Pale Night Productions introduces their new escape game product and discusses haunts limiting their reliance on staff.
Started in 2005, Pale Night Productions is a special effects studio serving the haunted attraction, amusement, and escape room industries. Pale Night is particularly known for its Perma Blood. Today we hear from Kip Polley about their new escape game product and the trend they see in haunts limiting their reliance on staff.
Kip: I really kind of got my start in the industry doing maintenance at a haunted house. So, I've seen firsthand what that's like. Everything breaks, right? Everything wears out eventually. But, it's really our goal that the products the customers purchase from us are going to be as low maintenance, low headache as possible. We certainly want the experience that our customers have with our products to be very positive. I often tell them that it's no offense to them, but after they buy something I don't want to hear from them again until they're ready to buy something else.
I could make products that are cheaper, but I don't want to sell a cheap product to people. We still feel like our products are affordable, given what goes into them, but I don't want to sell cheap things, I want to sell good quality items. That again, may cost a little bit more, but I think when you look at sort of the long run of it, and the amount of time and effort that you don't have to put into their maintenance, I think kind of speaks for itself.
Kip: We will, once again, have our full line of permanent products at the show, you know, kind of anchored by our Perma Blood. By the way, a product that I brought to the 2005 Transworld show, the oldest product that we continuously sell that that we've ever made. Perma Blood in particular, for us, just became a staple. Almost every major haunted attraction and amusement park Halloween event in the world uses it now. We also have it being used by a lot of film and television productions, which is fun.
A couple of years ago we reformulated the blood paint. It is now completely waterproof, it goes through the washing machine on costumes and that kind of thing without it bleeding, without the color leeching out of it. It's also far more UV resistant than it used to be. There were some issues with long-term UV exposure where it would kind of brown. The reds are far more UV resistant, and it also doesn't stay in skin anymore. It used to pretty aggressively stain your skin. I still don't advise, you know, just coating yourself in it, but if you get it on your skin and are able to wash it off before it dries, there won't be any staining leftovers. So, that's an exciting feature.
We also of course have several colors of grime, you know, blacks and browns and greens and that kind of thing, for set detailing where you want kind of a glossy, grimy look, but a color other than blood red. Then we'll also have our gore paints. It's basically just a thickened version of the blood that has chunks and viscera, and that kind of stuff for kind of grosser set detailing.
We are currently running a pre-sale on all of our Perma products. So, Perma Blood, Perma Grime, Perma Poo. We do have a version of the paint that, that looks like feces. But we are running a pre-sale on all of that, so it's currently on sale. You can purchase through our website, and if you're coming to Transworld and you'd like to save even a little bit more money, you can choose a Transworld pickup as your shipping option. We will have your orders boxed and ready at the show, so you can just come and pick them up at any point in time and take them with you. We definitely suggest that you do that now, I don't know exactly how much product we'll have available at the show that's not already spoken for. So, if you want to take some home with you, this is the best way to guarantee that that happens.
We're also working on a new escape room product for the show this year. It's basically a standalone portable escape game. It's kind of based around ghost hunting and it has a Ghostbusters kind of vibe. We've been working on it on and off for about a year. I'm excited about it for a few reasons, it's different and it's, you know, techie like a lot of the things that we like to make. But, we also expect to have, in the coming years, different versions of it where the exact same equipment can just be reprogrammed by the customer to be a 100% different game.
Philip: So, is it that future-proof element that you think makes this a new product you're designing appealing?
Kip: I think so. I think escape room customers, in particular, have low throughput. We look at products like this as a great way to say, you spend money upfront, but you can get a lot more use out of it. Whereas, if it's a kind of one game and over, you play it, and those customers can essentially never play it again. This gives you the chance to sell the same product to the same customers multiple times.
Kip: Right, I don't know if you're familiar, but there's been some kind of a pandemic over the past couple of years that has negatively affected...
Philip: Well, I haven't left my house. I don't know what you're talking about.
Kip: Yeah, so, like many folks, the pandemic and sort of resulting issues within the supply chain and whatever have affected our ability to produce product. We are still working, we're still selling, we're still producing, but we are understaffed at the moment, and we are experiencing increased lead times to get our raw materials in. So, it definitely does affect our lead times to get product out to customers.
I know it always sounds like a sales pitch, but my general advice is, if you really want something, order it right away. You know, we already have orders and commitments that are probably going to keep us busy through May or June. Certainly, don't be surprised if you contact us in the middle of Summer or late Summer or something, and we can't take on a project because we're just too full. Purchases at Transworld should be fine, but moving on past that I'm afraid it's going to quickly become more difficult, especially if the orders are more technical or time consuming for us to create.
Kip: We are seeing some of our larger clients start to get a little more loose with their purse strings, which is good, you know? We're getting contacted by some of our larger clients again about large projects. But more generally, trend wise, I really think that what we're going to see more and more out of these types of attractions, and in particular seasonal haunted attractions, is ways to limit their reliance on staff. Staffing issues are a problem. We see that across a lot of our clients, that they're all struggling with staffing. So, I think customers are really going to be looking for ways to have something that fills a gap where they can put their actors that they do have in more important roles, you know? And fill kind of those less important spots with a prop, an animation, an effect, or something that makes the attraction still feel full with less reliance on staff.
Philip: If you're just having someone there whose only job is to pop out of a corner in a black robe every three seconds, that's not a great job for that person. People have fun because they want to participate and to act in haunted attractions and to do that, and if your job is not doing that it's not even going to be a good fit for that human
Kip: Yeah, eliminating the cruddier positions, the less fun positions, to make the experience for the staff that you do have more positive, I think it's definitely great. Yeah, I mean, it's a reality that we can't get away from. Wage increases are definitely coming, in a lot of places they've hit already. That's something else that you legitimately do have to take into account, you know, if your payroll is going to double this year, that's something that you have to consider either. You may need to raise ticket prices or find ways to reduce that to some degree. These types of things aren't fun or exciting to talk about, but I think you really do yourself and your attraction a disservice if you're not prepared for these things, because they are coming whether you liked it or not.