Here is the second of two posts on this blog – the first was published on October 20 – which feature exhibitions and experiences with Halloween and scary themes — with an add-in for this post of thoughts on “scaring ourselves for fun.”
On Halloween eve, we just had to share in this space, a link to the ultimate Halloween site; here it is, I Love Halloween. This site is all about Halloween, not just today, but every day — yep, 365 days a year.
When you scroll through and spend some time at I Love Halloween, enforced will be just how big are the Halloween and horror and frightening culture, and associated industry, in America.
Here is something to think about — but, then again, you have probably already thought about it: people like to be scared; yes we do.
For a Halloween story for the The Atlantic (the story was published on Halloween Day 2013), Allegra Ringo interviewed Dr. Marge Kerr, a college professor, and sociologist who “studies fear.” Dr. Kerr is the author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear (2015, Public Affairs).
Consider this excerpt from the interview, which is published under the title, “Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear: The science behind the appeal of haunted houses, freak shows, and physical thrills”:
“Ringo: ‘What are some early examples of people scaring themselves on purpose?’
“Dr. Kerr: ‘Humans have been scaring themselves and each other since the birth of the species, through all kinds of methods like storytelling, jumping off cliffs, and popping out to startle each other from the recesses of some dark cave. And we’ve done this for lots of different reasons—to build group unity, to prepare kids for life in the scary world, and, of course, to control behavior. But it’s only really in the last few centuries that scaring ourselves for fun (and profit) has become a highly sought-after experience.'”
No doubt, the business of “scaring ourselves for fun” has become big business.
Think just of horror films. Then there are haunted houses, haunted farms, haunted corn mazes, haunted pumpkin patches; there are scary video games and scary virtual reality experiences.
Halloween is most celebrated in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. But far and away it is the U.S. that makes the biggest deal out of Halloween. That is not to say that we like to be scared more than other countries, because, for sure, much of the Halloween celebrating here is tied more to fun and revelry than anything else.
And, of course, there is money to be made in the “scaring ourselves for fun” business no matter the day of the year, no matter the season, but of course, for the haunted attraction industry Halloween-time is when the money is made.
There are several tradeshows dedicated to frightening and spine-chilling. Yes, there are a lot companies that make and sell products and services that are needed for haunted and scary enterprises. Looking to start your own haunted attraction? There are shows you can attend that where you will find everything you need to operate a great and absolutely terrifying haunted place and experience.
Indeed, there are companies that specialize and hold a big franchise in shows and events that cater to Halloween and the macabre and spooky and scary. One of those companies is TransWorld Tradeshows LLC.
TransWorld LLC runs shows for buyers and sellers in the haunted business. It also operates its own haunted tours.
Here is the roster of TransWorld Tradeshows properties: Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show, Escape Room City, the Premier Haunted Attractions Tour & Education Series, Room Escape Conference & Tour, the Midwest Haunters Convention, and the Legendary Haunt Tour.
The next TransWorld event scheduled is the Legendary Haunt Tour (LHT). It will be held from November 9-11 at the Crown Plaza Philadelphia – King of Prussia Hotel, and nearby areas. Among the attractions of the LHT are Reapers Revenge, Field of Screams, Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride, and the Eastern State Penitentiary Daytime Tour.
Following we take a look at some Halloween season experiences in the U.S. in which the core of those experiences is about scaring and sending a bolt of fear through people.
Orlando is one of the busiest tradeshow cities in the U.S., and the Orlando office of Willwork is one of our busiest.
University Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights is a destination experience for people the world over. This year is the 27th edition of the scarefest; it opened for the season on September 15 and runs on select nights through November 4.
For some helpful insight on what Horror Nights is about, here we share an excerpt from a story, “Run for your lives… Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights is back, and scarier than ever,” written by British journalist, Pamela Owen, and published October 6 at Metro.co.uk:
“It’s hard to explain the concept of the event if you’ve never been, but Universal’s hugely talented design team create a series of horror houses, or mazes, in the Orlando theme park. You then line up for hours to spend a few minutes walking through the houses and getting scared out of your wits. It might not sound appealing but it really is.
“The rush of adrenalin and buzz you get will leave you thinking about it for hours, if not days, afterwards. Also you’re perfectly safe, because the ‘scareactors’ are under strict instruction not to touch you, and that comes as a huge relief when you’re in the dark, surrounded by flashing lights and confronted with a scene from The Shining.”
Please click here to be taken to the full story.
Let’s travel out to the West Coast, to San Francisco, another big destination city for tradeshows and events, and busy place for Willwork. We have long operated an office in San Francisco.
Out in the cold waters of San Francisco Bay sits Alcatraz Island, on which is the facility that once housed Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, a prison that resides in American lore as a dark and scary and forbidden place. Today the penitentiary is a popular tourist attraction.
The San Francisco Dungeon, a company that offers theatrical tours of the city’s “dark and sinful past,” has developed an Alcatraz experience for Halloween. For $666 (yes, we know, not good, that number) it is offering a Halloween Eve stay is a specially outfitted recreation of an Alcatraz jail cell.
“The cell includes four twin beds, pajamas, midnight snacks, and a spooky bedtime story from a ‘dungeon resident,’” writes Kirsten Fawcett, in her story for Mental Floss about this prison-themed experience. “Breakfast is also provided the next morning, along with a goody bag”
If you click here you will be taken to the full story, titled, “For $666, You Can Spend Halloween Eve in a Recreated Jail Cell.”
Now we travel back east, stopping in the Midwest, in Chicago, to the largest haunted house in the city, and one of the scariest in the U.S.
Following is a Thrillist Chicago descriptor of the 13th Floor Haunted House:
“With beautifully detailed sets across two separate haunted houses, ‘Cursed: Purgatory’ will have you meandering amongst witches chanting demonic spells while ‘Dead End District: Freakshow’ features shadows of inhuman beasts soundtracked by screams. For an extra scare, stop by November 3 and 4 for “Blackout,” in which your group will try to make your way out of the house in total darkness with nothing but a single glow stick to light the way.”
For 2017, the 13th Floor Haunted House opened on September 22 and is open weekend nights, and select weekday nights, through November 4.
On to the East Coast, to New York City, the center of it all.
The Merchant’s House Museum in Manhattan is a landmark historic property in Manhattan and is also considered among the most haunted places in all of NYC.
On the third Friday of each month, January through July, ghost tours are conducted at the Merchant’s House Museum. During Halloween season, Candlelight Ghost Tours are held at the museum. This year the Candlelight Ghost Tour schedule is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., with 50-minute tours beginning every half hour, on October 20 and 21, and October 26-30. All tours sold out.
Halloween is a major event and a culture and industry booms and revolves around it.
Then, again, there are businesses that focus on the scary and ghostly and horror all throughout the year. There is a huge population of people who are into Halloween, and also spooky and frightening, throughout the year as well.
And it need not be said again, but we will — we like to be scared.