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? After consulting a host of experts, Patrick Konopelski, President of the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA), the only official association in the haunt industry, found the answer. 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.
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.
According to Dick Terhune, owner of The Dark Walk attraction in Andover, Conn., “Every haunt season we have to compete with every other entertainment experiences that our guests enjoy, including sporting events, live concerts, clubs, TV, movies and Internet and video games.”
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As there are so many activities that could potentially distract patrons from visiting his attraction, he strives to create a haunted experience that will keep his visitors fully engaged and entertained. In order to do this, Terhune believes that a well-defined interactive story that moves his guests through the attraction, much like a movie or video game, is more effective than random, unrelated scares. His haunted attraction, he says, “Utilizes live scare elements in both indoor and outdoor settings to create an immersive ambiance and a unique brand of interactive Halloween theatre.”
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.
Konopelski reports that 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.” The Dark Walk’s Terhune agrees, “Attractions must increasingly improve their special effects each year in order to keep up with consumer demand.”
The Haunted Attraction Association, the only official association in the haunt industry, serves as the voice of the haunted attraction industry. Their mission is to promote our worldwide network of haunted attractions including Haunted Houses, Haunted Hayrides, Scream Parks, Mega-Haunts, Halloween Festivals, Haunted Outdoor Trails, Corn Mazes, and Amusement Park Halloween Events. In addition our goal is to protect our customers through education and networking of our members. Visit www.hauntedattractionassociation.com or call 888-320-8494.