So since it’s now October, I thought it would be interesting to talk today about why this month is one of my favourite of the year. At the end of October is the celebration of Halloween, where all kinds of spooky stuff happens throughout the world. And theme parks everywhere are subscribing more and more to this idea, with many now operating special Halloween events that feature new and improved attractions all with the intent of terrifying any soul brave or foolish enough to dare experiencing them.
What I find fascinating about all this is the lengths that places will go to to spark terror in their victims. If you look online, you can read all about the themes, ideas and technologies that go into some of the Halloween attractions at places like Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, Cedar Fair parks and, closer to home, places like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. It’s truly amazing the time and effort that goes into these things when everyone knows they’re going to exist for a few weeks max and then be torn down to possibly be recycled next year. So why do theme parks go to such lengths to make their attractions as detailed and terrifying as possible?
The answer, plain and simple, is that people love to be scared. There’s probably a wealth of psychological research into why this is, but there’s no denying it’s true. People will fill a cinema to watch a horror movie, Stephen King’s books are no less popular today than 20 years ago, and at most theme parks, Halloween is their busiest time of the year. I suppose there’s something very humanising about fearing for your own life or safety, or if you’re a sucker for special effects then you’ll get those in abundance too. I really can’t explain it, but it’s a fact nonetheless.
Things are changing in the horror industry nowadays, though. Just like people aren’t scared by 1930s monster movies anymore, theme parks can’t get away with the same old tricks for their Halloween attractions that would have sold them a decade ago. To this extent, a lot of places are going into riskier and more twisted territory year by year in an attempt to assert themselves as the scariest thing on the planet. Quite honestly, I think this goes too far sometimes. Just look at all the furore currently surrounding Knott’s Berry Farm, who have been forced to pull a controversial VR horror attraction after outcry from people who said it stigmatised people with mental health problems. You have to ask yourself, is there really any need to descend to such levels of indecency just to try and scare someone?
I suppose it depends on what scares you, and the problem with this is that there’ll be a different answer to this for many people. You could talk to someone, for example, who has no problem with hooded mazes and walking blindfold through corridors, and yet refuses to do a circus-themed maze becuase they’re afraid of clowns. There are horror film fans out there who would never do a maze attraction because they prefer to watch from behind the safety of a screen rather than be in the midst of things themselves. This I suppose is why theme parks run a variety of different attractions with a variety of different effects, themes and technologies, all with the intent of scaring somebody witless. It must give them some kind of sadistic pleasure to know that they’ve succeeded in that respect.
Personally, I love reading about Halloween attractions, but I hate not knowing what’s going to happen with something, particularly if I know that something is explicitly designed to scare me. I have no intention of stepping through the doors, archway or curtain of any mazes just yet, but I will be on hand to keep track of them and see if there’s anything new circulating the market. I hope everyone out there has a fun and safe Halloween, whatever you end up doing, and do feel free to let me know if there are any really good Halloween attractions out there.
See you around =] x x