Frightful Attraction Design for Theme Park Audiences Brings Industry Legends to Midsummer Scream

Men in Black Alien Attack

Think about it: when you go to a theme park and get onto a ride, the response that comes next is usually either laughing or screaming. One of the most common elements used in theme park design is that of fright, or intensity. Very often, the formula for a theme park ride story is something normal suddenly taking an unexpected turn for the worst, resulting in chaos before there is any light-hearted resolution; its classic theme park attraction design 101.

When theme parks host annual Halloween events, many of them have temporary scare zones and haunted houses – also known as “mazes” – that guests walk through and experience. Whether they’re themed to a specific brand or intellectual property, or created from scratch with an original storyline, seasonal haunted attractions are created to scare the snot out of anyone daring enough to venture in. On the flip-side, when a theme park opts to spend millions of dollars on an attraction that is based on a frightening or supernatural-based story, designers are tasked with a very delicate balancing act – what is “scary enough” versus taking the experience too far, making it too intense for a large number of visitors.

Midsummer Scream is honored to welcome industry luminaries Tony Baxter, Gary Goddard, Phil Hettema, and Susan Bonds to the Grand Ballroom, where they will open the convention’s weekend of world-class panel presentations with an insightful discussion on attraction design and how to properly mix fight and fun when creating iconic theme park rides and experiences around the world.

Tony Baxter is a former Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering. Many attractions that Tony had a hand in creating over the years definitely Midsummer Scream Theme Park Panelistshave “scare with flair” including Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, Phantom Manor at Disneyland Paris, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Gary Goddard, Founder and CEO of The Goddard Group, has overseen the development of incredible large-scale attractions and resorts for clients around the world for decades, including Universal, Disney, and Six Flags. Some of the more “intense” experiences that Gary helped create include The Adventures of Conan: A Sword and Sorcery Spectacular, Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, Ghostbusters Spooktacular, and Monster Plantation – just to name a few!

Phil Hettema, President and Creative Executive of The Hettema Group, has been behind some of the greatest themed entertainment achievements of modern times. His creative portfolio includes – but is not at all limited to – thrilling attractions such as Back to the Future: The Ride, Backdraft, Jurassic Park: The Ride, and Men in Black: Alien Attack.

Susan Bonds, President and CEO of 42 Entertainment, is a former Disney Imagineer who worked on several high-profile, high-intensity attractions including Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye, and Mission: SPACE. Susan served as Project Manager on what to date, is the most frightening mainstream theme park attraction ever created – The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter; it’s the stuff of legend, and the team will discuss it all in front of 1,000+ theme park fans in just a few days!

Indiana Jones Disneyland

This inspiring gathering of legendary creatives will be moderated by Rick West, who is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Theme Park Adventure, as well as Show Writer for Rethink Leisure & Entertainment. It’s an incredible way to kick off the weekend – a spectacle of “E” Ticket proportions that will be nothing short of a scream! A Midsummer Scream!

Frightful Attraction Design for Theme Park Audiences will take place Saturday, July 30th in the Grand Ballroom at the Long Beach Convention Center at 12 noon. Doors to the presentation open with the convention at 11 AM. Tickets for Midsummer Scream are now on sale at

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