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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.
Midsummer Scream, California’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror festival announces the Museum of Paranormal History, a unique collective of vendors, experts, authors, and local tour guides specializing in all things supernatural.
The Museum of Paranormal History will feature more than a dozen exhibitors on the show floor including Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum which will be showcasing their vintage Ouija boards, ParaXplorer Project, Dearly Departed Tours, Haunted Vegas Tours, Planet Paranormal known for their wide variety of fantastic radio talk shows, Orange County Ghosts and Legends tour and paranormal investigation group, and the Winchester Mystery House which will be featured in a major presentation on Sunday July 31 and will have actual pieces from the famous Northern California mansion on display – some for sale – at their booth. To ensure nothing gets out of hand, members of the Southland Ghostbusters cosplay group will be present throughout the weekend.
Midsummer Scream, Southern California’s premier Halloween, haunt and horror festival to be held July 30 – 31 at the Long Beach Convention Center, has unleashed a steady stream of announcements, from world-class theme park presentations to professional makeup demonstrations, and a massive show floor filled with artisans and vendors of the macabre. The most famous haunted house in California has now been added to the festival’s lineup; a storied mansion so legendary that its name is revered by fans and ghost hunters around the world… Winchester.
The Winchester Mystery House will be hosting an unprecedented 60-minute presentation and panel discussion on Sunday July 31 featuring rare photographs, never-before-seen footage and ghost stories from the sprawling 160-room Victorian mansion in the San Francisco Bay Area. WINCHESTER: California’s Original Haunted House will feature Walter Magnuson, General Manager Winchester Mystery House; Tim O’Day, Director of Communications for Winchester Mystery House; and Peter Overstreet, event producer of Winchester Mystery House’s all-new Halloween Candlelight Tours.
Earlier this week, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed what fans have been speculating for a while – that a year-round attraction based on AMC’s blockbuster series The Walking Dead is close to opening at the Southern California theme park.
This is a major boon for haunt and horror fans in the region who lamented over the closure of Universal’s House of Horrors in summer 2014. House of Horrors was a year-round walk-through haunted attraction that featured such notable silver screen heavies as the Mummy, Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Norman Bates, and more. It’s closure and demolition was part of the unprecedented property-wide makeover that Universal Studios Hollywood is still undergoing in large to make way for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which opened last month.
For the past five years, The Walking Dead has been a featured intellectual property at Universal Studios Hollywood during its annual Halloween Horror Nights event, taking on every form from sprawling scare zone to intense mazes reflecting whichever season ended that spring. Over time, two very defined groups of fans have found their voice – those who are totally into The Walking Dead, and those who have had more than enough of it at Halloween Horror Nights. The latter group becomes more and more vocal online each season that Universal announces that The Walking Dead will be returning. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the show, and I’ve already figured that it’ll be part of HHN for at least a year after the show finally ends.
Let’s have a party, there’s a full moon in the sky! Midsummer Scream is thrilled to announce Oingo Boingo Dance Party will headline its Noche de los Muertos (Night of the Dead) celebration and costume contest at the Long Beach Convention Center Saturday evening July 30th, 2016.
Oingo Boingo Dance Party is comprised of former Oingo Boingo members Johnny Vatos, Steve Bartek, John Avila, Sam “Sluggo” Phipps, Carl Graves and Doug Lacy, along with a host of other wildly-talented musicians that keep the legacy of the iconic band alive and thriving for fans of multiple generations.
Known for their unique sound which includes explosive percussion, electrifying guitar riffs and a full horns section, Oingo Boingo’s extensive song catalogue includes Only a Lad, Little Girls, Weird Science, No One Lives Forever, and the venerable Dead Man’s Party. The band hosted Halloween shows in Irvine each year at the height of its popularity, with thousands of “Tender Lumplings” – the given nickname for their adoring fans – showing up in costumes and skeletal makeup, as the underlying thematic style of the group commonly centered around Dia de los Muertos.
“Oingo Boingo was synonymous with Halloween here in Southern California in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” said Rick West, Creative Director of Midsummer Scream. “What better way to launch our event than a concert featuring these legendary performers doing what they do best as Oingo Boingo Dance Party? To me, bringing these musicians and the haunt and horror community together under one roof is a no-brainer. They’re going to bring the house down!”
Veteran special effects makeup artist Larry Bones and his world-class team of artists from Bone Yard Effects will turn a host of volunteers into savage creatures that will roam the show floor and Hall of Shadows during this summer’s Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival held July 30 – 31 at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Bones, whose film credits include Congo, Outbreak and Shallow Hal, will oversee the transformation of dozens of volunteers throughout the weekend to populate the entire Midsummer Scream venue, from the ominous Hall of Shadows to the vendor/exhibitor show floor and beyond. For the past 10 years, Larry has overseen the makeup needs for Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights.
“We are thrilled to have Larry as a creative partner,” said Claire Dunlap, Associate Producer of Midsummer Scream. “The enthusiasm he’s had for our event since the onset is infectious. At launch Larry committed his full support for which we are ecstatic. Having Bone Yard Effects with FX Faces at the helm of our most anticipated portion of the show floor creates excitement for our organization and the thousands of guest who’ll get to admire – and be terrorized by – his amazing talents. Larry is providing all that his creative genius has to offer and it is a win-win for everyone involved.”