Jaws on the Water used to be this elusive thing. I’d heard about it by word-of-mouth in passing from almost-strangers at parties for more than 10 years, but I could never actually find a showing.
It turns out the Alamo Drafthouse hosted one screening in 2002 and then didn’t do it again until 2015, but I’m here to tell you, every year between then and 2015, I met someone who claimed to go a showing, though they couldn’t remember where it was, how they found out about it or even who they bought the tickets from. It was the Shangri-La of screenings.
And it was always the same seemingly far-fetched story: you sit on a black lake in inner tubes, watching Jaws on a huge screen, while scuba divers swim under you and grab your feet during scary scenes.
I googled it constantly for 13 years and never found a showing or much proof of its existence, outside of a few vague blog posts and blurry photos.
Then, in 2015, Alamo announced that it would host Jaws on the Water as part of its Rolling Roadshow. Suddenly this unicorn event went from elusive to completely attainable, and I finally made it there this past Sunday, after a 14-year journey.
It was definitely worth the wait. Let’s break it down:
Take-home jaws inner tubes included in the cost.
Free glow necklaces that you get to wear to prove that your head is above water.
Lifeguards watching via stand-up paddle boards. (I know they didn’t have those in 2002.)
18-ounce beers available at the bar, which we were asked to just throw in the water when done for clean up, since they float.
Food trucks with reasonable prices and good food. (Ditto the above 2002 comment.)
One classic movie featuring a truly scary mechanical shark and a lot of anticipation.
It was pretty fantastic. I recommend braving this at least once. That being said, I do have some tips:
Cover yourself in bug spray. You are on the water, at night, in Texas.
Bring foldout chairs and set them up on shore even if you don’t plan to use them. Eventually you will get tired of floating since the tubes don’t have bottoms, especially if you spin for 30 minutes for no apparent reason. (I think the scuba divers under us, if real, were spinning us. No one else had trouble facing the screen or even staying still.)
If you want the best of both worlds, beach yourself. Basically sit in water so shallow you can sit on the lake bottom while still being surrounded by water so you get the experience, but without the spinning, drifting or someone grabbing your ankle.
Speaking of which. I’m not sure the scuba divers are real. I thought I felt bubbles following below me and something rubbery rub up against me once but that may have been my imagination and/or just a large fish. Otherwise, no one grabbed my feet like I expected, so I want to know from anyone who’s survived this event, are the scuba divers really there? Has anyone ever had their foot grabbed during a scary scene?
I have to wonder if this lake is even deep enough for them to safely swim around beneath people. And how do they do it in the dark? Night vision goggles? And if they were there, why didn’t I hear anyone scream suddenly during the whole film? And is there really anyone willing to stay down from open to credits to keep their presence hidden, in what is essentially collective beer pee for any amount of money? If yes, is it just something they’ve had to pull back on because people got too scared? If no, why did I sign a waiver to not have my foot grabbed?
Please let me know if you’ve had confirmed encounters with scuba divers at this event or if it is just a myth, like I once thought this screening was. I hope to be pleasantly surprised!