Tell us what inspired you to get involved in haunting
We have always been into HALLOWEEN. When we first got married, it was understood that we decorate the outside of the house for HALLOWEEN night. We got so big that the street in front of our house was parked full on both sides and all the neighbors stood in front of their houses to see what new wonders we had out front for the trick or treaters. Other than our yard was always a huge cemetery with lots of tombstones. We had a giant spider on a giant web off our porch and into the tree. And one year we took a bucketlift home and made a dragon head covering the basket and a fog machine spouting out fog. But the neighborhood got so congested that we had to move the haunt into a partyroom that we usually rented out for our business.
what's the history of your haunt
We went commercial in October of 1998 with the name “TERROR ON 10TH” and became a gypsy haunt for 4 years (tore down and put back up the next year). We bought a junk store adjourning our property in 2003. It had around 5844 sf and a large outside area. We developed this into a big haunt. In October 2007, we came up with the idea of hanging a dummy off of our large billboard above the haunt. The dummy had air piped to him so he was kicking and making noises. This prank went wild and we were being visited by the chief of Police because the powers that be with the City of Amarillo government wanted the dummy taken down. Then the news story went nation wide and we were getting calls from FOX NEWS about our hanging man (we had people morning , noon, night and late late night coming by to take pictures of the hanging man). We grew in attendance substantially and started looking for a new location.
In 2010, we came up with a building that had been in a fire and closed up since October 2007. It had been fenced in and left. We approached the owners two days after they had received their settlement check and they were ready to sale. The building and grounds is over 50,000 sf. After lots of cleaning and construction, we opened the AMARILLO SCAREGROUNDS with two inside haunts, TERROR and THE INSANIATORIUM. The next year we opened the BASEMENT and have developed into three haunts, a blackout maze and off the patio outside we have fenced in the property and made the ZOMBIE APOCOLYSE LAZER TRAINING CENTER (lazer tag).
In 2016, we added a coffin ride in the BASEMENT. That has gone over great and our attendance keeps growing. In 2017, we turned the front of the building (approximatelyfive thousand feet ) on the way to the ticket booth, into a cemetery complete with real tombstones, real coffin vaults and park benches. Dead flowers from our local cemetery and zombies wondering around have completed the picture. This is an experience before we even sell them a ticket.
In 2017, we allowed the United Way to hold a Fright Night Fundraiser on September 30th during our practice night. They served chili and fixings, and the drinks were donated by Budweiser and Pepsi. We are regularly priced at $35 per person but the United Way promoted it and sold over 450 tickets at $25.00 each. We were only open from 7:30 to 10:30 that night and were completely wore out when it was over.
what's the most exciting new concept or area you're adding or incorporating in your haunt this year
We are reversing direction on some of the haunts this year and added some new props purchased from HAuNTcon. We are already in negotiations with United Way to do our practice night again.
when's the last time you got really scared in a haunt?
Our haunt really does have a presence that lives in our walls. We have lights that turn off and on when ever they like. We have footsteps when no one is there, and radios that are turned off.... TURN themselves back on. So needless to say, some of our haunters won't go into certain areas unless there is someone with them.
are there any concepts or trends you are hoping to see this coming season?
We have purchased another location and put in XCAPE ROOM WAREHOUSE. We are currently developing our escape rooms and would like to put some new five minute rooms at the AMARILLO SCAREGROUNDS this year.
why do you attend hauntcon?
We attend HAuNTcon and bring all of our managers mainly to do the Haunted Tours. This way they can see how other haunts do things. Someone always has a better way. If we get new ideas, the trip was worth it.
Seminars are a plus. This past year, two of our managers taught seminars. Elexi Vasquez did a seminar on the Fast and Furious way to do makeup. Mark Maupin held a seminar on using haunt technology to do escape rooms.
HAuNTcon also allowed our group to bond and do activities. Walking the aisles of the convention has enabled them to give their opinions and ideas on what is needed for the upcoming year.