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Arizona's Scariest Haunted House
Tue, August 02, 2011
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 TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN ARIZONA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/arizona_haunted_houses

There are some main general reasons why different haunted houses across the country have become famous in our industry and why articles are written about them.  They may have epic and over the top sets.  Their staff could be over 100 members strong.  They tend to create impeccably detailed costumes.  They incorporate stunts into their shows.  They have one of a kind animations.  Their marketing is flashy and innovative.  They have been ranked on multiple top haunted lists.  They were the first of their kind.  They are the last of their kind.   They have been nationally covered in the media.  Their owners are well known in the industry.  They blow stuff up with pyrotechnics.  They have endured decades of business.  They stay true to their roots.  They always change.  There is something they do different.  They are the benchmark.  They sell a LOT of tickets. The list goes on and on.  

When Hauntworld Magazine was invited for a very special and very private sneak preview of Arizona’s new 60,000 square foot behemoth, the 13th Floor Haunted House Phoenix, we expected to find a great haunted house with a few of the above elements masterfully integrated into a massive show.  What else would you expect from a partnership that couples the explosively creative minds behind the House of Torment in Austin Texas with the dynamic genius of Denver Colorado’s  Asylum and 13th Floor, right?  Well, we found that and more.  Vivid excerpts of incredible accomplishment, sexy details on the best scares and effects, and intriguing tid bits of inside information were in no short supply after a walk through this place. Below the surface though, past all of the incredible eye candy, energetic experiences, and in your face action we found a deep rooted story of old pasts, new beginnings, and forward thinking ideas that ended up being the catalyst for the production of this must see show.   So we start at the beginning, in Salt Lake City, at Rocky Point Haunted House.   

Rocky Point Haunted House had long been a show of epic proportion.  It was a haunted house that broke down barriers, pushed the envelope, and no matter if you loved it or hated it, there was a universal truth about its beauty and its detail.  For those of you too young to know or too unfortunate to have never been, Rocky Point was amazing and widely considered one of the best haunted houses in the country.  In addition to creating its own unique movie quality sets and scares, it commonly used items that at one point were actually in movies.  The producers of Rocky Point would purchase and revamp movie sets after filming would wrap.  In fact, it was so good, it had a full length feature film shot inside of its walls at one time.  Rocky Point was incredible in every way and was ran very well, but after the 2006 season a bold decision was made to lay a legend, a giant, a place of inspiration and beauty to rest and Rocky Point shut its doors.  It was opened for one last run in March of 2007, celebrated by all who came, and then in a feverish cyclone, auctioned off piece by piece.  Rocky point Haunted House, was gone.

“The Auction was surreal”  says Chris Stafford Partner, Screamworks Entertainment LLC and Managing partner 13th Floor Haunted House Phoenix.  “Things were sold at a premium which was great for Cydney.  I mean the place was an icon in the industry for so many years.  If I ever had to auction my place that’s the way I’d want it to go.  So many people showed up  but, at the end it was still sad.  After the Auction closed out and everyone got their stuff all that was left was a few used up saw all blades and a pile of dust.  The show was gone, and that was it.”

Chris Stafford and his business partner Warren Conard left that auction empty handed and headed back to Denver, CO to focus their own business.  They quickly grew their Denver operation over the next several years into a haunted powerhouse that became the market leader in a city housing over 20 competitors.  All the while in Austin Texas, a rogue wave was growing in size and force as Dan McCullough and Jon Love were developing the infamous House of Torment into a market leader of its own.  In 2008, The House of Torment crashed upon the shores of the industry by storm taking notice by many.  Chris and Warren met Jon and Dan at a tradeshow through mutual friends in the industry and over the course of the next several months formed a friend ship and then a company with one goal in mind, expansion.  Together the four developed an aggressive plan to expand into new markets and in 2010 opened the 13th Floor Haunted House San Antonio.  Their first year was a smashing success and before the dust could settle on the season the four partners were already eyeing several options for their next expansion.  After an exhaustive search and considering several options, Phoenix almost missed the cut.

“Very early into 2011 I got a call that changed everything” says Stafford.  “We were knee deep into another market and very close to pulling the trigger.  Everything was lined up and ready to go.  Then I get this call about buying a very large portion of what was once Rocky Point.  It just didn’t make sense.  I knew there were a few guys at the auction that bid on a lot of things but my assumption was that the show was scattered.  After a long conversation though it started to make sense.  At the auction there had been an individual that bid on lots of major items.  Whole room lots and had won many.  I didn’t realize how much of that show he had won until this conversation.  He had what I considered to be the ‘heart’ of Rocky Point, the most recognizable sets like the graveyard stage area, the haunted mansion, the asylum, and Pirates of the Scareibbean, and more. Turns out he had it shipped it all to Phoenix but unfortunately had gotten into a jam after a stroke of bad luck.  I was told the show was set up ready to look at. The four of us were on a plane the next day.”

After several trips, phone calls, and rounds of negotiation, Dan, Warren, Jon and Chris made a final decision on where their next location would be and executed the purchase. 
“Acquiring a majority of what used to be Rocky Point was very exciting and in many ways an honor for us.  But, most importantly, it was a place to start” says Love.

Soon after the acquisition, planning began, trips were scheduled, drawings were submitted, and a massive non stop 24/7 construction project was put into motion.  Two attractions were scheduled to be built.  First would be The 13th Floor Haunted House as a main show of which Rocky Point would be the base.  Second would be a project from the ground up that would deviate entirely from traditional haunted house design pushing innovation forward, Zombieland.  Hauntworld had a chance to tour both during the final stages of construction and simply put, this haunted house blew us away.  

The 13th Floor Phoenix

As ironic as it sounds, the 13th Floor Phoenix is really the story of a Phoenix.  Think about it.  A legendary show was closed and auctioned off.  Major components of that show were found and have now been reincarnated into what one could easily, metaphorically, refer to as a fiery beast of a haunted house.  Too much of a stretch?  Doesn’t really matter because this haunted house rocks!   Using the famed Salt Lake City show as a base, the producers of the 13th Floor have created a new vibrant and impeccably detailed haunted house that could alone be enough for the price of admission.  Meticulously crafted scares are complemented by equally detailed scenes that pay homage to classic horror before unraveling into wicked new dimensions of fear.  Like the newest installments of the Transformers or Batman movie series the producers of the 13th Floor Phoenix have done an excellent job at preserving the essence of something iconic and classic but liberally adding their own epic and current perspective at the same time.

One such example is the construction of the largest tilted room in Haunted House history that not only invades the equilibrium of patron’s minds but also features new stunts and is topped off by many legendary pieces that were once décor in Rocky Point’s Frankenstein set.  Another would be the addition of a 2,000 square foot chain saw forest that has been built by re purposing Rocky Point foliage and tress and adding in well placed new construction that takes customers through a some-what structured / some what choose your own path agonizing run of full bored torment.  And yet another example would be the dozen or so full sized hand carved custom foam worked mausoleums that inject an environment of terror into the once open grave yard by creating a twisted and winding series of scares and structures that engulf customers from all directions.
In short, everything that has been added, everything that has been changed, while paying homage to the legendary Rocky Point base it is built upon, adds an invigorating flare and fresh flavor to this haunted house.  The 13th floor is unique in this fact because it has strong and deep classical roots that can be experienced side by side with next generation sets, scares, and sequences.  When you are leave you are impressed, you are proud, your are light years beyond satisfied, you are amazed and terrified and after you catch your breath, you are ready for what’s next…

Zombieland 

“We built an apocalyptic city at the House of Torment in Austin” explains McCullough.  “That was our first experimentation in that particular thematic direction.  There were a lot of things we did that were cool, but I also learned a lot in building that show.  Our haunted house in Austin is incredible but I knew that with this theme the next great step in its true potential would be building one in a giant open space.  This was that chance.  I wanted this to be the next attraction that pushed the standard in haunt design forward.  I feel like I’ve met that goal.”

Walk into Zombieland and you’ll immediately know what Dan means.  The second show at the 13th Floor Phoenix is not a maze of wall panes or a series of 12x8 rooms.  Instead it is an intersection of two roads in a devastated apocalyptic city filled with a variety of realistic environments that enthrall you from all directions.  Massive sets built on perspective create panoramic scenes of several city blocks that are witnessed from various angles throughout the show.  Customers enter a fortified structure that walls off the city from outside view similar to something you’d see in escape from New York or LA.  Once inside customers are directed by piles of rubble, smashed vehicles and other tightly themed set pieces into and out of a variety of shops, residences, and buildings that have been ravaged by the living dead.  Spaces are tightly closed in and then suddenly vastly panoramic. No matter which way you turn you are engulfed by the scope of the city itself and then suddenly scared out of your mind by relentless attacks and special effects. 

Beyond the custom hand crafted facades and destruction, beyond the overwhelming eye popping symphony of apocalyptic beauty, the genius of Zombieland lies not just in its ferocious onslaught of action, but in its design, its layout, and fundamental idea.  “We didn’t want to build a haunted house that was simply an interior walkthrough with some peppered in exterior scenes.  We wanted every structure to make sense.  We wanted to really take people somewhere when they entered the doors to Zombieland, hold on to them through their time here, and not let them go until they walked out of the exit.” Says McCullough.  Zombieland delivers on this promise and fires on all cylinders from start to finish. 

As it stands now, the 13th Floor Phoenix is one of the most dynamic, detailed, creative and innovative haunted houses we’ve seen step foot in the Valley.  Its two attractions are each so well done yet so different they create a unique experience for those that dare to enter.  Unlike many attractions in the area they aren’t replications of the same thing (be it construction, structure, layout, etc.) with a different theme.  The 13h Floor Phoenix and Zombieland are truly individual experiences that take customers to different places for different reasons and each attraction simply put, is big.  They are both well done, action packed, detail beyond belief, and stand proud show casing the diverse talents of the production team that built them.  You won’t want to be the kid on your block that missed the 13th Floor Phoenix. 


 
TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN ARIZONA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/arizona_haunted_houses

 

  Posted by Larry 10.59 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Terror Behind the Walls Eastern State Penitentiary Featured Article
Mon, June 20, 2011
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Eastern State Terror Behind the Walls is a haunted house in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PA.  Pennsylvania Haunted Houses are some of the best haunted houses in America and Hauntworld.com will help you find Pennsylvania haunted houses but haunted houses in Philadelphia, PA .  Hauntworld.com rates and reviews the scariest Pennsylvania Haunted Houses including all Haunted Attractions around Pennsylvania including Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Philadelphia, and all Halloween and Haunted Houses in Pennsylvania.  Now read all the history, details and go behind the scenes of one of Americas SCARIEST haunted houses located in Philadelphia, PA.

 

Just blocks from the tall skyscrapers in downtown Philadelphia lies one of the most important and influential buildings ever constructed in the United States – the Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Today Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is a thriving tourist attraction open every day, twelve months a year.  Hundreds of thousands of people visit the penitentiary each year to explore the abandoned cellblocks; take “The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; and to see the history exhibits and critically acclaimed artist installations. 

Terror Behind the Walls, one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious haunted houses, takes over the cellblocks each fall.  Over the past 20 years it has grown to become one of the nation’s most recognized Halloween attractions.  It has been called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times and ranked the “Number 1 Haunted House in America” by AOL City Guide.

As the penitentiary prepares to celebrate the 20th season of Terror Behind the Walls, HauntWorld looks back at how this once revolutionary penitentiary eventually fell into obscurity with a very uncertain future, only to be ultimately resurrected as a world-class tourist attraction and home to one of the nation’s most successful Halloween events. 

When the massive, 11-acre Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, it was one of the most expensive buildings in America and the most famous prison in the world.  Unlike other prisons of the day, Eastern State’s strict system of solitary confinement was designed not only to punish the inmates, but also to reform them.   “It was a radical idea at the time,” explains Sean Kelley, Eastern State’s Director of Public Programming and PR.  “This was the world’s first true penitentiary, a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of criminals.” 

But Eastern State wasn’t only famous for its radical new prison philosophy, which later became known as the “Pennsylvania System;” it was also world renowned for its architecture.  “The penitentiary’s original seven cellblocks spread like the spokes of wheel and had running water and central heat even before the White House,” says Kelley.  In fact, Eastern State is considered to be the first large-scale modern building in the United States.
 

More than 300 prisons worldwide are modeled after Eastern State Penitentiary, making it one of the most influential buildings in history.  By the early 20th century, though, the optimism that had once surrounded the penitentiary had all but vanished.  Its once revolutionary system of solitary confinement had gradually broken down, and by 1913, Eastern State officially became a congregate prison. 

During the 20th century Eastern State operated mostly under the radar.  It was no longer famous, no longer modern, no longer on the cutting edge.  Finally, in 1971, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania closed Eastern State Penitentiary after 142 years of operation.  During this time, there were nearly 100 escape attempts; numerous riots; and more than 80,000 men and women who had called the penitentiary’s vaulted, skylight cells “home,” including the famous bank robber and escape artist “Slick Willie” Sutton and notorious gangster “Scarface” Al Capone.  

“When Eastern State was closed, there was no clear plan for its future,” explains Sara Jane Elk, Eastern State’s President and CEO.  “For twenty years, the massive penitentiary complex sat all but totally abandoned.”  Vandals smashed skylights and windows. Roofs began to fail.  Mother Nature began to consume the building; a dense urban forest grew not only outside, but also inside the buildings.  The future was uncertain.

In 1980, the City of Philadelphia purchased the penitentiary with the intent of redeveloping the site.  “Proposed plans included condominiums, a shopping center and even an amusement park,” says Elk.  However, a group of architects, preservationists and historians realized that this National Historic Landmark must be saved.  “They formed a group called the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force,” according to Elk, who was an original member, “and urged the City to reject all proposals for commercial use of the property.”  Finally, in 1988, the city agreed to save the penitentiary, and the first limited group tours of the building began.

While the Task Force was successful in saving the building from development, its work was far from finished.  Funds needed to be raised in order to stabilize the building and create a tour program.  “No one is quite sure whose idea it was to have a Halloween event at the prison,” according to Brett Bertolino, Eastern State’s Director of Operations.  “But it is certainly not a unique idea.  Even today, visitors who are unaware of our Halloween fundraiser routinely tell us, ‘This would make a perfect haunted house.’”
 

The first Halloween fundraiser at Eastern State took place in 1991.  That first year, the event was held on Halloween night only, and tickets were only available as part of a dinner package through neighborhood restaurants. The event consisted of actors telling ghost stories in the abandoned prison.  Just a few hundred people attended that first year, but it was clear that the event had had a significant impact.

“Many people don’t realize that our Halloween fundraiser actually predates our daytime tour program,” says Bertolino.  Eastern State Penitentiary didn’t open for historic tours on a daily basis until 1994.  Even then, visitors were required to wear hard hats and sign liability waivers, but more than 10,000 visitors attended that first year. 

“As the Halloween event grew, it struggled to find its own identity,” says Sean Kelley, who has been with the penitentiary since 1994.  “When we outgrew the guided ghost tour model, we briefly tried a model that would best be described as a moving theatrical show, but we found that what our guests wanted most was to be scared and that’s what we wanted to give them.”

In 1997, Eastern State’s Halloween event was rebranded as Terror Behind the Walls to distinguish it from the growing daytime prison tour program.  That same year, the event was transformed into a high startle, low gore walkthrough haunted attraction. 

“The massive Eastern State Penitentiary may be the best location in the United States for a haunted house.  With massive walls, lined with towers and arrow-slit windows, this prison was built to intimidate,” says Jason Ohlsen, Eastern State’s Associate Director for Design Services.  

Aside from its physical architecture, Eastern State also has the added advantage that the building just might actually be haunted. It’s been declared haunted by dozens of professional paranormal investigation teams and has been featured on nearly every paranormal television show, including Fox Television’s “Scariest Places on Earth,” SyFy’s  “Ghost Hunters” and the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures.”

Hosting a haunted attraction in an abandoned penitentiary also has its disadvantages at times.  “Up until 2001, every visitor to our haunted attraction had to wear a hard hat,” says Ohlsen.  Aside from the obvious disadvantage of hard hats falling to the ground each time a visitor got scared, they also limited growth of the event.  Eventually, stabilization efforts eliminated the need for hard hats, giving Ohlsen and his creative team the ability to push the boundaries of their attraction designs. 

The 2011 season will be the 20th anniversary of Terror Behind the Walls and, according to Brett Bertolino, it will be the pinnacle season since the event’s inception.  “We’re bringing back our most popular attractions, with a few new surprises, of course, and introducing two new attractions, which are our most ambitious to date.”  The 2011 season of Terror Behind the Walls will include seven attractions in all.   

Guests attending Terror Behind the Walls actually arrive at a parking lot located at the Philadelphia Zoo, a short ten-minute ride from the penitentiary.  Here they board the “Ghost Bus,” which shuttles guests to the event.  “We first launched the Ghost Bus in 2006 to test its viability,” Bertolino explains.  “Visitors were thrilled with the easy, inexpensive parking and the dramatic approach to the penitentiary by open-air trolley.”  A storyteller on each trolley tells the group about real ghost sightings in Philadelphia, including the story of the Eastern State locksmith who had a very eerie experience in a prison exercise yard.  “We advertise the Ghost Bus as an added attraction,” explains Bertolino, “and guests routinely tell us that the real ghost stories set the mood for their evening inside the abandoned penitentiary.” 

Once guests enter the penitentiary complex, they gather in a nearly 200-year-old exercise yard outside of Cellblock 7.  Here they are entertained by clips from the various paranormal television programs like “Ghost Hunters” and “Ghost Adventures” while they wait for their turn to enter Terror Behind the Walls.  However, the event’s website warns guests...not "let their guard down..."

Next guests enter the first of Terror Behind the Walls’ six interior haunted attractions – The Gauntlet. This attraction ushers visitors into the facility through a maze specifically designed to distract and disorient them from being able to find their way back out. Guards rule this area and move effortlessly above the visitors via an intricate catwalk system that allows them to drop into any scene at any time.  The zone concludes when guests board an abandoned Department of Corrections bus, which was used as a prop in the Hollywood film Transformers 2.  This exterior steel maze is brand new for 2011 and is full of surprises to prevent escape!

The second attraction, Lock Down is housed in the historic Cellblock 12, a three-story wing constructed in 1911 and believed to be one of the most haunted locations inside of the prison complex.  Here, the script has flipped and the inmates have taken control, the guards rendered powerless.  Lock Down features custom special effects that create the illusion that the walls of metal bars and cell doors are actually electrified.

Next, guests enter Infirmary, which, until this year, was the largest and most sophisticated attraction Ohlsen and his crew had created.  Infirmary is a hospital-themed haunted attraction that invites guests to explore the prison’s long-abandoned medical wing.  Startling surprises await visitors as they enter the empty operating rooms, recovery wards, and, of course, the morgue. A giant walkthrough sterilization chamber is guaranteed to induce vertigo even in guests with the strongest stomachs and minds.

Next, guests enter The Experiment: in 3D!, which is admittedly, according to Ohlsen, the event’s only attraction that is light on the prison theme.   “We introduced our first 3D haunted house in 2000 and have, over the years, seriously thought about not including 3D as part of the event. It doesn’t really fit our theme, but we’ve decided to keep one 3D haunted house in the rotation each season because that is what our guests tell us they want.”  According to Ohlsen, The Experiment: in 3D! is consistently ranked by guests as one of their favorite attractions.

After The Experiment, visitors trade in their 3D glasses for a small, handheld flashlight and enter Night Watch.  “In 2006 we introduced the concept of having visitors light their own path as they explore the final attraction,” says Bertolino.  The idea of exploring an abandoned prison with just a flashlight captured the imaginations of guests, making Night Watch an immediate crowd pleaser.

Finally, guests enter Break Out!, a brand new scare zone introduced for the 2011 season.  As visitors move toward the exit, the inmates try every way imaginable to escape, including barrels, ropes, tunnels, ladders, and crates.  “Just when you thought you were going to be released without a hitch, there may be an inmate using you for escape!” warns Kelley.  “Our goal is to entertain visitors from the moment visitors arrive until the moment they leave the property, and this new attraction helps us to do just that!”

For guests wanting the ultimate Halloween experience, the penitentiary offers the “Eastern State After Dark VIP Tour.” The evening begins with an hour-long, guided flashlight walking tour of the abandoned penitentiary. Highlights of the tour include the cellblocks, Death Row, Al Capone’s cell, and the underground punishment cells beneath Cellblock 14. Following the tour, guests are escorted to the front of the line for Terror Behind the Walls.  Each guest also receives a souvenir photo taken inside the penitentiary and a special Terror Behind the Walls LED flashlight.

“During the past 20 years, Eastern State’s Halloween fundraiser has radically changed,” explains Sara Jane Elk.  What began as a simple, low tech, single night ghost tour has grown to become one of the largest and most successful haunted attractions in the United States employing a cast and crew of more than 250 people each show night. 

Today, Terror Behind the Walls attracts more than 100,000 guests during its seven-week season each year, but Elk is quick to point out that there is one thing that has never changed – the reason the penitentiary holds a Halloween event in the first place.  “The first Halloween event was held to raise funds to open the penitentiary for daytime historic tours.  Today, Terror Behind the Walls is the single largest source of revenue for the historic site.”  All proceeds from the event benefit preservation efforts at Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark. 

                                       

 

Haunted House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  Posted by Larry 4.28 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Midwest Haunters Convention - Haunted Houses
Wed, May 25, 2011
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Midwest Haunters Convention is only days away June 3-5, 2011 with a full blown tradeshow floor, seminars, and tons of haunted house tours. During Midwest Haunters convention you can take haunted house tours in all sorts of states such as Haunted Houses in Indiana, Haunted Houses in Ohio, even Haunted Houses in Indianapolis.  Also during MHC you can experience all sorts of fun things to do like body painting, monster balls, costume contests, monster make up wars, and tons upon tons of haunted house seminars.

 

Haunted House tours, seminars, and Halloween activities over an entire weekend in Columbus, Ohio June 3rd through June 5th, 2011.

 

Are you ready for haunted house seminars, and find the scariest haunted houses around then head out to Columbus Ohio and experience Midwest Haunters Convention.  Learn more at www.midwesthauntersconvention.com.

 

 

 

 

haunted houses, haunted house tours, halloween
  Posted by Larry 5.01 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 

Find Haunted Houses, Haunted Attractions, Real haunted houses, the best and scariest attractions in the World.  Hauntworld.com is the biggest online directory for anything and everything Halloween, Haunted, Spooky, Scary and everything bump in the night.  Are you looking for the best haunted houses near you then use the Hauntworld haunt finder directory to help you locate attractions throughout America, Canada and the entire World!  Please take time to review the attractions you visit and post your reviews online for all to read.  If you are looking for any type of scary attractions from the very scary gory haunted houses to even the family friendly events like pumpkin patches, hayrides, corn mazes to even zip lines and more you will find them here on www.Hauntworld.com.  Hauntworld.com helps you find real haunted houses, zombie runs, fall festivals, Halloween and Haunted Attractions.  Hauntworld.com is also the best place to find year around haunted houses across the World including the biggest and the best haunted house attractions.  Hauntworld.com is also the only website on the web that rates and reviews haunted houses across the globe with our field of reporters reviewing only the scariest haunted houses in the country.   Now Hauntworld.com will help you stay updated on all the Zombie haunted themed attractions like Zombie Runs, and or Zombie themed haunted houses!   Do you want to learn the history of the haunted house industry then we can provide this as well Hauntworld.com is the biggest and best haunted website on the planet!  Halloween has gone crazy in America and now the World and Hauntworld.com will help you find just the right scary attraction for your next haunted encounter!  Also join our facebook page to stay updated daily!  Happy Haunt Hunting! 

 
 
 
 

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