Haunted Attractions

One area of themed entertainment that is near and dear to our hearts as fans has always been haunted attractions. Since 1994, Theme Park Adventure has devoted much of its time and energy on showcasing haunts, from yard displays to major theme park productions; we love it all, and always tell our readers that Halloween isn’t just a holiday for us – it’s a lifestyle…

Delusion: Lies Within 2014 Review

Delusion_PosterRetail_19X27Without a doubt, one of the most popular heavyweight champions of Southern California’s Halloween season is Delusion. Whether you consider it a haunted attraction or simply a spooky play that you star in that happens to take place during the haunt season, there are no two ways about it – Delusion has become a national and international sensation that a very broad range of fans are drawn to each year here in Los Angeles, and coming off of an amazingly successful 2014 run, there are no signs whatsoever that Delusion is slowing down in momentum; on the contrary – this might just be an experience that could survive here year-round in Southern California.

Delusion’s creator, Jon Braver, does not readily embrace the idea that his Haunted Play concept is a haunted attraction or Halloween-specific event. This is something that he and I have discussed and debated for years, ever since Delusion debuted in 2011 right here in Los Angeles, taking the haunt season by storm. Part interactive play, part haunted house, Delusion places guests in the story and immerses them in a lengthy, completely satisfying production that leaves your head spinning. Dazzling special effects, a very detailed story line, and top-notch actors are the hallmarks of what makes Jon Braver’s Delusion experience so different than anything we’ve ever covered.

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Reign of Terror Opens Friday the 13th to Fight Cancer

Reign-of-TerrorReign of Terror haunted attraction in Thousand Oaks, California, has announced that it will open its doors on Friday, February 13th this year for a very special cause – to help one of its own fight cancer. To be clear: this is a call to action for the entire haunt community here in Southern California (and beyond) to come together as a family and speak loudly with our hearts and wallets to help one of ROT’s team members and his family in this time of great financial and emotional need.

One of the most elaborate haunted attractions in the world, Reign of Terror is known throughout the Southern California haunt community not only for its legendary theming and immersive environments – it’s also admired for its generosity. What many in the general population may not be aware of, is that Reign of Terror donates 100% of its annual haunt profits to two local charities – The Young Artists Ensemble’s Conejo Theatre for Everyone Program, and The Thousand Oaks Teen Center. Over the past six years, Reign of Terror has donated nearly $90,000.00 to these organizations. On February 13th, ROT will focus its attention and financial might inward, for one of its own.

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Snow Days at the LA Zoo Coming this Month

Photo by Tad MotoyamaNo snowstorms are predicted for Southern California but the Los Angeles Zoo expects just such chilly conditions through the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, January 24 and 25, 2015, during SNOW DAYS AT THE LA ZOO.

The wintery fun features a rare opportunity to watch inquisitive animals exploring snowy wonderlands in several habitats, a snow play area for Zoo guests including a special sledding hill, elaborate ice-carving demonstrations, an inflatable snow globe in which guests can pose for family photo ops, a scavenger-style hunt through the Zoo for youngsters with snow-related animal facts and more.

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Theme Park Adventure 2014 – Year in Review

2014 was a huge year for Theme Park Adventure, as well as the themed entertainment industry as a whole. In addition to crazy new projects such as Diagon Alley opening, some old favorites had big moments as well, including the complete renovation of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. TPA had its own major milestone, as we hit our 20th Anniversary in September and celebrated with a huge bash at the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel with more than 200 friends and fans in attendance!

TPA_20th_selfieTheme Park Adventure has gained more momentum in 2014 than in most of its years combined. Our global readership has grown by leaps and bounds, as has our social media presence via Twitter and Facebook. The amount of news and information TPA publishes has risen sharply this past year from a few items per week to 1-3 new stories per day. As co-producers of ScareLA, Theme Park Adventure has also entrenched itself deeper into the Southern California haunt community, and using that platform, we have continued to work at bringing haunters together in unity not just from the region, but from around the world as our coverage of international dark attractions continues to pick up momentum. And then there’s our own Halloween content – that never-ending flow of imagery and video that we collect in October that is so voluminous that there’s just no way we can ever get it up and online as quickly as we’d like to. We surrender! Into the new year our Halloween madness continues – not that any of our TPAers seem to mind!

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Girls of the Bone Yard 2015-16 Calendar Available!

cover artOnce in a while, a story is borne of the haunt industry that has far-reaching effects well beyond October or the Halloween season/arena itself. Such is the case of the brand-new Girls of the Bone Yard 2015 – 2016 18-month calendar, created by Larry Bones and the team at Bone Yard Effects, here in Southern California!

The 18-month calendar features haunting, spooky imagery that features some of the ladies that work on the Bone Yard crew throughout the year. Best of all, $10 of every sale goes to the Share Our Strenth initiative called No Kid Hungry. No Kid Hungry aims to end childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.

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The Barn – Woolley Edge October Screams 2014

the-barn-bedroomThe Barn, which is part of the annual October Screams Halloween event is just one of many haunted attractions that has recently opened in the UK, thanks to the demand of a growing fan population there. Here in the United States, Halloween is big, big business – over $10 billion annually, according to some experts in the industry. It’s only natural that fans around the world have taken to the spooky themes of haunted attractions for immersive and interactive experiences; and it’s only natural that business developers and creatives across the pond have started tapping into this extremely lucrative genre for themselves.

Theme Park Adventure loves haunted attractions, the people that create and run them, and of course, the fans – because that’s what we are on an extremely large and geeky scale when it comes down to it! We have friends and TPAers in every of the world, including all over the UK. That’s why we are really excited when we have the opportunity to share haunted attractions with TPAers from different parts of the world that many of us will never get to visit in person.

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ALONE: An Existential Haunting 2014 Review

Alone_2014_3847ALONE: An existential haunting returned to Los Angeles after making its debut in 2013, and has grown significantly since then with an incorporated story, longer experience and unique scares.

In 2013, ALONE was a great take on being “extreme”, as well as theatrical and frightening. It was aggressive and dark – taking place primarily in the pitch black, as guests were completely alone. My only complaint (but more of a suggestion) at the time was that I wanted to see the creators incorporate a story, or at least a consistent theme. I understood the rawness of the experience and disorientation; however, my preference in any attraction is to be able to somewhat follow what is happening.

ALONE successfully experimented with unique ways for guests to experience the attraction in 2014; this started as early as two months prior to the main event in mid-October. I had the honor to work with the creators of ALONE to bring a one-of-a-kind experience to ScareLA, the Los Angeles Halloween convention – something that I don’t think has ever been done before in that type of setting. There have been many haunted house walk-throughs at conventions, but this was a personal, interactive and aggressive attraction that each guest had to experience… alone. At ScareLA, guests had to check in at ALONE’s booth, and were given strange, cryptic brochures about the mysterious Enola Foundation. Some guests were marked with triangles or neon paint after checking in, which caused quite the hype and discussion among other convention attendees. When ALONE was ready, your cell phone rang with a man’s voice on the other line, asking “Are you alone? Drop all your things and head to the elevators on the second floor. Do not talk to anyone.”

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THE BASEMENT Escape Room Attraction Wants You!

basement-escape-room

The escape room genre began in Asia and Europe and is quickly gaining popularity with hundreds of rooms now popping up across the US. THE BASEMENT is breaking new ground by being the first of its kind to incorporate elements of horror, thrills and fright, while keeping the puzzles and clues challenging, creating a truly one-of-a-kind experience where participants actually become part of the story line.

Introducing… THE BASEMENT

THE BASEMENT is a truly unique horror experience where participants are pulled into the world of a genius, cannibalistic psychopath  and forced to use their intelligence and problem-solving skills to escape the twisted game he has created for them.

Edward Tandy, a mentally disturbed serial killer with a taste for human flesh, has kidnapped you and 11 other tourists. He has placed a bag over your head and delicately led you into his temporary home in the unfinished bottom floor of an abandoned Russian residence. In THE BASEMENT, Edward has created a series of difficult puzzles and clues that participants must solve in order to find freedom once again. Dim lighting, bone chilling distractions and a strong general sense of macabre will make your escape even more challenging.

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Knott’s Scary Farm 2014 Returning Maze Reviews

Knotts_Black_Magic_2014_40672014 was a mixed bag of new, innovative attractions at Knott’s Scary Farm, along with the return of familiar mazes that fans have come to love over the more recent years. In this maze review, Theme Park Adventure takes a look at all of those returning attractions to Halloween Haunt and how they have fared compared to years past, as well as the newer mazes that were rolled out this year.

Since Knott’s Scary Farm offers so many walk-through mazes, they are on a several-year rotation once they debut (unless they are really poorly-received or one-off productions, such as studio-backed movie tie-ins). Generally, we lose two or three old mazes each season to make way for new attractions or mazes at Haunt. Some people bemoan this process, saying that Knott’s should introduce more new mazes each season and get rid of the returning ones faster, or simply only have them for a year. While we get that, it’s simply not feasible or doable, considering that the Knott’s Haunt design team is relatively small; Cedar Fair doesn’t provide a large enough budget to Knott’s to come up with upward of 10 new mazes each season, either. Considering the history of Knott’s Scary Farm, I honestly don’t think it’s something that the company needs to do now or any time in the foreseeable future; fans adore Halloween Haunt mazes, and the majority of people don’t have a problem with most returning for several years. Occasionally, mazes last even four or five years – however, that is very rare these days. By the time most mazes fade into the shadows and history books, we’ve had our fill and are ready for what comes next. Sometimes it’s a bummer to see mazes disappear, and they become the stuff of legend. Other times, mazes devolve into pale ghosts of their former glory (as we witnessed this year), and we’re glad to see them go away rather than continue a bummer downward spiral.

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House of Nightmares Announced for Grona Lund 2015

GL fb1Sally Corporation’s all new haunted attraction, House of Nightmares, is set to open in 2015 at Gröna Lund, the world renowned amusement park in Stockholm, Sweden.  This terrifying new attraction will bring visitors face-to-face with the evil Dr. Morphio in his old dark house where horrific nightmares await.

Specially designed for Gröna Lund, this one-of-a-kind walk through attraction will feature animatronic characters and props, CGI video effects, live wire illumination, video projection, Pepper’s Ghost illusions, ultraviolet illumination, and live performers.

John Wood, CEO of Sally Corporation says, “The House of Nightmares has been an exciting and challenging project for both Sally and Gröna Lund. As with many of our projects, we first entered into an exploratory Design Development agreement to develop concepts that we thought would work well in the facility and in Stockholm. Our team came up with numerous themes of which three were selected to explore in greater detail. Eventually, the House of Nightmares was picked as the best one to scare the fool out of the park’s guests. We are thrilled with the opportunity to work with such a fine group of professionals and with such an historic and remarkable park as Gröna Lund. The attraction is a complete redevelopment of a classic walk-thru haunted house… guaranteed to bring out your worst nightmares!”

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