Shaqtoberfest is one of the most hotly anticipated haunt event of 2022 in Southern California. Today, we're on-location hearing about the event's creation from Chris Stafford. Chris is the CEO of thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, one of the...
Shaqtoberfest is one of the most hotly anticipated haunt events of 2022 in Southern California. Today, we're on-location hearing about the event's creation from Chris Stafford. Chris is the CEO of Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, one of the producing groups for this first-year event.
Chris Stafford: Chris Stafford, I'm the CEO at 13th Floor Entertainment Group, and we're the producers of Shaqtoberfest, along with ABG Entertainment. Shaqtoberfest is basically like one big Halloween party festival. It's got a little bit of something for everyone, we've got family fun trick-or-treating during the day, and then after 8:00 o'clock when the Witching hour happens, we've got nighttime haunted trails and scare actors roaming the grounds. We've got six different themed environments that you can spend time in, hang out in, and be scared in if you choose to be scared, or if you choose not to be scared, you don't have to be.
Philip Hernandez: We talked a little bit offline about how it was a little bit like a deconstructed haunted house.
Chris Stafford: A lot of self-reference criteria went into creating the event. I'm happy to be married to a very nice lady who hates being scared despite what I've chosen to do as a career, but she likes to celebrate Halloween. She likes to go to Halloween parties, loves to decorate our house for Halloween, she loves everything about Halloween, she doesn't really want to be scared. So, I wanted to create an environment that was welcoming for everyone, and that someone like my wife could come too and she could choose, "I'm not going to go on the Twisted Trails, but I am going to hang out in these environments with my friends and family and do things."
Chris Stafford: When we came together in a partnership with Shaq and ABG Entertainment, that was something that was important to them, is that it would be something that appeals to everyone; that kids through grandparents could go to. At the end of the day, Shaq's brand is very fun when you're around him, everyone from little, tiny kids up to grandparents, like I said. So, it was important that this event be something that would offer something for everybody, and that everybody could go and enjoy.
Philip Hernandez: I feel like everyone's natural question is why Shaq and Halloween? Did you approach them, or did they approach you? How did that work?
Chris Stafford: So, actually interesting story. It was much like many business relationships developed in the introduction through a mutual friend between our company The 13th floor, ABG Entertainment, and Shaq. So, Shaq was getting more involved in live events and obviously, that's what we do at The 13th floor, Shaq likes to have a good time, likes Halloween.
Chris Stafford: We first started talking about it, actually pre pandemic was when we originally started talking about putting this event together, and had initially planned to launch it around 2020, if all the things came together the way we expected them to. Then, of course, we all know what happened. It was delayed a little bit, but we got here. ABG and Shaq are great partners to work with, and it's been fun working with them and bringing this event to life. I'm so, so far excited to see what people's response has been to it, it's been very positive.
Chris Stafford: We've accomplished a lot of what we set out to do in giving people an environment where everybody could come together, be together, and have a little bit of something for everybody so that nobody felt left out of the situation. Because, like I said, going back to what I said about my wife, not to be too sentimental, but I would go to a haunted house event with her and she would wait outside while my kids and I go through the mazes and it's like, but what is she going to do then other than stand outside? Whereas you come to an event like Shaqtoberfest, she can hang out in that themed area, have a beverage, have something to eat while my kids go through and get their scare fix, and that's fun.
Chris Stafford: It was also important to me to create, kind of, like a deconstructed haunted house, right? Because at the end of the day, a lot of times when you go to a haunted house, you go to a haunted house, you wait, you wait, you wait, then you experience the whole haunted house, and then you're done. It was important to me to say, OK, well, what if we took that apart into smaller pieces, and then you could go to the event and you could experience part of it, and then you could be with your friends and family. You're not waiting in line all night long and the block party area kind of ties it all together.
Chris Stafford: That's kind of the hub for the different places that you might go and experience, and then when you bring it all together in that block party atmosphere, it's fun. People having a good time. Super, super pumped to have partnered with LVCRFT to produce the entertainment there, and I think that was a perfect fit for an event like this. We got some super fun Halloween-centric tracks, and I think that was a great addition for people to be able to hang out there and enjoy that.
Philip Hernandez: This is definitely a unique business model, I think, for you. I mean, you have so many properties, the vast majority of them are the linear experience, and you go there and there's a midway. Now you have Shaqtoberfest, plus Delusion, which is a low-capacity, but still a horror low-capacity event. So, what do you think about that and the future?
Chris Stafford: We're consistently looking at different methods of entertaining our customers. We want to appeal to everyone. We want to give everybody out there something that they might be interested in. When people say your portfolio is broad, you have things that are much more immersive and exclusive, to things that are much more geared toward the masses, and to your point, a lot of people walking through a haunted house. For me, I don't know, I like all forms of it, I don't zero in on one. I think regardless of what you're doing, you can always do it better. We can always work to improve the model.
Chris Stafford: So, I think. You can count on us to continue to evolve, to develop new events, this being one of them. Not to steal a Disney quote, but we want to do what we do well enough that people will go and tell other people about what we do and want to bring them to experience what we do, right? At the end of the day, different forms of entertainment for different people. So, if we're active in different demographics I think that's a good thing.