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Knott's Halloween Haunt Enthusiast Event Update!


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Now that I've recovered a bit, I've gone back and written a bit more about my experience as a haunt monster in the report. Check out page one for the expanded story.

 

--Robb

 

How was the "mechanics" of the event? The actors always do a great job but the design and mechanics is what I really enjoy about these Halloween events.

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Awesome trip report Robb! I actually was filming at Haunt on saturday with a website I do "celebrity blogs" for, and I gotta say, I give the "scareactors" a lot of credit! They make it look so easy! I thought being a zombie is just charging at someone and yelling something about brains, but was I wrong haha I quickly learned its a fine art to terrify someone. haha They have to calculate so many things (angle, distraction, ect) to scare the pants off someone. haha I pretty much had the same treatment as you, but I was in Virus Z. I Definitely wanna thank Meghan for working with us on saturday, she was great. And after you get the hang of it, scaring was AMAZING! Oh and if you guys want, I can post a link to the video when its done? Idk the policy about posting outside links here, so I don't wanna take my chances. haha but anyways, here are a few pictures of me all Zombified 0_0 They aren't great because they are on my phone, but I will post more when I get the files from our photographer.

 

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It was taken on my phone, but the photographer took some amazing still that I still have yet to get. But for now, Braaaaaaaaaaaains.

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And here is after like 3 hours. My fleshy bits were falling off a bit. haha

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Dude! I am sooooo jealous! I have always wanted to be a scareacter. Awesome job on the transformation and scare time coverage! It looks and sounds like you all had a blast being the undead. Robb, I love the character insight and afterthoughts. It sheds a completely new light on the event as a whole.

 

I am hoping to do this next year if I am in town. Perhaps I will win the chance to terrify the masses.

 

Muah Ha Ha Ha!

 

Awesome TR! I can't wait to get over to Knotts later this month when I get into town.

 

Guy "Whoot! Haunt!" Koepp

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Every time I have been to HHN, I always say "I would so love to be a chainsaw guy for a night". This looked like amazing fun, and is something I would LOVE to do. Wish I would have been there to see this! Really liked the "makeup process" photos, and yeah, a reality show based around this would be great. They'd just need to figure out a way to work in multiple babies, little people, and cupcake making in order to sell it...

 

dt

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Everyone is missing the most incredible part of the whole event.....Robb wearing pants and a non-TPR Shirt!

 

It was a really fun event, and I was very impressed with the mazes and the scare zones. They also had a pretty good collection of merchandise and glow stuff! I also highly recommend the pre-scare dinner. Our event's pre-scare dinner was in a little different location, and I don't know if you get all the same stuff, but the food was really good. The prime rib and peel and eat shrimp were on par with a Vegas style buffet, and the chicken was really good, especially being a buffet. Also, getting in 30 minutes earlier to the event is a huge bonus.

 

The park was absolutely empty the first few hours. It seemed like ERT was from 9-noon! It was great meeting some new people as well. It was an awesome event, and I can't wait until next year!

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Absolutely awesome Robb!! I loved reading your "review" of the process. I avoided such events my entire life because, frankly, the creep the hell out of me. Then, 3 years ago, a good friend talked me into going to KI and I had a blast, mostly because of the company of the friends I was with. And alcohol. Last year Sammi and I went alone and we were cautious to avoid as many scareactors as we could, although by the end of the night, we were both getting braver and not clinging to each other, LOL It definitely is a psychological experience. You know they are just park employees, but as you said, in the setting, with the makeup, your mind won't logically process that.

 

As for your comments about little kids. I have a coworker who took her kindergarten age child to a local haunted house the other night (she herself is 6 1/2 mos pregnant) and she posted on FB that night how much fun they had and how he did so well. I was like WTF, but some kids are just not fazed. And then they become school shooters or serial killers.

 

Great job!

Shari

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For the past couple of years me and my friend only went to HHN, after some disappointments with Knott's. While HHN is a fantastic high quality event, we've been missing KSF. You really do get that total atmosphere as soon as you enter the park and it doesn't really break as you walk around, like, say traveling down a long series of escalators will do. I've seen reports over the last couple of years of Knott's really pushing themselves. What's been written here, pretty much cinches it and we will be going. Looks like you guys had a total blast.

 

Plus, the funnel cakes are awesome.

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For the past couple of years me and my friend only went to HHN, after some disappointments with Knott's. While HHN is a fantastic high quality event, we've been missing KSF. You really do get that total atmosphere as soon as you enter the park and it doesn't really break as you walk around, like, say traveling down a long series of escalators will do. I've seen reports over the last couple of years of Knott's really pushing themselves. What's been written here, pretty much cinches it and we will be going. Looks like you guys had a total blast.

 

Plus, the funnel cakes are awesome.

 

I totally agree! I went 4 years ago and was very disappointed. Looks like KBF is really stepping up their game!

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I really wish I could go back and look for Robb again now that I know where he was. I didn't have a way to find out which maze he was in because my phone died. Besides that this might have been better than WCB earlier in the year for me. Before this I enjoyed mazes and haunts and all that but wasn't really a big fan. Now I'm in love with the added bonus this brings to the parks. Night rides plus scares so intense that I'd drop to my knees! I actually did that quite a few times in the mazes. I'm surprised.... usually I don't get that freaked out. This is definitely an event I'm going to look forward to for years to come!

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Yet another fantastic expose from TPR

 

It's funny...I've actually never been in a haunted house attraction, and I even shy away from most darkrides. In the past I've just been really easy to jump scare, and it's always bugged me a bit, because I love horror movies and things like that. I think my Asperger's might have something to do with the anxiety surrounding me being spooked like that.

 

But, since I've been taking anxiety medication, I find myself a little more mellow, and can even watch those awful screamer commercials for that K-fee stuff in Germany, and just laugh after being scared now. So who knows, I may finally try a haunted house around here.

 

I will say though, that I'd love to be a character in a haunted house. I love makeup, and I'm told I'm a pretty good actor (I've performed on stage multiple times). The only thing is no opportunities for that have come up around here.

 

Knotts seems to have a good halloween event so it's nice to have something else to remember this park for.

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Now that I have fully had time to rest, recover and replenish my energy, I wanted to post a TR of Sunday's event, and relate a bit more what an awesome experience it was to be monster for the evening.

 

I had an early start on Sunday, up at 5, at the gym from 6-7:45, and then getting to Knott's at about 8:45 for the event that made me very glad that I had decided to turn in about 10 Saturday night. I pulled into parking about 8:50 and was up at the front gate right at 9. After a few minutes of initial confusion as to where we were supposed to go to retrieve our tickets, I got my lanyard, wristband and required items and was on my way. I didn't see Robb or any other familiar faces from TPR up front, so I figured I would run into them somewhere at ERT.

 

I started off with about three or four consecutive rides on Silver Bullet-still my favorite ride at Knott's and running better than ever. The crew was doing an exemplary job with two train operations and I thoroughly enjoyed all of my rides. I decided to take a breather, and made my way over to GhostRider for a ride. I secured a place in the front row (the only seat on GhostRider I can ride) and Robb and a few others from TPR came up as I was waiting and Robb joined me for the ride. (By the way, I loved your response to someone asking where the least rough place to sit was!) It was a decent ride-not as rough as usual but still plenty aggressive, but I enjoyed it. It's still my favorite wooden coaster in California (Terminator at SFMM would win that honor if it were just a shade longer) but I wish something could be done about the roughness. I'm not certain as to the reason, but there seemed to be grease on some of the seats which was interesting.

 

I thought about snagging a ride on Sierra Sidewinder after that, but I elected to head back over to Silver Bullet and catch a few more rides, which I did. By this time the park was open so I decided to get some rides in on Xcelerator and Supreme Scream. I ran into Robb again on the way over there and then was pleasantly surprised to see that Xcelerator had a very small wait even with one train operation. Said hello to Ryan (G-Force) who I had not seen in a while as restraints were being checked, and had a great ride. Xcel is running better than ever, and it never gets old. After this I took a ride on Supreme Scream (which seemed to be having an issue with the towers, we ended up moving towers twice before finally riding) which was enjoyable-I am trying to get used to the height thing in preparation for steeling myself to ride Windseeker next year, and then I just sort of leisurely took my time enjoying the park with a very light crowd, great weather, and very small wait times on everything. Aside from running into Robb, Amy (amyzoo) and Joey (jray21) who were taking photos and said they were heading out for a while before the events were getting started at 3, I did not see a lot of other familiar faces. Managed to get in at least 10 more rides on Silver Bullet, 2 more on Xcelerator, La Revolucion, Wave Swinger, Sierra Sidewinder, the Log Ride, Calico Mine Ride, Montezoomas and Boomerang (where I ran into Jorge who I knew from West Coast Bash a few years back and said hello) and just kind of leisurely enjoyed the park. Feeling a shade hungry since all I had had was a blueberry muffin (I was trying to hold out for the buffet later and get my money's worth) I broke down and bought a small bag of salt water taffy (I just couldn't resist Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavored taffy and it was quite good) and a Diet Pepsi and then took some time to walk around the park some more, then out to the car to stash anything I didn't need and get a pack of smokes. Walked around the Marketplace some and in the shops and overheard an amusing conversation between a mother and her son who was terrified to go into any of the stores because he thought the ghosts in the window decorations would get him, went back in the park for the night and got one more ride on Silver Bullet before heading to the Boardwalk Ballroom and waiting for the doors to open.

 

Everything flowed smoothly as they let us in and the "Haunt Makers" took their places at the table set up on stage in the Ballroom which they did a fantastic job of setting up and decorating for us. We sat down at our tables, and then the Q&A began, and I have to say that it was absolutely one of the most entertaining Q&A sessions I have ever attended. Everyone's questions were answered honestly and with a great sense of humor, with some hilarious behind the scenes stories that were just priceless. It was interesting to hear the process by which mazes come about, some of the ideas that have been considered, and hearing about some of the things we don't usually see. After the session was complete, it was time for the behind the scenes tours.

 

At that point, we were told we should go ahead and take our souvenir cups-filled with a souvenir bumper sticker, 3D glasses, and raffle ticket-with us (and I am glad I opted to do so) and line up for the maze tours. Daniel Miller and Gus took us on some exclusive tours of the two "new" mazes for this year, Virus Z and Fallout Shelter, first initially previewed for us at West Coast Bash in March. (Although I have to say that after seeing some of the existing mazes, especially CornStalkers, last night that a lot of the other mazes seem entirely new and improved as well). The tours were informative, up close and personal, and gave me a greater appreciation for the sheer amount of effort, work, planning and detail to go into all of the mazes themselves. Through everything it was profoundly evident that all of the Haunt Makers truly have a passion for their work and love what they do. It was very interesting to go through the mazes both on a backstage basis and then later during Haunt when they truly come to life due to all of the effects and talent and just the energy of all involved that brings them to life.

 

We returned for our Pre Scare buffet dinner-filled with an impressive array of absolutely delicious food in abundance, and as we entered we received our gift, which was a free t-shirt commemorating the event, which I thought was nice. The buffet was out of this world, and even better than the one last year with the obligatory and delicious Mrs. Knott's chicken, potatoes and gravy, salad bar, a wide assortment of breads, pastas, swedish meatballs, sides, ribs, freshly carved Prime Rib and turkey breast, a good assortment of desserts, an overflowing soda fountain and more. If anyone is doing Haunt this year I highly recommend doing the pre scare dinner-the food and hospitality is top notch and it is more than worth it. We all sat down and ate our fill, and the Haunt Makers joined us as well, eating at the table they had presented from earlier.

 

After dinner, we were reminded to put our raffle tickets into the bowl for the raffle, so I did, and the raffle began. Meghan, our host for the event was assisted by Johanna and there were a variety of cool prizes-including retired costume pieces from the Gauntlet and more. It was at the end of this that my night would take a dramatic turn from what was already shaping up to be a great one into an awesome one.

 

I have been doing events at Knott's now since 2005, especially Solace. Every year, I buy several raffle tickets, yet I had never won anything. Sure, I had won things at events, but never anything really "big". As they were drawing the numbers for the two grand prizes-the chance to be taken to wardrobe and makeup, be transformed into a maze monster, and actually be put in a maze to work for a while-I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be something if I won that and what would I do if I did?" When the number being read off matched the one on my ticket stub, I looked at it to be certain, felt for a moment as if I had won the lottery, and went up to claim the lanyard feeling as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. I was in shock and disbelief and wondering what the experience would be like.

 

Very shortly thereafter, Johanna escorted myself, the other winner, Daniel, and Robb backstage to get us started. I have to preface by stating how impressed I am with the entire Haunt Operation, there is a tremendous amount of effort, work, and behind the scenes people who put themselves into haunting the park with all their passion, and it shows. We were first escorted to wardrobe, where it was determined that we would be vampires in Club Blood, we were issued costumes (mine was a shirt and cape) and escorted over to makeup to be transformed. I had had makeup done in the past-one pretty extensive one for a horror film a friend of mine had done as a school project but it has been many years-and I had no idea what to expect. They have an entire makeup shop back there like something you would see at a production studio with some talented artists working hard all night and taking their work very seriously, and it shows. You can tell it is truly a passion for them.

 

Kristin G was the artist assigned to me, and after asking me if I had any allergies to latex, etc and I responded no, she did an absolutely incredible job. I look scary enough to begin with but she made me look downright creepy and freaky. Having my confidence boosted somewhat by the new look I was ready to go. I put the shirt and cape on over my clothes (thankfully, I had worn black jeans and shoes that night) and I even decided to take my hair out of the ponytail (which I generally never do at any park event) to add to the realism. The other artists did a bang up job with Robb and Daniel as well. After a brief stop over at the offices to stash our personal effects, we were handed off to Stephanie who showed us the zones we could occupy in the maze given our character, costume and the theme of that zone, where we could dash out to get air, and hooked us up with some of the incredibly talented monsters working in the maze to help us out.

 

Robb and Daniel went off to other areas and I was in the club area. I was still a little anxious about how to go about getting out there and really scaring but my rationale was all nonsensical on the topic, e.g., "What if I scare some big drunk guy or his girl and he punches me?" or "What if I traumatize some little kid by accident?" but I was able to quickly squelch those once I talked to the very helpful veteran monsters I was sharing the room with who gave me pointers. Since I'm not a really aggressive person in real life, being scary is acting for me.....so I called on the years of experience singing for bands when I would take on a different persona to connect with a song, or the times I did acting and took on persona for a part, or the time years ago when I was in my friend's horror film for school and that worked. While I can't get the snarl down like these guys have (my attempt at a snarl comes out resonating more like a snore) and my banging the wall with my fist turned out kind of weak, one thing I found that I was able to do was be silently creepy and offer a menacing stare-which I did.

 

I would sit on the couch and stare at people walking through-singling out the ones who were immediately on guard as I know when I go through mazes, or walk the scare zones on the other side, that's mostly the bait they look for when seeking a good scare. If I saw someone looking away or nervous, I would make like I was about to get up and lunge, but I didn't actually do that, I just maintained the menacing staring and following with the eyes. That was when the girl who was in there helping me took the opportunity to do what they call a tag team scare: she would stand opposite from me around the corner, and as the guests would be staring at me wondering what I was going to do, she would jump out and and get them with a good snarl. It was a lot of fun and it quickly became evident why the people who do Haunt every year do it.....there's a certain sense of power, it is somewhat cathartic, and it just made me appreciate what these guys do so much more. If I could put into a nutshell what I think I enjoyed most about it, it was that you really get the opportunity to step outside yourself and be someone else, play a role you might not play the rest of the year and in your day to day life.....and if that is not the very epitome of what the spirit of Halloween is, then I don't know what is.

 

After the highlight of being in the VIP couch room (which was two girls coming through having their picture made with me) they wanted me to move out into the club zone into the area with the cage/pole dancers. The guy I was working with out here was equally helpful and would give me pointers of when to lunge towards someone, who to go after and things I should do. I was still doing the silent menacing staring thing, and when I would see someone nervous I would make like I was going to lunge or give them a more menacing look, and finally, the monster working the area with me pulled me aside and told me something that finally made it all click for me: "Don't be scared of them-they're scared of YOU." I'm so glad he reminded me of that simple truth as it shook me out of my wanting to look scary to being scary for the people filtering through with nervous trepidation. It was so blatantly obvious, yet totally honest-anyone coming through there wanted to be freaked, it was what they came and paid for, and part of the opportunity I had won was to have the chance to deliver that. I was really getting into the swing of things then, hiding behind a gate and swinging out to scare people when they turned the corner in the section I was in and I managed to get a few really good scares in. And I was thoroughly enjoying it with glee. While I'm certain that none of the scares I managed to give people were anywhere close to anything resembling the caliber of the thousands delivered by the dedicated Haunt employees who have had years of practice and are dedicated to their craft every night of the event, I still enjoyed it immensely and it really broke me out of my shell some.

 

Just as I was getting the hang of it, they came and pulled us out as we needed to come out of the maze and rejoin the living as our brief stint as temporary creatures of the night had to come to an end. We thanked Stephanie and our mentors, and were escorted back to take off our makeup and get back into civilian mode. I was shocked to discover we had been in there for nearly two hours, as although it was work to do what we were doing, it literally flew by-a sheer indication of how enjoyable an endeavor it was! I finally got the makeup off (thank God for the jar of Albolene that was in there!) and had a chance to talk to some of the other monsters going home for the night and with every one I talked with, it is overwhelmingly clear that all of these guys truly love what they do and it is truly a passion-the people who hire them definitely know the ones to pick. Not only that, I can tell just from the brief glimpse I experienced that working Haunt must be a blast; they seem to have a real sense of family, teamwork, and doing a tough job but having a great time doing it. Just watching them work is fascinating, but being in the middle of it firsthand provides and entirely different perspective and really makes you more appreciative of all the work behind the screams. I had always wondered how so many could work a full time job and then come and faithfully put so much energy into every night every October, and now I really get it. If my schedule frees up before they do auditions next year, I am very seriously considering giving it a shot merely based on how much I enjoyed my brief excursion into the underworld on Sunday night.

 

Robb, Daniel and myself made our way back into the park and met up with Joey and Amy and we decided to catch up on seeing some of the shows and mazes at that point. We attempted to go through Fallout Shelter first, but they seemed to be having some kind of technical error with the effects. We ended up taking a breather while Robb transferred photos to his computer and prepared for the trip home to TPR Headquarters.

 

At this point, I unfortunately had a terrible episode of acid reflux/heartburn that was threatening the rest of my night. In retrospect, I know what it was now-it certainly was not the awesome food we had had earlier, as that was world class. I realized that aside from two quick stops at the water fountain I had not had any water all day or night but had been drinking Diet Pepsi all day, in the heat, and also at dinner I accidentally ate a corn muffin that had jalapeno in it and I think it was a combination of that and just being tired. Fortunately, I was able to get it under control, and my meal at the Pre Scare buffet did not make an unscheduled repeat appearance. (Sorry to those who I was hanging out with if I was kind of slow due to feeling kind of nauseous and faint for a while). I am thankful that I was finally able to get through it, and even more thankful that it did not kick up really bad until after I was out of the maze for the evening!

 

Robb took off for the night, but Joey, Amy, Daniel and I enjoyed some more of the Haunt. With all of the riding I had done earlier in the day, and given how I was feeling, I knew there would not be any more rides so the agenda was shows and mazes.

 

Here is my nutshell review of each:

 

The Hanging: Although I was still fighting the heartburn during the show and not able to fully focus on it, what I saw and heard was hilarious and entertaining as always, better than last year, and I loved the finale. I look forward to seeing it again when my friend and I come back for Pre Scare and a night at Haunt on the 21st.

 

Slider Show: An unofficial show by the street sliders, this was AWESOME.....these guys deserve their own official show. Very entertaining and enjoyable performance that I feel certain you would not see anywhere else, from some very talented people dedicated to putting on a good show and obviously enjoying the act of doing it.

 

Virus Z: Even better than in the tour! Very talented monsters, great scares, great set design and execution.

 

Corn Stalkers: This is my official favorite of the year so far, considering I have still not seen all of the mazes and rides. Massive improvement overall, with highlights for me featuring one of the best scares I have ever gotten at Haunt ("Look at pumpkin!") and two very scary and truly freaky animatronics, one of which is pure nightmare fodder. GREAT job on this one, guys.

 

Labyrinth: Fantastic as usual. Great talent, one of the most visually interesting and astounding as well as beautiful maze offerings. Has been consistently good every year, and this was no exception.

 

Fallout Shelter: With all of the lighting, effects, and talent-all of which were really on their game-this should be a hit for years to come. Great concept, great effects, good execution. I particularly loved the spider pig and the tribute to one of my all time favorite horror films, The Thing.

 

Slaughterhouse: Although I missed the Farmer Willy's sign out front, this maze-which has been a favorite since it debuted has gotten even darker, more gruesome, and more disturbing. I noticed the absence of the freezer section, which I think actually makes it flow better. Again, some really good talent, especially the sideways "wall people".

 

Asylum/Lockdown: Good again this year. We did this one a few minutes before close, and even still the remaining talent was in there giving it their best. Another very disturbing but well executed maze.

 

Club Blood: We had to go through from the other side (although this was like the fourth time for Joey and Amy as they had been through numerous times earlier getting photos of us!) I enjoyed it from the other side as well, and that thing at the end NEVER fails to freak me out.....it has gotten me every year consistently.

 

One thing the day's events including the evening truly left me with was a greater appreciation of what Haunt at Knott's is all about, the spirit of the event as well as the sheer effort all of these people pour into it, from the head Haunt Makers to the Creative Team to the costuming, the set design, makeup artists, the talent, the whole park staff, including those who put up with massive ride lines until the last minute most of the time, and everyone else involved. It is ever apparent how it really is a dedicated, passionate group of people who are doing something they love for the fans who love it, both those who dedicate most of October to attending and think about it year round, to first time visitors who just want to have a great time being scared out of their mind by the pros. As I returned to my usual role at Haunt as patron and scaree, I found I was enjoying the mazes more than I ever have and with a greater sense of appreciation for how hard everyone works on transforming the Berry farm into the Scary Farm every year. And if reaffirmed my personal opinion that both at Haunt and the rest of the year that Knott's is, at least in my opinion, a world class park.

 

With the mazes and the show we had time for complete, the park closed as it was beginning to sprinkle rain (which thankfully did not arrive until the event had ended). I walked out to the parking lot with Joey, Amy and Daniel, wished everyone well and started home-completely drained and exhausted, but in the best way possible. I am eagerly looking forward to returning to have another night at Haunt on the 21st and catch all of the mazes, shows and haunted rides (Log Ride and Calico) that I didn't catch this time.

 

I just want to say thanks one last time to:

 

-Robb and TPR/Club TPR for your part in putting this together, and another great event

-Meghan at Knott's for all she did to put together such a great event and for having us be a part of it

-All of the staff at Knott's, from those who provided the delicious buffet to the ride ops who put up with us during ERT

-All Of The Haunt Makers for their extremely entertaining Q&A, taking us on the tours, and overall making it a great event. Jeff Tucker has to be one of the funniest and most entertaining speakers I have encountered at any Q&A session, and Daniel Miller and his crew gave us some great tours where it was evident that they love what they do and take pride in their work, and rightfully so. It was great to see Fallout Shelter from its inception at West Coast Bash, then to see it behind the scenes and then to experience it firsthand-and I think it will be a hit. I look forward to seeing what you guys did in the mazes I haven't seen yet when I go back in a few weeks.

-Johanna, who let us put our stuff backstage and got us started on our transformation once we got to wardrobe/makeup

-Everyone in wardrobe and makeup, especially Kristen G who did a bang up makeup job and made me look and feel scary enough to be worthy to be in a maze for a while

-Stephanie, who gave us some much appreciated time in the maze you manage and for letting us have the opportunity

-The monsters in the maze who worked with us, helped us out, and shared some of their knowledge to make it a more fun experience for us

-Amy, Joey and Daniel for hanging out with me for the remainder of the night and for all the photos taken

-The entire staff of Haunt and all of the performers, scareactors, and talent for just rocking it out and putting on a great performance not only Sunday night, but every night. I know more than ever how hard you guys work now, but I also understand that it's purely out of passion.

 

Forgive me if I left anyone out, got any names or spellings incorrect, I did my best considering what a crazy day and night it was!

 

I know this got really long, but I wanted to try to communicate what was a first time and one of a kind experience for me at one of these events, and one that came at a good time too, as aside from West Coast Bash and a few visits to Knott's and SFMM, the past year has been filled with an overwhelming amount of work between a full tiem web development job and two freelance development businesses (which caused me to miss two planned vacations and my hope to attend the Bay Area Bash) and very little play. This was an extremely refreshing antidote, and, as I said, the most memorable and enjoyable time I have ever had at Haunt.....again, major thanks for a day and night I will not forget!

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