Mikey interviews Florentina of Aroma Prime about those weird smells at scare attractions.
Hi, it’s Mikey, and this blog is based on episode 145 of our Scare Track podcast, in which I interviewed Florentina, the Managing Director of Aroma Prime. Aroma Prime is one of the leaders in the worldwide scents and smells market. If you’ve been to a theme park, a scare attraction, a museum, or multiple other places and you’ve experienced a smell pod, it’s a very good chance it was manufactured by Aroma Prime. They have over 400 scents, which are marketed around the world.
Prior to the show with Florentina, Aroma Prime sent some of the most disgusting and horrible smells to us in the post. We have a live, “reaction” video on our YouTube channel, and it was pretty disgusting. I was retching throughout. You can check it out on youtube.com/ScareTrack, or you can find it on our new website, www.scaretrack.co.uk.
I began by asking Florentina when and how Aroma Prime was established.
“Can you believe the company was established more than 20 years ago?” she replied. “In the beginning, it was just doing air fresheners. That changed over time, and now the company is focused on bringing sensory projects to life in all sorts of venues. When you don’t know that companies like us exist, the majority of the visitors at theme parks believe the scents are part of the attraction—no one thinks scents are added to it, and this is exactly the best part of what we’re doing. All our products are incorporated inside attractions and museums and exhibitions, and visitors are unaware it’s something added.”
I’m a bit of a theme park and scare-attraction geek, so I like to be able to see and hear and feel, but, obviously, smell is a big one as well. I said recently in one of our review episodes that some places really know how to use the smell in different rooms to bring an attraction to life, whether it be a scream park, the Dungeons, or something not quite as horrific or as gory such as a history museum. I asked Florentina why she thinks the sense of smell is so important when it comes to attractions.
“The sense of smell is the first of our senses to develop, and that happens even before we’re born. Did you know that?” she asked.
“You learn something new every day,” I replied.
“People can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while visual recall is only around 50% after just three months. The sense of smell is really so important for how we perceive experiences as humans. Going for the scientific point of view, the limbic system makes up the parts of the brain that play a central role in controlling our memories, behavior, and emotions, which means it controls how we interpret and respond to smells. From a more primal perspective, our ability to smell scents allowed us to track food and water. Our sense of smell really impacts every part of our life—from our memory and emotional states to even how we perceive time.”
I was thinking, after almost 150 episodes, we were only seven minutes in on this one, and it was already the smartest, most intelligent interview ever.
I was reminded that when Hannah and I were smelling some of the scents we received from Aroma Prime, we were saying things like, “Oh, that reminds me of the London Dungeons,” or, “That reminds me of the Alton Towers scare maze.” So, those emotions and memories were connected to smells.
“Our clients aren’t just attractions but also care homes and medical specialists. A certain smell may be part of a specific treatment,” said Florentina. “Smells can be therapeutic and healing. The effect that smells have on our brain is purely amazing, from my point of view. Also, each scent is perceived differently by each person. For example, for one person, a lemon-tart aroma may bring up memories about their grandmother, while, for someone else, it will bring memories about bathroom cleaners.”
Florentina then related a funny episode involving a client who wanted Aroma Prime to develop a completely new scent based on rotting flesh. In the first version of the rotting-flesh scent, visitors were coming out of the attraction saying they were feeling hungry—the rotting-flesh scent was bringing up memories about barbecue.
It’s mad how much smell can affect people, more so than a lot of other senses, especially when we’re talking from an attraction point of view. I remember a few years ago at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, there was an exorcist house. They had to tone down the smell of vomit, because it was making people actually vomit inside the attraction. You can see things that make you a bit squeamish, you can hear things that might make you feel a bit dodgy, but, if you’re smelling something—because of the connection between the nose and the mouth—you can sometimes taste it. I could taste fish when I was smelling the fish smell-pod that Aroma Prime sent to us.
Florentina noted that, in the last few years, adding scents has become a trend in attractions. I asked her about Aroma Prime’s position in the market.
“We’re in a leadership position, not only in the UK but worldwide. We have more than 400 scents in stock, and we’re continuously develop new ones. We can create any kind of scent you can think of and are the only company worldwide that can do this. We’re contacted by people from Europe, China, the Middle East, and Asia, and we’ve recently entered the market in the USA.”
I asked Florentina if she’s had any really bizarre asks.
“Actually, the majority of requests are for the weird ones. At Aroma Prime, the weird and wonderful never stops. This is what we do, and it’s why people come to us year after year. So, as far as recent weird requests, besides rotting flesh there was a giraffe in heat and the international space center smell. There’s really nothing we consider unusual. Our customers know they can be confident in speaking to us about any kind of scent, and we’ll find a way to achieve it.”
I asked her to talk about the most popular scents among scream parks, scare attractions, and dungeon-type attractions as well as scents that are popular in less gory settings.
“The most popular are dungeon, musty fish market, and flatulence. But this also depends on the time of the year. For example, rotting flesh does well at Halloween while chocolate does much better at Easter. Our most popular signature scents include everything from woodsmoke to bonfire to grass to bread to chocolate to fish market. For the Christmas season, the most popular are yuletide, Christmas party, Christmas cake, and Christmas tree. So, the popularity of the scents is really seasonal.”
So, I had to ask what the headquarters of Aroma Prime smell like. I wondered if it was all a bit stinky or were the smells quarantined in different areas.
“The offices aren’t really so stinky, but if you go inside the area where the scents are made, the smell is overpowering,” she said.
I next asked her if her company sells scent in huge quantities to certain places—for example, if there’s a year-round attraction that needs to pump out rotting flesh each and every single day, is Aroma Prime able to fill huge-quantity orders?
“Our aim is to cover any kind of client with any kind of request. We have requests that range from three milliliters to 50 milliliters to five liters to 10 liters. We cover attractions, exhibitions, fashion shows that go on for just a few hours, for example, and we’ve also supplied certain attractions for years. We don’t have any limits, and we don’t put limits on the size of requests, because we understand every project is different.”
Next, I asked Florentina where people might have smelled Aroma Prime scents, and what are some of the company’s biggest clients worldwide.
“I can’t say too many names, but I can say that we work with international companies like Merrill Entertainment, attractions in the UK and all over Europe, Asia, and in the USA,” she said. “Alton Towers is one of our clients. We’re covering all the categories that might be out there—from baking to Christmas to animals to historical to industrial to seaside to war time. It doesn’t matter the theme of the attraction or the theme of the project. We’re able to cover everything and everyone.”
I asked Florentina how the process to create a new scent works. “If I need the smell of children’s cuddly toys, I’m guessing there are people on your team that will know to use a little bit of this and a little bit of that to create that smell, correct?” I asked. “Is there a cocktail of different things, and they know it will turn out smelling the way it should, or is it a lot of a lot of back and forth?”
“When we have a special-request scent—something we don’t have on our website—we send this request to our engineers over in the scent lab. The do research with the client and create different versions—usually three versions of the same scent—and the client chooses the one they like or that they’d like to develop further,” she explained. “The client is informed about the process, and we’re continuously updating the client and asking them for feedback, because, in the end, they’re the one that needs to choose the scent.”
Thinking back on Hannah and my experience smelling the sample scents from Aroma Prime, it occurred to me that they’re very potent, and you definitely don’t want to spill them.
“That’s right,” Florentina agreed. “They’re fully concentrated with no dilutant at all unless the client asks for it. They’re really pungent, and they do linger.”
In wrapping up, I asked Florentina how our listeners, readers, or potential clients could find out more information about and contact Aroma Prime.
“They can go on our website at www.AromaPrime.com, where we have all the, shall I say, standardized scents as well as other products and scent machines. The site also has all the ways we can be contacted. If someone writes to us to [email protected], somebody from our team should probably get back to them in a matter of minutes. We can be contacted on our direct phone number, which is 01613272857, and we’re also on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If someone just Googles ‘Aroma Prime,’ they’ll find us.”