Celebrate Halfway to Halloween at the Spooky Swap Meet

Halfway to Halloween
Here is the Haunted Attraction Industry News for April, 25th.
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Conventions & Mixers

Celebrate Halfway to Halloween at the Spooky Swap MeetTaking place this weekend – April 30th – May 1st – at the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles, California, the Spooky Swap Meet is a curated shopping experience of all things macabre. Dozens of vendors will have selections of gothic antique furnishings, Halloween-inspired decor, costumes, props, and more. Fortune telling and food will also be available for purchase. Guests of all ages will be able to trick-or-treat at Heritage Square’s manors whose exteriors have been adopted and haunted for the weekend by sponsors including Vamp & The Fiends, Bones’ Gulch Haunted Attraction, Samhain Cemetery, Fear Farm, and AdamJessFx. Dress up for the occasion – cosplay is encouraged. Tickets are on sale now with General Admission for $15 and VIP “Ghost Hunter” Admission for $25. Time slots are selling out fast, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance.

Come join the Texas Haunters Convention and acting troupe, Los Bastardos (Los Bast-ar-dos), for an interactive screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show during the Saturday night Costume Ball on July 16th. Scream out your favorite lines, cover your head with newspaper, and sing along to the Time Warp with all of your haunter friends. Los Bastardos has performed The Rocky Horror Picture Show in DFW since 1997. Accomplished and traveled, this professional stage show is R-rated and adds the perfect amount of spice to your night. For more information and to register, visit the Texas Haunters Convention’s official website

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Mergers & Acquisitions

RWS Entertainment Group (RWS), the world’s largest, full-service provider of visitor attractions and experiences, announced the acquisition of The Experience Department, popularly known as ted. British based with offices in four countries and a twenty-year history, ted delivers full-service entertainment and programming for theater, cruise, resort and leisure destinations. This announcement follows RWS’s November 2021 acquisition of international attraction design firm JRA and expands the group’s expertise to include 360-degree experience design, audio visual solutions, fitness and wellbeing programs, custom-made retail products, studio recording, and visual media design. ted services will also expand to include new Halloween and seasonal holiday experiences complete with design, fabrication, and installation. “The synergy between ted and RWS Entertainment Group opens opportunities for our team and our clients to achieve the ultimate immersive experiences on land and at sea,” said RWS Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Stana. “Our companies have an outstanding record of delivering powerful projects. Together with other RWS companies including JRA and Binder Casting, the possibilities are endless.”

U.S. Haunts & Events

A scareactor at the Hollywood Wax Museum Haunted House in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was shot after scaring a group of visitors in an incident on Saturday, April 16th. After the performer scared a group, one of the visitors – later identified as Keal Latrell Brown – opened fire. Brown told investigators he believed the gun was a prop part of the performance and “picked it up and fired twice,” police said. He struck the performer one time in the shoulder. Brown was arrested the following Tuesday and has been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for knowingly giving the gun used in the shooting to his 15-year old child. Additional charges are likely to occur and police are still investigating where the gun came from. The victim spoke at Brown’s bond hearing and said that since the shooting, he is struggling to work and has trouble sleeping. 

The Baton Rouge Halloween themed non-profit and krewe 10/31 Consortium announced on Earth Day that participants will no longer throw traditional beads during their annual Halloween parade, making it the first event of its kind in the Greater Baton Rouge Area to go “beadless”. The Halloween parade is part of the organization’s signature Fifolet Halloween Festival, held in downtown Baton Rouge. This year, the festival will take place October 27th – 30th, with the Halloween parade rolling on Saturday, October 29th. “We are always looking for ways to be innovative and better stewards of our community,” said Corey Tullier, Founder, President and CEO of 10/31 Consortium. “By going beadless, our goal is to reduce the environmental impact our parade has on our city. We know our parade participants will come up with some fun ideas for alternatives to traditional beads. We can’t wait to see their creativity!” This new policy will be optional in 2022 but become mandatory in 2023 and beyond. Alternative throws will likely include wrapped candy, plush toys, handmade crafts, and more. 

Celebrate Halfway to Halloween with Ashles’ Tales of Terror (Sanford, Florida) at their Club Carnage immersive experience pop up event. Presented in collaboration with The Manikins Lounge, Club Carnage will feature an immersive scare zone, art, DJ’s, gogo dancers, sideshow performances, drink specials, and more. The two-night event takes place May 6th & 7th. The Halloween experience will run 8:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. – with the club staying open until 2:00 a.m. for guests to drink and mingle. Sideshow performances occur at 9:45 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. Guests must be 18+ to attend. Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance ($13 at the door) and include access to the neon walkthrough scare experience, club, vendors, sideshow performers, and photo ops. 

Experience NecroManor Haunted House (Bossier City, Louisiana) with the lights off in a special Friday The 13th weekend event. Located on the Louisiana Boardwalk, the haunt will open its doors Friday, May 13th and Saturday, May 14th from 6:00 p.m. – Midnight. Brave guests will be invited to make their way through the twisted halls in complete darkness – will you survive, or will you succumb to the curse of the Unlucky 13? Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased online.

Graveyard Productions plans to bring thrills and chills to the Powder Ridge Ski Area in Middlefield, Connecticut with the new haunted attraction, “The Haunting at the Ridge”. “Halloween has always been my favorite holiday,” said Power Ridge Mountain Park & Resort CEO Sean Hayes. “Therefore, we always knew it would be one of our prominent mountain experiences. We’ve been working with Graveyard Productions for almost 2 years to ensure a one-of-a-kind haunted experience.” The Halloween season experience will start with a trip up the ski lift to begin the journey and then integrate its maze-like path into the mountain. The event is set to run weekends September 30th through the end of October. Tickets will be available starting September 1st. More information will be released in the coming months on Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort’s official website and social media

SugarMynt Gallery has announced its newest exhibition, “Spooky Kids Club,” which will be opening on May 7th and running through June 19th, 2022. The main gallery will feature original artwork for sale by local California artists, as well as artists from around the United States. The paintings and displays will be inspired by content including “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “Scooby-Doo,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark?,” “Coraline,” “Goosebumps,” Disney’s Haunted Mansion, McDonald’s Halloween Happy Meals, and many other pop culture staples that first sent chills up our spines.
Displayed among the artwork you’ll find actual pieces of entertainment history including props from the Disney Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus” and Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” along with Ben Cooper Halloween masks. There will also be original photo opportunities inspired by some of your favorite titles.

Haunted Attraction Association

Five new members are joining the HAA Board of Directors in 2022. The Haunted Attraction Network is releasing a series of podcasts to introduce each new member.

The fourth entry in our series features Travis Rhoad of Reaper’s Revenge (Scranton, Pennsylvania). With 240 staff members per night at Reaper’s Revenge, Travis has experience and expertise in employee relations and retention. Travis recommends engaging your team year-round by maintaining an actor and employee Facebook page, and through hosting events (such as bowling nights, actor clinics, and makeup classes). Actor clinics have worked especially well for Travis, with over half of the core team attending. The clinics feature improv exercises and teambuilding. Travis also recommends making team members feel valued throughout the haunt season with special recognition and awards. “Try to look at yourself through the eyes of an actor who is doing the same action, probably 300 to 400 times a night… They give up so much and for two months they give up every weekend, sores and bruises, sprains, getting punched, and all this other stuff, it’s really amazing…they need to know that we’re family.”

HAA Member Companies

Von Grimm Productions are known for their signature burlap mask designs. At this year’s Transworld owner and chief artist Matt Scott debuted new designs including the popular Wendigo Scarecrow full mask. Matt highlighted his durable half-mask line, which are all reinforced with burlap and have the same lifetime warranty as his full burlap masks. Despite rising costs of materials, Von Grimm Productions has not raised prices on their products for 2022, and is still honoring 2020 pricing for the current year. Learn more about Matt and Von Grimm Productions on their official website

Wristband Resources is one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of identification wristbands and accessories in the world. In a recent Haunted Attractions Network interview Bonnie Lewis of Wristband Resources discussed the company’s customer-centric approach to providing the haunt industry with wristbands, lanyards, and other marketing materials. For over 16 years Bonnie has worked with haunters, even visiting attractions herself, to learn more about their needs. Tyvek wristbands can be more budget-friendly options for many haunts, featuring durable and comfortable paper-like material that is highly customizable. Bonnie also recommended haunters look into Vinyl Cash Tag wristbands, which feature pull off tabs that can be used to keep track of inventory, maze visits, etc. View the entire Wristband Resources catalog and learn about custom bands on their official website

Tyler Barnett of Fearworm, the first and largest full-service marketing agency dedicated to haunted houses, shared his “80/20 Rule” for managing your haunt’s social media in a recent Haunted Attraction Network interview. “80% of the time you should actually be having fun starting conversations and engaging with your audiences. You should only be selling your event 20% of the time.” Tyler stressed that that 80% portion was a critical part of social media marketing strategy and quite often companies neglect it or don’t approach it correctly to create engagement. To learn more about Fearworm’s marketing services, visit their official website. Fearworm also offers virtual education content on their Facebook page with “Fearworm Wormhole” livestreams. 

Fright Props and their animatronic division, Poison Propsdebuted a variety of exciting new products in 2022. Fright Prop’s featured new products include animated characters – such as the Talking Cymbal Chimp Character and Talking Freddy Bear Character – which feature fully articulated heads that move around and talk with eyes that change color. Poison Props released 15 new props this year, many of which feature loud noises and startling motions – such as the Maniacal Mechanic and Lunch Lady. Haunters hoping to order products for this haunt season, should aim to place their order as early as possible; orders are processed in order of receipt. To view the full catalog of products, visit Fright Props‘ and Poison Prop‘s official websites. 

Theme Parks

In a recent Facebook video, Imagineer Michele Hobbs took viewers on a spirited stroll around Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Hobbs details the history and lore of the attraction and highlights some of the new enhancements recently added to the attraction. From new furnishings and landscaping on the exterior to an expanded portrait gallery in the hall, there are plenty of new elements to guests to enjoy.

Film / TV

Filmed at Field of Screams (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), the horror film Where the Scary Things Are is slated for a June 28th, 2022 release. The film was shot at the haunted attraction in the Fall of 2020. In a 2021 interview, director B. Harrison Smith praised the haunt owners, saying, “The Schopf Brothers got us… They knew what we wanted to do. We shot a terrific, high quality monster movie and made their place look even more incredible than it already is in real life.” On IMDB, Smith describes the film as “A dark take on 80s ‘Kids In Weird Circumstances’ films like Stand By MeThe GooniesStephen King’s IT and even modern homages as Super 8 and Stranger Things that examine the dark nature of post-Columbine kids and their growing lack of empathy in the Internet age.” The plot centers on a group of teenagers whose high school “Create Your Own Urban Legend” project quickly gets out of hand due to their desire for more “likes” and going viral with deadly consequences. The film will be released on DVD and paid streaming services via Lionsgate. View the official trailer on Lionsgate’s Youtube channel. 

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Upcoming Haunt Events

Halfway to Halloween

Cobb’s Adventure Park (Calgary, Canada) – May 14
EverHaunt (Angola, NY) – May 13
Fear Fair (Seymour, IN) – May 13 -14
Field of Screams (Lancaster, PA) – May 13 – 14
Fright Kingdom (Nashua, NH) – May 13 – 14
Necromanor Haunted House (Bossier City, LA) – May 13 – 14
Planet Doom (Idaho Falls, ID) – May 13 – 14
Scare Kingdom Scream Park (Blackburn, UK) – May 7

Summer Haunts

Paranoia Haunted House (Canton, GA) – July 9

Podcast Episodes You Might Be Interested In

What is DMX and do you need it for your haunt lighting?
Today Julia from Gantom lighting will give you some suggestions on DMX alternatives and simple uses for DMX. DMX is a is a protocol used to control lights in your haunt. DMX can be used for many more things such as fog machines and triggers, but we’re only focused on the lighting today. You need something that generates a signal, and then that signal travels to the light to tell it what to do. The signal can be pre-programmed or controlled live. So, DMX can be simple and run a few fixtures, or complicated to run a large show; it scales to the need. And that need is why we recommend you decide whether to get into DMX. Do you need them to perform a timed show or just a single effect over and over (like a heartbeat)? Would the guest notice lighting that’s in time with other effect? So you see how DMX is highly dependent on your haunt’s experience.

Celebrating Halfway to Halloween at the Spooky Swap Meet (Replay)
Halfway to Halloween is just around the corner, and plenty of haunts are opening this year to celebrate. Here in Los Angeles, we have a unique event that involves multiple haunts called the Spooky Swap Meet. Today, I’m going to replay our episode from the Spooky Swap Meet last year so you can hear what it was like. Here’s the background: Guests can ‘shop among the spirits for Halloween treasures!’ The backdrop for the event is the Victorian era houses of the heritage square museum. There are plenty of vendors and food, but there’s also trick or treating. Local haunts will each decorate one of the Victorian manors and create mini trick or treat experiences for the guests. Spooky Swap Meet is next weekend April 30th and May 1st. This year the haunts involved are AdamJess FX, Fear Farm, Bones Gulch Haunted Attraction, LA Haunted Hayride, Samhain Cemetery, and Vamp and the Fiends!

HaunTopic: Fire Safety & Actor Safety with Fear Asylum
One of the biggest hurdles that Haunters face is preparing your attraction for the fire marshal. This podcast episode will get you ready for your inspector and help make your Haunt safer, for your customers and staff. To hear this full Master Class and get the video, become a member of The Haunter’s Toolbox. Join here. Thanks to Guy Buck Burdick from Fear Asylum and Station 5 Productions.

Frightprops at Transworld 2022
Over the last 19 years, Fright Props has grown from smaller mechanics to distributing most anything you’d need for your haunt. Today, we’ll hear about the new products and cutoff times. Their animatronic division, poison props, also launched 15 new props this year. Tyler from The Scare Factor conducted this interview and he’s interviewing Doug from Fright Props on the Transworld show floor.

Haunted Attraction Industry News for April 19th
Read more here

The First Full-Service Marketing Agency for Haunted Houses
Fearworm is the first and largest full-service marketing agency dedicated to haunted houses; Today, we’ll learn about their firm and get a tip for managing your haunt’s social media. This interview was recorded during Transworld, conducted by Scott Swenson, and features Tyler Barnett.

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