1999 – Year Three of NETHERWORLD Haunted House

by on May.29, 2016, under Haunted Houses, Haunting Ideas, History of NETHERWORLD, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

1999 was a make or break season for NETHERWORLD. For the first time we moved into a location with a year round lease, the same building we had occupied during 1998 but a different, larger suite. This location had amazingly high ceilings, but also presented a number of major complications that were very costly and put the attraction into a serious cash crunch. Two new fire escapes had to be constructed, multiple fire doors were added, a massive two sided firewall was built and these expenses combined with year round rent made success during the season extremely critical.

The theme was APOCALYPSE for the main show, reflecting the coming turn of the century (2000) and touching on the more elaborate themes that would be developed in the years to come. For the first time a second ticketed event was added… NETHERWORLD 3D Haunted House – The First 3D Haunted House in Atlanta or the Southeast. Fortunately the inventor of the Chroma Depth Technology that made 3D haunts possible lived in Atlanta and agreed to sponsor the haunt.

Both events were very successful and NETHERWORLD charged into the new century with a permanent home and the ability for the crew to work on the attraction all year long!

Check back soon for a further look into the twenty year history of NETHERWORLD Haunted House!

1999 NETHERWORLD

Journey into the future, to a land ravaged by hideous creatures from the Netherworld! Dark armies of Armored War Beasts and Malignant Spirits of the Dead lay siege to a helpless planet!

Travel through blasted cities, forgotten burial grounds, bizarre laboratories and the deepest pits of the outer darkness on a quest to encounter The Ultimate Horror!
Abandon all hope, Ye who dare enter: NETHERWORLD the APOCALYPSE!

3D

Experience a BRAIN BENDING adventure in 3-D Technology!

Put on the special Chromadepth glasses and
enter a haunted house like no other!

Explore an old manor filled with GHOSTLY inhabitants and a TWISTED Carnival funhouse sure to melt your mind!

The Terror Surrounds You in NETHERWORLD 3D!

Reviews from 1999:

“Netherworld and its creative team have hit upon a successful formula of creativity and originality…it has risen to the top in a tough Atlanta market and gained national notoriety.”
– Haunted Attraction Magazine

“A world right out of a Hollywood movie.”
– Haunted Attraction Magazine

“A haunt that is reminiscent of a movie set, complete with prosthetic makeup, custom-made masks, and one-of-a-kind props.”
– Haunted Attraction Magazine

“In your face scary!”
– Creative Loafing

“A mind-bending experience.”
– Creative Loafing

“You wouldn’t want to miss this!”
– Creative Loafing

“The first of its kind in the Southeast.”
– Piedmont Review

“A Halloween favorite after only three short years, Netherworld has become known as one of the scariest haunts nationwide.”
– Piedmont Review

“With 3-D technology, movie style special effects and monsters from your worst nightmares, Netherworld is not the typical haunted house.”
– Piedmont Review

“An exciting adventure for the whole family—no one will leave disappointed.”
– Piedmont Review

“Netherworld has become known as one of the scariest haunts nationwide, with movie style special effects and monsters from your worst nightmares… If you’re looking to bring Halloween nostalgia back into your life, then a visit to Netherworld is a must.”
– Piedmont Review

“A haunted house with a unique twist.”
– Piedmont Review

“The creators have gone warthog-wild crafting immense, quivering monsters you’ve never seen anywhere.”
– AJC

“If you’re looking to bring Halloween nostalgia back into your life, then a visit to Netherworld is a must.”
– Piedmont Review

“A Halloween favorite and an Atlanta tradition.”
– The Gazette

“If it’s terror you want, look no further than the Netherworld Haunted House.”
– Southern Voice

“Spooktacular!”
– Southern Voice

“The scariest haunted house in town.”
– atlantacitysearch.com, in city & visitors guide

“One of the South’s premiere haunted experiences.”
– Going Places Magazine (National)

“One hell of a haunted house.”
– INsite

“Get your chills, thrills, and spills at Netherworld Haunted House.”
– GSU Signal

“You’re in for a wild time!”

– GSU Signal
“For a frighteningly good time, check out Netherworld!”
– GSU Signal

“Netherworld Haunted House in Norcross gives horror decidedly high-tech feel.”
– AJC Peach Buzz

“The first haunted house of its kind in the South.”
– The Technique

“Netherworld successfully blends old school haunted house scares with a new 3-D style that will effectively blow your mind.”
– The West Georgian

1999

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1998 – Year Two of NETHERWORLD Haunted House

by on May.29, 2016, under Haunted Houses, Haunting Ideas, History of NETHERWORLD, NETHERWORLD Haunted House, Uncategorized

In 1998 NETHERWORLD moved to Norcross GA to the Georgia Antique Center. The crew had planned to build 2 haunts that year, a traditional supernatural themed one and a science fiction based attraction called Vault 13. The space was bigger than the previous location in Kennesaw but still not large enough for two haunts, so the theme changed halfway through without an intervening queue line. The owners made contact with the role playing game company White Wolf and after some crazy brainstorming it was decided that NETHERWORLD would create a Haunted House based on the popular VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE game as the primary attraction.

Two other firsts for NETHERWORLD happened that year as well. Doug Bradley – The actor portraying Pin Head in the Hellraiser movies visited the haunt and greeted guests and signed autographs for an evening. Also after vowing never to use chainsaws we cranked one up and haven’t put it down since! When the season ended NETHERWORLD had been successful once more, and the haunts were packed away into tractor trailers until a new home could be found.

Join us every week as we present a look into the twenty year History of NETHERWORLD Haunted House!

1998 Nos

vampirethumb

Trapped in a war between Vampire Clans, the Colber House is chosen for the haven, a place where the shroud is thin, a place often used as a door between worlds. Allies are gathered, Redcaps and Gargoyles serve the mage, and a War Ghoul is created in the catacombs beneath the house. Baron Samidi is hired to provide an army of Zombies, and the Sabbat Warparties arrive. For protection against attack, powerful magical wards are erected to repel the Camarilla Vampires and the Lupines often drawn to the place…

vaultt

Contact Has Been Lost With A Government Base Hidden Deep Beneath The Earth! You must descend to the Vault and find out what happened…

But Beware: The containment systems are down!

Genetic Mutations, Warrior Cyborgs and Bizarre Creatures from the Earth’s Inner Core roam the blackened corridors in Search of Human Flesh!

Reviews from 1998

“4 Pumpkins”—Highest Rated Haunt
– AJC

“Netherworld has creative touches that rise to the level of an art form.”
– AJC

“Netherworld’s mammoth Haunted House will knock your socks off.”
– Where Atlanta Magazine

“The Netherworld in Norcross is indeed the acme of the many haunted houses…guaranteed to please every scare seeking patron.”
– The Emory Wheel

“Immense and breathtaking.”
– The Emory Wheel

“The most exciting haunted house around.”
– The Emory Wheel

“Netherworld Haunted House is guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of you…”
– Creative Loafing

“A must experience for all horror lovers”
– The Atlanta Sideshow

“Netherworld is for those who are more serious about haunted houses and can handle a real fright.”
– The Stormy Petrel (Oglethorpe University)

“It’s [Netherworld] very scary, very well done…
I did cry, I just got overwhelmed, the tears started coming, but it was really great!”
– Nancy Loveland, Good Day Atlanta, WAGA TV

“This isn’t your typical Haunted House…it’s more Hollywood than anything.”
– Carmen Burns and Kathy Ballou, Peachtree Morning, WXIA TV

One of ten noteworthy haunts nationwide to be mentioned in The Wall Street Journal
“The most impressive event in the Southeast.”
– TRAVELHOST Magazine

“The actors terrify visitors as frighteningly realistic characters in brilliant costumes.”
– Gwinnett Scene

“A state-of-the-art spooky attraction.”
– Gwinnett Scene

“Not for the faint of heart.”
– Gwinnett Scene

“The experience promises a myriad of special effects and makeup techniques creating a REAL haunting experience this Halloween season.”
– The Champion

“One of the South’s premiere Halloween experiences, the Netherworld is guaranteed to scare you silly.”
– This Week Gwinnett

“One of the nation’s foremost fear factories.”
– Break, Tallahassee’s Entertainment Weekly

“The creators of Netherworld have outdone themselves with Hollywood movie-quality sets brimming with oddities.”
– Gwinnett Loaf

patches_1998

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1997 – Year One of NETHERWORLD Haunted House

by on May.29, 2016, under Haunted Houses, Haunting Ideas, History of NETHERWORLD, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

1997 – Year One of NETHERWORLD Haunted House

NETHERWORLD Haunted House began in 1997 as the creation of a dedicated team of artists and craftsmen with extensive backgrounds in film and television production. Some of the founders were also experienced Haunted House designers having worked for Chambers of Terror, a local haunt in Atlanta, and the national haunted house franchise, Silo X. At the time, most Haunts were based on disconnected scenes from popular horror movies, but the focus of NETHERWORLD was to create an original story and characters that could be found nowhere else. While deeply themed, highly detailed Haunted Houses are now more the norm than the exception, it was not the case twenty years ago. After creating a preview Haunted House at Dragon Con, the first NETHERWORLD was built in Kennesaw, Georgia in little more than a month. When the season ended NETHERWORLD had survived and flourished. The attraction was packed up in U-Haul trucks and taken to the second floor of an old warehouse and scattered into basements and garages until it would resurface once more in 1998!

Join us every week as we present a look into the twenty year History of NETHERWORLD Haunted House!

Top Hat

NETHERWORLD Haunted House: The Colber Mansion

50 years ago, a madman named Maxmillian Colber opened a doorway to another world and looked upon The Place Where Monsters Dwell, A Realm of Yawning Graves, The World of the Dead.
In seconds, his foolish experiments unleashed lost souls thirsting for vengeance and nameless horrors hungry for the flesh of the living! And feed they did.
Tonight, YOU must travel to the depths of the Colber House, before the door to the Netherworld opens…FOREVER!

Reviews from 1997
“It’s a haunted attraction the likes of which Atlanta has never seen…guaranteed to scare and entertain.”
– Season for KiDs

“Georgia’s most intense haunted house.”
– Season for KiDs

“You won’t find any repeats here—these creepy creatures are unique and specifically designed just for the hallowed Netherworld.”
– Connect

“This hair-raising haunted house features over 30 scenes dripping with ghostly effects, theatrical events and magical illusions guaranteed to cause blood-curdling screams.”
– Connect

Number 1 Haunted House in Atlanta – “Nonstop action, awesome monsters and sets gave this new house top honors.”
– 96 Rock

“Be prepared to be scared!”
– Atlanta Theatre Weekly

“Get ready to scream!”
– The Marietta Daily Journal

“A macabre maze of monsters.”
– The Marietta Daily Journal

“More blood-curdling chills than Amityville.”
– The Marietta Daily Journal

“This House [Netherworld] was terrifying, which was almost a shame because I would have liked to stop and admire each intricate scenario. The scenes and characters are all strikingly original…at the end of your journey you escape through a whirling Vortex, a totally disorienting effect unlike anything you’ve ever seen!”
– Community Review

patches_1997

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The Haunted Attraction Extreme Costume Check List!

by on Feb.02, 2015, under Haunted Houses, Haunting Ideas, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

The Haunted Attraction Extreme Costume Check List!
Ben Armstrong NETHERWORLD Haunted House

www.Fearworld.com

2015 Netherworld - Dragoncon Parade 13

So you are ready to buy or build a really cool over the top costume for your Haunted Attraction! We all know that an excellent costume on an amazing actor can do wonders for your show, but its proper use is FAR more complicated than just purchasing a static prop and displaying it in a scene. The fact that an actor has to wear the thing night after night, successfully perform in it, and keep it in functioning order is no easy task.

So let’s go over some of the issues related to keeping elaborate costumes not only being used every night, but not falling apart! The following concepts are presented as a checklist when you are planning a major costume purchase… some basic ideas to consider before taking the plunge.

1) Theme: First and foremost, elaborate costumes serve the function of explaining and furthering the theme of your event. We all design rooms and effects to enhance our themes and supply matching costumes that fit the scene. But themed characters are even more important when used in marketing at off site events or even in the parking lot… they let the customers know a little about WHAT your attractions story is, and can also provide a snap shot of the production value your event brings to the table. Themed costumed actors are important photo ops for your guests and goodwill ambassadors essential in a social media driven world.

2) Emotional Effect: How does the costume make customers feel when they see it? Are you going for fear, disgust or absolute amazement? Often the scariest costumes can be very simple as they are designed to bring up instant emotions in a haunt environment, but they fall apart visually when critically viewed in full lighting. Masks or make-ups with “extreme” expressions or surrealistic looks are great for quick hits but not so much for complex interactions. This is why silicone masks and top notch make-ups are so important for interactive characters as the “expression” of the creature can be changed as the actor goes through his act. Some costumes and characters are downright comical, but that is not always a bad thing. Many of the most popular lot characters have almost nothing to do with Halloween or horror, they are just plain amusing. Ultimately folks come to your event to be entertained in addition to being scared.

3) Level Of Concealment: Many costumes are designed to be invisible until the actor moves (Ivy, Camo, Rock Wall Suits). Some are created to be seen but look like a prop (Statue, Armor, Doll Costumes and such come to mind). But the most elaborate ones demand attention with lots of details that draws the eye. Obviously if you invest a ton in a costume you want it to be seen and remembered by the customers. If you want it to be noticed, look for high contrast, reflective elements, lighting enhancements like glowing eyes or UV paint, and massive size always helps!

4) Ergonomics: One of the most overlooked areas in haunt costumes is ergonomics, i.e how safe and easy is it for the actors to wear. Looking good is not enough when a suit needs to be worn in often extreme situations for 20-30 days in a haunt season. How many times has an amazing costume or mask gone unworn because it is uncomfortable, hot, difficult to see out of or heavy? Always try on costumes when you can before purchase, and look for ways to improve the ergonomics. Once you have a actor or actors selected who will be wearing the suit, work on ventilation, padding and vision improvement. This will make the performance more impressive and cause less downtime due to breaks, training or just refusal of the actors to wear it. Proper storage of the costume is also needed especially if it is delicate or difficult to get into, with racks and hooks to hold it in such a way that the operator can ease into it.

Large stalkaround costumes are always made more effective by having “walkers” who accompany the person in the suit. They can keep unruly guests away, help customers take photos and assist the actor move past obstacles, get water, etc. A stalkaround actor at a busy haunt without a walker will quickly become overwhelmed and might even get injured by tripping or overheating. One way to keep a suit like this going all night is to have actors swap out especially if the costume is heavy.

One thing is for sure. The more complex and difficult a suit is to wear the less “acting” you will get out of it. There is a tipping point where you end up creating a barely mobile photo op that shambles about and suffers.
Make comfort and ease of use a high priority and you will absolutely get better results!

5) Maintenance: Another overlooked area is how to CLEAN the costume. Nightly cleaning is essential, and doubly so if the costume is worn by different actors. Enbac, Fabreeze and other disinfectants are a good start but they can be of limited use if the costume is actually dripping with sweat. If possible wash cloth goods often, and dry clean elaborate cloth goods as needed. Silicone masks should be washed out and disinfected every night, and similar treatments used on latex masks. Foam or porous masks need to get lots of ventilation to properly remove moisture and after spraying costumes it is also good to put a fan on them to air out and dry the suits.

Costumes and masks must be constantly maintained for the run of a show and it essential to have staff dedicated to clean, wash and do sewing repairs. Most masks will need certain levels of repainting over a season as sweat and wear takes its toll. Always use proper paints designed to stick to the type of mask or costume you are repairing or you will find all your work wasted after one night of use. If you plan to have many silicone masks, you will eventually see major damage. This can be lessened by having only one actor wear a certain mask and be extremely careful with it, but in many cases the mask will be so expensive that use by multiple folks is unavoidable if you want it worn every night. The best thing to do in this case is to carefully monitor how these masks are put on and removed, and don’t allow them be worn be actors who show signs of claustrophobia, susceptibility to heat, or general carelessness. When rips or tears develop, get the mask out of use until it can be looked at by your special effects make-up staff. There are many tutorials for fixing silicone masks, simple rips can be repaired by trained artists but for major tears it might be worth it to hold off and send the mask back to the vendor.

The more complex the costume the more time you will spend maintaining it. Without proper care expensive suits can be ruined very quickly, and your attempt to impress with high production value will be useless. If you don’t have the staff to maintain complex costumes another approach can be to only use them for major media events, assuring that they will be in good condition when it matters most. However this is sort of a bait and switch, because if you feature amazing characters in your marketing and they are not seen at your event, it might annoy guests.

Another thing to consider when purchasing is costumes with electronic parts, or mechanical features. Built in lighting or sound units add a lot of POW to a suit, but need care. Actors often rip out wires accidentally especially if the suit rigging is complex, and mechanical movements are subject to wear and tear. I suggest keeping a repair kit with replacement parts at the ready because energetic actors will break these sorts of suits usually just because they are trying hard to be good at their jobs!

6) Add Ons: Almost no costume is 100% complete when purchased. Many need masks, hats, wigs, make-up or contacts to finish the look. Some would be improved by hand props, additional layers or more detailing. Even complete massive suits do better when the actor inside is wearing the proper clothing ( Under armor, extra padding and harnesses) or a hydration system like a camelback. In suits that totally cover the actor you might want to consider a radio so that they can communicate with their handler. Always think about the shoes that will go with the costume especially when it is used outside where they will be seen, they can totally ruin the illusion.

7) Cost: In the end It all comes down to cost. So we have reviewed some of the hidden expenses like enhancing ergonomics, add ons, care and maintenance, and the effort and staff required to keep complex costumes working well and looking good, but lets discuss actually buying or creating the original costume.

So this costume is so expensive why don’t you just make it yourself? Often unless you are incredibly talented this costs even more than buying from a vendor…Why? Trial and error! You might find yourself spending a lot of cash on materials and redoing the steps again and again to get a good result. Time is also an issue.. an elaborate costume can take a VERY long time to make. You need to decide for yourself what the time of the person building the suit and the materials are really costing you – don’t forget the fact if they are working on this costume means they are not working on something else! One good strategy is to purchase elements of a costume and pull them together in such a way as to make them unique. It is always better to do some level of customization to make a major costume unique. There will be occasions where you and your staff WILL want make stuff from scratch and that is great! But you certainly need to consider what that will set you back in time and money before you do.
Another good way to get high production value costumes at your event is to hire folks who have their own suits! This approach certainly has pros and cons: PROS They are happy and comfortable in the costume, It costs you less, It might be totally custom, they might have a complete act already prepared. CONS: You only have the suit when they are working, most personal suits tend to be cosplay based on licensed characters that won’t fit your theme, If the character becomes popular and they stop working at your haunt it is not a good thing, etc. These days many haunt actors will buy $600 silicone masks that they want to wear, if it fits your needs, why not – but giving actors special privileges or roles just because they spent money isn’t always wise.

Extreme costumes can add a TON of entertainment and production value to your event! But like anything else in our industry they require planning and effort to create and maintain them. Treat them well and they will serve you for years and scare thousands! Treat them poorly and they end up being the most expensive pile of junk on the floor of your actor area that you will ever purchase!

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NETHERWORLD Haunted House on Yahoos Best Haunts List!

by on Oct.07, 2014, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

https://www.yahoo.com/travel/boo-the-10-most-terrifying-haunted-houses-in-the-u-s-99340763737.html

Netherworld is warehouse-sized structure in the suburbs of Atlanta featuring elaborate sets and special effects worthy of a Disney attraction. Guests will encounter unattractive witches, a special assortment of blood-maddened clones, disconcerting flesh vats, and an angry army of corpses, while staggering through fog, crawling through spinning tunnels, and holding their noses against unsavory scents. The intense experience creates what the Travel Channel described as “more scares per square foot than any other haunt in America.” Even better, the building has been declared to be “paranormally active” by local experts, the Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigators!

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NETHERWORLD Haunted House on Travel Channel’s list of the Best Halloween Attractions for 2014!

by on Oct.07, 2014, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

Exciting news! Netherworld Haunted House just made Travel Channel’s list of the Best Halloween Attractions for 2014!

Here’s what they said: Trick or treat! We reveal our list of the scariest Halloween attractions in the US with help from paranormal experts, including Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans – Ghost Adventures Crew (GAC). With more than 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, Netherworld is one of the nation’s most famous attractions. Having been featured on TV and in movies such as Zombieland, this spooky attraction has amazingly detailed sets!

Netherworld is now open Every Night thru November 2nd. Come See Us Tonight!

For more details check out www.FEARWORLD.com

http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/travels-best/photos/best-halloween-attractions-2014?page=3

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9 Best Haunted Houses in Georgia!

by on Sep.23, 2014, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

Brad Smith / GA Follower

October is right around the corner and you know what that means? Costumes, candy, and haunted houses! Haunted Houses are great for all ages. There are a number of haunted houses around Georgia, the trick is to find the right one to be scared of. Here are the 9 best haunted houses in Georgia.

1. Netherworld

Can’t go wrong in choosing to go to Netherworld. One of the most famous haunted attractions in America. Known for its over-the-top special effects, incredibly realistic make-up, costumes, skilled stunt actors, unique themes, and many more. Definitely the best attraction for a scare.

6624 Dawson Blvd
Norcross, GA 30093

READ MORE HERE!

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by on Aug.27, 2014, under Haunt Gatherings, Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

Horror Track

Netherworld Haunted House is ready for another Dragon Con! Who else is? Let the festivities begin already!

To celebrate the impending start of another amazing Labor Day Weekend, Netherworld is offering an exclusive discount to friends of Dragon Con.

Visit NETHERWORLD Tickets and enter the Promo Code “DChorror” to get $5 OFF Any Combo Ticket or SpeedPass.

As fans of Netherworld well know, coupons valid on weekends or on the SpeedPass are rarely ever offered, so get yours now before the discount expires at…you guessed it…the close of Dragon Con.

If you are unaware, Netherworld is an amazing haunted attraction located right here in Atlanta. It’s been featured on the Travel Channel, The Daily Show, The Today show and was even one of the locations used in Zombieland! They are consistently ranked as one of the top haunted houses in America and just last year they were named The Most Influential Haunted House of All Time by Hauntworld Magazine…Now That’s An Endorsement!

Netherworld is once again sponsoring the DragonCon Horror Track and will have a booth with freakish new photo ops on the Marquis level of the Marriott, so be sure to stop by and get your free digital download photo. Oh yeah, and we can not wait to see what they’ve come up with this year for the parade…always a big highlight!

Enjoy!

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Shipment of Cool Stuff for NETHERWORLD Haunted House!

by on Aug.10, 2014, under Haunted Houses, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

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Depth Of Experience: Getting Your Customers To Remember Your Haunt!

by on Mar.03, 2014, under Haunted Houses, Haunting Ideas, NETHERWORLD Haunted House

Depth Of Experience
Getting Your Customers To Remember Your Haunt!

Ben Armstrong NETHERWORLD Haunted House – www.Fearworld.com

We haunt owners and actors have a very interesting job. We have to create something new, amazing and terrifying every year while still pleasing our customers – The classic “give them what they want and give them what you want”. We have a very wide playground to explore with our attractions, but the ultimate success of them still depends on pleasing the customer. For example if you had a restaurant you could experiment with a myriad of food choices and flavors but ultimately THE FOOD HAS TO TASTE GOOD for your restaurant to succeed. Since most people want certain things on their haunted house “menu” what is the core set of flavors that folks want? Two things I want to discuss in this article key to pleasing your guests are 1) The Razor’s Edge: picking your content and 2) The Depth of Experience: Creating a rich memorable adventure full of peak moments that leaves your customers thrilled!

The Razors Edge

I call this first concept the razor’s edge. A successful Haunted Attraction has to balance between two core ideas in its themeing and design to have the greatest hope to survive: HORROR and HALLOWEEN.

Horror is a very wide idea that can range from the surreal and supernatural to the most realistic and savage. It attempts to scare you, to disturb you, to make you scream. Horror can be amazingly artistic and high concept or it can be exceedingly simple and lowbrow. In all of its forms it can be very effective or fall totally on its face – depending on the critical choices the filmmaker, artist, or author make with the material and how successfully they executed them. It also has a very wide degree of what its fans enjoy – one man’s best movie ever is another man’s piece of filth.

Halloween has similar challenges. It is nostalgic, traditional and cultural, but paradoxically new, evolving and topical. It can change huge sections of the population into thrill seekers and tricksters for a few short days and return them to a mundane existence on November 1st. It is both a child’s holiday and grownup’s holiday, but those that it touches develop deep emotions centered on fear and fun with a taste of the ancient past thrown in for good measure.

The most successful haunted attractions have learned to ride the razor’s edge, to combine the seasonal exuberant, transformative emotions of Halloween with the fear, dread, excitement and artistic expression of Horror. Go too far into Halloween and an attraction can seem tame and clichéd. And taken to the outer reaches of horror, the violent nasty ultra realistic content becomes soulless and foul.
Too often I think, some producers of attractions and some haunt actors as well seem to be fighting with their own inner demons and the product suffers for it. Most people who attend a haunted attraction want to see cool stuff, get scared and have a good time, not experience content that makes them embarrassed, angry or disgusted. It is of course up to the haunt producer to create what they wish, and extreme or revolting content does have an audience to be sure. But it is a narrower audience and the attraction that goes that route must be content with surviving on a much smaller potential population base.

FEEL and Memory

So based on the Halloween/Horror scale you have selected the sort of theming that you will both enjoy as a producer and that targets your selected demographic. You have written the menu, now how do you make the FOOD TASTE GOOD? First let’s talk a bit about what it takes to make your customers satisfied with your event. I have already written extensively on the concept that you are dealing with a group (Rethinking The Haunted House Guest Experience) now let’s cut to the core of how the individual feels walking out of your show. Many people seem to totally lack the ability to remember ANYTHING about what they saw and experienced in your attraction but they will never forget how you made them FEEL. Are they excited, scared and happy? Are they angry that they didn’t get what they want, or that they had to wait too long in line? It is this overall satisfaction that you as a producer are trying to master. Aside from the obvious excitement and the expectation of its arrival, it is no wonder that the chainsaw is the most memorable event in most haunted houses as it is usually the last thing they face! Maybe if we could actually get them to remember the attraction and all the cool stuff you put in there it would be easier to make them satisfied with your event. We CAN get them to better remember by creating a richly layered Depth of Experience.

Depth Of Experience

How can we get them to remember? Here are some of the top barriers to positive memories of a haunt:

1) Too Much Theme: Let’s face it we have all (myself included) grown totally addicted to theming. But I have recently started to feel that too much of a good thing creates a situation where guests have a difficult time remembering the haunt. Say for example, your haunt has a “Used Tire Store Theme” Well, you have the garage area, the tire storage area, the office, the waiting room, etc. And everyone who jumps out is a greasy mechanic. How can you remember that? It has a “sameness”. In the old days almost every room in a haunt was totally different, jammed together with no rhyme or reason. But you can bet it was easier to remember because every scene was different. Now I am not suggesting that we go back to the old ways, but I am saying that making your scenes different as possible, even within your themed “box” will lead to a situation where guests will be able to remember and thus better appreciate your event.

2) Actors doing the same thing: If every actor looks similar and does the same sort of thing, the customers will grow resistant to them faster and forget them immediately. Different costuming, vocal assaults, reveals (how the actor appears) and types of performance all help to create a richer experience for the guests.

3) Peak moments: You must create as many “Peak Moments” as possible – intense varied effects and experiences that really create strong memories. A classic Peak Moment in most haunts for example is the Vortex Tunnel that always ranks right up there with the chainsaw.

4) Mixing up audio and lighting: If everything is black light it feels the same. If the soundtrack never varies, or the lighting is uniform, or if everywhere is choked with fog you are blending many different moments into one long singular experience.

5) Scares should be from everywhere and everything: Variety of scares is essential! Animations, actors, effects, scares from below above and both sides are critical. We want to hit them with a buffet of unique and shocking events, not a single massive can of chocolate pudding (Sorry Carl!).

6) Highs and lows: The house must pulse, with moments of rest and moments of intensity. A bit of humor now and then always helps make the next shock that much more powerful.

7) Working on difficult customers: If you see customers that stand out – they are not having fun or they are confused or angry, train your actors to spend some time with them. 80% of all haunt reviews good or bad often come down to something amazing or something stupid an actor or a member of the staff did. This is especially true when you find a person on the edge of a bad experience – it is often not that difficult to turn a difficult moment around if it gets caught in time.

The Depth of Experience idea is just like layering and detailing in a room – Construction, paint, props and lighting closely relate to building memories with a variety of different occurrences laid one on top of the other. Long haunts seem short if they are repetitive and short ones seem vast if the experiences are varied and thrilling. Always keeping the customer experience in mind will help you succeed sometimes where money and resources won’t – never forget that!

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