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Park Entertainment

Scare School Scaring people is very funny, it’s very addictive, but anyone can turn the lights out and make someone scream. Before every attraction, we do a Scare School. We’ve even done them in countries where we don’t speak the language! Around 95% of our actor training takes place in broad daylight, which is counter intuitive to some extent, but this way they learn a much greater skill set. If you can scare the hell out of someone in broad daylight before they’ve even gone into an attraction, that’s fantastic!

Lynton collects his Brand Laureate award this summer in Kuala Lumpur

Scaring people is very

addictive, but anyone can turn the lights out and make someone scream. If you can scare the hell out of someone in broad daylight before they've even gone into an attraction, that's fantastic!

Don’t Touch Me! When I was in the UK earlier this year, I visited SAW at Thorpe Park. The ride is great, but in the maze I had four or five actors touch me and, you know, that’s not clever. Some people may not agree with me, but I think it’s not a smart way to go for a number of reasons. If I let an actor touch you, and someone grabs you back, it’s your own fault. Are you ready for the litigation? If that’s your only scare it’s a bit lame. Ghosts Alive! at Warwick Castle was one of our funniest shows ever, people were screaming before they’d even gone in the front door …and no one ever got touched! It’s much cooler if you are clever.

Respect Your Space Doing our first Terror in the Towers at Alton Towers was very exciting, it was a blank canvas. I remember doing the soundtracks for these rooms, these big halls; it really transformed it. You have to look at a space differently to anyone else; you’re creating something in a space that wasn’t designed for it. In London recently I went to see the London Tomb. They are good guys down there but I think they had bought the entire catalogue of the haunted attractions industry! They had unwittingly cheapened this great environment.

Avoic Clichés

A lot of people like to do a chainsaw at the end of an attraction because it scares people. Here’s my theory on chainsaws: I would use it in the right context, but take The Mummy Live!, you are in ancient China and there shouldn’t be a chainsaw in there, simple as that. What we did instead was create this old lady scare, she came alive at the very end. All she did was say “Ni Hao” but it scared the shit out of people, it was as funny as hell. I’m not saying my way is the only way, it all depends on your audience, people’s scare

Scare School at Warwick Castle

barometer is different, but this is what works consistently for us.

Actors Vs Animatronics If you want to save money on actors, then you need really some solid mechanical effects. You don’t want your punters paying to see some piece of schlock that could’ve bought down at the convenience store. I think we are down to one animatronic now in the company; it’s called Bob. We do use some special effects, but we rarely buy stuff from the Halloween trade shows. We prefer mechanical stuff that can produce a result, some industrial device that is maybe used for something else, but is safe, has a real impact and can make a whole room jump. And you know what? I think we’ve probably got the lowest blood budget of any haunted house producer out there.

Laughter Is Your Best Medicine Whatever your attraction, laughter should be the number one emotion. We’ve seen some really funny things around the world. I dance like a white guy, but African Americans have rhythm, so when they get scared they flail their arms, they are much more animated, the Asian cultures too; the Japanese are really funny. The Germans and French are much more stoic. However, there are certain things we know we can do that, if executed right, work pretty much all the time. The best thing to hear from an audience is, “What a cool job that would be!” Then it means your actors have done a really great job and it becomes aspirational. But don’t forget, it should always be fun. That’s what will get your guests talking about around the dinner table.

Tomb Raider at Luna Park Melbourne


SAW Maze at Six Flags Great America NOVEMBER 2010

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