Now in its 8th season, https://www.containmenthauntedhouse.com/ in Lithia Springs, Georgia, just celebrated its 4th season of running a holiday haunt. The holiday haunt ran for four nights on Dec 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th. Today, we’ll speak with Joey...
Now in its 8th season, Containment Haunted House in Lithia Springs, Georgia, just celebrated its 4th season of running a holiday haunt. The holiday haunt ran for four nights on Dec 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th. Today, we’ll speak with Joey McCollough about how they craft a new story for this off-season experience. Subscribe here.
Joey McCollough: So, my name is Joey, I'm the Owner/Operator of Containment Haunted House, one of many people that are helping make it work together. My wife is the other owner we have, and then we have a team of builders, painters, and everything that we make it come together. Containment is built out of 26 shipping containers, and the idea of it was, originally, the containers were going to have a very industrial feel to it. Over time it's made our goal to make it to where you don't know you're in containers. So, we kind of built our own little building out of it. So, inside there's flooring, there's roofing, there are all kinds of stuff to take you out of the outside element, put you inside, and make it to where it doesn't have that container feel.
Philip Hernandez: We're here in December because you are doing a Christmas event. Tell us about that.
Joey McCollough: So, this is our 4th year during the Christmas event. Ghost stories were a pastime of Christmas that has long since gone. So, we took A Christmas Carol and boiled it down to the basic ghost story and then elaborated on it. So, you're going to take the journey that Scrooge took, but in a much darker, more sinister way since you are the person going through it, not Scrooge, they're going to start questioning about your past and start asking if you're going to be atoned for your evil doings.
[Clip From Haunted House]
Joey McCollough: They don't want you to atone for it, they want to drag you into the depths.
Philip Hernandez: So, do you find with the Christmas show that you're taking a little bit longer with folks, you know, because it's off-season event? That sounds like a lot of acting is what I'm saying.
Joey McCollough: It absolutely is, and with it being a slower show, we're able to take a little bit longer, have the interaction beefed up a little bit more. You know it's not the Halloween crowd where we have a ton. We still try to do that with the Halloween crowd as best as we can. The offseason shows really afford us the chance to elaborate on it more.
Philip Hernandez: Excellent, well, speaking a little bit about the season and the show's capacity, whatnot. How was your past season?
Joey McCollough: This season was great. It topped last year. Every year we've showed a growth, and I expected a little bit of a downturn. In 2020 we definitely had the huge bump because we were about the only thing open, and I expected the following 2021, 2022 to show a potential downturn. But we didn't see that. We did not see as large of a growth, but we still saw growth.
Philip Hernandez: You know you're in an area where there's just a lot going on, and there's more, I'd say entertainment in this area, not just haunted houses, but there's a lot; the Stranger Things experience and there's Harry Potter, there's all sorts of stuff. In your words, how do you guys differentiate yourselves from the entertainment offerings?
Joey McCollough: We had to be different, so going back to the actor-based driven haunted houses, we wanted to elaborate on that, and went very interactive, almost theatrical to a point, but still keeping the scares and everything in place, and really just kind of thinking of things outside of the box. What can we do that nobody else is doing? Or better yet, how can we do it a little bit differently? It's still an ongoing thing, I won't say it's 100% there, but it's an ever-developing thing and whatnot.
Joey McCollough: I worked for several years for Walt Disney World and spent a lot of time studying Walt Disney. When he was doing movies, when you get done with the movie, it's in the can, it's on the shelf, you can't go back to it, but Disneyland was never finished, and it was always evolving. Well, that's the same with a haunted attraction, it's always evolving. I believe that all the haunted houses around. If you take them and look at them as their movie, each one of them tells a different story. Every one of them tells a different story, everybody puts their hard-earned blood, sweat, tears, and money into it to make it the best it can possibly be. Me, as somebody who liked going to haunted houses, I always say, go to the movies, go see more than one, and you'll figure out which one you like and go back to it, and every year it will change.
Philip Hernandez: What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in the next season, in 2023?
Joey McCollough: You know the biggest challenge with us is how to, honestly, how do we keep evolving the scares? We've got the storyline stuff down, but how do we balance that storyline to scare where it's not just all storyline or not just all scares? Where we keep that mix? That's always a struggle with us, especially when the actors get in and they get really involved, and sometimes they forget the scare, we have to go through and remind them. But that's the biggest challenge with us, how do we evolve it? How to create new scares? Maybe something that nobody else has done, other than just the typical drop panel jump scare, that type of stuff. I'm really big into, not just the startle scare, but the overall scare. How do we build anxiety and anticipation? In the world we live in today, people are getting desensitized to stuff, and I think a lot of them are expecting more close-to-death experience-type things and whatnot. You do what you can to get as close to that and be safe as possible, obviously. But yeah, I have noticed that there's a higher expectation of the scare factor compared to what it's been. What was working five years ago and scaring people, it's not working as well anymore, and you just got to keep evolving with that.