I would like a copy or something.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I just finished an interview with Larry for the DAFE quarterly publication. If you would be interested in reading (pretty entertaining) email, PM, or post, and I'll send you a copy. Or if it was cool with Larry and Gail, I could post it here.
I would like a copy or something.
Did you actually interview the real Larry K., or was it just the second runner-up in the Larry -Look-Alike Contest?
Don't be fooled by cheap imitations, like you were by that "Warfield" guy!
Did you notice not one real picture of him ever was seen in that story?
One shot of an extreme side-shot, that nobody without the FBI's lab could ever identifiy, that's all!
A man of mystery shall remain one! hahahaha!
My Mafia hitman career is prolonged!
INSIDE THE INDUSTRY
By Dan Faupel
In this issue, we go inside the mind of Larry Kirchner. He is the owner of Halloween Productions Inc. / Dark Rider. He is also owner of the industry magazine, website, and video series, all of which share the title ?Hauntworld?. Find out more at www.hauntworld.com.
1) What current projects are you guys working on?
Currently we?re finishing the remodel of the old mill ride in Kennywood. The new theme is based around Garfield, it will be the absolute coolest artwork we?ve ever done. I received a lot of emails from DAFE members if it was true that Kennywood ripped out the old mill ride. Unfortunately, I was unable to comment on it at the time. We?re also reworking another DAFE favorite, Blood River in Morey?s Pier. Both rides should be ready to go by May.
2) In your opinion, which are the three top darkrides in the U.S.?
The top three dark rides are the three that we just finished, LOL. Seriously, I?m a huge dark ride fan. I?ve always loved dark rides, any kind of dark rides. I?d have to say my three favorites are Indiana Jones in Disney, Spiderman in Universal and probably Tower of Terror, if that counts as a dark ride. Other dark rides I?m fond of are Cat in the Hat at Islands of Adventure and Dinosaur. I know most true dark ride fans love the old time pretzel rides, and I like those too, but it?s really kind of hard to beat 100 million dollar rides.
3) Last year you guys did a large Spiderman themed darkride. Tell us some details about that project.
Well we got this call to build a Hulk haunted house. After digging deeper into the project I found out they had the rights to build a Spiderman dark ride. I told them I was really interested in designing the ride. Our team had convinced the owners that we could design the ride so we were awarded the project to design the Spiderman ride. The space was never set up for a dark ride; it was very small and narrow. So it was decided to build most of the gags and sets to the ceiling and over the top of people. The challenge was that the owners wanted you to see Spiderman and see him fighting the villains like in Universal?s ride. My first reaction was ?are you kidding?? I?m one who?ll never turn down a challenge so we said sure we can do that, anything to get the job, right? Once we finally were awarded the project it was a daunting task to figure out exactly how we could build a dark ride that incorporated the type of Hollywood effects you?re only used to seeing in Universal or Disney rides.
4) What do you think was the one most important thing you learned from doing that project?
Everything?LOL. I think the ride turned out amazing, however with every project you learn from your mistakes. The biggest issue was I didn?t realize just how many more targets the ride needed. As you know the ride is an interactive shooting game, where you help Spiderman capture the villains with your web-blasters In order to make the ride more fun, the ride needs more targets. We?re currently finishing another 30 animated targets for the ride and will have them installed by April 1, 2004. If you?re going to have an interactive target ride you need tons and tons of things to shoot at. When I was building the ride we went for big high impact animations, rather than several smaller targets. I realized you need a combination of both, because the riders want to have stuff they can shoot at but they also want something scaring them, flying over the head, something shooting them with water or whatever. Incorporating the CGI effects was also a learning curve, especially in regards to triggering the effects on time.
5) What new things do you have in store for the 2004 Halloween season for your three Haunted Attractions? (The Darkness, Silo X, and Tombstone: haunted ghost town)
Our three haunted houses are one of the loves of my life because we?re able to do whatever we want and that part is fun. I?ve been building haunts for amusement parks and ourselves for 15 years. The most exciting aspect is and always will be spending money to make them more exciting. As you know the Darkness is probably my baby, although I?ve taken a strong liking to our new Tombstone attraction. The Darkness will be one of the nation?s best again next year, after last year it was a creative disappointment because we had to move the entire attraction. This year we?re able to focus on improving the attractions rather than moving everything. This year will be very exciting as we?re creating an entire jungle theme, which to my knowledge has never been done before. Lucky for me a client of ours is giving me about 250,000 worth of Rain Forest Cafe animations they?re not using. So that should be a nice start, more like racing a dragster downhill. You?ll sort of walk through a jungle that leads to ruins of an ancient temple and from there you can guess the rest. Tombstone will be awesome because we?re building an entire outdoor station with trains. You will actually walk through train cars and finally into a real caboose. We?ll be starting the upgrades to both attractions in June after we?ve installed the Garfield and Pirate dark rides we?re building.
6) The Darkness has a long standing reputation as one of the best in the business. Its level of detail can be appreciated by any fan of dark attractions. How do you think the average person perceives the effort we put forth to achieve those high levels of detail?
That?s a good question because some don?t appreciate the detail whatsoever as they simply want to be scared. I?ve come to learn more and more that people are not awed anymore by detail as much as what effect does the ride have on them. As with a roller coaster, did the haunted house have enough thrills? We?ve been adapting to the new generation of thrill seekers. I?m a big video game nut and some of the graphics and some of the content is shocking and scary. It?s getting harder to thrill people who today see just about everything on television, movies or video games. Now when a fellow enthusiast or haunter comes knocking on our door they?re just in awe of the place, and tell us over and over how amazing the detail is. The regular haunted house patron on the other hand is 50/50, some want more scares, and some want a cooler looking haunt. We?re just trying our best to deliver both without sacrificing detail for scares, or scares for detail. Sometime in June we?ll start to upload pictures of the new Darkness, Tombstone, and Silo X to our website www.scarefest.com.
7) How long ago was it when you opened your first commercial haunted attraction?
That would have been 16 years ago?I?m only 35 and it?s hard for me to imagine what 16 years ago is like. I know I?ll really feel old when you ask me this question again in four years and I say 20?yikes!
8) We?ve all had our embarrassing moments. Thinking back on those earlier years, what humbling experience comes to mind that you can look back and laugh at now? (But probably wasn?t very humorous to you at the time!)
To be perfectly honest, nothing really. However as you know we?ve been producing how-to videos and these Hauntworld the movie series. I discontinued the first three videos we ever made because in part two I was wearing these working overalls and sleeping in coffins. Then there was the one segment about using the right kind of tools to me wearing glow glasses, which was really embarrassing. Matter of fact I?m buying all of those videos back?anyone have one?
9) I find that many people in this industry come from similar backgrounds. Are there
any particular experiences that you feel had an impact on you as a youth that
guided you towards the dark attraction industry?
I?d say that the one thing that binds us ALL that I?ve discovered is a love of horror movies as a kid?Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman and stuff like Godzilla, etc. It seems a lot of us collect comics, toys, and even if we?re 50, in our minds we?re still little kids playing with toys watching horror movies.
10) Who in the industry has inspired you most?
That?s hard to say, in the dark ride industry it would have to be simply Disney or Universal Studios. They know how to push the envelope and I want to try and achieve similar accomplishments for the dark ride owners we work for without those owners spending 100 million dollars. With today?s technology you can accomplish a lot of the same things without the major budgets. But Disney and Universal deserve all the props for reinventing the dark rides and waking up all the other theme parks to the possibility that there is more to life than a roller coaster. Outside of the dark ride industry it would have to be David Bertolino of Spookyworld. I first visited Spookyworld about 10 years ago, when I was about 25 and it made me realize there is no limit to how big and awesome you can make something if you really try hard enough.
11) What CD do you have in your car right now?
12) If you were locked in a dark room, stuck watching the same movie of your choice over, and over, and over, endlessly, what movie would you want it to be?
The same movie? That sounds like torture! Are you trying to scare me Dan? Just as I?m a huge fan of dark rides and an even bigger fan of Hollywood. I see just about every movie released, to think I could only see one would send me to an early grave. I really loved Spiderman and can?t wait to see Spiderman 2 and 3 and 4 and 5?you get the picture. My favorite types of movies are comic based movies like Batman, Spiderman, and campy stuff like Scooby Doo.
13) What scares Larry Kirchner?
My significant other when she?s mad?I?m still running!
About the author: Dan Faupel is the production manager and lead designer/artist for the St. Louis based company Creative Visions. They specialize in the fabrication of animated characters and themed environments for dark attractions and amusement parks worldwide. See more of his work at www.CreativeVisionsOnline.com
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