Scariest Haunted Houses in Ohio - Factory of Terror Canton Ohio
Canton, Ohio - Factory Of Terror
By Hauntworld Magazine
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To learn more about Ohio's Factory Of Terror visit their websit below:
This enormous haunt is more than a mile long and consists of five unique spine-chilling attractions; The Asylum, Industrial Nightmare, Labyrinth of Darkness, Massacre on Mahoning, and The House of Nightmares. All five attractions (or scare zones) operate linearly and are re-queued along the way to maintain spacing between groups. Every haunt’s queue line is indoors and out of the weather, a big plus when dealing with NE Ohio’s unpredictable weather. To take advantage of every minute, talented actors and performers are scattered throughout the queue lines to entertain patrons as they anxiously await to enter each attraction.
Halfway through the heart-pounding tour, patrons can take a breather and enjoy concessions with their friends at the “Monster Midway”. Here, guests can also have some fun with the plethora of photo ops. Over the years, this once quick pass-through area has emerged into a fun filled gathering place full of activities. It also allows timid patrons time to calm down, regroup, and gather their courage to continue on.
Not only do these five attractions have some of the most HIGHLY DETAILED AND ELABORATE SETS in the haunt industry, they are paired with an incredibly talented team of scare-actors and specialty performers. The Factory of Terror employs over 130 actors and staff, in addition to more than 500 of the industry's scariest monsters and high tech animatronics. The Factory of Terror has committed itself to keeping up with current product developments in the industry as well as the trends of the culture, both of which are reflected in the guests' experience.
Your journey begins in the Asylum, filled with the crazy and the corky. Deep in the heart of the Asylum you will experience the best mirror maze in the country.This perfectly engineered reflective and disorienting mindgame completely absorbs your sense of direction, making you question whether “seeing is really believing”. Many customers revisit this attraction to “figure out the secrets”, only to be victimized again by their own delusions of control.
Industrial Nightmare showcases and brings to life dangerous details from the original factory, while taking you to a time in history that cared very little about safety and security. It is Industrial Nightmare that truly reflects the industrialism and terror that makes this haunt so unique.
LABYRINTH OF DARKNESS
Labyrinth of Darkness is just as it sounds. Full of dark ghouls of horror, you’ll find yourself lost and confused yet again as you’re thrown into these dismal corridors of the dead. Be warned, these blood thirsting creatures aren’t the only things you have to worry about…
MASSACRE ON MAHONING
Why is there a mansion in middle of a factory? As the story goes, the aluminum foundry was unable to turn a profit. Convinced that the workers were to blame for his losses, the owner, Mr. Winters, decided to build a house in the middle of the production line. His constant presence was remarkably effective until his mind became fragile due to the dark, desolate environment. Using the factory’s own tools and equipment, Mr. Winters went on a random killing spree before adding his personal cemetery inside the walls of his factory mansion.
HOUSE OF NIGHTMARES
The House of Nightmares, a literal nightmare, is a highly detailed haunt containing a mixture of animations, blood, guts, and gore…promising to leave you with many disturbing memories. If and when you get out, it won't be with your senses in tact.
The Factory of Terror originated within the walls of the old Hercules Engine Factory on Market Avenue in downtown Canton, Ohio. The factory opened in 2000; however, being located in the middle of the city offered multiple challenges. Therefore, in 2008, after running out of space and facing parking issues, owner John R. Eslich decided to pack up and move the entire attraction.
The current facility, also located in Canton, Ohio was a former aluminum foundry, which once manufactured intake and exhaust manifolds (engine parts) for the automobile industry. Some of the parts produced at this facility are now showcased in various sections within the attractions.
The entire factory is situated on 7.5 acres of land. It consists of 150,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space, as well as 10,000 square feet of additional office space. Of that enormous space, the Factory of Terror attractions consume approximately 115,000 square feet. The former factory employee entrance and guardhouse has been converted into the attraction’s ticket booth. The automotive offices and sales showrooms were transformed into makeup and costume studios, corporate offices, actor lounge, VIP greenroom, control center, surveillance rooms, and even escape rooms. (Escape Canton is their newest project which features 6 escape rooms that are open year-round!)
We caught up with John R. Eslich, owner and president of Factory of Terror, to reflect on what it takes to operate the massive production.
"We have poured so much blood, sweat, and tears into what the Factory of Terror has become today. The most gratifying part of owning a Haunted Attraction is seeing customers create unforgettable memories with their friends. I'm very proud of our entire crew, from actors to ticketing staff, to designers…for working together and creating such an amazing production. It truly is a reflection of a strong team of many talented individuals."
How much staff does it take to operate the World’s Longest Haunted House?
"Each night, it takes approximately 130 people to operate the World’s Longest Haunted House. This includes fire and police support as well as supervisors, actors, make-up artists, box office employees, custodial, and support staff. Most of our employees are seasonal but we maintain 6-10 full time staff year-round. Contrary to popular belief, the work never stops."
How do you prepare such a large group of actors each night?
"The key to having all of our actors in full character and ready to scare in a short amount of time is good planning and great execution. Actors start arriving at the factory for makeup and costuming around 4:00pm, roughly three hours before the show starts. By 6:00pm most of the staff is on-site and getting ready for the night. A team member checks them in and distributes their costumes. We do not use masks; therefore, all actors must report to the makeup department. Then, one of 8-10 special FX artists begin applying makeup and prosthetics to transform ordinary people into extraordinary characters. Our team works together to produce the most horrifying and realistic characters in order to give our guests the best possible experience."
How important is branding and marketing to your success?
"Branding is very important to us and a strong marketing campaign is critical in delivering the details of our product to the consumer. Each year we create original videos and promotional photos by using a mix of in-house, local, and well-known photographers and videographers. Months of preparation are necessary before releasing our marketing content.
Alyssa Schipani, owner of DesignByAly.com shot all the photos in this article and recently wrapped up another professional photo shoot for our 2016 season. These images, combined with our original logos, create brand awareness. The pre-season marketing efforts ultimately sets the mood, long before guests ever purchase a ticket. It's critical to us that we stay ahead of the game on marketing in our industry. Not only are we creating our own unique brand, we offer various ways for patrons to connect with us. They can save money on tickets by utilizing social media, mailing lists, text blasts, and radio contests. You can even find us in the local Canton visitor travel guides. Guests can sign up on our website FOTohio.com to receive special offers via text and email."
Since there is so much space, do you offer any other events or off-season events?
"Five years ago, we made a commitment to open on every Friday the 13th –no matter what month it occurred. Some months were very difficult, like winter months with six inches of snow and 10 degree temperatures. We were the first haunted house in Ohio to attempt these “out of season events”. Today, other haunts in Ohio are starting to follow this tradition and open their doors in the off-season. If you are considering it, be advised that it is definitely more difficult than regular season operations, so do your homework."
Interesting Off-Season Facts:
*In 2013 and again in 2015, The Factory of Terror opened and closed the season on a Friday the 13th.
*Our newest tradition is opening for St. Patrick’s Day. Who doesn’t like St. Patrick’s Day? Who doesn’t like haunting? The Factory’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration with be on March 12 of this year which will be our 2nd time hosting the event.
*In September 2015, we established Escape Canton, which features six high tech escape rooms. These rooms are fully interactive and incorporate physical games. Essentially, a group of willing participants are locked in a themed room with the ultimate goal/challenge of escaping and completing the mission. The group must work together and use elements around them to find clues and solve puzzles in order to escape the room within a certain time limit. Our escape rooms are tons fun and provide excellent team building activities with riddles and mental challenges along the way! We have had a lot of local corporations and businesses rent out the rooms for meetings, seminars, and team building events.
*Four of our escape rooms are located inside the factory and open year-round. The other two are mobile units than can be transported to any location including local fairs and events. You can find out more about our escape rooms at EscapeCanton.com.
What do you think was your biggest mistake when getting into the haunt business?
I think one of my biggest mistakes when starting out was not networking with other haunters and attending trade shows. After I attended the HAuNTcon show in 2007, I think I have only missed 2 out of next 36 when counting HAuNTcon, MHC, TransWorld, and IAAPA. I have been to every Legendary Haunt Tour and look forward to continuing to attend all these tradeshows. I have found that the networking and friendships acquired at these shows is invaluable.
This year, The Factory of Terror will be the host location for the 1st Annual Haunters Weekend. This is an educational and interactive event developed by Dan Hower, Alyssa Schipani, and myself. I'm really excited about it. Haunters Weekend will be the first educational event to take place inside a PROFESSIONAL HAUNTED ATTRACTION where you will build ACTUAL SETS! –That’s right, everything will take place inside the haunted attraction. The primary focus of Haunters Weekend is hands-on workshops and demonstrations, but it will also offer networking, social activities, and even inspirational tours. Even better, attendees will learn techniques and trade secrets directly from elite vendors and designers in the haunt industry. Haunters Weekend was created to give haunters the opportunity to "learn by doing" and to be able to obtain skills that aren't always possible in a conference room environment.
Haunters are going to have a blast working with power tools, pneumatics, pyrotechnics, paint sprayers, stilts, sound systems, prop controllers and more. For example, when you register for a lighting design class, you will walk in a real set with no lights and by the end of the class, attendees will have learned what lights to use, what controllers to use, and most importantly, how to install all of these things hands-on. When the class is complete, the set will be fully lit. That is how each class is designed. Of course, there will also be a lights-on tour of Factory of Terror exclusively for registered attendees. The three day event will start on Friday, May 13th and continue on May 14, and 15, 2016. There are limited spots available for select classes. For more information or to register, go to HauntersWeekend.com.
What was one of the best things you have done in the haunt business?
The best thing was to join the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA). The Haunted Attraction Association is the only official Association for the haunt industry. HAA represents professional haunted attraction owners, operators, designers, vendors, enthusiasts, and artists. More importantly, it's a portal for exchanging ideas, information, and experiences via conferences, networking events, message boards, newsletters, and more. HAA is a program that I can really give back to and help make the industry better as a whole.
The HAA is operated by a Board of Directors. Every member of the Board has years of experience and is considered an expert in the haunt industry, for one reason or another. HAA members are encouraged to reach out to any Board member for advice or consultation at any time. I was elected to The Board of Directors in 2012 and held the office of Treasurer. For the past two years, I have held the office of President.
HAA’s mission is to promote, protect, and educate. The HAA strives to inform the haunt industry through an amazing education program called C.H.A.O.S. C.H.A.O.S. is offered each year at the TransWorld Halloween and Attractions show. Here, haunt owners and operators learn the necessary steps and procedures of operating a safe attraction. After completing the safety course, they receive a certificate that can be used to show their fire marshal, insurance carrier, and local authority demonstrating their commitment and desire to run a safe haunted attraction.
The best advice I can give is to get involved, ask questions, and share information. Chances are, it will make you smarter, help you operate a safer and more efficient attraction, and establish lifelong friendships.
Factory of Terror
4125 Mahoning Rd NE, Canton, OH 44705
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