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March 10, 2023

An inside trick for your best customers

An inside trick for your best customers shares a design hack – incorporating easter eggs (AKA Hidden narrative moments) into your haunt for your best customers to discover. Support for this episode comes from Gantom Lighting and Controls. See what you’re missing...

Scott Swenson shares a design hack – incorporating easter eggs (AKA Hidden narrative moments) into your haunt for your best customers to discover. Support for this episode comes from Gantom Lighting and Controls. See what you’re missing with a free demo. Subscribe to everything from the Haunted Attraction Network here.


Hey, everybody. Scott Swenson here from a. Scott in the Dark Periodic Podcast for Haunters, and Scott Swenson Creative Development. I'm here with another haunt hack, another short little tidbit of information that may help haunters during this haunt season. Now, this particular haunt hack is a little weird. It doesn't necessarily bolster your haunt, it doesn't necessarily make your haunt any better, but it just might get people talking about your haunt. If you are a gamer, these things are usually called Easter Eggs, if you are a Disney freak or a Disney fan, they're usually called Hidden Mickeys, but basically what they are, are small hidden treats that just automatically blend in with the scenic. But if you know what to look for, you can actually sort of gamify, create another element, or another level to your haunt. 

Let me give you a specific example, and I think that will help you understand them better. Several years ago, I went to a Dollar Store, and I found these guys, which are basically really cheap, plastic rat skeletons. I guess apparently rats have bones in their ears, based on this skeleton, which I never realized. Anyway, they're not that bad to look at, you can go back and paint them a little more if you'd like, but if you're putting them in the dark you really don't need to. They're somewhat posable, but they're not as posable as some that you might get at say, I don't know, one of those Halloween prop stores, but they were cheap, they were a buck a piece. What I thought would be really fun with these is to take them and put them in different positions, maybe get 13 of them, because I like the number 13. Get 13 of them and place them in hidden locations as part of the scenic around your haunt. 

Don't say anything about them when you first open, but in the middle of the run, when you get to a point where you want just a little bit of extra attention or a little bit of extra media, maybe you go out and you say, "hey, find the 13 hidden," well, I guess they would be Hidden Mickeys in this case, "the hidden rat skeletons." Or whatever they are, you could use whatever is most appropriate for your storyline. "See if you can find all 13 of them and post where they are on our social media." What it does is, it gives you a huge boost of social media, and it makes guests come back again to experience your haunt, because they may have noticed one or two the first time, but when they're going back with a purpose, it may actually generate a second visit. Now, obviously, like I said, they don't need to be rats, they can be whatever is going to work for your haunt. The other advantage, too, is when people come back looking for these, then they'll be distracted. It will give your performers an extra opportunity to come in and give them a great startle. 

Another thing I like to hide in haunts is what I call my signature. Now, I don't know whether everybody knows this or not, but whenever I ride or design a haunt, I do my darndest to try to find a way to incorporate a rabbit. Sometimes that is something as simple as a small rabbit figurine that's part of the set decoration, sometimes it's a graffiti rabbit on a wall, sometimes it's the name of a character which is the word rabbit in another language, but I like to try to do that whenever I possibly can. Sometimes, they are very hidden, so if you've been to some of my haunts in the past, you'll probably never find them. But the truth is, I put them in a lot. 

So, if you're really looking, maybe that's another thing you can do. Each year you find a new way to incorporate a signature, like a character or a reference to one of the earliest characters that you've ever used. Say, for example, if you're a theme park, like Knott's Berry Farm, you find ways to incorporate the Green Witch or you find ways to incorporate the Overlord if you're at one of the other Cedar Fair parks. Whatever. Whatever is right for you, but find a new way each year so that guests returning each year will have something new to look for. Does it help the haunt? Maybe. I think an argument can be made that it's a good distraction, but more importantly, it gives people another reason to talk about your haunt and why it is cool, and why it's so important. 

So, if you'd like to learn more about how I feel about haunted attractions, or really about themed entertainment in general, you can listen to my podcast, which is a Scott in the Dark Periodic Podcast for Haunters, you can read my books, and yes, I have a few of them, or you can go to my website and sign up for my monthly newsletter. Don't panic, it only comes out once a month, so I won't bug you all the time. But that's this Haunt Hack, and hopefully, it's helpful and gives you another little thing to think about. Until next time this is Scott Swenson saying happy haunting.


Scott SwensonProfile Photo

Scott Swenson

Owner/Creative Director

For over 30 years, Scott Swenson has been a storyteller, bringing stories to life as a writer, director, producer and performer. His work in theme park, consumer events, live theatre and television has given him a broad spectrum of experiences. In 2014, after 21 years with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Scott formed Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC. Since then he has been providing impactful experiences for clients around the world. Whether he is installing shows on cruise ships or creating seasonal festivals for theme parks, writing educational presentations for zoos and museums or directing successful fund raisers, Scott is always finding new ways to tell stories that engage and entertain.