My opening line was going to be ‘It’s that time of the year when wrestling fans get excited’ however that wouldn’t be strictly true as we tend to get excited many times throughout the year when something is going to happen. Usually it’s when a big pay per view is coming up or when a big angle is going to take place or when there’s rumours of a big comeback.
In this case thought I’m talking about the WWE Wrestlemania travel packages going on sale! For years myself and many friends had talked about going to Wrestlemania but one by one they all dropped out to various excuses such as they were getting married or having a baby or something.
I decided that I was going to go by myself to Wrestlemania 25, it was a milestone and I felt that it would be good show to be at for my once in a lifetime trip. I discovered that WWE sold their own travel packages and this seemed like the logical way to go as I was travelling from Belfast and I had never been to Houston, had no knowledge of the area and it would just be easier letting WWE arrange the majority of my activities. The package included 3 nights in a ‘downtown hotel’ as well as tickets to Mania, Hall of fame, 2 fan Axxess tickets, a ‘midday madness’ signing session and some souvenirs. I spent some time debating over what package to buy, should I go for the most expensive Gold Package which would cost $1236 or the Silver package at $1068 I was wary of the fact that I also had to pay for my flight and extra night in a hotel as well as other Axxess sessions as well as the usual holiday expenses so didn’t want to overcommit on the basics. In the end I settled for the Silver Package
It was so convenient having the majority of things booked and paid for well in advance however the downside is that you don’t find out where you are sitting until close to the event. I emailed WWE at the start of March and luckily my email was answered by a helpful customer services person who was able to give me my seat details. For some reason when other people emailed they were told that seat information could not be released and this has also been the case in other years from what I’ve been told.
My seats were decent and I had a great trip but I did wonder if It would be cheaper and would I get better seats if I bought everything separately. I had told myself that Mania 25 would be my only Wrestlemania but I fell in love with the whole experience, not just the show itself so I decided that I would have to go to Wrestlemania 26. Initially I had decided to buy a travel package again, I decided that I would try for a platinum package this time. It turned out much more difficult getting a package 2nd time around due to some technical hitches on WWE website. I was actually a groomsman at my friend’s wedding the day they went on sale and had to hastily arrange the 1st dance when I realised it was getting dangerously close to on sale time. I literally danced off the dance floor and ran to a hotel room to try and get my package. In the end I couldn’t get my payment to go through so I gave up and decided that instead I would try booking everything separately. It worked well; I was 8th row at Mania and 3rd row at Raw. The downside of my Raw ticket was that for some reason the camera focussed on me as Shawn was leaving the ring and due to the poor quality WWE equipment it looked like I was a little emotional during Shawn’s farewell speech.
As far as cost goes there wasn’t much difference between the 2 trips and I felt more in control knowing the exact details of my seats so I decided that for Wrestlemania 27 I would once again book separately. I wasn’t as successful this time with my seat purchasing, I could only get risers for Mania as I wasn’t prepared to pay the inflated prices on eBay and StubHub. My raw ticket was further back as well. Although good seats and overall an enjoyable experience I was a little jealous of my friend, Cathal, who had persisted with the packages and enjoyed 3rd row ringside and front row at Raw.
We decided that for mania 28 we would get a travel package, it actually saved us a lot if we purchased a 2 person package so it seemed like the best idea. In the end a 3rd friend came with us which brought the costs down a little more although we still paid $2600 each!! We booked our package in July 2011, we had been successful in obtaining a platinum package so we knew we were somewhere in rows 1-4 but even so we spent the next few months wondering where exactly we would be sitting. We were reading online of different people coming up with different theories as to how seats would be allocated but we didn’t want to get our hopes up until the package arrive. We were ecstatic to see we had been give FRONT ROW!! It was unbelievable when Sheamus came over and embraced us when he won the World Heavyweight Championship. The fact that we looked like a couple of psychotic people on camera is a very minor detail!
The whole Wrestlemania 28 trip was out of this world, a complete highlight from start to finish so for next years’ Mania we figured we would have to go for VIP again.
That was until the prices were announced!! For the 4 night package the price is $7900! Although that includes a tour of WWE headquarters and a pre Hall of Fame reception I simply can’t justify the cost of spending that amount. More importantly, I can’t afford it. My hope were raised a little when the packages were changed slightly and the original VIP package was renamed the ‘Superstar VIP’ package and a new VIP package was announced which was similar to what we had received last year.
Even with the cheaper option I won’t be able to afford a package next year. One of the frustrating things about packages is we have to pay in full when we purchase, if only we had an option to pay in instalments! Although several friends have chosen to go for VIP next year, I will be buying everything separately which will hopefully keep my costs down a little.
At first I was a little pessimistic about my Wrestlemania 29 experience and how it is going to turn out but I quickly realised that it will be the same as any other year and it will be as good as I want it to be. I can guarantee that most if not all the people I know there will have a better seat than me but that doesn’t matter, I will enjoy the show and I will enjoy being in New York.
Bottom line is if you can afford a Wrestlemania package then you should go for it. If you can’t then simply buy everything separately, maybe get a couple of friends to join you to keep hotel costs down, but most importantly just completely love the experience no matter what!!
Stephen Harland is a guest columnist for OWW
Follow him on Twitter @stephenharland
QUESTION: Are you planning to attend Wrestlemania 29?