Owner Zach Glaros talks about his haunted attraction, Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail, 2021 challenges, improvements, and what the future might hold.
Seasonal overlays are challenging. The benefit is expanding your season and market, but the cost is focus. There’s only a few weeks to mount an entirely new show for the overlay between Christmas and Halloween, that’s a short time for set dressing, new characters, new show programming, and a bunch of other stuff. Overlays are just tough to pull off, but still, the amount of holiday haunts is increasing, Coming up opening night at the first ever Sir Henry Haunted Christmas.
Sir Henry’s Haunted Christmas Details
Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail usually transforms into a family-friendly event, but this season they’re staying spooky. The Haunted Christmas event features 2 themed trails and runs December 10 & 11, 17-19 of 2021. Tickets are available online or at the door. The escape game and laser tag can only be purchased on site for $5 each.
Zach: So, we are at Sir Henry Haunted Christmas, our first-ever Haunted Christmas event, where we feature two haunted trails completely rethemed to Christmas storylines. We feature an escape game, a laser tag, both as well have been rethemed for Christmas, and we also add an ax-throwing this year. Trail one, Krampusnacht is basically a rural village where they had a very bountiful harvest in the fall. So, the kids in the village kind of got spoiled. Well, they became brats and it’s approaching Christmas, and now Krampus is coming for these bratty kids. So, you get to go see that and have the satisfaction of Krampus taking these kids away in cages and baskets. So that is trail one Krampusnacht.
Then Trail two is Christmas Haunting, it is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a Christmas ghost story. It’s kind of our take on Scrooge, little darker, and it’s what would happen, basically, if Scrooge doesn’t repent in this story. So, it features Robert Warrington, that’s the main character, he’s a toymaker, he actually killed his brother, so it’s a little darker than Scrooge, but you see all his ghosts from the past come to haunt him on Christmas Eve.
Why Did Sir Henry’s Haunted trail Run This Event This Year?
Zach: So, traditionally we do a family-friendly Christmas light walking trail, a lot of different factors went into why we did this event, a big one, being our resources and the ability to flip over the Haunted Trail event in October to a nice family-friendly Christmas event in December. Our team is very small, like 3-4 people, so it is a lot on us. So we’re working to kind of build out a separate thing in the future for our Christmas event. But we decided to explore the idea of a haunted Christmas, a lot of guests had mentioned it, we had thought about it before, and this is really our opportunity to just have fun with Christmas. It’s a little more fun, little more campy than the traditional Halloween, but we still scare you. We had so much fun putting this together, and I don’t think this is the last you’ll see of this.
Zach Explains The Unique Characters For Sir Henry’s Haunted Christmas
Zach: So in Krampusnacht we have your traditional bad kids and Krampus. We also have a few Easter eggs in there, there’s a couple evil snowmen and whatnot exclusive to that trail. We also kind of mocks Santa a little bit, so that’s cool. Same with Christmas Haunting, you’re going to see a lot of ghosts. I’d say probably the most unique thing in there is when you get the Icy Eternity it’s exactly that, it’s an Icy Eternity of hell and it’s kind of like this evil Jack Frost, who’s in charge of it. So that’s kind of a twist with that. But probably the biggest thing you’re going to see the most original unique characters is under a common area. Of course, we have our twisted version of Santa and Mrs. Claus, if you can call them Santa and Mrs. Claus, you know to the point where Santa doesn’t have a beard, he has like a Foo Manchu goatee kind of thing, which is kind of cool, and he’s has a cigar hanging out of his mouth. But then we have like Frusty, which is a spinoff cousin of Frosty. We have 3 mischievous elves and they are actually tied into our escape game, House of Mischief. We have Carol, she is our bell ringer for donations, kind of a spin-off on what you would see around some of the retail stores for holidays. We have Sir Henry decked out his Christmas bow tie and vest and hat. We have our staple common area Krampus out here. One of my personal favorites, little Jimmy, the evil gingerbread. He’s from laser tag, Gingerbread Attack, and so he’s really fun, he’s cool.
Philip: Yeah, that is another piece I thought was interesting in, how much you’re leaning into the photo OPS. There’s a lot of roaming characters, they’re all tied into the various trails, but there’s also photo-op moments here.
Zach: Yeah, so photo OPS is always the one thing, come October, like we have so much stuff to do. Being that we only open 2 trails and the workload was a little easier, we had more time to put into some photo OPS for Christmas; and it’s Christmas too, so I think people expect it. So, we were able to do that, and it’s something that you know as we go forward, we want to do more of, we want to have more photo OPS, more interactions for common area characters.
Zach Explains The Merchandise For Sir Henry’s
Zach: So shout out to Chad Savage, who sent us their designs for doing the Christmas logo, he did a great job with that. So yeah, so we have this exclusive Christmas logo on our T-shirts, hoodies, we have Christmas ornaments, it’s all like a circular piece of Oakwood that makes for a perfect ornament, you can even use it as a coaster if you wanted to. We’ve got the Christmas candles, if you were here for Halloween we had a Halloween version for each trail, now we have that for Christmas. I think those are the highlights of it.
Philip: A lot of focus on the merchandise and the photo OPS, which I think is a little bit different than October.
Zach: We wanted to do more with our gift shop, so that’s something we’re going to be expanding to 2022. You’re probably going to see a physical building space for the gift shop with even more stuff coming. We have a great fan base now, they look for this stuff, they kind of expect it so that’s really cool to see too.
What Does The Future Hold?
Zach: Yeah so 2022, is sure to see a return of our haunted Valentine’s Day event, it’s just usually a one-weekend event around Valentine’s Day where we do pretty much the same thing we do for Christmas, just turn the event over for a very holiday festive thing; new characters, new themes, new stories for the trails. So that’ll be the first thing we get into. But, after that, looking towards October, you know 2021 we did so much renovation, we built so many new things, the big thing for me is like where do you go from here? How do you top this? But no need to worry, we’ve already got big plans. I really want to do a lot with our second trail, which would be our Victorian mansion trail, I want to add more rooms, I want to make that longer. Even our fishing wharf, that’s still going to remain a fishing-style theme trail for a few years to come. But what we do at Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail is, we renovate constantly, we constantly change, nothing is ever the same, so that will see new things as well.
Zach: Our big thing is going to be our first trail that’s kind of a woodsy classic outdoors trail, that’s going to see a massive renovation. We’re going to take a bulldozer to that pretty much level everything you see in that trail and start from scratch. It’s going to be stuff that even rivals what we did for 2021 if not tops it. Then we’re also going to continue to expand our common area, like I said adding more of those photo OPS, adding more of the gift shop merchandise stuff, having more interactive characters to kind of complete the event. We added axe throwing for this Christmas event, that will be around. We definitely want to add and redo the escape game, there might even be 2 escape games, we’ll just see. The new renovation, the planning, the design, the building, it never stops out here, it’s always constant.
Philip: So we talked during the season a little bit and you were talking about how the staffing struggles didn’t impact you too much because of the location you’re in and having a different base to draw from, and that your demand was doing pretty well because you kept the ticketing system and online kind of stuff. So looking at 2022, do you think those two things are going to hold strong as well?
Zach: We just completed our 8th season, so we’ll be going into our 9th season. Our recognition in the Central Florida area is growing exponentially, and I think people see what we’re doing out here, the cool things we’re creating, the cool things we’re building, and they want to be a part of that. I think as a result of all that we’re attracting more talent, that’s, I think, a huge bonus and plus for us to be where we’re at.
Philip: Right now, a lot of people looking at inflation, especially inflation for building costs and whatnot, what do you think?
Zach: It is the real thing. Inflation is real thing. We dealt with it a lot the first of this year when lumber costs were astronomical. Fortunately, you know us being a small, independent haunt, I was able to wheel and deal some stuff for us to do all this crazy cool building, but keep the pricing the same. I hope to continue that approach, be scrappy, be resourceful. To keep it relative I think at the end of the day, it’s about value for guests. So, if we start adding more and more stuff into the trails where you’ve seen all these cool special effects, ultimately that’s going to increase costs, which might increase price but, the value for guests will be there too, we wouldn’t just be increasing price without any value for the guests and that’s the biggest thing for me.
Will Sir Henry’s Haunted trail Be Using Technology To Reduce Guest Friction?
Zach: Just something as simple as using the online ticketing to kind of streamline efficiency, that has been so beneficial. We’re also looking into adding more technology into the trails. Take this event, we added our first animatronic prop in there with our Krampus, so that was awesome. We also have the resources to do that now, mainly with the help we have we’re able to do more scenic stuff, so we’re definitely going to leverage that to give more for our show for our guests, and I think it’s going to be really cool. Always looking to expand the media, we’ve got Sir Henry’s Haunted Tales out now, might be dropping a second book, might also be working on some other multimedia stuff, so just stay tuned for that. It’s really just trying to grow the brand as much as we can.