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They are totally different. I noticed a few props leftover, but they're totally different things.
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John said:
Anyone willing to compare and contrast Sinistrto to Fear Fair?

Fear Fair took a more bright and colorful approach to the carnival theme—lots of loud noises and colorful lights. It almost had a clean and orderly aesthetic. It always struck me as a more "evening-at-the-circus-esque" environment.

Sinistro is far darker and grittier in its approach. Everything feels rough and filthy. It manages to feel a lot more... I guess... authentic? Fear Fair always felt a bit "alternate dimension" to me—and I loved that—and I think it can be a scary take on a theme... but I don't think it could ever be truly terrifying. Circo Sinistro feels like it takes place in our world... and as they improve its immersion and get their scares fine-tuned, I firmly believe it could be a downright terrifying house.
Nicole said:
To me, Sinistro felt more like a dark, turn of the century carnival than Fear Fair.  It went beyond startles and creepy clowns, and seemed to go for seedy underbelly of the carnie culture, I think.
Same here! I feel like Circo is the other dimension whereas Fear Fair was a simple little carnival theme.
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Here are the rooms I noticed:
Big Top Intro
Train to Nowhere
The Blacklight Room w/ Dummies
The Knife Throwing
The Portal
Train Cars/Storage Containters
The Portal again
Room Roulette
Bungee Jump/Trapezze
The Doll House

I like the Big Top Intro part, I just wish it was a bit longer or had more meaning than just a quick phrase. The train to nowhere room where you walk up on to a platform feels empty and near useless. The Blacklight room with the dummies was the best room in the house. It was, I think, the most creative room and the most effective. The Knife Throwing Room felt a bit underwhelming. The effect just never felt right with me, it seemed too cheesy and cheap. The train cars/shipping containers was interesting, I just wished there was more going on? The Portal has got to be one of the worst rooms. I have no idea what it's supposed to be. The eyes lit up are creepy, but it seems like they ran out of ideas here. They would probably be better off turning at least one of them into a mirror maze with clowns. The Room Roulette is really poor. I like the idea but there is not scares in the room, only one time I went through there was one scare and the actor blocked the path I wanted to go down, meaning I was forced to go down a certain path. The trapezze/bunge thing looked cool. The doll house isn't too bad, I just wish there were more living dolls. It has the same potential as the blacklight room with the dummies, but they only had dolls and one actor. The big puppet at the very end was also lame. Many people saw it coming and wasn't effective at all.

Overall, I just wished they were more creative and more effective.
-Cracks knuckles-

Alright so, it's been 4 days since my, likely only, trip of the season to HoS, and I'm still incredibly salty about it. So to make myself feel better I decided to rewrite some of the houses and fix them to something that would at least be entertaining to me. These are all to my personal preferences, so don't @ me about it. The only thing I can't change is the staffing issue, which is only up to Busch Gardens, and is far less creative than I'd like to be involved in. However, these designs are based on a decent sized staff for the house. Without further ado, here are my changes for Circo Sinistro.

First off, The house needs to pick on whether or not it wants to be a Circus based house (given the clowns and it’s NAME) or if it wants to be a Doll based house. Living dolls, aren’t well known in the circus circles, and quite frankly I’ve been dying for a doll themed house for years (Busch Gardens W H E N?). For these changes, I will be going strictly on circuses alone, leaving out the doll thing.

Now for my cuts and changes, I would cut the first room entirely. It’s a neat thing, however, I’ve gone through it twice now, and I still have no idea what they actually do in that room besides tell you a story, because both times I’ve gone in, I’ve been in the back and had somebody taller (hard to believe I know) in front of me. However instead, if they absolutely wanted to keep the narration, do it in a more Ringmaster Circus-y style, but you can also do it ala Disney omnimover rides, just continuous story telling, it’s not scary BUT AT LEAST THE HOUSE IS MOVING. And hey, you can have the ring master narrate and have some captured normies which he can torture and scare (and every so often come after the traveling through guests), but you get a little bit of story or some narration, it doesn’t have to be very long. And you get something that’s actually unsettling to look at. Not going for the direct scares yet.

Next room is the train car, now I’m not sure entirely how to fix this room, as I’m not entirely sure why it exists in the first place. I don’t know if it’s supposed to tell you something or what. However, I don’t know how feasible it would be but I’d move the trunk scare to a spot in the room that you actually walk towards. I know you walk towards that first trunk right as you walk in, except since it’s low on the ground and right as you’re turning and heading into the room, the scare doesn’t do as well as it should. Putting it across the room allows visitors to actually walk towards it and boom jack in the box action, you’ve done a basic scare. Now, while I would love to have an actor under the floor, seeing how easy it would be I’m going to avoid it as a concern for actors and guests. Actors, because I don’t want people spitting on them or trying to get at them through the floor plus it’s not that high up from the ground, so it’d have to either be a little person or somebody is gonna have major back/knee problems at the end of every night. And for guests, because all it would take is one girl walking by in a skirt with no shorts on, and it becomes a legal problem, especially if the girl turns out to be underage. So I’m thinking more like floor rumblers, something to shake the floor a bit. Maybe a neat lighting effect with shadows? Something to suggest maybe a medium-larged sized animal under the floor, as circuses are known for animal training. (Because I have zero idea as to what time period this house is supposed to be from. I assume turn of the century, but there's other ideas that suggest otherwise? idk man. So take your pick as to what sort of animal.)

The next room is the first mannequin room, which I’m all for, however it could use some tweaking. In a perfect world this room would be staffed the way it should be, so going based off the perfect world of perfectly staffed, I’d have 3 or 4 actors in this room. This room is actually rather big, of course guests are trying to go from point A to B, and that is a straight line. So, the actors jobs are to try and make them take a longer route. Which is what’s supposed to happen in Cornered’s final room. (and which has happened in the past it makes it for a very fun room.) So basically you’ve got the standard “Fake or Real” like it does now, except it’s actually make the room longer to get through. None of that “Lean forward and then get back into position.” No I want them to walk around the room, cut the line off and force the next group of people to go around them in a different way. It’s an easy fix it just takes an adequate staff. Beyond that I think it just needs like a basic sign to tell you what you’re walking into. What does this room represent? Is it like a magic trick room? Take your pick as to the explanation of it’s existence.

The next room is the Knife Throwers room, alright so you need at least one knife thrower and one victim or wise it’s a very boring room. Now, I’d prefer it if the knife thrower actually used the space he or she was given. The room is again a rather large room for a house, but you’re just barely passing through it, right inbetween the thrower and the target. I’d be more threatened if the thrower decided to get close to me and point the knife near me, I’m talking close. Maybe had some extra fake knives and could stab them into the targets as you walk by. Now I know they’re supposed to be a knife thrower, but hey safety is a thing, and it’s all for fun. And it’s a lot more intimidating than puffs of air blowing on you from the wrong angle, and a guy just standing there doing nothing, while a victim just cries and screams. As for the victim, he or she is free to act however they’d like but please, please interact with the knife thrower. Just screaming and crying for help isn’t scary.

The portrait gallery, now I could easily fix this with something like your standard “picture is actually a door” scare. Which is surprising that this already isn’t a thing. What the hell Busch Gardens, this is basic house scares that you’re missing. But, I’m not entirely sure what it’s even doing in the house to begin with. Why does a traveling circus have portraits like that? Why does it lead into the second “Is it real or not” room (the first one with rocking chairs). So here’s my suggestion, scrap the room. Fill it with clowns doing clownish things. MAKE THEM LOOK DIFFERENT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE THEM LOOK DIFFERENT. Don’t make them wear the same mask and clothes. But man, give them like those preschool toy cars and have them drive around a room. And for the event which I know spent a small fortune on that dragon skeleton in Frostbite just on looks alone, a toddler car is highly inexpensive. Not to mention if it doesn’t get a scare out of you, it’ll at least be somewhat amusing to look at. Just… Have them interact, have them MOVE. When I think of clowns I think of movement. I think chaos. None of the clowns in this house currently give me any of that.

The next section is the back outdoors section, which first of all, I don’t remember last year if there was any sort of ambiance sound, but on Friday there certainly wasn’t. Nothing. Literally one of the clowns was singing the basic Clown song, there was literally no other sound besides that. But having no music at all not even just general movement sounds like quiet chatter or anything. Makes that spot so dead. This is a circus there will be other noises, now as far as what to theme it to, maybe since it’s back stage have them half dressed, in a getting ready state, and you interrupted them. Have them interacting with with maybe their captured animal/human that they’re going to perform with, teasing them. Like there’s a lot you can do. It’s the back stage of a circus. Not everything has to take place in tents. Just have it more than just two clowns wearing the same outfits and masks just doing nothing. I mean on Friday one guy was literally just tapping on the barrel he was sitting on, while the other was singing. That’s not interacting with the guests!!

The next room is just the reverse of the room you left prior to the outside. Again, scrap it. Do something more circus-y, not 100% circus, but still fun how about a Fun House. An actual mirror maze. Granted this would be fairly simple to get through if you’re just conga-lining through. However, it would be a nice addition to see a functional mirror maze at BG. Unlike the one that was in Cornered, which while neat wasn’t adding anything. (Who puts mirrors in corn????) But it’d be simple enough of an addition. And you could get away with not having actors in there, but if you wanted to you could. It could make for a neat scare. And while I think it would be extra amazing if the mirrors had shifting walls to add to the spook factor, this is Busch Gardens, and my dreams have to be grounded in some sort of reality.

The next room is the split room, which other than adding actors which MATCH THE ENVIRONMENT, I’m pretty accepting of this room. It’s a nice way to get additional flow to the house. Just please have at least one actor on BOTH SIDES, and make them match them environment!! Also I noticed in the video I watched, which I used as room reference, there were strobes in these rooms. When I went on Friday there wasn't, and I don't believe there was last year when I went as well. So uh, add strobes?? as much as I hate them, they do make the room far less boring.

Alright so the trapeze section. So Here’s the deal, last year when I went through, the two girls just stood there holding up their nub hands and watched as we past. This year there was only one trapeze girl standing off in the corner as we exited the room, while a clown decided he was going to be a trapeze girl. To put it bluntly (heh), the room doesn’t work. It’s neat, but unless guests actually look up you don’t see the trapeze. And since the girl(s + clown) are on the same level you are you’re not going to look up, as you’re now distracted by the visible actors. What I’m suggesting is enclose the space, and lift it off the ground ala the train car room and put the fear of heights scare in it from 13. It’s the one thing that worked in 13, and while it did cause a backup, at least even to those who aren’t afraid of heights (like myself) still felt like you’re up high and still have to be careful. But turn it into a tightrope walking room. Have a painting of like a crowd below on the ceiling, the mirrors are gonna be foggy and hazey and in order to work, as if you just laid super clean mirrors on the ground A) they’re gonna be stepped on by people who don’t care about the scare and B) They’re going to reflect everything super well. Don’t want to ruin the illusion with your own face. If you’d like an actor or two in the room, have a girl on the otherside encouraging you to step closer, while having one on the entering side encouraging you to keep moving. It should help keep the flow of the house.

Scrap the Dollhouse entirely as I mentioned at the top. It doesn’t fit with the Circus theme as they went for a genuine dollhouse section rather than “see the living doll!!” Now to compensate, remember the back stage scene with the actor interacting with their trapped animal/human, bring it back. This is their act on stage. A beast trainer would be interesting to see, even if the “beast” they’re training is just a furry, I don’t care, anything more circus-y is better than the Dollhouse room.

As for the final scare, don’t use the old puppet, while cool, nobody actually sees it because its coming from your right rather than straight on. I’d have a small gathering of clowns and previous acts including the ringmaster thank you for your visit, or something along those lines, including them trying to get you to stay with them and join the circus. Or if you wanted to use the old puppet, put it in front of the exiting guests, so they see what's happening.

And that is how I would change Circo Sinistro. I will likely be back later to change another house, Frostbite has a lot of potential.
Nicole said:
To me, Sinistro felt more like a dark, turn of the century carnival than Fear Fair.  It went beyond startles and creepy clowns, and seemed to go for seedy underbelly of the carnie culture, I think.
This! I haven't seen it personally, (hope to this year but i think if done well), it can add an another layer to an already terrifying aesthetic (clowns). Clowns are terrifying but when the mood and stage is set right can just make you want to get out as fast as possible.
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I just wanted to put here that I don't like the snakelady area. They would have been better to make it clown quarters or something. The are looks good, but the scares aren't. Also, Imma just say how I miss the old SideShow Square costumes. Actually, I just miss the style. The costumes they had could work great, except they look shiny and new and not gritty like Circo's clowns. Sideshow looks like modern clowns and circo has gritty old clowns with wooden sticks and masks. Also the rocking-chair clowns were great the first year! But now they look like they are STAPLED TO THE CHAIRS AND YOU CAN EASILY TELL THE DIFFERENCE. The clown cars area just needs someone to tell them what the original guys did. The original clowns ran their beat sticks down the metal walls and they leaned out of the cars creepily. Now when I walked through half the time they aren't in their boxes or aren't really doing anything in them but stand their. Final suggestion, ADD AN END SCARE AGAIN. CAUSE WHEN I WENT LOOKING FOR IT I FOUND A FERRIS WHEEL. I CAN TELL THAT THE JESTER STATUE IS THAT BABY FACE THING AND THATS FINE IT LOOKS COOL AND IS A GREAT DECORATION, BUT THAT MINIATURE FERRIS WHEEL ISNT SCARING ANYONE. IT DOES NOTHING
Why such a change to Circo this year, went through last night was just confused as to where the dolls/Mr Karvers stuff was just replaced. They still have the sign outside the maze to "see the living dolls". The problem is, there are no living dolls anymore
Why such a change to Circo this year, went through last night was just confused as to where the dolls/Mr Karvers stuff was just replaced. They still have the sign outside the maze to "see the living dolls". The problem is, there are no living dolls anymore
although they still mention the living dolls, the whole reason they were a part of the theme of circo was because of the park's theme for the last two years having been "evil encore", which was centered around Mr. Karver and his living dolls. now that that theme is gone, I'm assuming that is why there is no more mention of dolls in the actual maze. some of the costumes used last year were repurposed and put into demented dimensions, though.
I heard that some of the doll costumes had practicality issues, especially the marionettes (which only lasted one season) and Wendy. It was tough for them to walk around all night with those large props attached to them.
The dolls inside the maze didn't really suffer from this, and a lot of it is seen inside DD. They just moved it over to DD for some reason, though I feel they should've left them in Circo.
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Eesh, That maze is in rough shape. A lot of weathered stuff. The black light room had actors in different costumes because they standard ones were so weathered. Actors
didn't really do much aside a few unique characters. Here's hoping they replace it next year.
Eesh, That maze is in rough shape. A lot of weathered stuff. The black light room had actors in different costumes because they standard ones were so weathered. Actors
didn't really do much aside a few unique characters. Here's hoping they replace it next year.
The reptile/lizard man still there?
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