The annual TransWorld Halloween & Attraction Show has been a mainstay of the haunted attraction industry for thirty years. The networking event ran March 21st to 24th at downtown St. Louis' America's Center.
Dedicated to attractions focused on a Halloween theme, the exhibition presents everything from make-up demonstrations to seminars that focus on the scare industry. At last year's exhibition, over 287 vendors exhibited, displayed animatronics, props, makeup, masks, costumes, lighting, and special effects. Services such as online ticketing, design fabrication, and event haunt insurance are also presented.
One increasingly important area of the event is Escape Room City, which provides attendees with access to companies that offer props and even fully turn-key escape rooms. This area of the event provides information on a wide range of services and features that include escape room tech, consulting, web design, VR capabilities, and adventure games, among others.
Attendees are haunted attraction purveyors of all kinds, whether running an amusement park Halloween event, Halloween retail store, haunted zoo or aquariums experience, haunted house, escape room, or pumpkin patch. Additionally, some members of the general public are excited to attend, and soak up all the Halloween information they can.
This year's event marked the 10th year in a row that the show will be held in St. Louis. Along with the vendors of all things spooky, the event hosts a seminar series that covers everything from technology to room building, mixers, and the chance for guests from over 70 countries to mingle and trade scare secrets. According to the trade show's VP, Richard Bianco “This show is the only show of its kind in the world.”
New for this year, trade show attendees were treated to a live show, the festive Vampire Circus on Friday night. The production leads viewers through an abandoned cemetery to a circus come back to life. On Saturday night, the ultimate haunted mixer takes place at the Venetian Vampire Ball, to which attendees are encouraged to come in costume, and enjoy a live DJ, dancing, and appetizers. Exhibitors can enjoy a Thursday night event geared for them only, offering food and drinks on the trade show floor at a night filled with mingling and idea exchanges.
A pre-convention Haunted House bus tour has been a popular supplement to the exhibition since 2004, and will continue this year. The bus tour, which took participants to Ohio and Michigan in 2018, offered new locations to explore in November 2019. This year, the tour will emcompass celebrated haunts in Alabama and Georgia, including the infamous Netherworld Haunted House in Stone Mountain, Georgia, and ATROX in Leeds, Alabama.
At TransWorld's Halloween and Attractions show itself, many who attend find that the seminars are a big draw, with topics scheduled for this year that includes prop mechanisms for haunted houses, designed to fit everything from demons to sprites; successful front of house management techniques, sound effects, and their ability to add an extra dimension in scares to any haunted attraction. A thirty-minute speed seminar on scare makeup from Skin Wars celebrity Kyle Vest is among the shorter seminar highlights. Interactive photo opportunities that build word of mouth on social media make another prescient topic this year. And “Running a Successful Gift Shop” is an equally important, timeless one – adding a gift shop to a haunted attraction can provide significant profits.
A “Behind the Scenes Tour” for event-goers takes Halloween knowledge to the next level with an annual, sell-out tour of local attractions. This year's tour included a visit to the new and highly regarded Pirates Curse. St. Louis Escape and the Hive Zombie Haunt are among the venues that will be visited. The off-site event is not produced by TransWorld, but promises an extra haunting experience for participants in the event.
While the event is geared for haunt operators, whether they're running a small local event in a backyard or school or creating a new look for a major theme park, it also functions as a kind of ultimate and exciting first-look toy store for horror fans. As the largest haunt attraction show in the industry, the event features over 300,000 feet of floor space.
Far less frightening is a second complete trade show located within America's Center at the same time as the Halloween fest: TransWorld is adding a Christmas show. Like the Halloween exhibition, new exhibitors, products, and vendors filled the exhibition hall, offering plenty of information and new décor, make-up, and ideas for attendees from mall operators to resort directors, retail store operators, amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums, and family fun centers – in short anyone who is opening or operating a holiday event. Ornaments, sound effects, make-up, and of course a wide range of seminars will be presented. Immersive holiday experiences, entertainment line-ups, and how to provide the best Santa experience around are among the topics of the seminars. Lighting, adding animals – such as reindeer, of course - to live events, as well as building a holiday brand will all be topics on offer. Additionally, CLIPA, the Christmas Light Installation Professional Association, will be holding their conference at the Christmas show event. The conference is geared to pro installers who are looking to expand upon their existing business.
For both Halloween and Christmas attractions TransWorld's shows offered a look at seasonal support that translates into great sales for haunt and holiday operators.