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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.”
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.
2014 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.
Sally 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!”
Large-scale theme park Halloween events are commonplace here in Southern California. After all, this is where the haunted attraction industry was born; we expect our world-famous theme parks to step up at Halloween and put on a good show for the tens of thousands of tourists and locals that flood through their gates each night looking for intense scares and thrills. Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain has been one such event since it began in earnest in 1993; one year before Theme Park Adventure was founded. TPA actually visited the event a few years later, and then had not returned until this year, after nearly two decades. Why the huge gap in time since our last visit, and why now all of a sudden? It’s a really interesting subject; one that needs explanation to coincide with our 2014 review of Magic Mountain’s event.
One of the most unique and visually disturbing haunts Theme Park Adventure visited during the 2014 Halloween season was Urban Death Tour of Terror, presented by Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group in North Hollywood, California.
When it made its debut in 2013, Urban Death Tour of Terror bridged the gap between theater and old-fashioned haunted house attractions in a way we hadn’t seen before. If you haven’t seen our 2013 review of the event, feel free to check that out. The 2014 version of Tour of Terror was pretty much a re-imagining of last season’s haunt, using the same template of maze-show-maze that works so beautifully in this case.
Galapagos tortoises at the San Diego Zoo got their opportunity to celebrate Halloween with a special jack-o-lantern treat. Pumpkins, many carved into holiday-style faces, were given to these animals as a special food item. Although the tortoises ate the orange vegetables, they also seemed to enjoy crunching them in their own particular way.
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts representing both plants and animals at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.
Highlights from Rob Zombie’s two performances at his Great American Nightmare Halloween attraction will be heard Halloween night–Friday, October 31–from 9:00-10:00 PM Eastern Time on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM channel Howard 101.
The concerts were recorded at the September 19 opening night for Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare in Scottsdale, Arizona and the September 26 GAN opening night in Villa Park, Illinois.
What better place for Frankenstein’s Monster and his bride to tie the knot than Nightfall? The couple, also known as Fred Curtis and Terry Rojas, will exchange vows on Halloween night, Friday, October 31st at 6:30 pm. The ceremony will be officiated by Joe Camarillo of Old Tucson who is coordinating the event for the couple. Following the nuptials, the newlyweds and their guests will enjoy the remainder of the evening celebrating the occasion at Nightfall.
Mr. Curtis has been playing Frankenstein’s Monster and making appearances as the popular icon at area malls for the last 20 years. “I love doing it for the children. They get a big kick out of a 7-foot tall green guy,” he says. The future Mrs. Frankenstein is credited with coming up with the idea to wed at Tucson’s oldest and biggest Halloween themed event.
Halloween is the busiest time of year for Theme Park Adventure, hands-down. In 2014, we have clocked 39 haunt stops into our schedule, from the end of September to November 2nd. Usually, we spend a quiet Halloween night having dinner out and enjoying “the finish line” aspect of our exhausting terror trek. However, once in a blue moon, Johanna and I slip out into the darkness somewhere to do some spooking of our own on Halloween night! Such is the case this season. We’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be joining our dear friends for a night of thrills and chills at Chambers of the Mausoleum in Corona, California!
Chambers of the Mausoleum is a unique, wildly-creative haunted attraction that is outstanding in the way of creativity, makeup and character design, and immersive environment fabrication. Operated by the amazing folks from Figment Foundry and Garner Holt Productions, Chambers of the Mausoleum is our haunt of choice to call “home” for Halloween night 2014!