No doubt you have seen the dozens of pictures of people in a haunted house looking hilariously petrified over the past year or so. Most likely, those shots were taken at Nightmares Fear Factory in Niagara Falls, Canada.
I recently got the chance to chat with Vee Popat, Founder of VPDM Digital, Nightmares digital marketing agency since 2009, about the history of the attraction as well as how those pictures play a vital role in the haunted house.
Nightmares has been in business for over 35 years and was created by Frank Lapenna, a carpenter by trade. He literally created everything guests see in the maze. As it turns out, the building that the attraction currently resides in was once a coffin factory. According to the legend, Abraham Mortimer, the former owner, was killed in his own factory by vandals. The thugs knocked over a stack of coffins, crushing him. Looking for revenge and justice, he still haunts the halls of Nightmares today.
Without giving away any spoilers, instead of telling you what you’ll see in the maze, it’s much easier to tell you what you won’t see. The maze is pitch black and in most sections, you literally can’t see your hand in front of your face. As your group is let in, you are told to follow a series of red dots on the wall and walk towards them. Be careful though, as those dots are cleverly designed for your to focus on them and not what’s lurking in the darkness.
You also won’t see any blood, guts or gore. Frank’s version of horror doesn’t involve any of those things. Rather having you walk around in pitch black across moving floors, having the walls close in on you and hearing various sounds can make your head play strange tricks on you far better than any typical blood and guts gore fest could.
Nightmares Fear Factory also features no live actors as you traverse the halls. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t real people lurking behind the walls monitoring your every move, triggering effects that will make you jump out of your skin or even reaching out to grab you in the darkness.
Then there are those pictures. Just what is making people react like this? I would love to spill the beans, but I can’t. What I can tell you is that this idea came from a trip Frank took to Universal Studios a few years back and he saw several roller coasters where they took on ride photos. He thought that would be a great keepsake if he could have cameras in his attraction that could capture a guest reaction right at the split second they are jumping out of their skin.
The next year, he attended a convention where a company called Picsolve was showing off their image capture technology. He partnered with them to create a spot in Nightmares Fear Factory where he would create a scare that could be timed to cameras capturing people’s reaction. Through the use of IR emitters, they have figured out a way to capture just the right moment.
While there are currently two cameras set up throughout the maze, Frank wants to add more and even video segments so people can not only purchase them, but share them through Instagram in the not-so-distant future.
Meanwhile, these pictures have gone viral and Nightmares has been put in the international spotlight as a result. Is it scary? That depends on what your particular version of terror is. According to Vee, nearly 130,000 people have chickened out by screaming out the safe word (nightmares) during their visit and were brought to the nearest chicken exit and back into the gift shop.
Each day they tally how many chickens call out the safe word and you can see those numbers near the exit of the haunt. Want to be the next chicken? Visit www.NightmaresFearFactory.com for more information. Also, make sure to follow Theme Park University on Twitter and like our Facebook Page!