Thrills and Chills- The Haunt Season Intensifies

It may only be the middle of June, but the Haunted House industry is starting to awaken from its long slumber.  This is the time of year where plans are drawn and announcements are made.  Soon construction will begin and tickets will be sold.  Before we know it, the cold winds of Fall will be upon us and we’ll be huddled together as we navigate the latest haunted attraction.

But, until then, let’s focus on the here and now.  As I said before, this is the time of year when we start to see the announcements come trickling out.  Whether it’s a major theme park announcing their next big licensing deal or a local haunt revealing that they’ll be returning for another year, they all like to get the word out during summer so that there’s plenty of time to build anticipation.

The first theme park out of the gate this year was Universal Studios this week as both Orlando and Hollywood made a joint announcement about “The Walking Dead” returning for a third year.  But that’s not the only info that was put out this week.  Orlando also revealed that they’ll be putting up eight new houses this year:

From September 19 through November 1, 2014, you’ll be completely immersed in the worlds of the biggest names in horror as you explore eight terrifying haunted houses, make your way through multiple street experiences where creatures lurk around every turn and enjoy outrageous live shows.

They also posted a new video talking about the upcoming “Walking Dead” house, which is said to be their largest house yet and will take up an entire soundstage.  The new maze will feature every big moment from the second-half of season four.  This means we’ll see everything from the last days of the prison, the moonshine shack, the country club, the long dark tunnel, and Terminus.

Honestly, the tunnel section is the one I’m looking forward too the most.  The idea of walking down a long dark path with zombies all around you is brilliant for a haunted house attraction.  What would be really awesome is if you could equip people with dim flashlights so they’d have to walk through that part of the maze in pitch black.  I realize that would never happen, but that would be my dream scenario.

Here’s a video of Universal Orlando Creative Director Mike Aiello discussing the maze.

Also making an announcement this week was Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare.  If you live in California you might have had the opportunity to experience the new attraction last year when it made its grand debut in Pomona, California.

I heard mixed things about the haunted attraction, so you may or may not be disappointed to learn that Rob Zombie is taking his Halloween event and relocating it to Arizona.  This years event will feature three mazes based on Rob Zombie projects such as: “The Devils Rejects”, “The Lords of Salem in Total Black Out”, and “Captain Spaulding’s Clown School in 3D.”  You can learn more about the mazes here.

I have to wonder why Rob Zombie pulled up stakes from California and relocated to Arizona.  It could be that the mixed reviews from last year warranted a fresh start in a new location.  However, I think a less cynical view is that there’s less competition in Arizona.

There are tons of places to go in California during Halloween.  Just about every city has some major event and then there are dozens of little attractions to visit.  With each one nibbling at the Halloween pie, it’s hard to get a decent chunk.  I think by relocating to Arizona, they have the chance to really establish themselves without being overshadowed by the bigger fish.  Honestly, it’s a smart move and I still think that an attraction based around Rob Zombie’s projects is a brilliant business model.  Hopefully this fresh start gives them an opportunity to really make a name for themselves in the haunted house industry.

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