Are you ready for Halloween yet? I mean, if we can have Christmas in July and all the Hallmark Holiday Movies that come with it, then why not Halloween as well!!
This past weekend was the unofficial kick-off (well, official for many of us) of the Halloween Season. And it came just when we needed it most!! We have SO much to get to from this years event, which was bigger and better than ever. So big in fact that there were about 10-15 things on our "must see" list that we totally didn't get to see.
But as you can see below, what we did see was all kinds of amazing. Let's head into the fog!!
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Midsummer Scream
Before we get too deep into the in's and out's of panels and more I want to share something I posted on our social media the other day. A few thoughts on the experience of the weekend.
More than amazing panels, or fog, or mazes or aisles upon aisles of amazing things to spend all your money on, what I take most out of this past weekend is love.
People who have never been to any Halloween event or MSS are missing out. Halloween brought all of these people together. Some were there to see Theme Park panels. Others to see YouTube stars or just to shop. But all were there because we love Halloween and all things that go bump in the night.
Not once the entire weekend did I see anybody acting out, everybody was polite, considerate and amazing. And it was CROWDED. We talked with people we know, and met so many new people just standing around waiting in line.
None of the actual horrors that exist out in the world made it's way into Midsummer Scream. I know it may sound hard to separate the two, but it's not. It's all about a shared love of horror and Halloween.
And it comes down to the people in charge. They've helped to create a culture of love and acceptance that is at the core of the Haunt Community. And it's so amazing
With that said, let's first head into the Hall of Shadows
The Tiki's have invaded Midsummer Scream, and were an amazing entry to the area.
Tiki Tiki Tiki!!! How about some video of the Hall of Shadows featuring some of our favorite maze walk-throughs that you all need to visit this Halloween season.
One of our absolute favorite Haunts
We kind of split up our coverage this year, DSLR on Saturday and Hand-Held Gimble on Sunday. We wanted to make sure we captured all we could.
Some amazing displays were on, well, display. =)
Most of the Haunts were very short and gave a nice tease of what's to come. Some were longer and made you wonder how they got so much in a small space.
Our weekend consisted of a LOT of panels. I think two major ones on Saturday (and a Podcast) and three on Sunday.
Our panels started off with the AMAZING 50 years of The Haunted Mansion panel. And it was standing room only.
Our view for much of the weekend
The Midsummer Scream Dream Team
We were going to live-stream this but service was spotty at best. In hindsight I wish we would have recorded and edited everything together. Lesson learned.
Here is the full panel in three parts. It's truly amazing to listen to his talented group of people talk about an attraction they love so much.
Part One: Bob Gurr and Tony Baxter talk about their experiences with The Haunted Mansion and proof that the Hatbox Ghost was indeed there at the beginning.
Part Two features Don Hahn talking a bit about the Haunted Mansion movie (I really would love to get more in-depth with this some day) and Tom Morris discussing some of the in's and out's of the attractions construction.
Tom also had a panel on Sunday that went deeper into this that we sadly had to miss.
The last segment features Tania Norris in her first live-panel anywhere talking about her experiences with The Haunted Mansion and Walt Disney. It was truly a treat.
We could have listened to his panel for hours upon hours. And I know we weren't alone.
Later that day we attended the Halloween Horror Nights Panel where they announced Creepshow. It was ana amazing panel that we were able to Live-Stream.
Sadly the quality probably isn't up to our normal standards but here it is in it's entirety nonetheless.
Slideshow of all of the images from the presentation including Creepshow, Holidayz in Hell and the Scare Zones.
Bright and early Sunday it was time to spend more time in the Hall of Shadows prior to the Haunted Hayride panel.
They had an awesome display at the entrance of the show floor.
During the panel they announced Midnight Falls. We are seriously excited for the event this year.
The full panel featuring all of the info on Midnight Falls, some chat about the history of the event and a great Q&A session.
It sounds like they may have a few surprises in store for us that they didn't announce.
Immediately after was the panel for Queen Mary's Dark Harbor. But first we had to run downstairs and get a picture with some old friends.
Last and absolutely not least was the last panel of the weekend for Knott's Scary Farm.
The event that started it all did not disappoint and there are some treats in store for fans this year.
Dates for this years event, we'll see you there on opening and closing night for sure!! And a whole bunch in-between. Knott's Scary Farm passes FTW!!
Video of our live stream of the panel, this one seemed to turn out WAY better than the HHN panel.
No new mazes announced at Midsummer Scream (they'll do that on August 29th, and we will of course be there) but they did announce some new surprises for returning mazes.
One of our personal favorites, Dark Ride, will be getting two new rooms this year.
First up the Surveillance Room which is replacing the Air Duct Room in the maze.
And lastly, what's a Dark Ride that doesn't exit through the Gift Shop!?!?!
Two new characters are coming as well.
Any chances of getting those Castle of Chaos shirts for sale?
One of the coolest announcements of the entire weekend, that I think may be getting overlooked ...
Knott's will now be selling "graveyard pins" for retiring mazes. So at least one that will be available is for Infected, who's last year will be this year.
They will also be selling a "graveyard" that you can put your pins on.
REALLY hope they are going to release pins for some other retired mazes. What an awesome way to remember some of our favorites.
Just because Infected is going away doesn't mean it's not getting a couple of enhancements for 2019.
And that's a wrap!!
Never too early to start making plans for Midsummer Scream 2020.
We'll be there for sure!!
Well, it's finally here. The end of the Haunt Season.
As a site, this was our third year covering Halloween and we've had an absolute blast. We attended more Haunts this year than any other year, and it still was just a drop in the proverbial bucket.
Below are our rankings, this is by no means a complete list of everything that is out there. Some of these events still have some nights coming up this weekend so be sure to check them out if you haven't already.
If you missed ANY of our Halloween Updates be sure to check them out.
Best Theme Park Haunt - Knott's Scary Farm
With the addition of new mazes and the freshening up of some previous years mazes it was another banner year for the amazing Knott's Scary Farm.
Small improvements like the Skeleton Key rooms and new effects in mazes made the event seem fresh. The moving of Infected from Camp Snoopy to it's own maze not only made the overall experience for Infected that much better but freed up Camp Snoopy for an all new Scare Zone.
Best Independent Haunt - Motel 6 Feet Under
This was a tough category as there were 3 amazing Independent Haunts that could have claimed this spot (we'll touch on those below). But this event works in every way, not because it's extreme, not because it's gory, but because it's just a FUN Haunted House.
Motel 6 Feet Under is open this weekend (November 2 through 5) so if you missed this you still have a chance.
Best Home Haunt - Backwoods
So let's say you go to some imaginary "Haunt Graveyard" and get animatronics and sets that basically tells the history of Southern California Scary Events and put them all in your house. And then it all works in an amazing way. That's what Backwoods is and it's amazing.
Best Maze - The Exorcist (Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood AND Orlando)
Yep, this maze was our favorite at two separate events 2500 miles apart. And for VERY different reasons. The Hollywood Maze edges out the Orlando maze EVER so slightly but this maze had the perfect blend of storytelling and amazing effects.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Unviersal Orlando are both open November 4 and 5
Best Scare Zones - Fright Fest - Six Flags Magic Mountain
This is now the third year SFMM has taken this award from us and for good reason. SFMM is HUGE but they manage to pull off filling almost every inch of their park with monsters and the best make-up team in the business.
We will say that there were a few dead spots this year (namely on the back side of the park). We are pretty sure this was because the area around Riddlers was supposed to close prior to Fright Fest and then they decided to keep it open. The Suicide Squad scare zone was great and we hope we'll see the expansion of the DC Universe Scare Zone into Metropolis for next years event. We'd also like to see the expansion of The Ruins near Apocalypse.
Best Talent - Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
This category wasn't even close. The talent at Dark Harbor has so much freedom it's really hard for the other events to compare.
Not tied to any corporate structure they are free to interact with the guests as they see fit, free to do things that other parks would freak out about while still maintaining safety for themselves and guests.
Best New Maze - (tie) Shadowlands - Knott's Scary Farm and Aftermath 2 - Fright Fest
We typically exclude Halloween Horror Nights from this category as they don't tend to repeat mazes, but that's not to take away anything from these two amazing mazes. One (Shadowlands) a completely original idea that we've never seen before and the other (Aftermath 2) a resurrection of a previous maze but on steroids.
Best Returning Maze - Reign of Terror
If you've never done Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks you are really missing out. This event is on par and in some ways exceeds even the biggest and baddest theme park haunt maze. The talent here is amazing and the size of the haunt is staggering. It takes a good 20-25 minutes to get through the entire event. And something we've never seen before, in-maze line control that totally works.
While this is the best "Returning" maze, they change it up enough each year to keep it fresh and exciting and you shouldn't miss Reign of Terror in 2017.
Best "First Year" Event - Gorlesque
With so many existing Haunts in Southern California you'd think there wasn't room for anything new. You'd be wrong. But you've gotta be different to make a splash, and Gorlesque found that happy place between interactive, scary, sexy and amazing. One of the most talked about events for 2016. We can't wait to see what they come up with for 2017.
Best Haunted Ride: Crash Test Zombies - Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
How do you make awesome bumper cars even better? How about adding Zombies and naming it after an obscure Canadian band from the early 90's with a hit song that still doesn't make any sense (not sure if that last part is actually true ... well, MmmmMmmmMmmmMmmm still doesn't make any sense).
Best Family Event: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
Haunted Events are getting better every year, but so are the family events. But there's something about this party at the Magic Kingdom that's just so special and fun each and every year.
Best "New To Us" Haunt - Sinister Pointe: Fear The Mark
There are SO many events to cover that we only get to see so many each year, which is why we hadn't been to Sinister Pointe before. And now I'm sad because we had such a scary good time at this event and their 4 realms. To be fair, some of us on the staff had experienced Sinister Pointe before, but we'd never reviewed it as a website.
Sinister Pointe is open the next two weekends (November 4 and 5 / November 11 and 12) so be sure to get your "Mark" before it's too late
This past weekend we were invited to check out the Los Angeles Hayride for 2016 which has undergone some pretty significant changes this year, all for the better as far as we're concerned.
Below check out all of the pictures and video of this years event below.
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, a truly unique haunt in Southern California
While the hayride is always fun and unique, I have to admit that last years event was kind of a let-down. They had expanded to New York last year and it felt like the LA event was kind of an afterthought. While we had fun at the event, we just felt it didn't quite live up to previous years.
We are VERY happy to say that this is most definitely not the case in 2016.
Hmm, where should we start first?
Let's go check out the Hayride of course
In order to get the proper number of people in each tractor they pre-load you in cages prior to the ride, where of course you're given a safety spiel.
Below is our highlight video of the Hayride, which had an all new element this year, the ability to actually leave the ride and do a maze in the middle of it. And it worked brilliantly.
The sets seemed much bigger and better this year
Some incredible effects
Once you leave the safety of the tractor it's open season
Welcome to the secret society
Back this year is the always fun Scary Go Round
The past few years the LA Haunted Hayride has tried a few different kinds of mazes, some worked, some didn't but all were unique.
This years version is not only unique, but also is a LOT of fun. It's basically Trick or Treating through a small neighborhood and you actually get candy.
Of course, tricks could be in order
The sets and talent are fantastic
And some nice old school special effects as well
Be careful where you knock
Trick or Treat?
The blackout maze is also back and was also much improved this year. Not only was there the maze part where you can totally get lost but there were some nice show scenes added that really added to the overall experience.
As always there was a celebrity black carpet and the LAHH was kind enough to send us some pictures.
Overall this is a return to form for the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride and if you've been putting it off this year, don't. It's a great night of fun in Griffith Park.
For more information on the LAHH you can click here for the press release, also be aware that there are some Groupon offers available for you to check out.