Two Theme Parks Transition Away From Scary for Halloween

theme parks
Here is the Haunted Attraction Industry News for February, 28th.
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Theme Parks

Two Cedar Fair Entertainment Company theme parks, California’s Great America (Santa Clara, CA) and ValleyFair (Shakopee, MN) are both transitioning away from scary for Halloween into something family-friendly. The parks are replacing their Halloween Haunt & ValleyScare Halloween events with the new “Tricks and Treats”, a spooky-fun celebration of the Halloween season. Stroll through the three areas of “The Land of Tricks” to experience spooky, gross, and weird adventures – including the comic Zombie Clean Up Crew show, ghost stories, SkeleTONS midway games, Build-A-Scare Workshop, and more. Visit the three areas in “The Land of Treats” to experience a nostalgic fall festival – with campfire stories, acoustic covers of seasonal songs, pumpkin decorating, Jolly Rancher’s Market, and a fantasy area equal parts Renaissance fair, fairy tale, and playful costume ball. All the offerings offer “activities to delight every witch and warlock…filled with silly shenanigans, not scares and gore.” California’s Great America will offer Tricks and Treats select dates September 23rd – October 30th. ValleyFair will offer the event select dates September 17th – October 30th. 

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Conventions & Mixers

After two years off due to COVID, ScareCon is returning May 9th – 11th, 2022 to Thorpe Park Resort. ScareCon is Europe’s premier trade show for the scare attraction and horror industry. The event features exhibitors, a comprehensive workshop & seminar program, “ScareBall” costume party, and annual SCAR awards ceremony. Tickets are now available for the early bird price of £75. The event regularly sells out over 3 weeks before the show dates, so be sure to purchase your tickets early to secure your spot. 

Heading to TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show? Don’t forget to check out the daily events taking place after exhibits close. The popular City Museum Party (sponsored by FearWorm Hauntvertising) returns Thursday, March 17th from 8:00 p.m. – Midnight. Come have fun with fellow attendees and friends at this private event featuring DJ Psych Jam from Basement of the Dead Haunted House and cash bars. Purchase your ticket by March 10th for the $45 early bird pricing and your choice of hotdog or large hot pretzel at the event. Friday, March 18th at 7:30 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. experience a spirited journey through an abandoned cemetery where an extraordinary circus comes back to life with The Vampire Circus. The Vampire Circus is a visual vortex set in a twisted acrobatic fantasy universe where, little by little, chaos and craziness give way to a true celebration. Limited tickets remain for the performance with pre-sale General Admission at $45 per person and pre-sale VIP seating for $60 per person. Buy your tickets for these events and more via TransWorld’s official website

The 9th Annual Spook Show will return to Halloween Club in La Mirada, California September 24th from Noon – 7:00 p.m. The event celebrates all things Halloween, featuring artists, vendors, food trucks, entertainment, and more. 

Livestreams

TransWorld Live returns Tuesday, March 4th at 8:00 p.m. CST featuring Ed & Marsha Taub of Distortions Unlimited, Byron Snyder of Midnight Mayhem, and Dave Sweeney of Acme Solutions Group, a first-time TransWorld exhibitor.

This Thursday, March 3rd at 5:00 p.m. PST Fear Expo Haunt Master Classes will present Vendor Spotlight with Emily Bloom of Bloom FX”

U.S. Haunts & Events

From the creators of Hush Haunted Attraction comes “The Legendary Axe”, a new axe throwing bar in Westland, Michigan. The new Axe Throwing and haunt share the same building, and is part of the move Hush Haunted Attraction is making to operate year-round. The venue’s grand opening weekend will be March 12th – 13th. Axe throwing sessions are $24.99 per person Wednesdays – Thursdays and $29.99 per person Fridays – Sundays. Private VIP room reservations for up to 10 players are also available starting at $350 – $400 for a 90 minute session. In addition to axe throwing, The Legendary Axe offers a full bar and lounge, small bites, and photo ops. 

Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group will kick off their 30th season with Blood Alley Haunt March 11th – 13th in North Hollywood, California. Dare to wind your way through a forgotten passage haunted by the spirits of its diabolical past in this haunted theater maze spooktacular. Blood Alley Haunt is directed by Zombie Joe and Jorge Lozano with live musical score by Kevin “The Cop” Van Cott. The show is intended for ages 17+. Tickets are on sale now for $10 ($12 at the door). 

Residents of Thomasville, NC will be able to experience a new Halloween event this coming seasonScream Dreams Haunted Attraction. Located in the basement of a 1957 industrial building, the 66,000 square-foot haunt will feature over 40 rooms, taking approximately 35 minutes to walk through. General Manager Gus McPherson expects to employ approximately 80 staff members (including scareactors) to operate the attraction. Scream Dreams is scheduled to open September 1st. Updates and more information can be found on the Scream Dreams website

Proving that horror-themed events are not just for October, Fear on the Farm hosted a successful 5th annual Zombie Prom Saturday, February 19th in Winfield, West Virginia. Nearly 60 participants dressed as monsters, horror movie characters, and – of course – zombies to dance and party the night away. Fear on the Farm hosts around 30 events throughout the year. Their next scheduled event is a Vampire Ball taking place on August 28th. More information will be posted soon on Fear on the Farm’s official website

Hall of Horrors in Cayce, South Carolina was featured on ABC Columbia News for their first-ever Valentine’s Day event, Sins of the Flesh. The event, produced by the local Jaycees chapter, benefits the Camp Hope charity. In the interview, Program Director O’Shawn McClendon accredited the haunt’s success to the scareactors, “Our actors are what make the show what it is,” he said. “They bring it to life every year. All we do is create the environment for them. They’re able to take it from us. We give them a concept and they take it to the moon.”

Wicker Manor, a home haunt in Denver, Colorado, takes visitors on a terrifying journey through the depths of the abandoned – and haunted – Herman Brothers mineshaft. Take the tour yourself via a 4K walkthrough Youtube video. From custom-built animatronics to professional quality special effects – this small home haunt isn’t one to miss!

More and more haunts are opening for off-season events and creatively theming their haunt to match the holiday. In an interview with the Haunted Attraction Network, Cody Bailey, owner & creative director of Hush Haunted Attraction in Westland, Michigan (as well as the Vice President of the Haunted Attraction Association) discussed how he transforms his haunt for Valentine’s Day. One of the ways they create a new experience for the holiday is to add new, holiday-exclusive characters, “I just always think there has to be something new, something more unique, to create a better experience for our guest. I think the characters play a part in that, and if we’re trying to actually sell this as a Valentine’s haunt, we need characters that specifically fit that. So that’s why we don’t reuse… I’ve never once used a Valentine’s character inside of our regular season show.” Bailey sees a lot of value in producing these off season events. “We are bringing in revenue in the offseason, which helps cover ongoing operating costs, and engaging and continuing to interact with our core staff.” 

How do you differentiate your haunt from others in the area? Fear Overload and Ultimate Terror Scream Park are both owned by brothers Nathan and David, but the pair take vastly different approaches to each haunt that keep them unique in their respective markets. Fear Overload differentiates itself from other events in the San Francisco area (such as Six Flags Fright Fest) by creating a more intimate and “horrifying” atmosphere with loud noises and darkness instead of lots of scenery and detail. In contrast, Ultimate Terror Scream Park is located in the Sacramento area, where many of the local haunts are smaller, more intimate experiences. So for that flagship event Nathan and David designed a haunt in a 40,000 square foot facility that would appeal to a wider audience, not just the hardcore horror fans. “Some people are coming there for the animatronics, some people are coming there to see the actors and to get really scared,” explained Nathan in a recent Haunted Attraction Network interview, “Some people are coming there to view these massive sets that they’re walking downtown, some people are there because they really love the outdoor environment and the fog and everything that’s outside during the midway. So, we really have something for everyone. Our demographic there is 18 to 55.” Both Fear Overload and Ultimate Terror Scream Park fill a void in their respective market, and thus stand out with unique offerings for their audiences. 

Retail / Vendors

In a recent Haunted Attractions Network interview, George Frangadakis, co-owner of  Immortal Masks, discussed their plans to launch three new product lines at the upcoming TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show. Firstly, the new Immortal Threads line will offer high-end movie-quality costumes – perfect pairings with the company’s signature masks for complete character construction. Secondly, after a long absence, Faceplates will be returning to Immortal Mask’s lineup – but instead of the original resin material, these faceplates are made with a more flexible, lightweight urethane. Designs include two clown variants, a ghost, a pumpkin, and a doll. Finally, the Immortal Faces line features haunter-friendly strap masks in five designs, which offer more mobility and comfort for on-the-go scareactors darting around inside the haunt. “We re-engineered the core, and that’s… how the mask moves with their face. We came up with a really cool strapping system that gave us the torque that we needed, but didn’t block off the whole back of the head. It’s really easy to put on and adjustable.” 

Vendors Sales

Get an early start with your TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show shopping with Froggy’s Fog‘s Show Discount Code: TW2022. Froggy’s Fog will not have cash & carry available at the show this year, but all fluids will ship free with the code TW2022. 

Pale Night Productions is offering a limited-time discount on all Perma-Product orders through March 16th with the discount code: TW22. Receive additional savings by picking up your order at TransWorld’s Halloween & Attractions Show instead of standard shipping. After the sale ends on March 16th, prices on all Perma-Products will be raised for the first time in 15 years to reflect the rising raw material costs – so be sure to place all orders soon.

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Spring Haunt Events Not to Miss

St. Patrick's Day

Bennet’s Curse (Dundalk, MD) – March 12
Castle Blood (Monessen, PA) – March 18 – 19
Containment Haunted House (Lithia Springs, GA) – March 11 – 12
Dead City Haunted House (Murray, UT) – March 12
Hudson Haunted House (Hudson, OH) – March 18 -19
Wells Township Haunted House (Brilliant, OH) – March 18 – 19

Easter

All Saints Lunatic Asylum (Apple Valley, CA) – April 8 – 9

Halfway to Halloween

EverHaunt (Angola, NY) – May 13
Fear Fair (Seymour, IN) – May 13 -14
Planet Doom (Idaho Falls, ID) – May 13 – 14
Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA) – April 22 – 23

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