Take a journey back to 1862, where you grind your own coffee, there are free soft pretzels, and everyone is better dressed than you. Okay – this might not be the most historically accurate trip (soft pretzels?), but it was certainly fun.

This past weekend the Rose Bowl was transformed into a Victorian fair, equipped with a phonograph DJ, period performers, an old-school tarot reader, a tight rope walker, and more. They even had a replica of the “Mammoth” hot air balloon that is depicted in the film. And you could ride it!

As if this time travel weren’t enough, there were also free snacks (including soft pretzels, cinnamon soft pretzels, puff pastries, veggie platters, popcorn, and an entire tent filled with vintage candy). Three bars were available for soda, cocktails, and special tonic water dressed with labels thematic to the movie.

It was a veritable carnival, with the amount of food, beverage, and entertainment options feeling almost overwhelming at times. There was a hypnotist that helped you to “Conquer your fears!” and a station where you could grind your own coffee and then watch thematically-dressed staff brew it, old school, right in front of you. I’m not exactly a coffee expert, but I’ll say, there’s something about grinding your own coffee beans that makes the beverage that much more delicious.

 

But of course, all of this fun was just a bonus, as we were there to celebrate the amazing film, THE AERONAUTS. We got to sit in bleachers – with THE AERONAUTS-branded blankets – and watch the high-flying movie on the world’s first Fly-In Theatre. There were two regular, high-quality screens as well, but certain scenes, as depicted on the side of an actual hot air balloon, made for an indescribable cinematic experience.

We were also given light-up headphones to make sure a windy evening didn’t take away from the mellifluous voices of Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. Helpful THE AERONAUTS spoiler for all the animal lovers out there: The dog does not get hurt!

Now that we’ve got that important note aside, the costumes in this film are absolutely drool-worthy, and they were on display at the Rose Bowl, along with equipment and artifacts seen in the movie. They were conveniently displayed along the line for a special photo op that put you into the hot air balloon basket yourself. Then, you could look at your flat printout photograph through some nifty, old-school gadgets that made it appear 3D.

Seeing as women and people of color were not the most appreciated in the 1800s (are they even now?), the Rose Bowl popup acted as the perfect, safe journey back in time. You got all of the cute, kitschy fun, without any sexism or racism. Speaking of, Jones’ character is such a badass in the film, the entire night felt like a celebration of strong, independent women.

That became true for me when I had the opportunity to hop aboard the Mammoth in real life. Of course, I wasn’t the one steering it, and it certainly didn’t set any altitude records, but still – baby steps.

All in all, it was a hell of a night, courtesy of Amazon Prime Video. However, even if you missed the retro Rose Bowl fun, you can still celebrate the feat of the Mammoth, by checking out THE AERONAUTS when it hits Amazon Prime on December 6, 2019.

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