EERIE AND MYSTERIOUS YET FRIGHTINGLY FUN
~ Thanks to the Influence of Video Games, Technology and Increasing Collaboration, Haunted Attractions are Scaring as Never Before ~
WINNETKA, Ill., Oct. 17, 2012 – Year after year haunted attractions around the country and across the globe must come up with new and exciting ways to shock and spook their patrons. The question is, where exactly do they find their inspiration? Video games and new technology, along with internal collaboration among the minds of each creative team as haunts grow in size and, of course, customer feedback, are leading sources of inspiration for haunted attractions.
Many individuals find a rush from playing video games as they are thrilling yet risk-free. Much like a haunted attraction, people enjoy the excitement and the uncertainty but they know there is no real threat of physical danger or harm
Since the golden age of video arcade games in the early 1980s, when dozens of manufacturers entered the market, video gaming has been a popular form of entertainment and an ever-growing mainstream hobby, generally for ages 18 and up. This fascination with video games stems from the idea that people enjoy being part of a story and doing things they wouldn’t necessarily get to do, such as take part in a high-speed car chase. While this fixation with gaming continues to grow, haunted attractions around the world continue to be influenced.
Neena Collins, producer of ScareAtorium in Dublin, Ohio, notes that video games have influenced her haunt offerings, as patrons are increasingly demanding more impressive and interactive venue experiences. In response, she advises, “We must progressively improve our haunted attraction’s special effects each year in terms of set operations and animatronics as well as in costuming and makeup artistry.” As video games become ever more sophisticated and movies more gruesome, “We are influenced by them and compete with them,” explains Collins.
When it comes down to strategizing the set, haunted attraction owners know that plain black walls just won’t cut it. In order to effectively create a thrilling environment for patrons, attraction owners are now incorporating detailed movie and theater set designs into their haunts. Additionally, with the advanced technology that is now available, haunted attractions are able to simultaneously control doors, monsters, signs and anything else that can pop out at you, while also providing spooky artwork for the walls and props for the haunters. Technology has greatly impacted haunt operations. With the advent of computers and the lower costs now associated with them, the haunt industry is now able to really capitalize on animatronics, video production and sound and lighting effects. Dark Attractions must increasingly improve their special effects each year in order to keep up with consumer demand.
Creative Collaboration and Input from the Marketplace
Jim Schopf, owner of Field of Screams LLC in Lancaster, PA, explains how his haunted house attraction gets more and more daunting every year. “Our team is constantly brainstorming new and fresh ways to scare our guests,” says Schopf. “The great thing about having such an
extensive crew is that we all come to the creative sessions with different viewpoints. Some of our members love movies, some love real haunted places, some are gamers, and some have seen products that are available in our industry and have ideas on how to incorporate them to get a great scare.”
Schopf continues, “Our inspiration stems from many external sources as well as from our own creativity. The end result is collaboration from the ‘sick and twisted’ minds of our creative team.”
When his team collaborates, they are able to use the talents of each member along with new technologies to create an incredible scene filled with awesome scares and great effects. “We have one goal in mind and that is to create a realistic haunt scene that appears threatening, disgusting or dangerous. We prey on people’s fears, embellish them, and attack them,” concludes Schopf.
ScareAtorium’s Collins shares that she too, in addition to being influenced by videos games, finds inspiration internally. “Much of our inspiration comes from within our creative minds and hearts collective. Through talking to people, which is something we do all year, and finding out what they are afraid of and observing customer reactions to scares.” Collins explains that, at her attraction, they are always tweaking scenes and coaching actors in order to make the best and most spooky environment for patrons.
With the popularity of haunted attraction entertainment increasing steadily every year, the haunt industry, which includes an estimated 2,500 haunted attractions worldwide, will continue to forge new territory in scaring patrons.