Drew Hunter - Sally Corporation

The art of the haunt

Hej alla tivolientusiaster! Denna gång har vi en gästbloggare. Det är ingen mindre än Drew Hunter, kreativt ansvarig på Sally Corporations, företaget som varit med och utvecklat House of Nightmares. Drew har arbetat med skräck sedan 70-talet och ingen vet bättre än han vad som funkar när det gäller att skrämma folk (i branschen kallas han allmänt för ”King of creepy”). Här berättar han lite mer om just det. /Peter

Drew Hunter - Sally Corporation

Drew Hunter – Sally Corporation


How did we make The House of Nightmares so frightening?

Most people agree that it’s fun to get scared.  Well – it’s fun when you know it is safe.  Nobody wants to be really scared in real-life situations.

But in the realm of an amusement park, fear can be terrifyingly entertaining! That’s why we stand in line to board the roller coaster, to spin with our feet dangling hundreds of feet in the air, to suddenly drop from a tall tower and to ride so many other breath-taking, gravity-defying attractions. We do all that because we know we’ll get a thrill and we know we will get that thrill safely.

And then there is – the haunted house.  It’s not a ride. It’s a walk-through experience. Unlike a roller coaster or other thrill ride, no two experiences inside a haunted attraction are exactly the same. Almost anything can happen at anytime. You can take your time going through it or you can hurry. Yes, you may see the same basic environment each time you visit, but because you are traveling at your own pace, the gags and live performers may may shock you at different times every time you venture inside.  Plus you may react differently depending upon with whom who you are experiencing the show.

There are many variables to consider in the design of a haunted walk through attraction. It’s not an exact science. I like to call it ”the art of he haunt”.

It was two years ago when John Wood, Rich Hill and I traveled to Gröna Lund from Jacksonville, Florida to began developing what eventually would become The House Of Nightmares, We became thoroughly acquainted with the old haunted house and then, after many ”blue sky” creative discussions, we offered numerous possible themes for the show.  Those were quickly reduced to a few main contenders, and finally The House of Nightmares was selected. Peter Osbeck, Gröna Lund’s ride manager, wanted the attraction to be scary as possible, highly creative and for it to become one of the best amusement park haunts ever built.  Our Sally team had quite a challenge ahead. And soon, in late April, you will be able to experience the result of our efforts.

So – how did we approach the art of the haunt?
How did we make the House Of Nightmares so frightening?

First of all, the attraction title needed to be appealing and immediately suggest all sorts of incredible horrors to be found inside. Everybody has nightmares. It’s an instantly recognizable theme. Nothing is as frightening as your imagination suggests it may be. It’s the idea of what may be inside which sets the stage for the frights to come. Before guests even step inside we want them to be nervous, anxious and ready for anything. In addition to a captivating title we came up with a distinct host character and back story. The macabre Dr. Morphio and his obsession with nightmares inspired us as we designed all the areas of the haunted house. The good doctor also brings a cohesive link to give the multi-element attraction and gives it a sense of unity.
Then of course we needed big scares. It’s all about the SCREAM!!! Guests need – and want – to shriek, yell and scream at the top of their lungs. The House Of Nightmares features live performers who will instigate those for sure, but we also included many animatronic surprises and numerous special effects to make the guests scream their vocal chords out.

We also wanted there to be a lot of visual scenic delights for guests to enjoy. The House Of Nightmares features many fascinating and dramatic sets and props throughout. There is always something interesting to see in between the screams.

One of the most important aspects of the art of the haunt is sound. And for this brand new attraction Sally Corporation has composed an original musical soundtrack for the interior and the exterior, in addition to creating dozens and dozens of other special sound effects.

There are other elements which we have designed into this show which I will not divulge at present. Once The House of Nightmares opens in late April you’ll need to experience it yourself to see what I mean. But rest assured that these added ingredients make this haunted attraction quite unique and one-of-a-kind.

Oh – there is one last thing:  Element X. The subliminal. You can’t see it. You can’t hear it. You can only sense it. A superb haunted attraction will always have effective scares, sets, props, performers, sound and all else to make it top notch. But the best of the best will have that special something extra that is hard to define and even harder to design into a show. And that is the undercurrent of dread, suspense, fear and anticipation. That’s Element X.

And once inside Grona Lund’s all new House Of Nightmares – thanks to the cooperation, talents and creativity of Grona Lund and Sally Corporation – you will fully experience Element X – as well as the art of the haunt…

…if you dare….!
Drew Edward Hunter
VP Creative Design
Sally Corporation


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