill Experience from Studio Movie Grill on Vimeo.

Location and Phone

210 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202

704-972-1062

 

 

Check out some of the views you can see at the Epicentre!

uptown charlotte
uptown charlotte epicentre

#Charlotte sky is dark and cloudy. #sky #clouds #night

A photo posted by Jeannie M Bushnell (@jmbushnell) on

 

 

This post contains affiliate links that help to support me and my french fry habit.

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Traveling Author: Bechtler by Night Scavenger Hunt

Jeannie M. Bushnell Draws her version of a sam francis self portrait

Photo of the Firebird at the Bechtler Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina

As someone still new to the Charlotte scene, I’m always searching for fun and affordable events to attend within the city. One of my favorite places to find information that fits within those parameters is the Charlotte on the Cheap list that Jody Mace compiles. One of the events that she recently listed is Bechtler by Night.

The Bechtler museum is in Uptown Charlotte and open Monday through Sunday. I’ve had plans to make it out there before, but something always comes up, and I find the hours are just not workable for me. I’m obviously not alone, as the Bechtler by Night event exists for those like me who can’t seem to make it to the museum during the regular business hours.

Once a month, on the third Friday of the month, the Bechtler museum opens from 5 pm until 9 pm for a night of art appreciation wrapped in fun activities and prizes. The event makes for a wonderful date or outing with family and friends.

Unsure of what to expect when we arrived, my friend and I found a bustling museum entry filled with people in line to receive their bingo cards and sheets for a scavenger hunt. If you are one of the first 100 people to return the completed scavenger hunt and bingo card, you will be offered the chance to draw from a raffle box and win a prize!

As you walk through the museum hunting for the answers to the questions on the scavenger hunt page, you find yourself reading the descriptions for the art and looking at the art in an entirely new way than you have before. As a lover of museums, I’ve frequented my fair share, but this event encourages us to take the time to really read about the artists and the works rather than just scan the room and do a quick glance at each piece as we pass them by without a notice of much else.

The current exhibitions feature Sam Francis: Rapid Fluid Indivisible Vision (on view until March 7, 2016) and The Art of the Print (on view until June 19 2016). This was my first introduction to Francis, an Abstract Expressionist artist, and I found myself enamored with his techniques and works.

On the back of the scavenger hunt sheet, you are asked to draw a quick sketch of your favorite work of art in the museum. I chose a self portrait of Sam Francis. The obscure sadness just called to me.

Jeannie M. Bushnell Draws her version of a sam francis self portrait

I applaud the museum for creating an event that invites patrons to engage with the art in a new way. The modest size of the collections at the museum are ideal for this type of event. The museum is not expansive like The Smithsonian, and this helps prevent the patrons from feeling overwhelmed by the game. My friend and I were two of the lucky ones to finish the scavenger hunt before all the prizes were awarded, and we won two passes to the museum! Other prizes included items from the museum gift shop and tickets to jazz performances at the museum.

I thoroughly enjoyed my night at the Bechtler museum, and I can’t wait to return for future nights of Friday fun at the museum.

More information about Sam Francis at the Sam Francis Foundation.
Here are the future 2016 dates for the event:

March 18
April 15
May 20
June 17
July 15

Price: Free

Parking: Don’t fret – if you park at the Levine Center for the Arts Parking Garage, you will pay $5.00 and the museum is just a scant walk across the road. More information about parking can be found on the Duke Energy Center page.

Food and drink: Check out a menu and times for The Modern Cafe at the Bechtler

Normal Museum Hours and Admission:

Monday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Closed for major holidays (New Year’s day, Thanksgiving day, Christmas day)

Check out their regular admission prices, but please note:
Active-duty and retired military personnel,
National Guard, Reserve and their families get in Free!

Check out what people are saying on Yelp!

bechtler museum outside from the inside

The first image is of the Firebird, a permanent fixture in the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art collection.

Blue Balls art print by Sam Francis:

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Traveling Author: SCarowinds

terrified man

 

 

scarowinds sign

Starting in September, Carowinds becomes SCarowinds. It is a haunting event for the young and old!

scarowinds tree
A spooky old tree greets park attendees. SCarowinds 2015.

 

Scaredy Pumpkin

 

scared pumpkin

 

For $8.00, you can purchase a plastic necklace that features a glowing pumpkin to alert the costumed employees that you do not want to be scared. I know, there are some of you who think this is ridiculous. After all, you’ve come to SCarowinds to be scared, right? Well, while I didn’t purchase one of the necklaces (because I think they cost too much and I didn’t see them offered until I was leaving the park), having had the experience of the employees getting a little too close for comfort and screaming in my face, I can see the value of purchasing such a necklace.

No, I don’t like to be scared. I like to stand back and admire the scary displays and costumes, but I do not like to be screamed at or grabbed, and I’m not a fan of someone coming up behind me in a darkened walkway to scare the crap out of me. Nope, not a fan.

terrified man

Mazes and Scare Zones

I went through the Seventh Ward maze (aka haunted house), and had the actors refrained from shouting in my face or reaching into my personal space, I would have enjoyed it. The strobe lights and mirrored walls didn’t help. The maze is indoors and very detailed and interesting, but I couldn’t enjoy it due to the constant onslaught of people screaming in my face.

I didn’t want to go in any other mazes after touring the scary “mental institution” that I’d raced to get through. My friends (two adult males in their 40s) went through the Cornstalkers maze (which they found scarier than the Seventh Ward), and the Zombie High maze (which they also found spine-tingling).

There are also established scare zones. The Bloodyard resembles a junkyard where you are surrounded by thirsty vampires waiting to turn you into one of their own. The London Terror scare zone doesn’t look too bad, but the small area in which there is to walk, and the mass of costumed characters waiting to scream at you make it less than a welcoming stroll down the streets of London.

If you love haunted houses, I think you will love SCarowinds. If you don’t, I think you should invest in a glowing pumpkin necklace or just skip SCarowinds and stay home where you can watch a scary movie with the mute button depressed to prevent hearing the horrible scary music and sounds from reaching your sensitive ears and heart. Is that just me?

 

rip buckley train car
A painted train car speaks of the death of Buckley. RIP Buckley the cat. – located in the Bloodyard Scare Zone

 

skeleton key

Delights for the Ears and Eyes

The employee costumes and makeup is definitely my favorite thing about the SCarowinds experience. With over six hundred monsters to create for the event, the work of the makeup artists really shines. Read more on the SCarowinds blog to discover what goes on behind the mask. The article states that each artist is given 8 – 12 minutes to complete the makeup, and as someone who has toiled for hours to get Halloween makeup 1/2 as good as what the employees of the park are sporting, I am amazed at how quickly it all comes together every night of the event.

There are a number of shows offered for the event. I attended the Tribal Terror drum show and I enjoyed it immensely. The musicians did a great job. Showtimes are 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Rated PG-13, Leave Your Costume at Home, & You May Not Re-enter

The park states that the event is rated PG-13 and may be too intense for young children. I saw plenty of small children in the park enjoying themselves, but I know that won’t be the case for all young children. The younger children (or scared adults) can always come to Carowinds during the day before SCarowinds opens in the evening, and there is even a Great Pumpkin Fest to enjoy.

There is one extremely odd caveat to the SCarowinds event: guests cannot re-enter the park if they leave for any reason. It is normal for Carowinds guests to receive a stamp on the arm upon exiting so they can re-enter the park during the same-day visit with ease and no extra charge. This is not happening for SCarowinds. Everyone is held captive to this rule, so don’t think you are exempt Gold Card Members. I’m not sure why they’ve put this new rule in place, but that means guests can’t take a break to exit the park during their SCarowinds visit. What makes the SCarowinds event so special that guests cannot leave the park and return? I have no idea. If you find out, let me know. I asked several employees during my visit but none seemed to understand the arbitrary rule, either.

Darkness & Security

The park is too dark during SCarowinds. The regular low lighting that is used at night is made worse by colored bulbs and fog machines that occasionally make it hazardous to walk. There was security presence at the park, but the two people I saw aren’t enough for such a large crowd. The lack of security is one of the features that most people find disconcerting during regular Carowinds hours. Considering that the majority of the employees are teenagers, the park doesn’t exactly feel like the safest place at all times. While I know that many people feel safe allowing their teenagers to go to the park alone, I would not allow a minor to go to the park alone with the current security presence.

monster werewolf

Scary Deals & Dates

The best deal (outside of the regular Carowinds Gold Pass) is the Haunt Pass which allows for unlimited admission to SCarowinds. You can attend every night of the SCarowinds events for a low price of $59.99. If you have a regular Gold Pass to Carowinds, you can also attend every night of SCarowinds, too. If you don’t have a pass, prepare to pay $15.00 to park.

Do yourself a favor and check the site before you head out to the park. If you are looking for some Halloween night fun, the park is open from 7:00 pm until 1:00 am. Have fun, but you won’t see me there. I’ve had my fill with the one night I attended. But then again, I’m a scaredy pumpkin.

I’d love to hear about your visit to SCarowinds!

Hours for SCarowinds:

September
Fridays & Saturdays
7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

October
Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Late Night Closings
October 24 & October 31
7:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.