Since its inception, I have set out to make Theme Park University’s content different than most other theme park or attractions fan sites. As this is our inaugural Halloween season, I started fishing for stories on haunted attractions that truly stand out in the industry and the results have been fascinating.
If you are looking to see what new costumes Disney characters are wearing this year at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, there are approximately 1,574 sites where you can find that information. (Where is Clarabelle Cow this year? On the float? Walking alongside? Let’s talk about it for weeks!) My goal was to seek out the owners and creative forces behind the most unique haunted houses in the country and I am so grateful to the people who have shared their stories with me.
For the theme park business, Halloween events are designed specifically to bring in extra business during a season where parks are normally ghost towns. Regional theme parks, prior to adding seasonal haunted houses, would typically close Labor Day weekend and not reopen until maybe spring break, depending on the climate. Now, Halloween extends their operating season by at least six weeks depending on the year.
Regional standalone haunted houses run an entirely different type of business. They have six weeks to make it or break it. If they don’t, the odds are they will not return next season. After interviewing over a dozen owners of these haunts (and counting!), I am amazed at how dedicated this niche of themed entertainment can be.
Opening a regional haunt is a risky undertaking that these dedicated individuals eat, sleep and breathe. If by paying your $25 admission, you think the owners are kicking back in their mansions, eating caviar every night and laughing that you have paid that much, you’re nuts. For most of these folks, that six week haunted house is a year-round job.
Terror is different for everyone. For some people, clowns are the ultimate fear. Others hate spiders and snakes, yet others will jump every time the wind blows. While all of these attractions to scare the poop out of you, many of them have unique philosophies on just how to achieve that. Also, during my research, I have discovered that some haunted houses deal with some very adult themes.
These extreme houses often have you sign a waiver and require that everyone who enters be 18-years-and-up. I know many fans of Theme Park University love the squeaky clean Disney version of themed entertainment, so let this be a warning! At the top of certain articles that contain these adult themes, there will be a disclaimer stating that if you are offended by foul language, various versions of male or female nudity or perverted adult acts – you may want to skip it and go read something on Shamu’s Halloween Spooktacular instead.
Over the course of the next six weeks, we will be bringing you feature stories on the 13th Gate in Baton Rouge, Delusion in Los Angeles, Ghosts and Legends of The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Evil Dead 4D The Musical in Las Vegas, Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati, House of Shock in New Orleans, Chambers of Horror in Atlanta, House of Torment in Austin… and many more!
Finally, a huge thank you to Emma Leavitt, our extremely talented artist who designed and created our new Halloween banner. I highly recommend you click on the link above and look at the image in full. Our normal banner image, inspired from attractions all around the world, has a more apocalyptic feel. My favorite detail? Marty Moose, who normally stands on top of the dome holding a sign saying “Sorry folks, the park is closed!” is now impaled by it. Poor guy.
To make sure you don’t miss any of these upcoming stories, you need to follow me @TPUJosh on Twitter by clicking here or like our Theme Park University Facebook Page by clicking here!