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Live Entertainment Lynton V Harris Creating attractions with Impact!

Lynton on site with The Mummy at Dreamworld, Australia

Australian-born Lynton V Harris is the chairman and CEO of Sudden Impact! Entertainment. Based in New York, the company produces live Hollywood branded experiences and touring attractions

including Alien Vs Predator Vs You, Ice Age On Ice, The Mummy Live!, Tomb

Raider Live!, Prison Break Live! and Terminator X: A Laser Battle For Salvation. Working with clients including Universal, Six Flags and Macquarie Leisure, Sudden Impact! was also instrumental in introducing scare

attractions to Tussauds’ (now Merlin) UK parks, following the ground- breaking Madison SCARE Garden at New York’s Madison Square Gardens. As well as turning his Scare School into a US TV series, Lynton has also

co-written Freakshow, an award-winning horror movie starring Alice

Cooper. Here he shares 12 essential tips and industry anecdotes


Madison SCARE Garden Before we did Madison Scare Garden in 1996, I spent a couple of years researching the market in the US. A lot of it was this spooky, cheesy kind of looking stuff, some guy with a church hall or a farm, some untrained actors, turn out lights and away you go. It was very raw, but kind of fun in a way. However, we thought, “We can’t do this shit at Madison Square Garden!” You can’t put in eight $5 haunted houses; it doesn’t make it a $40 show. There was really only one big theme park doing it at the time, Knott’s Berry Farm with Knott’s Scary Farm. We were the first indoor proposition, in an arena. It seems that after Knott’s Scary Farm and Madison SCARE Garden, all of a sudden parks could see it as a good commercial end of season thing, to get guests back one more time.

Don’t Be Seasonal We didn’t use any licensed product at Madison SCARE Garden until the very last season, when we brought in The Mummy Live!, after which we took it on the road. That proved categorically that this was a unique form of entertainment that we could tour all year round and gave us the opportunity to get out of the Halloween market. Now some of most successful attractions are things like Prison Break, The Mummy and Tomb Raider Live!, not what you would call typical haunted houses, and certainly not clichéd haunted houses.

Bringing Brands To Life As custodians of major Hollywood brands, we have to be protective of them. If I put The Mummy or Tomb Raider into a park there then there is an


expectation on the part of the guest. However, we are given great creative licence with the characters we use. Tomb Raider makes a great attraction, you are going into a dark tomb; it’s tactile and it’s scary. With Lara Croft we created what we call the “good guy scare,” a beautiful girl scaring people. It works! A good guy scare with good people and good design will always win over something cheesy.

Reinventing Laser Tag Recently we launched Terminator X: A Laser Battle for Salvation into three parks on three continents following a successful trial last year at Dreamworld in Australia. I had never played laser tag before, but researched about 20 centres. What I discovered was that if the game lasts too long or it’s in a small area,

The Freezer at Madison SCARE Garden

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