The haunted house business can be expensive, so for owners, it’s important to pick characters that have staying power.
“Every time we come up with an attraction, we have to live with it for two or three years,” said Scott Simmons, the creative director and co-owner of Pittsburgh, Pa.’s ScareHouse.
There have been years when ScareHouse used its prowess to create displays of dazzling technical skill: think 14-foot robots or steampunk fantasies.
“The characters are the best we’ve ever done. But you have to remember, that doesn’t translate into mainstream popularity,” Simmons said.
Creepo the Clown has been a mainstay at ScareHouse for five years.
Simmons said ScareHouse regularly performed exit polling, and used social media to gauge the effectiveness of characters. Creepo got more and more popular over the years, anchoring the haunt’s media campaign.
“It was a matter of the audience telling us, ‘We want more of that,’ “ Simmons said.
His top tip for picking characters? Make them easy to explain.
“When I try to sketch out my characters, I’d say ‘He’s a scary clown in a Santa suit’ You get that.”
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