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Discussion Starter #1
I am excited beyond belief because tonight is the night of the first rehearsal for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. I was fortunate enough to be cast as scareactor (ie, a Halloween monster) for the show, which means Halloween for me actually begins on September 18. My role, by the way, is a psychopath running amog in an outside scare zone called Psychoscarapy. The story line is that the inmates of a particularly nasty asylum have escaped and found their way onto a Halloween street party on the streets of New York City. Too bad for those poor New Yorkers! Muh hahahahaha!

And oddly enough, I thought this Halloween was going to be a bust, too. For the past three years my friends and I were running a really successful home haunt in Clermont, Florida we called Rose's Haunted Graveyard. We started with a few simple tombstones in the front yard, but that grew into last year's haunt which included a graveyard complete with gnarly trees and lanterns, a cornfield with scarecrow scareactors and a walk-through crypt. We had hundreds of people show up for the haunt, and this year it was going to be even bigger. Unfortunately, we were only renting the house and the guy that owned it sold it out from under us. I wound up in an apartment in Orlando and my friends, Bryan and Rose, went back home to Oregon. I figured Halloween was over, at least for this year, and then the Horror Nights opportunity came about.

I guess you just can't keep a good monster down.

This, of course, is not my first rodeo. This will be the fifth time (sixth, if you count working the trick or treat candy stations at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom) appearence as a Halloween monster at a major venue. I did Queen Mary's Shipwreck (which is now called Dark Harbor) in 2000, 2001 and 2002, and Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights in 2006.

For all of you out there who have always wondered what it's like to perform at Knott's or Universal or one of the other major venues, I'll continue to post my experiences as they occur. For anyone interested and who likes to dig, I wrote extensively of my experiences as a slider at Shipwreck on the Forum in 2002. I would image those posts are still there buried in the archives.

But now, on to the first rehearsal! Wish me luck!
 

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Davy! "Luck" runs to those who are talented and experienced. (And available, of course!)
Congratulations!
 

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Well, the first rehearsal was mostly paperwork and introductions of show creators and dozens of show directors. And scareactors? There were literally hundreds of us seated around tables seating ten. There may have been as many as a thousand. And we were only half the cast. The other half had been scheduled earlier that same day. It's amazing! Didn't get too many details about what's going to go on in the New York Psychoscarapy scare zone other than it's a combination of two classic scare zones. So those of us playing psychopaths will be inter-acting with others playing trick or treaters. Don't know a lot more than that for now. We'll get the whole lowdown - as well as placement blocking and costuming - during the second scheduled rehearsal this Friday.

Personally, I can hardly wait!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
In an hour it's off to the first real rehearsal. Tonight we'll be introduced to make-up, costuming and placement on the streets of New York. As a precursor, we just had the biggest and nastiest thunderstorm I've seen in a while. The bolts of lightening were literally on top of us, and the claps of thunder were so loud it virtually rattled the window. It scared the heck out of Beach Bum (he's my cat). So not only did he run inside as soon as he heard the first distant clap of thunder, but he's been living in my back pocket for the past couple of hours. He's right behind me now, sleeping on top of my lifeguarding gear. I do believe the phrase "Scarety-cat" is well earned tonight!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Guess what? Orlando Attractions Magazine was present at the Team preview of Halloween Horror Nights on Wednesday, and they posted a video with yours truly in it? This is the Psychoscarapy Scare Zone on the streets of New York. And when you get to it, I'm the guy with the axe on the Pumpkin carving stage hacking at the corpse's neck with my axe! :D

 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay...here's an observation from opening night: A while ago somebody posted an amusing picture of a flock of people wandering down the street staring at their cell phones. The caption read "The zombie apocalypse has begun!" After last night I believe it. Once we got underway, wave after wave of guests wandered into our scare zone. It was filled with escaped psycho patients and evil little trick or treaters. :mad: But did they notice us? No. Instead, they were all staring at their cell phones and not paying a bit of attention to what was going on around them. Why, all you had to do to scare them was boldly walk up to them, bend over and say "Boo!" They'd look up and scream, not having seen you coming. It was the darnedest thing I've ever seen. And this wasn't just teens as you might suspect. This was people of every age. Since a show like this isn't cheap, it really makes me wonder why they'd rather blindly stare at some app instead of the show. :confused:

zombieshappen_zpsa2fadf01.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We're into our third week of Horror Nights, and the crowds just keep getting bigger. I've been assigned to one of three stages in our scare zone. Mine is the pumpkin carving stage. Only instead of carving a pumpkin, I've beheaded the actual carver, and I am now carving his head.


Along with doing this for passing guests, I frequently stop for photos. During one set last night, I posed for 192 photos with guests - all of whom wanted their throats cut for the camera. Psychos are us! I'll post more pix later. This is really a good time. But I think I'm going to have to buy stock in the Monster energy drink company!
 

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I've never been to one of these halloween events so have enjoyed your feedback as a scareactor. Great Instagram photo and very cool seeing you in the YouTube Video that gets tons of hits. Looks like a cool set up and it really sounds like a lot of fun for both you and the patrons. I'd love to be there in person.

Question on the cellphones....enjoyed the captioned photos on the Zombie Apocalypse btw...does the park have some app that directs everyone to where to go or is it just people who can't stay off their phones? I'm pretty phone active in way of taking pictures but not into the social posting stuff but then again not a teenager either. Might be different if I was. Hey look at it this way...easy prey to be had!!

So do they change you up with different stations every so many weeks or so?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I've never been to one of these halloween events so have enjoyed your feedback as a scareactor. Great Instagram photo and very cool seeing you in the YouTube Video that gets tons of hits. Looks like a cool set up and it really sounds like a lot of fun for both you and the patrons. I'd love to be there in person.

Question on the cellphones....enjoyed the captioned photos on the Zombie Apocalypse btw...does the park have some app that directs everyone to where to go or is it just people who can't stay off their phones? I'm pretty phone active in way of taking pictures but not into the social posting stuff but then again not a teenager either. Might be different if I was. Hey look at it this way...easy prey to be had!!

So do they change you up with different stations every so many weeks or so?
As far as the cell phone thing goes, it's kind of like this...Mister or miss tourist takes a selfie then checks his or her phone to see what it looked like. Then they have to immediately post it on social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (which I just recently learned doesn't mean that you put your grandmother on speed dial, btw) or whatever and wait for a "OMG!" from whomever they sent it to. Then they have to text about how great/spooky/scary/lame the event is. Then they have to wait for agreement or disagreement or any sort of comment at all since really they're only texting and sending selfies to make someone jealous because they aren't there texting and sending selfies themselves. And they're doing it while walking, completely oblivious to everything and everyone around them. And you're right. It isn't just teenieboppers participating in this zombie stomp. It's infected all age groups. Here's another interesting fact...George Romero got it wrong. Shooting a cellphone zombie in the head doesn't to a thing. They just go on texting. The only way to stop them is by shooting off their texting thumbs. Then they stagger around for a while whimpering "where's my bff? where's my bff? Hash tag oh crap" and finally keel over. It isn't a pretty sight.

Oh yes, and there is an app with all the wait times and so forth.

And as far as moving people around, they both do and don't, depending on your role in the show. For example, after the scareactors for the houses and the scare zones are all cast, a second audition is done to hire rovers called the fire crew. They fill in slots as needed when someone calls off or one of the cast with rotating roles leaves an opening. An example of a rotating role would be one of the gals in our street who was cast as a trick-or-treater's mom but who also fills in as the Storyteller in one of the houses. The rest of us were assigned to a house or street as it's permanent cast. Psychoscareapy Unleashed is a large enough area that it's split into five "zones." Once you're in a zone, you're there for the run of the show unless the show directors move you because of some emergency or technical issue or something. Also in our area there are three stages. One in zone one, another in zone two and the final stage in zone three. Those of us manning the stages are in iconic positions because we have the most contact with the guests. We put on a show, create a distraction for the other scarers and pose for unbelievable amounts of pictures. During the second set of last night's show, for example, I posed with 192 different guests, all of whom wanted to either be murdered or to have their throats cut. Not only are these roles assigned for the run of the show, but they are sort of an honorarium since they are staring roles - only a minor level, of course.
 

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Sounds like you're having a great time! We'll just have to experience it vicariously through you.

Someday I'll go to HHN. Someday...........:)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, tonight it's back for another five days of Horror Nights. But I could use some help with a problem that's come up. I was assigned to one of the three stages in our scare zone, Psychoscarepy Unleashed. Because of the nature of the other two, mine is the only one that's really accessible to wandering guests. The stage is called the pumpkin carving stand. Cutup18.jpg On it, I'm supposed to be carving a pumpkin, but I'm actually carving the head of the decapitated guy who was running the event before the psychos took over. Here's the problem, whenever I make eye contact with the crowd, someone comes up and asks if they can take a picture/selfie with me, usually seeming to slice their throats. As soon as I break character and say yes to one guest a whole line forms and I wind up doing a 45-minute meet-and-greet style photo shoot and never perform at all. And once it starts, there's no way to stop it. The show director pulled me aside last week and said the stage was never intended as a meet and greet. So I've tried everything to avoid it. I've tried not making eye contact. No good. I've tried acrobatics. No good. Seems sliding across tables and leaping off the stage to chase other scareactors are considered safety violations. I've tried doing regular routines with some of my fellow scareactors. Really no good. The guests will actually push them out of the way and say "cut my neck! Cut my neck!" while holding up a cell phone in selfie position. I'm beside myself! I actually don't know what to do.

Any suggestions?
 

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It just takes killing two or three of them to send a message to the rest. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I've been doing professional Halloween events for awhile. But for all the outrageous things I've done at places like Queen Mary, Knott's Scary Farm or even at my own home haunt, Rose's Haunted Graveyard, I've never seen anything like the marvelous mayhem we've devised and sprang on our hundreds of unsuspecting guests over the past two nights at Halloween Horror Nights. This is so over the top I'm personally proud to just be part of it.

As I've been saying since I started this thread, I work in an outdoor scare zone called Psychoscareapy Unleashed. The story of the zone is that while a pleasant little Halloween block party was going on in Shadybrook, New York, a bus carrying a group of dangerous homicidal maniacs crashed, the psychos escaped and took over the streets of the town. The town officials have been murdered (one of them who was running a pumpkin carving demonstration was beheaded, and his head was carved into a jack 0' lantern instead of a pumpkin) and many of the poor, innocent trick or treaters are regularly chain-sawed as well. Parents are wandering in a panic, looking for their children: the remaining trick or treaters are cowering or running in panic looking for their parents. The maniacs, armed with knives, hammers, hockey sticks, pipes, sickles and chain saws, rule the night.

The psychos, parents and trick or treaters are, of course, all costumed scareactors. So here's what we cooked up. The parents and trick or treaters have had it. So, about five minutes till the end of our on-stage set, we all gather in the center of the zone and form two opposing lines about 20 yards apart. On one side are trick or treaters, parents and a few psychos. On the opposing side are the rest of the psychos and chain saw maniacs. About 50 scareactors in all. Then, as the confused guests watch, a cry rings out accompanied by the roar of chain saws and we all attack, running straight into each other with teeth bared. Then it's a fight! It's knives against chain saws, hammers against angry fists and, of course, trick or treat buckets against everyone! For a few moments it's absolute chaos with a yelling, screaming, chain saw roaring soundtrack. When we all split apart, carnage is left behind and the bodies are pulled away by their supporters.

It's frenzied! It's furious! It's freaking awesome! And, OMG how the guest eat it up! Heres some vid to show what it's like.


 
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