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.
Sad Face ...
As a site, this was our fifth year covering Halloween and we've had an absolute blast.
Below are our site awards for 2018!! 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.
Also this year, we opened up the voting to you, our loyal Park Journey readers. So you'll not only see our staff picks, but yours as well.
Best Theme Park Haunt
Staff Pick - 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.
Reader Pick - Knott's Scary Farm
It was a clean sweep for the original Halloween Event, although Halloween Horror Nights Orlando and Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest did gather a tying second place vote.
Check out our Knott's Scary Farm 2018 Review
Best Non Theme Park Haunt
Staff Pick - Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
This was a tough category as there were so many amazing Non Theme Park Events that could have claimed this spot. Very close second would be ... see below.
Reader Pick - Tie: WB Horror Made Here and Queen Mary's Dark Harbor
In just it's second year, WB's Horror Made Here managed to tie one of the best and biggest events around, and for good reason. If it weren't for the readers calling this a tie, we may well have in our Staff Pick above. Congrats to WB and Dark Harbor. We hope you continue to duke it out for years to come. =)
Check out our Queen Mary's Dark Harbor 2018 Review
Check out our WB Horror Made Here 2018 Review
Best Independent Halloween Event
Staff Pick - Ghost Train
Reader Pick - Ghost Train
Another clean sweep in our Independent Haunt Category!! Congrats to the Ghost Train which manages to not only be fun for all ages, but thrilling for even the most extreme Haunt fan. Coming in second place in our Readers pick was The 17th Door, which continues to grow each year.
Best Year-to-Year upgrade of a maze location
Sewer of Lost Souls - Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain
We thought about opening this category up for the Reader Vote, but weren't quite sure how to word it. Basically, the maze that has been in this location the past few years, let's face it, kind of sucked. But not this year!! Totally revamped, no more black walls or vines everywhere, a truly unique and innovative maze was to be found.
Best Family Friendly Halloween Event
Staff Pick - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
Reader Pick - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom
It's really hard to top Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, and for good reason. Unlike most family events, Magic Kingdom gets to use their park at night for their Family Halloween event vs having nights reserved for scary stuff.
Check out our Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2018 Review
Best Home Haunt
Staff Pick - Beware The Dark Realm
This was our second year visiting this haunt near Magic Mountain, and it won't be our last. Truly ambitious and thrilling, the team at this Haunt puts on a great event, for a great cause.
Reader Pick - 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. It's no wonder our Reader's picked this as their winner.
Staff Pick - Universal Monsters at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
Truly the toughest category we had to figure out, this could have gone to any number of 5 or 6 mazes at 4 or 6 different events. But for thrills, fun, effects and talent, none was better than Universal Monsters
Reader Pick - Stranger Things at Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
This was easily the most popular maze at two different parks 2500 miles away. Stranger Things is truly epic in every way and it's not hard to see why fans loved this maze.
Best New Maze
Tie: The Depths at Knott's Scary Farm and Sewer of Lost Souls at Six Flags Magic Mountain's 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 (The Depths) a fantastic idea with a mix of great talent, technology and fun and the other (Sewer of Lost Souls) a true upgrade for Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest.
Staff Pick - Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain
The staff at Fright Fest has been together for years, has the freedom to hone their craft and create their own characters. And it shows. Despite some truly busy nights at the park this year, the staff was on top of their game all season.
Reader Pick - Knott's Scary Farm
Ghost Town, Carnevil, The Hollows ... names synonymous with amazing scares. Throw in the all new Forsaken Lake and 9 mazes and it's not hard to see why the talent of this event always gets high marks.
Best Scare Zone
Vamp 85 at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando
We all agreed, this was the scare zone to beat this year, and it's not very hard to see why. Great talent, great atmosphere and a killer soundtrack.
Special Runner Up to Holidayz in Hell at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, which we hope comes back as a fully realized maze in 2019. Especially the Thanksgiving part.
Check out our Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando 2018 Review
Best Year to Year upgrade of an existing maze
Staff Pick - Paranormal Inc at Knott's Scary Farm
Reader Pick - Paranormal Inc at Knott's Scary Farm
This one wasn't even close, almost a clean sweep for Paranormal Inc. The new ending breathed new life into the maze and it's better than ever. Even with huge upgrades to some other mazes, none came close to having the impact of Paranormal Inc.
Related Updates: +
Today we're headed to one of our very favorite places, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Their Halloween Candlelight tours are back for 2018 and are better than ever.
We were invited out to opening night of the event and Stephen has some great pics to share.
Written by Stephen Harrington
You know it's going to be an awesome time when you show up here ...
Who builds this big Victorian style house in the middle of San Jose?
The front door to Mrs. Winchester’s house.
The Winchester shooting gallery.
Halloween food offerings. Winchester always treats us so well.
Specialty drinks for the candlelight tour
Prices, ssooooooo worth it
Let's start our tour
You never know whose lurking in the shadows.
Mrs. Winchester’s hay loft and Mrs. Winchester’s wheelchair. There's something in the shadows.
Mrs. Winchester’s bedroom
Amazing tour. Looking forward to what’s in store the rest of the season.
For more information on the Winchester House and their Halloween Candlelight tours, click here. Be sure to make a full day of it and do both daytime and nighttime tours. You will not be disappointed.