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March 26, 2022

A Scott in the Dark: Transworld 2022

A Scott in the Dark: Transworld 2022

Recorded at the 2022 Transworld Halloween, Christmas, and Escape Room show in St. Louis

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Recorded at the Transworld Halloween, Christmas, and Escape Room show in St. Louis (with a recap recorded in Indianapolis a couple of days later) Scott shares his thoughts and experiences at the show. 

Additional Resources


Last night I've been catching up with a bunch of friends that I haven't seen in a while, making contacts with new clients. Actually, I've been here two nights, but only on the trade show floor one day. Last night I had had dinner with my friends and clients from Zoo Tampa, and then after that I went over to the [Inaudible 03:11] entertainment party and partied with them, and then did something I have not done in way too many years, and that is I actually closed the bar at the Marriott which is right across the street from the convention center. Didn't I just warn everybody not to do that? Didn't I just warn everybody to watch how you consume alcohol? Wow, I should have listened to my own podcast. I really should have, but I didn't, and did I pay for it this morning. All I can say is I'm way too old to do that. Then I had a client dinner, the night before which was great. I just had I just had lunch with another great friend of mine who I've worked with before. This has really been a homecoming kind of event, getting to see a whole bunch of people. By the way, for those of you who are not part of y newsletter. I would strongly recommend that you sign up for it. Just go to, sign up for the newsletter, because I will be doing a compilation video that will be members only, so only members of my newsletter will get to see my perspective on what the show was all about. I'm not doing a video version of this particular podcast, so if you want to see what I saw, go to and sign up for the email list and you'll get a link as part of the members only segment of this month's newsletter.

So, as you can see, I'm rambling a little bit because everything is a bit overwhelming and kind of confusing out here on the trade show floor. And I'm a little groggy, I will be honest. So, next year I'll just remember to listen to my own podcast before I make my way to the trade show floor. I will continue to be reporting from here, I may talk to some folks, I may get some additional comments about the show. I will tell you one of the things that I'm most excited about is that the Haunted Attraction Network actually has a booth here. So, it's given me a base of operation and a great place to talk to a bunch of listeners. I've had a bunch of people come up and say, "I've seen your show. I like your show. Thank you so much, keep up the good work," both for this show and for Green Tagged Theme Park in 30. So, thank you, to all the listeners who came up and said hi, and thank you to all the new listeners that are now joining because of the seminars that I've caught here. All right, I'm going to go now because I'm just on visual overload, and since it's my first time on the trade show floor this time there's so much to see! Way too much to see! So, I will come back later and explain what I saw, what I liked, what was amazing.


I've made my way back to my Airbnb apartment, which is in the ideal location for this show. It's only about 1/2 block from the entrance to the Convention Center, The American Center, and it's the end of the day. I'm ending this day in a more responsible and grown-up time, so I won't be quite as groggy tomorrow morning as I was this morning. The show went, today, remarkably well. I had a couple of meetings with projects that I've been working on. Since we're all here we just did a kind of a touch-up meeting.

Then I got to have dinner with a very, very dear friend of mine who I worked with at Zoo Tampa several years ago, and now she works at an aquarium in Utah, and she is a haunter at heart. This is her first Transworld Trade Show, so I got to kind of see the show through the eyes of someone who's never been here before. That was really exciting and kind of rejuvenating. We talked a lot about not only the vendors that she experienced—and it was very funny because she handed me her stack of propaganda and she said, "I want you to sort through this and tell me who you know and who you'd recommend and who you think is good," etc. It was hysterically funny because the stack, I would be like, "oh, this is a great vendor, or this is a great vendor." She's like oh good because their stuff really looked cool, and I'm glad to hear that you like them, and have had experience working with them. that they bring about good stuff." I will say that in looking through her handouts, there were a lot of vendors that I did not recognize. So, I think that's great, I think that means that the industry is continuing to grow, I think that means that there are still people getting involved in producing products and becoming vendors and attending the show. Now, I don't know whether these vendors are actually new or whether they've just not attended a Transworld before or vended at a Transworld before, but it was great to see some new faces and some new names. I discovered a mask vendor that, I think her stuff looks really, really cool. It's very organic and really fun. I've also noticed that with some of the parts and pieces that are being offered, there are some finishes that are being done, there are some new glossy finishes and translucent finishes that are really cool to create the look of either liquid blood that has pooled or some sort of wet experience like things are still moist. It's a great treatment because I've seen a couple different vendors that have gotten it, and I don't know whether it's a new way to use silicone or a new way to use epoxy or what it is, because I never really touched any of the props. Suffice to say, there's been some great advancements in regard to that. There's also a relatively new company made up of some really, really clever designers and technicians who've worked in other locations. They've now kind of come together to create a, I guess I can call it a consortium, but a new company called Iron, Wood, and Glitter. They did something remarkably clever, I thought, for a trade show booth. They actually put together a percussion show that had a storyline to it and ended with a bit of a surprise. I guess, by the time anyone listens to this the show will be over, so I can be honest with what the surprise was. It was a drumming show that ended with a hanging, and a pretty realistic one at that. So, kudos to them, because it brought attention to their booth, it added a special moment to the trade show floor. First of all, I've worked with some of them individually, and the quality of what they provide is pretty incredible. So, if you have a chance and you need their services, check them out; IWG Iron, Wood, and Glitter. I know that it's a coming together of some really talented people, and I'm assuming that their collaborative minds will be even greater than their individual experiences. So, check them out if they're new to you. They're not really new to me because like I said, I know them as individuals, but the company is new so check it out. You might be able to find some pretty cool stuff that they can do for you. The other thing that I thought... sorry I got off track with my friend who I had dinner with. The other thing we found in looking through her eyes, as far as this being the first time she's been to the show, she was surprised as to how well haunters get along. She said, "I've never been to a trade show where so many people hug each other," because again, we're glad to see each other. I think that, in this industry, we do truly care about what we do and who we end up doing it with, as far as our jobs and our professions. Trade shows give us an opportunity to come together as a tribe or as a clan and celebrate the fact that you know there are people who don't understand what we do, there are people who really don't even know what we do, but we do, and we enjoy celebrating it with each other. She was also absolutely shocked when we went to the bar at the Marriott after dinner, and how packed it was, and the vibe, how jovial it was. She went off and started talking to people and I went off and started talking to people, and it was just really amazing. It was really amazing how quickly she adapted to the haunter mentality, but she's a haunter at heart and so she fit right in. She was like, "oh, I found my people." She felt really good. Then finally for this section for today I just want to reinforce how appreciative I am to all of the listeners who came have come up to me during the show and told me how much they have enjoyed the podcasts. It just, you have no idea how much it means to me. Because again, we kind of lose sight when we're recording podcasts, and I think this is true of any podcaster who does a solo show. We sit in a room and talk to ourselves. I think sometimes we forget people are actually listening. So, I always appreciate it when people come up and tell me what they like, and even what they would like to see less of or more of, or hear less of or more of in the show. It is very rewarding, and it makes me feel really good about doing this show and other podcasts when I get that feedback that I don't always get because it's not really a live medium. It is a recorded medium obviously, and it goes out electronically and almost anonymously. But whenever people come up and say, "I listen to your podcast," I had someone this evening, for example, come up to me and say, "I listen to your podcast constantly and your suggestions have really helped mold our haunt, and we really appreciate it." Then and then he went on to tell me that he had both of my books and that he said, "I've never had an author sign a book, but I would really love for you to sign these." So, I'm going to meet him tomorrow at the booth and sign his books, and thank you, thank you, thank you, it really makes my day when people come up and let me know that they either listen, appreciate, or preferably both to the shows and that they actually get something out of it. So that's kind of the recap for today. Tomorrow, I have the Oscares scheduled. I'm supposed to host those, and we'll see how that goes. I'm also supposed to get some interviews for the Haunted Attraction Network on some very specific things. So, I've got a lot of talking to do again tomorrow, and hopefully, I won't lose my voice. But I will say that is one of those things that I warned people about in the last show, you will lose your voice because you talk constantly, and you talk loudly. One of the things I think people forget when they're at the show is there's a lot of noise on the trade show floor, especially if you happen to be near like an air cannon vendor or some sort of loud animatronics vendor. You end up talking much louder and slightly yelling. So, anyway, hopefully, my voice will hold out and I'll be able to finish up this show and share with you the last sort of hurrah of Transworld 2022. —— So, we just finished the Oscare Awards, and it was a new format that was a lot more video-heavy, but I think it went very well. It was just so exciting to be in the room where it happened, to be in the room where people get recognized for good work, that's really exciting. It was a packed house, everybody was there. Joe Thaler got the Lifetime Achievement Award, and it was presented to him by last year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, which was Bob Turner. Of course, Joe brought his daughter Jen, who is now in charge of the Transworld Show, and brought her up on stage and they had a really charming family moment. Jen was crying, and people in the audience were crying, and it was just an incredible way to end an evening of recognition, which I always think is fun; when you get people who can come together and recognize the excellence of their peers. Once again, I always support the theory and the actions of the Haunted Attraction Association, because they bring people together and they make the industry recognize that by being kind to each other, and by helping each other, it makes the industry better, and then it comes back and benefits all of us. I know, if you've been listening to my show for a while, you've heard me say this same kind of thing over and over and over again, but it's still true, and unfortunately there are still people that need to be reminded of it. So, don't be a jerk, help out your fellow haunter, because if people go to their haunt and love it, then they're going to look for another haunt and that might be yours. If people go to somebody else is on and hate it, then they will never go to another local haunt again, and that might also be yours.

Like, I said, doing the Oscares was just just really exciting, and to see Joe and Jen on stage was amazing. It was really cool. Other than that, what else happened today? Like I said, we're nearing the end of day, really the last full day, because I fly out tomorrow morning. I was able to run around and chat with a bunch of vendors, and the vendors have said this has been one of the most exciting shows they've been to in years. You've heard me again, reference it, but someone actually gave me some data and said this year they sold more on Thursday than in past years they've sold on Saturdays. So, that's huge, because most people who are buying usually wait, or in the past they have waited, until the end of the show. So, they walk around and talk and mingle and make their list, but they said Thursday people were just signing purchase orders, and that was great. There was one vendor that I really wanted to go up and talk to, unfortunately, every time I stopped by the booth, they were three deep taking orders. So, that was great, that was very cool. —— OK, so that section ended really awkwardly. I will tell you what happened. I actually got pulled away because I was recording it in the hallway right outside of the actual Oscares. So anyway, that section just ended really fast. Now, speaking of really fast, the show went by very quickly. Since the show has gone by very quickly, it's been a couple of days, and I actually went straight from Saint Louis and the trade show, back to Tampa, spent the night, and now in Indianapolis, IN already working on another project. Normally I finish up my Transworld shows by talking about them while I'm either still in Saint Louis, or sometimes I've even done it in the airport. This year things have just been moving so very quickly that I actually have taken some time to, well, recover a little bit. Even though I've been working here, it's not nearly as hectic of pace as the trade show floor was, and my voice is a little bit better, but still not quite back. Again, take those lozenges, that's important when you go to trade shows. I've listened to everything that I recorded, and I just thought that it would be good to just put a little button on the end here, and just kind of reinforce the importance of shows like the Transworld Shows and well... OK, so there are no shows like the Transworld shows, it's huge, its multiple holidays all shoved together, it's an amazing show. If you have the opportunity to do a trade show, especially a Transworld show, I would strongly, strongly, strongly recommend it. It's the kind of show that, as you heard throughout all of my random jibber Jabber recorded earlier, it was really, for me, all about making connections and making reconnections. It is a networking extravaganza, and over and above that you get to see all kinds of cool stuff. As you probably noticed, if you're a regular listener, you notice that my I got more and more distracted. In fact, the last segment just ended. But I got more and more distracted as the show went on, and that's the kind of show it was. Not since the trade show was in Chicago, which in my opinion was its heyday, its golden era, has there been such excitement and so much going on. I'm hoping that if you're listening to this and you were at the show, I hope that you walked away thinking Transworld is completely revitalized and is fully back and ready post pandemic, or as we hopefully ebb out of the pandemic. I hope that everybody had the same amount of incredible fun, rejuvenation for our industry, and amazing connections with old friends that I had while I was there. If you did not attend or were not able to attend, I hope I've given you an idea of just some of the feelings that I had while I was there. I realized that this show, unlike some in years past, did not go into a bunch of detail about specific items, did not talk to a bunch of vendors. Actually, I did talk to a bunch of vendors, however, that will be coming out on the Haunted Attraction networks: Haunted Attraction Association Vendor Guide, which should be going live very, very shortly. Go to and you'll be able to find it.

Everybody who was part of the Haunted Attraction network, I briefly mentioned it earlier in the show, but everyone who was part of the Haunted Attraction Network was assigned multiple vendors to go out and chat with so that all of the vendor members of the Haunted Attraction Association, who were displaying at the show, had the opportunity to talk about their product to tell people where they could find it.

It was really interesting because one of the things that we did was we talked about not only their most popular product, but also those products that were, what we called hidden gems, or what I called hidden gems. The product that guests attending the show might not have known about. It was really interesting because a lot of people had either new products or products that they were very fond of, that they just wanted to make sure that everybody knew about. So, it was great to give them that opportunity. So that will be coming out through the Haunted Attraction network, so make sure you check that out.

I guess, if I'm going to try to encapsulate the whole show, you know I always want to end with something really prophetic. That's prophetic, not pathetic, and they may be both, I'll be honest, but something very prophetic in what this means and how we can move forward. I think any industry that has as much energy and as much unity as I saw at the trade show is in good shape. I think that, even at the State of the Industry that the Haunted Attraction Association did, the State of the Industry panel, they said that things were going gangbusters. I do think that we have to temper that a little bit, I think it's going to hit hard and then I think it's going to even itself out, because that's all there really is, equilibrium in this world. So, that's how the world tries to find its normalcy. If you'd like to hear more about that, make sure you listen to Green Tagged Theme Park in 30, because Philip and I went off on a 15-minute rant about all the stuff they said. In true form, we had slightly differing opinions and it was it made for some very good discussion, hopefully it'll prompt some discussion in you. So, make sure you check out Green Tagged Theme Park in 30 as well as, of course, continue to listen to my show. This is actually being recorded on the 22nd, 2022 or this part of the show is, and the reason I'm mentioning that is I'm going to put out my members newsletter very shortly, within the next two or three days. So, if you're listening to this now, please make sure that you join my newsletter so that you can get a link to the members only content, which will be my compilation video. I've already put it together, and it has everything from the outside of the trade show, the trade show floor, the various parties that I went to, some of the people I had dinner with, my Airbnb, it's got a little segment of that too, so it really is kind of the video montage of the whole trade show experience. It's a great opportunity for people to just kind of see what I talked about in this episode. Again, yes, I will be completely transparent, I'm using it as a ploy to get more and more people to sign up for my newsletter. So, because of that, I'm actually going to wait until the end of the month before I send the newsletter out with that link. So, if you can sign it before March, you will actually get it in your email box, and don't panic, I do not sell anybody's information. The way to join A Shout in the Dark, the way to join my newsletter is to go to, and right underneath my picture on the landing page it says, "subscribe to my newsletter," and you can click there, fill out your information, and you're good to go. So please do that, because I would love to be able to continue to be in touch and to send information. It's not just about haunt stuff, it's about everything that I do, it's about cool websites that I find, in this newsletter I'm going to share a couple of links to places that I found interesting while I was at Transworld. So, I think that could be kind of fun too. As well as, there's always members-only content, and the members-only content is going to be the video.

I guess that's about all I have to say in this particular episode. I know I did not focus on the actual hard goods of the trade show, but I think I was able to encapsulate a lot of the energy, confusion, and exhaustion that one would experience if they go to the Transworld show in Saint Louis. Now, I will say that they've already set their dates for next year, and they are in early February, which I'm actually kind of excited about. I like the idea of the show being a little bit earlier next year, and I've already put them in my calendar. I am planning to be there. It is February 2nd through the 5th, so Thursday through Sunday. So, mark your dates for the Transworld show. I will do everything I can to be there, that is my plan, so unless I'm working somewhere else, I will see you there.

If this has sparked your interest, again, go to the show, go to this trade show, go to any trade show, quite honestly. But if you want the biggest of the big, the loudest of the loud, and based on what I just saw, the most enthusiastic of the most enthusiastic, check out the Transworld tradeshows, the Co located shows of Christmas, Halloween, and escape rooms. Until next time this is Scott Swenson saying rest in peace.

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.