Halloween proves big business for theme parks as guests flock for fright nights

by Tom Anstey | 06 Oct 2014

Attractions worldwide are gearing up for Halloween 2014 with a selection of shows designed to shock, terrify and amaze those in search of a fun-filled fright in October.

Horror attractions have become increasingly popular in recent years with attractions operators seeing value in giving their customer a slight scare, all in the name of fun of course! Among the many horror attractions on offer, some of the most notable include:

Universal Orlando, Florida, US

Universal’s annual Halloween Horror Nights events are proving ever popular, even more so with AMC’s hit TV show The Walking Dead making its return to the park in the shape of a horror maze.

Returning for the second year throughout October as a series of horror mazes, the pop-up attraction is inspired by the TV show’s fourth season and will have guests ‘flee’ the West Georgia Correctional Facility now overrun by walkers (zombies). The maze also offers cross-promotion, coinciding with the show’s fifth season which also starts airing in the US this October.

Not only will Universal Orlando guests get the opportunity to flee from a horde of flesh-hungry zombies, but they will also get the chance to explore a psychedelic 3D clown maze with a musical score composed by iconic rock guitarist Slash, though the attraction is “not recommended for anyone with coulrophobia (fear of clowns)."

Other popular horror brands on display at the park include Michael Myers in Halloween, Alien Vs Predator, The Purge, From Dusk till Dawn and Dracula Reign of Blood, as well as original horror mazes Roanoke: Cannibal Colony and the Dollhouse of the Damned.

The Queen Mary, California, US

Throughout this month the entire RMS Queen Mary cruise vessel – retired from active service in 1967 and now docked in Long Beach, California as a hotel and visitor attraction – returns with ‘Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor’, an event comprising two new mazes and an array of new attractions including a Voodoo Village.

The two mazes will take guests through never-before visited areas of the ship with actors on hand to give intrepid visitors a fright, dressed as the likes of ‘The Ringmaster’ and ‘the grotesque spirits of the Queen Mary’.

Voodoo Village will feature ‘dark magic gypsies’ that will taunt guests passing by against a backdrop of shrunken heads and voodoo dolls, while debuting at Dark Harbor – and only for the very bravest – will be an encounter aboard the Queen Mary that will require a signed waiver to participate.

Also included will be a Monster Midway area acting as a centrepiece for the attraction and a horror circus located in an outdoor dome just off the ship.

Thorpe Park, Surrey, UK

Thorpe Park, which recently took to Tinder to attract Halloween revellers, is entering the 13th year of its popular Fright Night event and is introducing a new horror maze, with 13 new characters also thrown into the mix.

The latest attraction, Studio 13, is an immersive maze with a backdrop of bloodied make-up booths, deserted motel-themed sets, hanging body bags and a series of horror characters on the hunt for fresh kill.

Aside from Studio 13, Thorpe Park is bringing back previous horror attractions including The Blair Witch Project, My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Cabin in the Woods and Saw – which is also the theme for the park’s most popular rollercoaster.

Pennhurst Asylum, Pennsylvania, US

With multiple awards for being the scariest haunted attraction in the world, Pennhurst Asylum is not for the faint-hearted.

Opening for the Halloween season and designed by Rogues Hollow Productions, Pennhurst Asylum features a hospital themed walk-through attraction. Located on the upper floors of a former mental hospital which dates to 1908, the attraction comprises a combination of high tech animatronics, digital sound and real-life actors.

Six Flags Over Georgia, US

Six Flags has gone for the more family-friendly option this Halloween, with day-time events including activities like a corn maze, harvest festival, pumpkin painting and spooky stories, with children aged 12 and under invited to dress up for a costume contest. By night however, things turn scarier when Fright Fest, including ZX-1 – a haunted zone where a "deadly infection" is "wiping out mankind" – opens up to thrillseeking punters. Also included are a range of returning horror attractions such as Dr Fright’s Frightorium, the Monster Graveyard and Dracula’s Lair.

13th Floor Haunted House, Colorado, US

Now in its fifth season and known as one of the best horror attractions worldwide, the popular 13th Floor Haunted House is planning to expand to new markets across the US following a merger with fellow horror operator House of Torment.

The company will operate under the name 13th Floor Entertainment and will be based in Denver, though the House of Torment will keep its office in Austin and continue to operate the production and construction facilities in San Antonio.

The company operates with a year-round staff of 25 people that grows to more than 1,000 seasonal workers each Halloween.

Attractions worldwide are gearing up for Halloween 2014 with a selection of shows designed to shock, terrify and amaze those in search of a fun-filled fright in October. Horror attractions have become increasingly popular in recent years with attractions operators seeing value in giving their customer a slight scare, all in the name of fun of course! Among the many horror attractions on offer, some of the most notable include:
The Walking Dead is one of the premier horror attractions to make an appearance this October / Universal Orlando
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