Nightmares on the Rogue Haunted Mines is a relatively new haunt in Medford, Oregon. After only a few years, they’ve moved into a new building AND added another location (Carnival of Chaos) 25 minutes away. We’ll hear from owner Devin Price about why...
Nightmares on the Rogue Haunted Mines is a relatively new haunt in Medford, Oregon. After only a few years, they’ve moved into a new building AND added another location (Carnival of Chaos) 25 minutes away. We’ll hear from owner Devin Price about why he plunged full speed into haunting and is so dedicated to immersive storytelling. Follow along to our Hauntathon: https://linktr.ee/hauntedattractionnetwork
Information for Nightmares on the Rogue Haunted Mines and Carnival of Chaos can be found on their website, including dates, times, and tickets.
Devin Price: My name is Devin Price, and I am the creative director and owner of Nightmares on the Rogue, which is nightmares of the Rogue Haunted Mines in Medford, OR, and Carnival of Chaos in Eagle Point, OR. We are an organization that puts on two haunted attractions in Southern Oregon about 25 minutes apart. We really lean into the immersive storytelling aspect of haunted attractions. We are relatively new to the area. We started doing fall fundraising at our youth center and once we had to close that down to the pandemic, we realized there was demand in our market, and something I've wanted to do my entire life. So, now we are tackling it at a "pro level", but really just creating two very different experiences for people in Northern California and Southern Oregon.
Philip Hernandez Tell me what guests can experience from each attraction.
Devin Price: So, Nightmares on the Rogue Haunted Mines, we really wanted to bring in a cohesive theme. We really lean into the storytelling aspect of haunted attractions as kind of where we find our niche. We kind of tell ourselves if Indiana Jones is a horror movie, that's who we are.
Devin Price: So, what guests can expect is you are entering an abandoned mineshaft that is now opened up for tours. A company called Rogue Mining Co is bringing you in, and so as a guest, you're going down there, and once you get to the bottom of the mineshaft, the whole event is underground. Once you get to the entrance of that, you realize that something has gone horribly wrong. So, we take you through different nightmares that have taken over the mineshaft, and so that the whole story has a cohesive theme around it, but then we're able to change different miniature stories within the mineshaft.
Devin Price: This year you get to go into the first room, so there was a miner who owned the Rogue Mining Co, and he was so obsessed with mining that he made himself, his daughter and his wife live in the mines. So, you get to enter his daughter's room and there was a horrible explosion with TNT, and it trapped the daughter in there. So, she actually now is the one who's haunting the mines and harvesting all of the nightmares from Southern Oregon and putting them into this mineshaft.
Devin Price: Once you go into that first showroom, all of the miners in there don't know anything's wrong. You later find out, without giving too much away, that all the miners are dead, but they think they're alive. Then the miners are the ones who push the narrative moving forward. So, they're kind of interacting with everything going on just as the guests would be.
Devin Price: Once you get past that first story room where you get to hear the story of the miner's daughter, you go into our rules room and then that miner kind of lays down the rules and tells you, kind of, "OK, you're going to these different mineshafts, we don't know what's going on. These creatures are coming out of nowhere and good luck." Along with the mine, there are two different stories within two smaller stories that we call different mine shafts that you enter.
Philip Hernandez So, just to clarify, it is an indoor linear walking experience, you just have different mineshafts, you could go down, there's like story channels.
Devin Price: Correct, it's a linear indoor experience, Nightmares on the Rogue Haunted Mines, the first story you go into we call Carved, it's kind of my love letter to Halloween. You're going through these scenes of these pumpkin people that are rotting through the ground in the mines and they're trying to take revenge on humans who've been carving their siblings. Kind of our take on the classic pumpkin tale. So, you venture into typical haunted house scenes, the old mansion where the family lived that the pumpkins are taking over. You get to go through the forest, the barn, and the scarecrow, and then you end it in an actual jack-o'-lantern. So, that's our first story
Devin Price: Then you enter back into the mines. So, once you get there, the miners are kind of just as confused of you as what's going on, and that will lead you to some cool sets that you're actually in a mining atmosphere. Then our second story is called Bermuda. So, you're on an old oil ship, the USS Cyclops, that was disguised as an oil ship, but you find out that they were doing some experiments on the Bermuda Triangle. So, it's kind of a more nautical-themed haunted house and we have a bunch of cool sea creatures and anglerfish and other things attacking you. Then you exit that mineshaft back into the mine and that kind of, hopefully, brings the whole story together.
Philip Hernandez Let's talk a little bit now about the other side of it, the Carnival of Chaos. Tell me about that.
Devin Price: So, Carnival of Chaos is located 25 minutes from the Mines. There had been a haunted house that has kind of been a staple in Southern Oregon called Circus of Screams. They approached us and let us know that they just weren't doing it anymore and asked us if we wanted to use their location for our haunt. Well, we had recently signed a long-term lease at our new location, but after speaking with them, we kind of decided we had the capacity to run two haunts. So, we're actually taking over their space. But their management team and the former Circus of Screams team is having a big part in the actual production of it.
Devin Price: So, what carnival chaos is, you're going through an old 1920s carnival and freak show. The first half of it's all UV blacklight, 3D chroma depth paint, and going through these different midways and freak show aspects, a hypnotist, a fortune teller. Then once you get to the end of that section, you realize you've gone through this whole part and there have been no clowns, and Circus of Screams has kind of been iconic for scary clowns.
Devin Price: So, you find out the reason that you were brought to this carnival is because they've run out of clowns and they're recruiting you to become one. So, you go through a vortex tunnel and then you end up on the other side, this old clown asylum hospital. The second half of the haunt is kind of a Build-a-Clown, Build-a-Bear clown workshop where you're going through just gruesome cotton candy scenes, psychotherapy, and electric shock therapy where they're recruiting you to become the clowns in that carnival.
Philip Hernandez Interesting. This is the first year that you have done both of them, is that correct?
Devin Price: This is our first year taking over that location, and then actually the Mines is in a brand-new location this year too. So, both locations are new.
Philip Hernandez Why do you think that the immersive storytelling component is so important?
Devin Price: So, I grew up in Salt Lake City, UT, and when I was young there was a haunt called Rocky Point that really introduced me to what haunted attractions were. I was a big film kid, and so Rocky Point was kind of on a lot of lists, it's been top ten overall haunts, and it was literally like you were walking through a movie. You were going through actual film sets that they transported from Hollywood there. So, my first viewpoint of haunted attractions was these mega 30,000, 40,000 square foot facilities.
Devin Price: Then in 2007, the Travel Channel started doing a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at haunted houses, and Nightmare on 13th was featured, Castle of Chaos was featured. Then going into my senior year of high school Fear Factory opened up and I got to do a behind-the-scenes video tour and kind of a review of them during their opening season. So, I really was introduced to haunted attractions, with them being these mega, large-scale events.
Devin Price: So, when I moved to Southern Oregon, I saw that there was a whole other side of haunting, a more localized side, a smaller side, kind of a mom-and-pop shop that I hadn't necessarily been exposed to in Salt Lake. The first thing I did after we did our charity haunt is, I went and introduced myself to all the local haunts and kind of got to learn more about the area and what they've been doing. We are relatively small to bigger cities, but we still have 250 to 300,000 people within an hour and a half car ride that can make it out.
Philip Hernandez That's pretty good, yeah.
Devin Price: So, I saw there was demand, there were some similar markets that our size is kind of comparable, and I saw the success of those haunts. One thing that I really wanted to make sure we brought into our product was that immersion, the immersive storytelling. I have a love of haunting because of film, and because of those experiences at Rocky Point Nine, Nightmare on 13th, and the other haunts in Salt Lake. So, kind of right when we decided we were going to do this, that's the direction we wanted to go also.
Devin Price: My wife's family is a little bit more on the conservative side and they didn't even really celebrate Halloween, so I kind of had to show her what haunted attractions could be. She kind of said, "if we're going to do this, we're going to make sure we're going down a certain lane," which is the one I already wanted to go to because I know there's different types of haunts for different customers. I said earlier, it's kind of like Indiana Jones was a horror film, we really lean into that. We're never going to compromise being scary, but we're going to make it so that all types of immersive adventure lovers can go, from a 10-year-old kid to a 30-year-old, and 50-year-old, and they all come out with different experiences.
Philip Hernandez If I were to summarize everything, it sounds like there were multiple forces working together for the immersive part. You grew up in an area with haunts and watching haunts on TV, and also being a fan of storytelling in general, and you kind of combine that with then your wife wanting to make an experience that's more than I think maybe, we'll call it, the traditional haunt where you're conga lining through, and you're just being scared. So, you kind of want those two things converged, does that sound accurate?
Devin Price: Yeah, that 100% explains it.
Philip Hernandez So, now going over to the location part, you have a new building for Nightmares on the Rogue, but then you also are adding this other haunt. We know that it's basically an opportunity, but how are you kind of avoiding stretching yourselves too thin? Because on one hand, it's a good opportunity to add kind of like a second location, but also the locations are far enough apart so they present kind of a logistical challenge for your staff, but then also there's the new building. So, I feel like there's a lot of stuff happening all at once, so talk to me about that.
Devin Price: Yeah, it's been challenging. First, we really buy into our people. We're, from everything I've gathered, the first haunt in our area that was committed to paying actors, and staff, as seasonal employees. All of the other haunts in the previous years have been more volunteer basis and we really wanted to make sure that we got to a level where we're able to do that. It's kind of harder as Oregon is on the higher end for expenses, but we thought that that was very important. So, we've got a team that's really bought into the system and what we're doing, which has allowed me to have more confidence in running two locations.
Devin Price: The other thing is, I wouldn't have been able to take over the Circus of Screams location if the previous owner, Julie and her team, wasn't 100% behind it. So, having them there where they're adopting kind of how we do things, but still helping manage that particular event, and helping go forward with that has almost been more... Even though we've kind of taken it over, it's been more of a collaborative effort. So, that has really made it so that this is possible. Our end goal is, within the next five years, that we would like to get a big property and have multiple haunts in one location.
Devin Price: We're providing the type of event that we would want to provide if we were having the budget that we really want to get, if that makes sense. So, my wife and I, for the last two years, have kind of thrown all of our savings into it without really compromising being able to live, and recently have taken another job in the nonprofit sector, doing events and stuff, making it so that we can continue to reinvest profits back into the show so that we can build that infrastructure.
Devin Price: When I was younger, I kind of had a dream to one day own a top 25 haunt in the United States and that was from all those Travel Channel things. I know we're a long way away, but that's still something that is super important to me, that I want to deliver the best product I can and to create something special. It's more than just that business aspect, it's that passion project for me, and so even against my wife's wishes, sometimes I really try to put more into the company and the organization to get it to that level.
Devin Price: We're in an interesting market where it's not a very mature market. It's very different when I'm going to different conventions and learning about different ways certain haunts market and advertise. It might not necessarily reflect what we do, but there's also so much potential with educating our consumer base as to what a haunted attraction can be and what events can be. We have people that spend money just like any other area, our food cost is probably just as high as a lot of bigger cities, and so I think that there is a possibility for a medium size location like ourselves to grow and to create something special that people here can get behind.
Philip Hernandez Tell me about the future, tell me about where you see the future for both of these attractions going.
Devin Price: I would love to get the scream park feel where we can have a few attractions, a midway, and some food options. We were able to have a midway last year and partnered with some food trucks, and we really want to create an environment where people can come, and they can stay. So, similar to what Sir Henry's Haunted Trail is doing in Florida, that wholesome family environment, that's super scary as well. So, we're constantly looking for properties and different zoning options for us to get to that point.
Devin Price: I've seen a lot of different forums and different things of people aspiring to own a haunted attraction one day, and I just want to say there are a million different ways. People talk about it takes a lot of time, which is true, and the money aspect, you're not going to become rich overnight, which is true. But I think that if you're super passionate about something, believe in something, and have the right tools and people behind it, it's definitely doable. You just need to create a plan that fits your market, your area, and your skill sets, and you can make it happen. I can't imagine three years ago thinking that we'd be where we're at now.