This is day 57 of our 61 day Hauntathon counting down to Halloween. Today Logan Sharp, the General Manager, discusses the 13th Floor Haunted House in Jacksonville and its three attractions, as well as what might be happening in the future as well.
Tickets are on sale now for the 13th Floor Haunted House and start at $24.99 with optional Fast Passes and Skip The Line add-ons. The 2021 Blackout event in November starts at $22.99 with the same add-ons. Make sure to check the calendar for available times and dates.
What Is New for This Year at 13th Floor Jacksonville?
Logan: So, this is year’s show, when I had the opportunity to take it over, the three themes that were given to me were the Doll Maker, Bad Blood, and then Dead in the Water, and what I really wanted to do was help tell the story of what those themes are. They gave me the themes and I said, “okay, how can we adapt? Help put guests into the story.” I’m a big fan of Universal Studios, Halloween Horror Nights, Netherworld, all those attractions that tell that story, and that’s what I wanted to do, but with the actors being able to pop out in full costume.
Also, we were able to go in and fix a lot of props that might not have been working over the couple of years at this place has been open. We also were able to change some of the lighting, change some of the atmosphere by the sound. One of the biggest things we did outside was we changed the complete tone of the music, made it a little bit darker, more in your face to where, when they walk up, they’re getting hit with that music and they’re going “woah, there’s something not right going on inside.” And I think the actors and my management team have done a bang-up job and knocked it out of the park.
Logan Explains the Three Different Themes
Logan: The synopsis behind Doll Maker is there’s a lady that lives at the end of the street, a house that’s torn down that people just tried to avoid. And what she’s doing is she’s really, she’s capturing people, and she’s torturing them and turning them into her personal doll collection. But we put the little twist on it, and we did to where she’s capturing the guest. So, when people walk through, they’re going to see, in a certain part, it’s going to look like guests have been turned into dolls and stuff like that. So, it was a cool.
Bad Blood is one of probably my favorites, just because of the feel of it. It’s a battle between a hoard of vampires and a biker gang of werewolves set in the eighties. They’ve been battling for years. The cool thing about it is, we set the music to make it seem like you’re walking through the eighties, but we really wanted to put the guests into that battle. So, like you might walk through a scene and you might have a vampire and a werewolf are attacking each other as you’re walking through it. And it’s really cool, cause the makeup team were able to really make the actors that are werewolves look like werewolves, just with face paint and stuff like that, which is mind blowing.
But then Dead in the Water is the last one. Synopsis buying that one pretty much as the golden age of the riverboat. We have a riverboat that’s beached, full boat, pretty cool facade and everything. And what’s lurking inside is all the guests that haven’t left just yet, and some other creatures that are lurking from underneath the muddy grounds. The cool thing about that one is that was not open up last year due to COVID. So, what we did was we decided to open it back up, and people love it because of the laser maze is at the end. And every time people walk out, you could probably ask everyone in here, they’re going to tell you, “man, that laser maze was cool. That laser maze was cool.”
Logan Explains a Proud Moment From This Year
Logan: I think it all goes to my team, man. Like I’m a big team guy. I was in Nashville helping getting that show ready, and while I was there, the Doll Maker. I didn’t have time to do the Doll Maker, and I just went to my team, my management team, and I said, “Hey guys, this is going to be y’all’s attraction.” I was like, “this is what I want to see. I want the guests feel that they’re in this weird, like strange house that, she’s got all her dolls everywhere,” because everybody’s scared of dolls, and they went with it, man.
One of the proud moments was like, they, I came to help open this place up two weeks before the season, and they pretty much hit it right on the head of what the theme was going to be. The path has never changed, it just felt different because they scattered all these dolls everywhere. We have a big impeller that you’ll see, and it’s no longer looks like an impeller because they used tablecloths and stuff to make a costume out of it. So now it looks like a big puppet that comes up and moves around, so it’s really cool. To me, that’s probably the proudest moment was the team coming together and saying, “okay, Logan wants us to do this. Let’s make him proud.” And they did a really good job of doing it. They got it. Oh yeah. They nailed it right on the head.
Logan Explains His Staffing Process and His Team
Logan: Staffing has always been, I wouldn’t say an issue, but it’s always been a thing that we tried to prepare ahead of time. We have, I think 35 to 40 spots that we’re able to hire, and we were able to hire them right away. Before we even started the season, we hired 40 actors to fit inside, because we had a battleground event that we had to do. And once we did that, we kind of pinpoint, “okay, we’ve got this handful of people that are probably going to stick around.”
So, we just started going, “okay, we got to hire this amount of people.” So we hit that 35, right when we started, and then every week after that, I just kept going in and saying, “All right. I need to hire five to 10 more for actors. Five more for events staff.” So on and so on, just tweaking it based off of, okay, I had this many people show up this weekend, the next weekend I’ve got to have this many, so I’m going to have to pull and bring in this many.
Now we are through our long haul, per se, the 12 nights straight until Halloween. That’s going to probably be our biggest test, because everybody has different schedules. Our team is a great team, but some people can only work certain days than others, and the great thing about it is we cross train everybody. So, we can put somebody that’s taken photos inside retail and they’ll fit in perfectly. We can take a ticket scanner, move them up to the front of the park, and it’s going to be perfect. So, we can adjust in different ways. Struggle, yeah maybe. Headache, yeah. But we just tried to prepare the best we can.
Philip: And we were talking a little bit beforehand. It sounds like it served you well, because it sounds like you’ve had a fantastic year this year, and you wouldn’t have been able to capitalize on the amount of demand if you didn’t have that team in place ahead of time.
Logan: Yeah, and that’s a great thing, man. I knew staffing was going to be an issue. So, I changed my mindset of how I was going to tackle the morale of the team to get them to keep coming back. One thing that we did, and it might sound stupid to some, the team really enjoys it, is we created this big wheel of mystery to where at the end of the night, whoever’s the best person gets to spin the wheel, and there’s different prizes. One prize was pie me in the face, other prize was dye my hair and my beard, and it’s just things that are fun that they can do. They can also win merch items, and it really has just grabbed us together. We also do a dinner every Saturday night just to bring the morale there, because Saturdays are going to always be busy. But we’ve just done different things to just bring that family atmosphere, and it’s really helped us because once they’ve seen that they go, “oh, I want to come back and I want to work for this company and this guy.” And it’s just worked.
Philip: It doesn’t have to be complicated; it just has to be something unique to create that atmosphere.
Logan: Absolutely, I took 16 pies in the face on one night, and it was just something that helped them after a hard night and it wasn’t anything big, like the wheel was easy to do. And some of the other things that we do is just thinking a little bit outside the box. I tell everybody, if you want to motivate, just think a little bit different, think about what your team wants, and then it’s going to fall in its place.
What Has Been the Biggest Challenge of the 2021 Season?
Logan: Getting used to managing, because I’m a big tech guy and that’s what I’ve been doing the whole time I’ve been with 13th floor. I’ve been tech, I started at Nashville Nightmare, and I’ve also done a whole bunch of tech for other 13 floor locations. And coming into management, I was a banker before I did it. So, none of this stuff was, up my alley. So, it was really just trying to figure out, okay, you got to establish a team, you got to bring that team together, and you have to really change your mindset of, Hey, you can’t be a hot head all the time. You actually have to adjust and show the team that, okay, you’re not going to be upset at simple things, or things that would upset me before having upset me now. Because I can’t let the team see that, I can’t let anybody see that. I have to adjust like other things of, okay, this person might not get along, this person might not get along. That whole adjustment was a big change to me, because it all hit me at one time because I didn’t start with this team. But I came in and I had an open mind here. I said, “okay, let’s see what I can do and see if we can move some things around and adjust some things and just bring some fun into this place.”
What Is Happening With 13th Floor After Halloween?
Logan: So, we’re already starting to plan for next year. I can go ahead and tell you, right after we do Blackout, which is November 5th and 6th here, we’ll start preparing for Krampus, which I think will be the second weekend in December, don’t know the exact date yet, but we’ll start doing that. But we’re talking about possible renovations of the show, creating a kind of a bar area with a cool retail area, theming the whole area out. Our biggest thing is, when we want people to come in, we want people to stay and have a good time, and we’re going to come up with different areas of where they can do that and do it in a safe manner. But, the main thing is the show. Like, we’re going to try and bring some new life to the show, change up a couple of pathways, change up a couple of the themes, add a couple more props, and do things of that. So, it’s going to be almost a brand-new show when people come next year
What Has Logan Learned About the Jacksonville Market?
Logan: That’s a good question, man. I learned from one of the best, I call him the best, Brad Webb. He’s the guy who he took me in, he taught me all the ropes of what to look for, stuff like that. And Brad is notorious for changing everything every year. That show is never going to be the same for any event we do.
I can tell you that show is going to be different when we get to Krampus. I firmly believe, like this year, it’s a weird year, and I think people are really enjoying the show of what we’ve done in it, because we have made a couple changes with lighting sound, stuff like that, and we’ve made it a real immersive experience with the actors.
But I do feel like people are wanting something different. I think they want something different all the time, because you don’t make change people aren’t going to keep returning. And that’s the thing is like Universal Studios, all the big places, they make those changes and that’s what makes people keep coming back. And I honestly, I think that’s what this market is striving for is, they want something bigger, better, bolder and different. And it’s interesting to see where we’re going to take it next year.
Philip: That’s really interesting. Especially because the market here seems, on its surface, like it is less developed than something like Orlando, because there’s less competition.
Logan: Yeah, there used to be a bunch of attractions from what I was told, but they all phased out and fizzled out. 13th Floor kind of weathered the storm and it was able to stay based through COVID, and I think that’s been a benefit for us, but also hurt us at the same time. A lot of the people, yeah we’ve had really big crowds this year, but a lot of the people are coming out saying, “oh, the path was the same. But the theming was really cool, so it took our mind away from it.” We’re getting that feedback and we’re like, “okay, it’s time to make that change,” to give them something brand new to where they’re like, ” well, That was brand new.”
And I will tell you, The 13th Floor has their standards, but I really look up to Universal Studio quality, I look up the Netherworld quality, because those are the guys that I sit there and say, “man, they know what they’re doing, they know how to do it.” And that’s the standard that I keep striving for every day and saying, “how can we take this show to that?” I’ve been telling everybody don’t sleep on Jacksonville because, we’re going to give it all we got. We might be a little haunt, but we’re going to try and give all our effort to make it something worthwhile.