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Scandia’s Haunt in Ontario, California, is one of those attractions you drive by and think, that’s cute – they make their own haunted house at the mini golf place. In fact, we were guilty of doing that for years as we zigged and zagged all over Southern California covering Halloween events and haunted attractions from San Diego to Los Angeles and beyond.
Finally, after the team at Scandia asked that we stop by and check their haunt out, we slugged it into our schedule and made it happen. To be honest, our expectations were pretty low. After all, Scandia is a chain of miniature golf/family entertainment centers; how much effort would they really put into a temporary haunted house? To our absolute surprise and delight, Scandia Ontario and its team of haunters really get into it, and absolutely pour their heart and souls into returning year after year to put on a tremendous show for everyone who stops by.
First Look: American Horror Story and Krampus Come to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood
Historically, the one maze that has been the most elusive in Halloween Horror Nights history has been The Exorcist. For more than a decade, Creative Director/Executive Producer John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams have chased the rights to use that intellectual property for a walk-through Horror Nights attraction, which finally has become a reality. The devil in the details remained challenging Monday afternoon, when Theme Park Adventure was scheduled to have a behind-the-scenes tour of The Exorcist with Murdy. Just prior to our arrival, inspectors came to walk The Exorcist maze, making it impossible for media to take a tour. Stubborn to the bitter end, we now wait on pins and needles with the rest of Universal’s fans until Halloween Horror Nights opens this Friday and we can finally see The Exorcist in person!
Switching gears from The Exorcist, John took us on a tour of American Horror Story, a maze that is comprised of three of the popular franchise’s seasons: Murder House (Season 1), Freak Show (Season 4), and Hotel (Season 5). The maze is still under construction at the time of this writing, but it’s pretty damned close – and looks really good.
Southern California is a region full of immersive theater, haunted attractions, extreme horror experiences and themed entertainment where Screenshot Productions manages to add a unique touch to the industry with its emotional, raw, theatrical and (sometimes) terrifying shows to an already diverse scene. Whether it’s sadness, loss, anger, or fear, these are shows that evoke emotions in an unexpected way. Since 2013, I have overcome fear, and experienced my birth and death. But this time… it was about exploring the afterlife.
Inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol), this experience by Screenshot Productions is described as a “multi-act immersive experience taking you through your own death and soul’s judgment in the afterlife.” My immediate reaction: I’m in. While I do appreciate and respect the non-horror type of experiences that Screenshot Productions produces, I definitely get drawn in and intrigued by the darker side. The scarier it is, the better, and I was ready for this.
The 17th Door Haunted Experience made its debut in Southern California in 2015. Located in The Marketplace in Tustin, California, this extreme haunt took just about everyone by surprise on multiple levels – from its incredible set design to the sheer physical size and complexity of its operation.
Created by husband and wife team Robbie and Heather Luther, The 17th Door is a haunt unlike we’ve ever experienced here in Southern California. The fact that it’s nestled unassumingly in an upscale strip mall in a sleepy suburban master-planned community makes it even more of an anomaly.
This past week, Knott’s Berry Farm hosted a special event for its Season Passholders, lifting the veil and shedding light on every aspect of Scary Farm 2016 that fans can look forward to experiencing very soon!
Hosted by the always-exuberant Jeff Tucker, the Knott’s Scary Farm event was pure spectacle from beginning to end, starting with the massive Charles M. Schulz Theatre filling with fog before monsters of all shapes and sizes crept into the audience, snarling and lunging at excited guests and members of the media. A soundtrack of Scary Farm music from years and mazes past played loudly as some 2,000 fans – some who had waited more than 10 hours to be first in line – spilled into the theatre. Once everyone was in, lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and the show began.
Long-time Theme Park Adventure fans will no doubt recall our love of a home haunter by the name of Sam Kellman. Not only is Sam extremely focused and motivated, incredibly driven, professional, highly creative, very articulate, and a perfectionist to the very last detail when it comes to creating haunted attractions – he won’t be graduating high school until 2020. He’s a teen haunter with just as much passion and operational sense as anyone we’ve ever met in this industry, and Sam’s just getting started! Actually, that’s not entirely true… Sam has been producing haunts for years; since 2011, to be exact. In short, Sam started doing this at an unusually young age – and he’s absolutely grabbed our attention.
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.
Universal Studios Hollywood has opened its newest attraction, a walk-through experience based on AMC’s The Walking Dead. The Halloween Horror Nights-style haunted house soft-opened to the public just a couple days before its announced 4th of July grand opening. Days before that, Theme Park Adventure was on hand for the media preview, which featured a whole herd of walkers bent on getting their 15 minutes of brains… er, fame.
If you’re familiar with Universal’s wildly-popular Halloween Horror Nights event, then you already get an idea of what’s in store once you make your way through the exterior switchback queue and enter the abandoned remains of Harrison Memorial Hospital – the location where The Walking Dead series begins. True to HHN-style attractions, this new year-round haunt takes approximately 6 minutes or so to get through. Park fans will find it a lot shorter than House of Horrors, which existed as Universal’s daily-operating haunted attraction from 2006 to 2014. That said, The Walking Dead packs a lot into each scene, putting it on par with the former experience and right up there with most Horror Nights mazes to date. Guests are leaving the attraction laughing, clapping, and yes – even crying; that’s exactly what designers John Murdy, Chris Williams and everyone else involved in this project wanted to see.
If you’re a horror or theme park fan (preferably both) living in Southern California, chances are you are well aware that there is a brand-new walk-through attraction based on AMC’s The Walking Dead opening July 4th at Universal Studios Hollywood.
And, if you’re not or weren’t aware… now you know.
Under the creative direction of John Murdy and artful eye of Chris Williams, The Walking Dead will become the newest addition to the Los Angeles park, which is still undergoing an epic transformation that will see more exciting additions in the wake of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, which opened this spring. While involved in other aspects of creative development for Universal Studios Hollywood, Murdy and Williams are best known as the dynamic duo of terror behind the theme park’s wildly-popular Halloween Horror Nights event.
Hall of Shadows to Feature Full Scare Zone, Roaming Monsters, and 9 Haunted Attraction Previews at Midsummer Scream
One of the most exciting and unique components of Midsummer Scream – California’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror festival – will be its Hall of Shadows dark zone, featuring roaming monsters, entertainment, and 9 terrifying mini haunted attraction experiences.
Hall of Shadows will occupy more than one third of the Halloween festival’s 90,000 square-foot show floor this year, giving thousands of fans the opportunity to preview home and professional haunts each day, included with their admission to Midsummer Scream. In addition to the haunted attractions, those brave enough to venture into Hall of Shadows will experience a full-blown scare zone, Toxicity, high-energy performances by the Decayed Brigade slider team three times each day, and many terrifying monsters lurking in the fog, waiting to pounce!
FULL SCARE ZONE
Created by Larry Bones and his crew at Bone Yard Effects, Toxicity is an immersive experience set within the walls of a genetics lab that has suffered a toxic explosion that will leave guests screaming as they are attacked by twisted, mutated scientists from all sides. Bone Yard Effects creates the makeup applications and prosthetics each year for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood.