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Pretzel Kaiser

Silver Donor
Apr 5, 2011
First of all, I would like to make a request for this thread. I would like to ask that people only post in relation to the subject. Due to the nature of the subject, I'm sure people would love to make one liner references to their favorite horror movies and whatnot, but I would like to foster a real conversation here. Thank you.

Last night, in my facebook feed, I saw this story indicating that my favorite horror movie of all time was being made into a haunted house. This made me research the cost of the trip and start budgeting money in hopes of being able to visit. It also got me wondering, "What if BGW licensed franchises for their houses? And if they did, would it work for the park and how successful would it be?" Although, I will list a couple suggestions, this is more about "Will it work well?" as opposed to "What could they get?".

Of course, Uni is going to be the park I'm going to reference for this idea since they're the big one (if not only) that licenses houses. I'm also going to start off by listing a few houses they've had as well as breaking down the owners of them.

Cabin in the Woods - Lionsgate
Silent Hill Revelations - Distributed by Open Road Films (Owned by AMC/Regal), Produced by Davis Entertainment, IP of Konami
The Walking Dead - Owned by AMC/Regal

The point I'm getting at here is that a lot of the properties they use for their houses (and other attractions at that, look at The Simpsons) are not owned by Universal, yet the consensus appears to be that HHN is probably the most popular Halloween event in the industry and I can't help but think that these big names help with that. I know that FL is a much larger tourist destination than BGW, but the thing that got me wondering how well it could pull people here was the fact that I was looking at flights just because one of my favorite movies was getting a house. So in theory, if the park could get a big name, people would be looking at flights to Williamsburg as a result as well. We also know that with the recent Madagascar shows, the park is certainly open to licensing franchises.

There are a huge amount of drawbacks to this as well. Of course, the first one would be cost to license popular brands. I'm going to use two examples of brands for the rest of this post (I am not suggesting these brands should be at the park by any means), "Aliens" the big blockbuster franchise that everybody knows and has quite a few movies and "28 Days Later" a somewhat successful movie that got one sequel and while critically praised, still remains a cult hit at most. Of course it makes sense that the license cost of Aliens is going to be much more than 28 Days Later. However, if word got out that a theme park was doing a haunted house based on Aliens, it would certainly bring in some people from out of town, which is (or was) in the park's long term goals of making Williamsburg a tourist destination.

There is also the issue of creative control and detail of the houses. While I have no doubt the park can theme some things in a fantastic way, I highly doubt the park could be able to recreate the HR Giger detail of Aliens, at least in a way that would appease the owners of the IP and it's creators. No matter what the franchise is, there is always going to be the issue of whether the park can live up to the IP owner's requirements or not. Any licensed house would require /at least/ the level of Dead Line in order to get the proper blessings, and if what we're hearing about the park's budget problems is true, the park will have problems making houses with that kind of detail.

There is also the issue of age at HoS (as it always is). HHN's content is way more mature than BGW and they don't have the issue with little kids like we do as well (I argue that the desire to keep kids in the park at night is holding HoS back, but that's a different topic). Horror movies, by their very nature, are not kid-friendly. Just like the Nurses, the park might face blowback from the local mommybloggers that the park is getting inappropriate content at the park based off of Rated-R movies as opposed to generic Vampire, Zombie, Clown, and etcetera houses. However, if the park were to adopt a system like HoS Tampa or HHN by making the event upcharge, then they could secure the additional money to justify these licenses while also getting rid of the people most likely to cause the biggest stink while making it easier for the people who want a proper Halloween event to get in easier and spend more money.

Now, let's talk about that issue that bunches the panties of so many people here: Themeing. Let's talk about the themeing of HoS first. During HoS and CT, I feel the park should deserve a pass on the old world European theme to a point. I feel that everything the park has done to this point fits the park's overall theme to an allowable slide for HoS (The alien in Dig it Up kind of stretching it, but that's the worst offense the park has done during HoS). I feel that any franchise the park gets should not be required to be European based, but should at least have a certain old-world aspect to it if it's not European. The problem with this is that with this restriction, it eliminates a lot of popular US horror titles. A house based off of Friday the 13th or Saw simply is not going to work at the park at all. The most we can really pull from with that are franchises that are are from Europe there were able to become very popular here.

So, that pretty much outlines what I consider to be the pros and cons of the idea. Let's move on to some ideas of what could work for the park along the lines of themeing and popularity. I'm going only give the franchise, a youtube link to the trailer, and why I think it would fit and work well at the park.

28 Days Later
Yes, despite using it as an example, I think it could fit well in the park because the movie takes place in Europe, a well-themed house could be done with little expense, it has an awesome soundtrack that works inside a house, and it's essentially Dead Line already since just like in 28 Days Later, the zombies in Dead Line aren't really dead, just rabid. Despite being a modern franchise, since the infection as spread to Europe by now, it could easily take place in various ruins or popular landmarks.

Shaun of the Dead
The park experimented with humor with it's HoS shows last year and it came out surprisingly well. I think that a haunted house with scares /and/ humor, it could become one of the most unique experiences out there. It would just have to be done in a way that fits the humor of the movie, which I'm not sure the park can do well. The big problem is that Universal does own the rights to this as well, but money talks.

The Woman in Black
This could be perfect for the park. A terrifying ghost story that was pretty popular set in an English Victorian mansion. This movie is also going to be getting a sequel soon.

Alice in Wonderland/American McGee's Alice
The Alice books are about a girl's journey into her own mind and in the video game series, her own madness. While not as popular as Halo or Call of Duty, the game has a decent following and is famous for it's aesthetic.

Pan's Labyrinth
Not quite a horror movie, but it has a setting that would be perfect for the park because it takes place both in Italy and a Dark Fairy Tale. One of the most beautiful yet unsettling movies of all time, I feel that it could still be a fantastic house.

tl;dr Houses based off of existing IPs might have a place at the park if done right.
I think this would work, IF the IP is popular/well known to the GP. Take the Walking Dead for example. It's an EXTREMELY popular franchise. It had a house last year at HHN. People who went to the event have told me some things regarding TWD and HHN 22 in general.

1: It was essentially the theme to HHN this year.

2: Wait times for TWD house were exceptionally longer than any other house at the event

3: HHN 22 was the most crowded event in HHN's history.

4: HHN Made the most money this year then any year's past

So Obviously IP's can help make the event more successful. Now, If BGW could afford to bring in an IP that is popular and well known, then it would most likely be a success. Its just logic that an IP like TWD would be more attractive to the majority of the GP compared to a cult hit from 2002. However, 28 days later would be much cheaper to license compared to TWD, so you could go either way.

Now, a comedic house would be awesome, something like H.R. Bloodengutz at HHN a few years back would be amazing.

The only problem with this is that all the Olde country Purists would be very upset because they don't think it fits in with the theme of the park, but that's a conversation for another time.

Overall, I'd welcome an addition of an IP.
Here's an idea of how the park can make this a reality.

Rather than PAYING for the rights, The park can perhaps work at getting NEW movies/studios to be official sponsors of the mazes. Most movie sets end up getting destroyed, and perhaps the park can work out acquiring pieces of the sets to design and base the mazes around. You dangle the right kind of deal in front of a smaller studio and I'd bet they'd take it.


I doubt this would work with how Busch currently operates their events. They plan on having most of their mazes for a couple years I'm sure, spending X amount of money for a 1 year maze ain't what Busch is looking to do I'm sure.

Considering all this talk of tiny budget (if it's true), Busch's ONLY choice to do such a thing would be to adopt a model like Tampa's event. Williamsburg's event this year looks to be basically a repeat of last year's event... Which was basically a repeat of the event the year before... With one new failed maze... and 2 Mazes that are pushing 5 years.

Anyways. This makes me wonder what are they gonna do to be able to continue doing HOS events that aren't such a rehash of years prior as they have been since the buyout. They really do need more "new"...
The sponsorship thing is a neat idea, that was the idea of HHN's Silent Hill maze last year. HOWEVER, I'm not sure making a house as an advertisement for a movie will actually bring people in from out of town. That's why I suggested that the park should opt for an existing IP. I do agree that using Tampa's model would be a fix for a lot of things.
I saw the Cabin in the Woods thing today and immediately started planning my trip. But then remembered I'm broke. Dangit.

I agree for the most part. The licensed IP or celebrity sponsorship definitely helps. Look at last year's Orlando hhn: walking dead, silent hill, Alice Cooper, Penn and teller, classic monsters and bill and ted.

I don't think bgw has the budget to license IP as well as build the houses. Tampa may be able to do this though.
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I think Blackstone may not be pressured to add new things for two reasons

1: Their is virtually no competition with the exception of Haunt which is still 90+ minutes away and doesn't really attract the people from VB/Norfolk, which is where the majority of their audience lives.

2: The event is already wildly popular, and their still raking in the cash without adding something New every year. Think about it, the park is MAD crazy on a Saturday in October. Ticket sales would not increase with an IP because its already at a high. The only big increase with an IP would be merchandise, but is that worth the huge risk to license an IP?

These reasons above are why we might not see an IP, even if it would be awesome.
Pandora: That's my thought exactly, any IP big enough to bring in lots of people would be expensive. However, the plan for BGW was to make it Orlando level, and doing that could certainly help. As far as the budget goes, maybe they could do something where corporate pays for the IP licensing and the park budget takes care of the house. That seems something that could be possible. At this point though, the park should be trying to bring in people from out of town if locals aren't able to support HoS.

Ben: It's not that there is no competition, it's just that in order to expand, it needs to move pass the local market. While HoS is the park's busiest time of the year, the park doesn't hit capacity quite as much as it did before.
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Pretzel Kaiser said:
Ben: It's not that there is no competition, it's just that in order to expand, it needs to move pass the local market. While HoS is the park's busiest time of the year, the park doesn't hit capacity quite as much as it did before.

I only visited on the opening Saturday and Fridays last year, but I just assumed that it hit capacity on Saturday nights after the second week of October. My question is, how come the budget was so large in 2011 and 2012? That year we got THREE new houses, all done by Oak Island, and a new show, 2012 we get one new house, two brand new shows, and a redone fiends in a new location. This year, we may lose a house may not get any significant additions. Where did all the money go?
In another thread it was stated that the park never had to make money before because it was always an advertisment for beer. It was ran that way until recently where the IPO went public and they suddenly had to make money, which is why we're seeing all these cuts this year. I think last year they wanted to focus on the shows more, and it worked, but scares ended up suffering as a result (Root of all Evil, hordes, ect). In theory with no need to add shows this year, we should have seen an increase in scares this year but with the budget issues, nobody knows what to expect.

Which is why HoS should be upcharge in order for the park to make money, the park to thin out those who don't spend money at the park and kids, and more money to pump into making it a superior event. If you bring in people from out of town instead of being forced to rely on locals, the park will have an easier time selling the upcharge event.
I think this is a really good concept, and the idea of sponsoring would be ideal. Also I think the fact that the park likes to keep the same houses or themes for more than a year would mean they won't have to spend so much money on a new house constantly each year, they can just extend the licensing for an additionally year or two and the house, props, and such will still be intact.
How about just bringing in a celeb to design the house and put their name on it! Think about it:

Rob Zombie's Devil House

Wes Craven's Kill Zone

Quentin Tarantino's House of WTF

The Justin Beiber Experience(shudders)

But seriously, I think this would be cheaper than paying for an IP, you are getting a name to endorse a haunted house and, maybe, make an appearance or 2...What do you guys think?
By getting a celeb to come in, design an aspect for a house, and buying the rights to use their name on the house, you're just licensing a person as opposed to licensing an IP.
I don't agree that the park can get away with the "Same thing" over and over again. Eventually people are gonna catch wind of whats going on... And guess what, It's basically what the parks problem is now, they miss how good it was in the past, AND they are tired of the current offerings... Because they are the same. I'm sorry but Bitten and Catacombs being as old as they are is Pushing it, HARD. That's two old mazes... and Trying to reinvent a maze that failed as hard as root. I'm sorry, once a concept bombs, It's done in the public eyes. Reinventing root sounds about as ridiculous as trying to reinvent Europe in the Air.

When are people gonna start applying this "same old same old" logic to HOS? The park is under scrutiny from more eyes than just the GP now...

You know one more thing, I don't *get* is why people who come here seem to think KD is not a threat. Kings Dominion is basically the East Coast equivalent of Magic Mountain. If the park doesn't consider them a threat, I'd be shocked. People are willing to drive 1,2,3 hours even plan whole road trip vacations for theme parks... Especially if they think they are getting their monies worth. HOS is basically a repeat event, whereas The Haunt is ALOT cheaper than going to Busch for a day, Typically has a few new attractions every year, And one way or another Just like you've seen the GP start looking at the regular season, they will start noticing The differences between The Haunt and HOS. If you honestly think 10 bucks in gas and an hour of driving will dissuade people from going to KD, You are Very, Very wrong.
You make several great points, ones I'm considering putting in a thread detailing what's wrong with HoS and how to fix it (If I felt that such a conversation would be appreciated here.) I do want to say that while yes, KD is competion to a point, a huge amount the park's guests are season pass/fun pass/whatevs. The park should constantly be refreshing itself for HoS, bit it also needs to bring in non-locals just as much.
Youhow2 said:
I'm sorry but Bitten and Catacombs being as old as they are is Pushing it, HARD. That's two old mazes...

Bitten is really pushing it because they do little to nothing to freshen it up. Catacombs is a great maze and I think it can last for years because they switch it up and change it up every year. No two years has it been identical. Yes there are parts here and there that are the same, but they still freshen it up and give it a different feel which is really good.

Youhow2 said:
and Trying to reinvent a maze that failed as hard as root. I'm sorry, once a concept bombs, It's done in the public eyes. Reinventing root sounds about as ridiculous as trying to reinvent Europe in the Air.

Really? They reinvented Entwined and that was a success with the GP. Las time I checked Entwined failed pretty hard.

All in all though, I get what your saying, the event is unlike others where there is something new every year. I think being a park in it's position it can get away with having the same thing for two or three years for Howl-o-Scream especially if it is something like Catacombs. I doubt people are going to look at HOS and say that the event is getting old because the audience for Howl-o-Scream and the regular season are VERY different and a lot of the GP doesn't care as long as they get scared. I do understand that to not be a reason or excuse for lack of anything really, but most just don't care as long as it is advertised right.
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