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SPECIAL EVENTS - (8/10/19) While covering various conventions has been part of the regular coverage of several other sites out there for awhile, I’ve often avoided it to focus more theme park and attraction oriented news. So with that in mind, really the only “con” style event I’ve covered over the years in the past would be IAAPA, which is technically a “tradeshow”. The rise of the Midsummer Scream convention in Southern California over the past couple years has made me rethink concept a bit, especially as they often offer prime coverage of what’s to come at all the Southern California haunts each season, so this very much falls within the realm of attraction news. With that in mind I sent Rob, our local West coast guy, into the middle of Midsummer Scream to uncover the details behind this awesome new event, and see what spooky things are in store for everyone in the near future.
Take it away Rob!

first_DSC07279Midsummer Scream 2019

Midsummer Scream is a bucket list level event for anyone obsessed with haunt culture, especially for those in Southern California. This 4th year broke attendance records and was a delight to attend.

Midsummer Scream started with a powerhouse lineup for A Chilling Legacy: 50 Years of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion. Imagineers Tony Baxter, Bob Gurr, and Tania Norris teamed up to share some inside stories to mark The Haunted Mansion's 50th year of spooking guests. As Walt Disney's personal decorator, Tania Norris provided some new insight into the classic attraction's aesthetic sensibility. Her candor and wit stole the show. Baxter also displayed great willingness to forge ahead with new changes to the classic attraction and not be afraid to make changes as technology permits. As always, Gurr frequently interjected with his particular brand of slightly good natured humor.

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Veteran John Murdy's presentation for Universal Studios’ Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights gave attendees a deep dive into two new mazes for this years event. First, Creepshow will be based on both the 1982 classic film and the upcoming television series, both based on the horror comic books. Murdy guided the audience through dozens of schematics and sculptural studies of the environments and creatures involved. Guests will enter the world of the comics and experience five different storylines; three from the film (Father's Day, The Crate, They're Creeping Up On You) and two new stories (Grey Matter, Bad Wolf Down). Brave souls will also confront The Creep as well.

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If that wasn't enough, Murdy also revealed another maze, Holidayz in Hell, inspired by novelty postcards of the mid-20th century. All the popular holidays will get a proper "skewering" as these holiday themes get twisted into their own brand of horror. Lots of original artwork was created just for this one, a surefire hit.

A new scarezone, Spirits and Demons of the East, will be an Asian themed area with some great roaming characters, including a stilt walker, a favorite of Murdy's. In addition, the Christmas in Hell scarezone will add a Satan Claus, Baby New Year, and a giant nutcracker into the fold. Fallen Angelz and Toxxxic Tunnel zones will flesh out the remainder of the walkways.

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The Winchester Mystery House, a relative newcomer to the haunt season offerings, has upped their game for this year, developing Unhinged, a new variation of their house tour, plus a new projection show replicating the devastating effects of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. In carrying on the legacy of Sarah Winchester, the haunt offerings on hand skip the blood, gore, and jump scares of most haunts in favor of history based presentations and experiences with their own take on spookiness.

Philippe Bergeron, CEO of PaintScaping extensively detailed plans to use projection mapping to replicate the Winchester House's destruction during the Great Earthquake.

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Hallowe'en Candlelight Tours: The 13 Doors will continue and expand from last year's incarnation, with more rooms to explore. More theatrical elements will be incorporated this year, steering away from the tour guide model of the past.

Disney Imagineer Tom Norris shared his experiences in the Archeology of the Haunted Mansion presentation. This session was packed with previously unheard of details of the design and construction of the beloved attraction, such as the various concepts considered before settling on the ride-through format. At one point, two separate pathways, each stemming from the two elevator exits, were to be constructed, as well as a maze that forced visitors to find their own way out.

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Knott's Scary Farm's presentation rounded out the weekend. Although no new mazes were revealed, Jeff Tucker and a slew of creative minds behind Scary Farm presented an in depth look into two popular mazes returning for one final time. Both Dark Ride and Special Ops: Infected will return this year, though this will be the final bow for the latter. As with every year, new scenes and characters will be introduced to these mazes. A surveillance room and a gift shop will be added to Dark Ride, both permitting guests to interact with the new environments. New characters Smiley Sam and Baby Fool will be added. Special Ops will receive a meat packing room and the Calico Convenience Store to its experience, each with their own new characters.

Lastly, Knott's will issue a new set of collectible "Legend" pins, commemorating past classic mazes.

There is plenty more to be announced from all the presenters, but this season is already looking to be jam packed with fun scares!

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