The New Hauntness panel at Midsummer Scream gave us a fascinating look at the people behind the screams (hehe, sorry) of three new rookie haunts that had their first year in 2015: The 17th Door, CreepLA, Motel 6 Feet Under, and The Fleshyard.
Robbie Luther, who with his wife Heather created The 17th Door, says his haunt started with a whip of an idea while going through a different very popular and commercial haunt: I could do a lot better than that. Even though he had never had any scaring experience or ever even dreamed of opening this kind of business, he and his wife decided to do just that.
Justin Fix started life as an actor before he decided to go in a different (very different) direction with CreepLA. He wanted to create an experience that was, well, creepy and fascinating and a little scary and maybe even uncomfortable.
With Motel 6 Feet Under, Carolyn Carpenter has not only created a small haunted maze that is truly a maze, but has also created BOO! (Building Occupational Opportunities) a charitable organization that provides jobs and job training for underprivileged adults.
Adam LeBlanc, the owner of The Fleshyard, has a homegrown backyard haunt as his background, and was eager to turn that into a business.
Moderator Rick West opened the panel with a delicious, heart-warming story about the 17th Door’s Roach Room, wherein the patrons not only got to walk on a bunch of cockroaches, but also had some smashed into their hands and thrown into their hair. As one who has also gone through this same haunt, I can personally attest to this. Fun.
For this coming season, Carolyn said that Motel 6 Feet Under was going to have an even more confusing layout, with dead ends and moveable walls and such
Even though CreepLA was built in just a few weeks last year (!), Justin was very happy with the experience he and his friends created. This coming year, he hopes to have a much more personalized experience for each patron.
Robbie says The 17th Door will work hard on continuing and improving the story of Paula that was begun last year. “You can’t be different just to be different, the story is very important.”
Even before Motel 6Feet Under opened last year, Carolyn said that the whole haunted community was very supportive of her event, offering suggestions and even redirecting customers to her haunt when their own was sold out for the night.
Adam said that he had a blunt “Ah ha!” moment when, one weekend, when couples and friends are normally out for a good scary time, there was no crowd at his own event. “Where is everyone?” He realized then that, no matter how good your event is, if you don’t have a good marketing plan, people just won’t show up.
Robbie’s “Ah ha!” moment was when someone excitedly told him that Ryan Seacrest was talking about The 17th Door. That was when he started feeling overwhelmed with nervousness, that was when he knew that his event had gotten bigger than he ever expected.
All four of these newcomers made the rest of us sit up and take notice. They were impressive, professional, detailed, and (most of all) scary. We are really looking forward to seeing this year’s offerings.