TransWorld 2018 Trends and Innovations

Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show

The Phantom of the Ville highlights the latest trends and innovations seen at the 2018 TransWorld Halloween & Attractions Show in St. Louis!

Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show

Welcome, friends and fiends, it’s your oldest friend (by centuries), The Phantom of the Ville, just home from the annual TransWorld Halloween & Attractions Show in St. Louis. Each year the entire Louisville Halloween crew packs up the hearse and heads to the Arch City to check out all the latest animatronics, masks and scare tactics created by the mad scientists of the haunt industry at the biggest Halloween trade show in the country.

This year my keenest observation might have been the fact that it’s not always the biggest, most visually impressive and/or expensive prop or gadget that has the greatest impact on customers. Sometimes it’s just the creative idea of how to spin an old, classic scare tactic into something that feels brand new and shocking. Stay with me and you’ll see what I mean. Without further ado, here are some of the things trending at TransWorld this year.

“It”/Pennywise: The first thing anyone walking the trade floor will immediately acknowledge is the tremendous impact that director Andi Muchietti’s remake of “Stephen King’s It” has had on both American popular culture and the Halloween industry itself. There were probably more red balloons floating around the 300,000 square feet of America’s Center Convention Plaza than gathered anywhere else in the world. Unit 70’s gigantic Pennywise animatronic at the Halloween Productions booth was probably the most photographed prop on the trade floor.

Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show

Goats and other Horned Beasts: Another much lower budgeted film, director Robert Egger’s creepy little period piece, “The Witch” and its’ demonic goat, Black Phillip, seems to have wormed its way into our collective nightmares. Perhaps in conjunction with last year’s Krampus phenomenon, goats were a huge hit at this year’s show. Expect to see horned satanic beasts and goatmen at haunts everywhere this fall. All hail the Pope Lick Monster! (Pictured is the goat from Gore Galore)

Violent Abuse Victim Bodies: There is only so far you can push physical torment with live actors to create the Grand Guignol illusion haunters are looking to deliver. The latest and most realistic corpses from Pale Night Productions are built to take a lot of simulated punishment. One prop body I saw was made to spit blood and have leg spams when hit over the head with a square hammer while another was made to have a stake driven through its’ mouth that impales the body to a wall. Nobody gets hurt except the pride and false bravado of the customer! (Pictured below is a victim prop from Ghostride Productions)

Low Lying Fog: Fog machines have made another leap in technological prowess, allowing for much more efficient and voluminous amounts of fog that stay low to the ground and completely cover the ankles in chilly smoke. The best models are still fairly expensive, however, and thus will likely only turn up in higher budgeted attractions. This technology was initially rolled out in 2017 by the premier show sponsor Froggy’s Fog.

Flame Effect LED Lamps: We’ve come a long way from the days of upward blowing fans and cheesecloth flames used to simulate flickering fire at haunted attractions. This year’s latest innovation gives us LED bulbs programmed with multiple moving lights defused through a lamp covering to create an absolutely convincing flickering flames effect without the danger inherent in using real candles and torches.

Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show

The Squishy Bridge: While the classic Rickety Bridge has been a haunted attraction staple for years, and haunters have used many different materials to give the illusion of marshy surfaces for decades, this new spin from Creative Visions on an old classic creates the effect of a swampy landscape by combining the sturdy reliability of the Rickety Bridge with a foam based material underneath that gives it a whole new feel.

Augmented Reality Fear App: Similar in execution to the wildly popular Pokemon Go app, this app can be synced with your attraction and downloaded by your customers to give them a personalized augmented reality experience at your haunt. Looking through their smart phones’ camera, customers can be startled by emerging phantoms and leaping zombies that appear to exist in real life even where no live actors are present. The application can be used as an add-on for line entertainment as well.

The Lattice Illusion: This might have been the most talked about new scare tactic at TransWorld. Using neither advanced haunt technology nor expensive, complicated moving parts, this little innovative idea is really just a fresh take on a tried and true classic scare usually associated with fake walls and drop panels. Jaws of hardened haunters were dropping at the Haunt Dawgs demonstration booth, perhaps proving that when it comes to the art of the scare, creativity often trumps technology.

The Phantom of The Ville

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