Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group has a large footprint in SoCal. This year, Delusion and the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride are returning, plus the team has a new event in Long Beach – SHAQTOBERFEST. We’ll learn all about in this panel presentation...
Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group has a large footprint in SoCal. This year, Delusion and the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride are returning, plus the team has a new event in Long Beach – SHAQTOBERFEST. We’ll learn all about in this panel presentation recorded live during Midsummer Scream. Follow along to our Hauntathon: https://linktr.ee/hauntedattractionnetwork
Welcome to Midsummer Scream. 13th Floor Entertainment Group is a force to be reckoned with throughout the haunted attraction industry. The team operates the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride, Delusion, and new for 2022, Shaqtober Fest at the Queen Mary. They're here today to share what fans can expect from their Halloween haunts this season. Please welcome your host for this presentation from the Evening Show on 95.5 KLOS and “The Nitecap” on The CW, Greg Beharrell.
Greg Beharrell: My goodness. Well, that is undeserved, as you'll soon find out. Listen, I'm Greg Beharrell, I do host the evening show on 95.5 KLOS. But far more important than that, I'm a massive fan of all things spooky season, which I think we all are. OK, I was hoping you'd say woo. It's going to be nice to be terrified by something that's not the news. So, listen, we've got a full deck, so let's get right to it. We're going to talk about Delusion, we're going to talk about Hayride, we're going to talk about Shaqtober, brand new, oh my gosh.
Greg Beharrell: So, please welcome to the stage, let's start with Delusion, folks Jon Braver, the creator of Delusion. Victor Mathieu, the sound designer for Delusion. Ted Dougherty, the entertainment director for Hayride. Chris Stafford is the CEO of 13th Floor. All right, now we're going to go in order today. We're going to talk about Delusion first, then we're going to move on to Hayride, then Shaqtober. So, a full docket, get comfortable, we're going to talk about all things. But first, Jon and Victor, you brought a little special little video.
Greg Beharrell: So, obviously, fair to say and it's not too much of a spoiler here, but there's going to be a cult theme to this year. Can you go deeper into the roots of how you got there?
Deeper another cult yes. This is an area we have not explored. 1974 American cults, and usually it's been turn of the century kind of feel, we still have a bit of that. I started writing a sequel to this thing, got about 30 pages into it and then threw it away, I was like, "this is this is crap." Then I started thinking about, I mean, we really need to do something different, get into a different era. So, I started listening to the 70s music, then learned more about the cults and just the mind games within that. I heard about these characters called Deprogrammers which I didn't know too much about. Those are basically, you know people who pull other people out of cults. So, that's what you are going to be this year, Deprogrammers. So, yeah, it's a very unique show, it's very different as you can hear even from the music. We never really use rock music here, we had that made for us. So, it's got that 70s vibe to it, that era that we all kind of love. Well, I think we all love. I don't, do we love it?
Greg Beharrell: Well, of course!
Jon Braver: I don't think I've ever been to a show anywhere, like an interactive show, where there's that kind of vibe, that 70s cult vibe. So, that's how that started.
Greg Beharrell: My goodness, Delusion, such a staple. I mean, how many people here have been to more than one Delusion show? And if you've never been to a Delusion show, Oh my gosh, are you in for a treat when you go this year?
Jon Braver: Get out. Just kidding.
Greg Beharrell: Jon, my goodness. So, what was the first memory you have of Delusion? Where did it begin? What was the spark of Delusion? When did that start?
Jon Braver: That goes back, and age myself here, it's probably in 1996. We did a show at my parents’ house, and I was a big role-playing games fan. I think a lot of people about that, but I wanted to take that world of RPG's and put them into the real world. So, I would create these stories in the house, in my parents’ house, kicked them out of the house, and then we ended up running a little mini show that was like a 10-minute show inside the house. Once I saw people going through and actually partaking in a story instead of just being scared, and having it linger afterwards, then that was sort of the spark, "this is something cool, like people are definitely digging this kind of medium."
Greg Beharrell: Oh my gosh, I wish I had a ticket to one of those shows way back when, it would be worth a fortune!"
Jon Braver: It costs 250.
Greg Beharrell: Well, sound. Victor, I'm going to turn to you on this one. Sound is almost a character in itself at a Delusion show. I mean, what's the psychology of sound creation for something like this? Especially this year with the 70s feel?
Victor Mathieu: So, for sound design, you know, we approach it very much like a film. So, you got atmospherics, you got sound effects, you got vocals, dialogue, and music, and the whole show moves along just like a scene-by-scene, and it's all orchestrated through the sound design that I create alongside Jon with his tips. So, basically, the actors actually trigger each track that I create, which is timed scene-by-scene and that's how the show moves. So, it's very crucial that all the sound design and the tracks that I create are timed, because the whole show, the timing is essential, and because we start group, especially this year, every 10 minutes. So, everything needs to be very you know tip top and timed out perfectly. But I also try to create, you know, really cool sound design elements for you guys. We have a lot of creatures this year, which Jon is going to talk about a little a bit, so having a lot of fun with that.
Greg Beharrell: Oh my gosh, go on the creatures.
Jon Braver: Oh yeah, yeah, we need to get back to some creature effects, some live, practical creature effects. So, we got some really sick creatures this year that will have you soil yourselves, most likely. They're terrifying. I'm bringing back Jim Bankey, who was our creature effects designer throughout all of Delusion. He did stuff like Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy and stuff like that, so he's on top of the practical creature suit game. Vic is creating all these amazing sound designs for these special creatures, and we have a sample for you that Vic can kind of talk through.
Greg Beharrell: Oh, behind the scenes.
Victor Mathieu: So, we have a creature that Jon called Webster, and it's a spider-like creature.
Jon Braver: Temp name.
Victor Mathieu: So we have a scene where that creature is attempting to enter an area that you guys will be in, and eventually succeeds to enter that area, and will start hiding and aggressively trying to eat you so.
Greg Beharrell: Who's excited to meet Webster? Yeah, me too.
[CREATURE SOUND CLIP]
Greg Beharrell: I had a college roommate, he sounded the exact same way.
Victor Mathieu: Yet, but we do have another sound sample for another scene. That next one is not so much of a creature, but more of a character that, well, something is happening with electricity, and this character has now gained electric types of powers and is coming after you. So, that's kind of general if you want to add that.
Jon Braver: Spoiler, no, I don't want to add to that.
Greg Beharrell: Let's talk about the pacing of the show. It's always so fantastic with Delusion. The moments are almost constructed, like a band setlist, the highs and lows. Are you conscious of that as you're creating sound and in writing?
Jon Braver: Yeah, very much so. I mean, the pacing is everything in this show. We just think about it as an audience member as your kind of moving through, just like a movie like, he was saying. We want to make sure you're fully engaged in the experience. So, down to the minute, we're thinking about, are you, are you moving quickly, are you hiding, are you sitting, are you standing, and all that kind of stuff. So, it's all choreographed within the sound design, within the action. So yeah, pacing in every aspect is extremely important, just to make sure that you stay engaged and stay fully present within the show.
Victor Mathieu: Yeah. We always want to have, you know, those quiet moments before the loud bangs come. So, it's important to yeah, you know, kind of like going curves.
Greg Beharrell: Wow, so listen, all time, I mean, if we're talking every Delusion show, was there a moment that was difficult to pull off? Both from a practical standpoint and a sound standpoint. What was the most difficult thing to achieve in any Delusion show?
Jon Braver: 2013 show we got shut down. That was difficult to achieve that one, but that was a tough one. No, I'd say technically we did a show called His Crimson Queen in 2016.
Greg Beharrell: Oh yeah. That was awesome, yeah.
Jon Braver: It was like a vampire show, and we did this crazy scene in this foyer where I just went nuts. I was like, "OK, let's go nuts. The audience walks in, there's a vampire crawling down the wall and here, then another one comes at you and flies over your head up into the second floor, and then the vampire width gets thrown through a wall, and then another vampire comes through the wall with a shotgun that shoots the vampire upstairs in the foyer, and then there's this whole fight that ensues. You run up the stairs, and then another vampire is on a zip line flying across as you escape into this one room." All that was happening within one sequence, that was unbelievable, and from script to live that actually happened if you were there and saw that. It was just happening all around you, so it was easy to miss some things. So crazy.
Greg Beharrell: That was amazing.
Victor Mathieu: Then those actors had to also time their stunts to the sound design.
Jon Braver: Just super orchestrated.
Greg Beharrell: Oh, the timing, yeah, the timing of the stunts or the sound.
Jon Braver: Yeah, you have little, there are little precursors to the big hits, you know, we'll add in a little, subtle heartbeat, or a little crescendo here, to kind of give them a musical cue to go off of.
Greg Beharrell: Well, listen, we only have a certain amount of time with each person, we're going to talk to you today, but we do want to open it up a little on Delusion for some Q&A, does anyone have a question? Put your hands up. The question was on location, where is it going to be?
Jon Braver: It's in the same location it was last year. All new show.
Greg Beharrell: I love that spot. When are tickets going on sale?
Jon Braver: August 5th, I think somewhere around there. I think August 5th, 6th.
Chris Stafford: If you guys haven't, visit EnterDelusion.com, you can sign up via e-mail and text message and they'll notify you exactly when tickets are going on sale. I would highly recommend you do that. There's actually a display in the lobby as well that has a QR code that'll take you there, and you can scan it and get notified exactly when tickets are going on sale, but it's very, very soon, probably within the next week.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, it's a real thing to get tickets to Delusion. I mean, if you go into any of the forums, people are in there talking about, "Oh my God, did you get them? Did you score them?" Any other questions? I thought I saw one. The question was what kind of music you listening to as you're creating this from the 70s?
Victor Mathieu: A lot.
Jon Braver: I have a Spotify playlist, it's all, like, psychedelic. It's Delusion, Valley of Hollow's, psychedelic, rock, all that stuff from like, Steely Dan. Just every psych rock you can possibly imagine is constantly playing, as I was writing it too. I'm listening to it constantly. That was an era that I wasn't big into in terms of music, so now I'm listening to it constantly and I'm feeling a bit cultish. Yeah, for sure.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, people don't know this about Jon. He's a fantastic guitar player, he stopped by the show one time, and he ran through a song, a full Rush song on the guitar. It's unbelievable.
Greg Beharrell: We've got to switch gears. I mean, we can talk about Delusion all day, we can talk about Hayride all day, we can talk about Shaqtober all day, but we only have a certain amount of time in here. So, let's move to the Hayride, Ted Dougherty, there he is.
Greg Beharrell: Oh yeah, the Hayride's always a thing. OK, Ted, so Midnight Falls, it's glowing, changing, always, it seems. What's new in town?
Ted Dougherty: Well, first off, hi everybody. Well, if you've been to the LA Haunted Hayride over the past couple of years, you have visited a strange town named Midnight Falls. Well, if you didn't know, Midnight Falls is strange because it's always celebrating its 13th annual Halloween festival. It's always Halloween night in Midnight Falls, and it's always 1985. So, despite those various issues, things around town are sort of changing, kind of morphing, and some of those changes are reflected in the town residents. Sometimes the changes are reflected in the local business, sometimes in the various neighborhoods. One neighborhood is certainly returning, which is, of course, trick-or-treat.
Ted Dougherty: So, this is something very near and dear to our hearts. Trick-or-Treat has been an attraction at the Hayride for long before we were involved and we loved it, and it certainly fits into the world of Midnight Falls. This is where people can really visit the local residents in their neighborhoods and see how the residents of Midnight Falls are celebrating Halloween, and so this is an opportunity to interact with some of those folks in the neighborhood and have some fun celebrating Halloween. Of course, things are a little bit off in Midnight Falls in their neighborhood, so there are some different changes that we can expect this season.
Ted Dougherty: Some of the local businesses are seeing some of these mutations. One of these businesses, very near and dear to my heart, the good old Midnight Mortuary. Listen the business has been good at The Midnight Mortuary. They've been very busy. Unfortunately, though, some of the employees have gone missing and so the mortician has his hands full picking up some of the extra legwork, doing some extra burying out back in the cemetery. But the problem is some of what he is burying is popping back up and. So, listen, the rest of the town residents are more than happy to see their long-lost friends returning and visiting. But those friends are, well, they're a little bit different. So, the mortician has got a big problem on his hands. He's got a major, a pest infestation that he's got to take care of right away, because we know what happens when the undead are let loose. So, that's what we need to see in The Midnight Mortuary Evil Earth this year. So, we're really excited about that.
Ted Dougherty: There is yet another local business that we're going to be able to visit, and we haven't seen this before, but it's been there for a really long time on the outskirts of town, and it's the old Midnight Falls Meat and Packing Warehouse. Yeah, back in the day this was a hustling, bustling business, happy employees, and bringing great business to the town. Lately, things have kind of fallen off a little bit, it's seen better days, it's a little dark there, it's a little dingy, I'm not even sure it's in business anymore. So, the spirit of Halloween has cast its shadow over the warehouse to help clean things up. We thought, well, hey, what better cleaning crew than just a massive onslaught of terrifying killer clowns in a laughter house?
Greg Beharrell: Smart choice.
Ted Dougherty: This is going to be replacing the Dead-End Diner, if anybody remembers that. Well, they're going to have to face these terrifying clowns running amok in the disgusting Midnight Falls Meat and Packing Warehouse. So, those are a couple of things that we could see in our local businesses. Of course, things are always changing and mutating in the actual Hayride itself, the main attraction, but we're not going to spill those beans just yet.
Ted Dougherty: In fact, we're going to talk a little bit more about some of the residents in Town Square. Has anybody ever met any of our residents in the Midnight Falls Town Square? Yeah, we love them so much. I adore each and every single one of them. To me, they've always really been sort of the heart of the Midnight Falls.
Mayr Monte Revolta: What? What do you mean the heart of Midnight Falls?
Ted Dougherty: Oh no. It's Mayor Monte Revolta from Midnight Falls.
Audience: Monty! Monty! Monty!
Ted Dougherty: It's only encouraging him.
Mayr Monte Revolta: Thank you for that thunderous standing ovation. You didn't have to, and you didn't. What do you mean the heart of Midnight Falls, Teddy? Don't you mean the fart of Midnight Falls? We all know the reason you come there, to see me, am I right? Yeah, and as a special treat for all of you, look under your seats. Idiots. There's nothing under there.
Ted Dougherty: Mayor, mayor.
Mayr Monte Revolta: Anyways, let me just say this is such a treat to be here in front of all you mouth-breathers, foot-smellers.
Greg Beharrell: Oh come on.
Mayr Monte Revolta: Geeks, and by the looks of this crowd, I'm pretty sure you're not allowed 50 yards from churches, schools, and parks. And that's just a panel. Anyways, I do have some news to announce if it's OK, and I do want to say thank you for dressing up this evening. All right. Drumroll, please. I mean this from the bottom of my unbeating heart, Midsummer Scream, I mean this, I'm amazed and I'm so glad to be obligated to be back at the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride! And when I mean obligated, I mean contractually obligated. It's a whole thing with community service. I don't want to talk about it. But, you heard it here, way better than the gender reveal, am I right? Anything else?
Greg Beharrell: No, we're good. I mean, I'm good if you're good.
Mayr Monte Revolta: It's me the late Monty Revolta, and current reigning Mayor of Midnight Falls bidding you adieu.
Greg Beharrell: Ah, Mayor Monty revolt. He's got my vote.
Mayr Monte Revolta: I will say this, I'd love to stay, but I'd rather go. One more thing, I'm not joking, I really got to get out of here, I got a Brazilian wax and it takes forever. Those poor ladies. One more thing, and I say this on all of our behalf, I really do mean this Midsummer Scream, can you guys speed up this panel it's taking forever.
Greg Beharrell: Oh, come on.
Mayr Monte Revolta: No, seriously, it's longer than the Jonny Depp trial.
Greg Beharrell: Oh mayor, too soon. Too soon!
Mayr Monte Revolta: And I'll see you in Midnight Falls!
Greg Beharrell: Well, that was fun. OK, so one more time for Mayor Monty Revolta. So, you got to go see him at Hayride, but we still have more stuff to talk about with Hayride. I mean, my goodness, storylines for Hayride, some are huge, some are small, and you can watch them thread throughout all of Midnight Falls. Where do ideas like that come from? I mean is it a middle of the night thing you wake up and scribble something down? Is it just stuck in traffic?
Ted Dougherty: Well, a little bit of everything really. I mean, for starters, you know we really kind of studied just smalltown USA in the Midwest, East Coast, you know, big fan of like the Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry, that kind of stuff, and using that as sort of the foundation of what Midnight Falls would have been had Halloween not taken over. So, I think we matched that with sort of all of our love, that childlike joy, of Halloween, traditional Halloween, as well as scary Halloween, and kind of put that over this small-town kind of vibe. So, any of the creative decisions are always dictated by those parameters. So, inspiration, to answer to your question, comes from anywhere, from restaurant napkins to waking up in the middle of the night and writing down a note or whatever, as long as any of those types of ideas fall within that parameter. Otherwise, we'll toss those ideas out, reimagine them, or whatever. But that's kind of how that process works, just using those kind of basic facts for us.
Greg Beharrell: You said scary Halloween, but I mean, as we just witnessed with our special guests, comedy plays such a key role. Not just in Hayride, but I mean, there's moments of levity and laughter in all the events we're going to talk about. Why is comedy such a thing in something where you wouldn't expect to find it?
Ted Dougherty: Well, I think comedy and horrors really go hand in hand. I've grown up being a huge fan of like American Werewolf in London, Abbott and Costello, Frankenstein, Ghost of Mr. Chicken, and those types of things. So, you know, for us, you know, we're in the horror business, and so people are paying to be scared, but we can't just give a barrage of just jump scares constantly otherwise people become desensitized. So, we need to have the ebb and flow of that whole type of presentation. So, comedy works so well, even if I get one person to chuckle just a little, well at that one moment they've let their guard down and that's a perfect opportunity to scare them. Sometimes we'll do something a little bit more, you know, drawn out, more psychologically driven, but just for comedy to kind of help create that sort of comedy relief, I think, is really crucial for what we're doing.
Chris Stafford: Yeah, I think it's also a bit of a misdirect, right? You have the people that always want to go to a haunted event, they're like, "well, I'm not going to be scared. I'm the tough guy, I'm not going to be scared by anything." But then they run into one of the characters and they get a good laugh out of it, they're like, "alright, I'm having a good time now." So, it kind of gets them to let their guard down, and maybe participate in the event a little bit more too.
Greg Beharrell: You said the word desensitized, and we didn't get to get to this question earlier, but I really do want to hear what you all say because for us spooky season is, you know, a couple of months out the year and then we let it go for a bit. We come back to it when it arrives again, but you all live in that world all year round. Can things scare you anymore? Have you become desensitized to things? Does anything startle you?
Ted Dougherty: For me, yeah. I mean, it's about the suspension of disbelief. If I'm not going to go to some of my favorite haunted attractions or whatever and if I don't get startled or scared, then it's like, well, it's not as much fun anymore. So, that's why I like, especially, going to places like Delusion. A lot of times I don't want to know any spoilers or anything like that, so that way I can go in and live that adventure, and really be able to soak that in. Same thing as any other different Halloween events or whatever, I try to go in and have fun with it. I mean, it's not like I'm getting terrified of them as real monsters, but it's just about kind of letting the guard down and having fun. So, I think, at least for me, that's something that I try to really kind of always hold on to just a little bit. So, that way, when I'm writing and creating this stuff, I want to make people feel the way that I felt going through these different attractions through the years.
Chris Stafford: Yeah, I echo what Ted said, I was a big Delusion fan, I think I spoke on this last year, before being involved as a producer and working with Jon. One of the most difficult things was the fact that I read the script last year and I knew, essentially, what was coming. I told Jon, "wow man, this sucks. I'm never going to get to experience this again the way that I did." So, I don't know, this year I'm just skipping every other page so that I can enjoy it again. But what scares me, big chicken, you turn the lights out and put me in darkness I'm afraid no matter what. So, walking through a haunted house, the lights go out...
Greg Beharrell: I thought you were saying, a big chicken. I was like, how big is this chicken?
Chris Stafford: I'm curious what scares Braver, though, in his twisted mind.
Greg Beharrell: Oh, Jon, what scares you?
Victor Mathieu: Oh well, I mean, I was a stuntman for a long time. So, I get scared to death just doing these things, falling off buildings, crashing cars, and stuff like that. That stuff terrifies me. I'm scared right now on this stage.
Chris Stafford: I went with dark, he goes with jumping off buildings.
Victor Mathieu: I know. That's the real scare. I am a scaredy cat. I remember we had Jackie Credafield, works here, she would scare me constantly at Delusion, just going around the corner and jump scares. I guess I'm such a scaredy cat, I'm so easily frightened. So, I'm not desensitized to it, I freak out over the tiniest little things all the time. So, I'm still terrified of things. When it comes to horror, for me, Delusion especially, is more psychological horror, not so much the jump scare. We take care of that with all other 13th Floor properties and everything. This one's just more of the lingering fear. I want people to leave and not sleep very well.
Greg Beharrell: My god. I can't imagine what you'd see in during an inkblot test that would be something. So, I want to talk a little bit about flow, because the flow of all these events, it works so well and I can't even really wrap my head around how you do that with that many people. How does that work?
Chris Stafford: We do it very adequately on some nights.
Ted Dougherty: Yeah, I think for at least speaking for the Hayride, you know, we're very grateful for a wonderful operations team that really kind of is addressing that constantly. We're dealing with the tractors, drivers, and all that stuff, and we're getting a lot of people through the attraction. So, it's a huge beast and a wonderful operations team that are always kind of working on adjusting things. You certainly don't want to sacrifice the show, but I mean, that's a very large scale. Every one of these attractions have to address throughput in its own sort of way. Delusion is a pulsed experience as well, and even our walk-through attractions we're still working on always adjusting the flow to make sure we're given the folks that the best show possible.
Chris Stafford: A little bit of trivia as we look at tractors here. Is anybody here for really familiar with tractors?
Greg Beharrell: What a question.
Chris Stafford: I was not at all familiar with tractors, and tractors do something called regen. Is anybody familiar with that? OK, So what tractors do is during the middle of the night, sometimes, they have to decide that they need to go into regen mode, which means they stop right where they are and go through a regen cycle that takes some amount of time. The fun thing about it is they don't ever warn you that that's going to happen, it's not timed in a certain way that you can figure it out. So yeah, it creates some fun times for these guys point when you're trying to get all of you guys through on a busy Saturday night.
Greg Beharrell: What a rude tractor.
Jon Braver: It sounds like the tractor is like a union worker. Yeah, I'm going to take a break.
Greg Beharrell: With Hayride, especially like it's fascinating to me. When I go to Hayride there are moments that I'm expecting, like I expect to hear a chainsaw at some point, you know? That's always so great, and then there are always new moments. I'm like, they did that? What are they doing here?" I mean, how conscious is that effort to come up with the new moments, the things that will change?
Ted Dougherty: Well, we're very conscious of it. I mean, I've been attending the Hayride for many years. realized that you know that it's such an LA kind of staple. As storytellers, I think it's you know imperative that we're always watching our audience, really kind of studying, and making sure that we're always providing up some new element. Because we have so many repeat visitors that we need to make things fresh for them. But when we're talking about different narratives and things like that, we can't go so deep dive that a person right off the street, their very first time visiting the Hayride, can't digest the information. So, we want to make sure that the narratives and all that stuff flow really well for folks who have been visiting us for years, all the way to the people who are discovering us for the first time. So, it's really important to keep things fresh and new for those repeat customers, but clear for the newer folks.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, delicate balance, absolutely.
Chris Stafford: Yeah, as some of you may know, there is a very conscious effort made in 2019 to create Midnight Falls, and to create the actual place that you're going to when you're going to Hayride. So, that way, every year it's a touch point that we can add those new elements, new businesses, new characters and kind of keep that story fresh. That was definitely a conscious thought process that we could, you know, build on it each year.
Greg Beharrell: Was Midnight Falls always the town name? Did you bounce a couple of others out there? Can you share them?
Chris Stafford: We did. I don't know if you remember any of them.
Ted Dougherty: I remember him, but I'm not going to share them. But but no we went through a lot, but once we landed on midnight, falls were like, that's it, yeah.
Chris Stafford: I remember talking about it, and we were talking about how it would be the town name, but it also had a different meaning with Midnight Falls, as well as just being a town name.
Greg Beharrell: You know what's so great about every event we're discussing, and I mean, I'm certain Shaqtober will be this way as well, there's almost this cohesiveness because it feels like very familial. Do you get a lot of people returning that want to be involved with Delusion, want to be involved with Hayride, and "hey I want to work this again. Give me a part again." Do you get that?
Ted Dougherty: Yeah, absolutely. Not only our employees, but certainly the guests, they want to come back and revisit, and especially interact with the different characters. Because those characters actually hold the secrets to Midnight Falls and why it's this way, and so the more folks interact with these different townsfolk, the more they'll learn. So, some of our guests have turned more into fans and really kind of taking part in that. So, it's been fun to see that.
Chris Stafford: Yeah, I think as we move forward some of the new elements that'll be added will also get added around those characters that have become fan favorites, and kind of wrap them around other parts of the event still as well.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, and Jon, you get a lot of people, right?
Jon Braver: Yeah, I mean, over the, it will be eight seasons here, we've had over about 50 original characters in the Delusion show. It's funny, as you guys were talking, I just thought about this idea of like sort of Delusion land where you have all the different 50 characters from all the different shows kind of interacting in different ways, and I thought that'd be kind of cool. That'd be fun
Jon Braver: Delusion's very familial, as you said. We have a lot of actors, we pride ourselves on real high-quality actors because there are a lot of interactive moments, they have to think on their feet, and really unfold the story as they're trying to coral people as well too, so that's they're pretty talented. But they want to come back because it's such a visceral, incredible experience to be such, you know, face to face with intimate groups at a time. There's no other acting experience like it, so that's what we have people just dying to perform in it.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, that's what's so fascinating about Delusion, Hayride, I'm certain Shaqtober as well. It feels like you're in that world, doesn't feel like you're witnessing a show, you're actually there. I mean, anyone who's attended you would agree?
Jon Braver: Yeah, I would agree.
Greg Beharrell: I'm keeping an eye on the clock because we only have a little bit of time and I want to get to everything. So, we got to move on to Shaqtober. There's a little video, right?
Greg Beharrell: Wow, that's great. So, I mean we don't know anything about this, it's new, it's exciting, tell us how this is different, what this is doing on the landscape.
Chris Stafford: I think the biggest thing that's different about this event than any other event really in the area is that it definitely has an all-ages approach. When the original release came out about the event, I think a lot of people expected it to be all ages for the entire evening, and that's definitely not the case, as this room would probably be excited about. But, the first few hours of the night are very family-friendly, so you're going to have trick-or-treating, trick-or-treat trails, you're going to have different forms of entertainment, activities that the kids can partake in, food and beverage, of course, both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, and just really a fun time for the family. When we sat down with Shaq and his team about this event, it was really important to them that everybody could attend. So, his fan base is really broad from little kids all the way up through grandparents, and it was important to him to say, I want everybody to be able to partake in my take on Halloween. So, definitely an all-ages approach.
Chris Stafford: Something this room may be more interested in is around eight o'clock, 8:30 every night, when the kids start to get tired and head off to bed, the witching hour happens at Shaqtober Fest, the lighting changes, the sound changes, the animatronics come to life, and above all, the scare actors are released into the event for the nighttime portion of the event. The trick-or-treat trails that the kids experience during the day turn into nighttime terror trail mini mazes for the people that want to get scared.
Chris Stafford: But another thing that went into this event in designing it is some self-reference criteria myself. Contrary to my chosen profession, my wife wants nothing to do with being scared ever, but she's a giant Halloween fan, right? So, as my kids have gotten older, my kids are very much into attending haunted events, going through the mazes, but my wife wants nothing to do with it, but she still attends the event with us. I don't feel like anybody is ever really focused on that element. So, for the people in this room, if you have friends or family members that maybe don't want to go to a real scary event with you, everything at Shaqtober Fest that relates to being scary is very optional. So, you can still hang out in the worlds and immersive environment. If you want to be scared, there's the opportunity there for you to do that, but you don't have to be. So, I kind of designed it a little bit around my wife, but I think at nighttime, definitely more of a nighttime party atmosphere, and I think you guys are really going to enjoy it. I think it's a really interesting twist on celebrating Halloween, definitely more of a Halloween festival and party atmosphere.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, and I find myself looking for stuff like this all the time because I mean, yeah, it's great to go out and be scared, experience moments of things like Delusion and Hayride, but sometimes you just want to be amongst Halloween stuff and maybe take the family.
Chris Stafford: I mean, not, you know, not to sound to cliche in these days, but we all spent a long time apart, and to be able to bring everybody back together to celebrate Halloween all together, I think, is going to be a whole lot of fun.
Greg Beharrell: Trick-or-Treat trails. That's fun.
Chris Stafford: Everybody loves candy. If the older folks Can go trick-or-treating too during the day.
Greg Beharrell: So, let's talk a little bit about the event. I mean, Shaq is going to be an active part of this obviously, can you talk a little bit more about where we will find Shaq?
Chris Stafford: Yeah, one of the things that was important to him, and to us, was to wrap them around the event creatively, not just put his name on it. But, as you see in the name, Shaqtober Fest, definitely some very punny involvements of Shaq's name in the event. But also, you know, his likeness.
Greg Beharrell: Shaqenstein?!
Chris Stafford: So, I'm going to leave it up to the imagination as to what Shaqenstein might be.
Greg Beharrell: Best Airbnb ever.
Chris Stafford: But, you know, here's an example of a way that we can take Shaq's image and likeness and incorporate it into something that's fun that everybody can engage with. I mean, it's no secret he can't be there every night, although he will be appearing at the event. But, definitely having him involved creatively has been a lot of fun. What you guys saw on the video there earlier was all him ad-libbing and just having fun with Halloween. I was blown away to see the things that he was coming up with and how he thinks about Halloween. So, it's pretty cool.
Greg Beharrell: You said it, Shaq's fun, like he's just known as a very fun, big personality. It's amazing to me that this hasn't happened before, because it seems like such a perfect fit. Halloween is so fun, Halloween is a big thing. What was the beginning of this? How does something like this even happen? Did Shaq phone you?
Chris Stafford: You know what? That's a pretty common question when I tell people about it, like, "how did this come together?" We actually shared a mutual friend, and that friend knew what 13th Floor did, knew what we did around Halloween, primarily, and knew that Shaq if you guys have been paying attention, has gotten more involved in live events in the last few years. Full disclosure, this event was conceptualized, and we started talking about it several years ago. As we all know, the world got disrupted there for a little bit and the event was put on hold, but now it's back in full force, and we're excited to bring it here to Long Beach, especially, a town that has a long history of Halloween entertainment. We're looking forward to bringing Halloween entertainment back this year. The city has been fantastic and welcoming, and they're happy about it as well, and bringing an all-ages Shaqtober Fest they thought was a fantastic idea. Originally, it wasn't supposed to be in Long Beach, but through an interesting happenstance we connected with Long Beach, and here we are.
Greg Beharrell: It's quite a big space that you're going to be taking up. Can you speak on that a little?
Chris Stafford: Yeah, there are six different themed areas of the attraction, and you can see them here. They all have a very kind of creepy village by the sea kind of feel to them and very Halloween. Diesel's Pumpkin Patch. I don't know if any of you here are following Shaq's DJ career these days.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, of course, Shaq Diesel.
Chris Stafford: So, if you want to use your imagination without giving too much away when the Witching Hour happens, Diesel's Pumpkin Patch definitely kicks it up a few notches with sound and light, and a very fun atmosphere for people to experience at night. But yeah, everything from the Pumpkin Patch to Pirates Cove to Dead Man's Wharf, you'll get to experience each one of those lands is a themed environment with different food and beverage offerings, different attractions, and different activities that you can do. Here's a layout here. But a lot of fun, and like I said, above all, if you've got friends that are maybe a little apprehensive, get them there, and maybe you can convince them to get into the scarier parts, then maybe get another convert to haunted entertainment.
Greg Beharrell: Yeah, plus there's that break you mentioned. There's going to be that break where, hey, if someone's got to take the kids home, you can stick around.
Chris Stafford: Yeah, and that'll be very definitive. Obviously, we don't want kids there when it turns scary if they don't want to be there. So, that'll be very posted every evening so that you know this is when the witching hour happens, and if you don't want to be scared, you should probably head home before that.
Greg Beharrell: I want to run the gamut with the whole panel again. Speak on what you want people to feel after they attend. When they're leaving the event, what do you hope that they feel? Jon, do you want to kick things off?
Jon Braver: That hasn't changed over all the years. It's kind of the cliche that we were talking about before about bringing people back together again, especially now after what we've gone through. I want people to... What happened?
Chris Stafford: Some more Shaq. Yeah, something I didn't touch on, he'll be there via video screen, via audio, he's narrated all of the scare trails and mini mazes, as well as the soundtrack for the event. As we were talking about, Diesel's Pumpkin Patch, I'm sure you can imagine that'll feature some select Shaq tracks there.
Greg Beharrell: It's like if George Orwell wrote a Shaq novel. That's amazing.
Chris Stafford: He's in your dreams. Sorry, Jon.
Jon Braver: No, no, it's ok. I mean, he's an imposing figure. So yeah, it's just in short, I want people to feel like they've just been through this wild experience together and kind of bring more friendship, and just finding new friends among strangers. I love when people come back to the show and they bring their friends, they want to see how they react to it too. Then at the end of the show, we've had people who were strangers in the beginning, and then they meet at the end, and we've had marriages come out of that. We've had people coming back with their babies and said, "this is a Delusion, baby. I met this person here." So, we've had that happen a few times.
Greg Beharrell: "This is a Delusion, baby." Wow.
Jon Braver: Yeah, yeah, they branded it too. I'm just kidding. From the very beginning till now, that's the most exciting thing is seeing people come out of it just screaming and laughing and holding each other. It's such a joy, like that's what this is really all about.
Greg Beharrell: Victor, what do you want people to feel after they've witnessed your sound design?
Victor Mathieu: You know, listen, I was a huge fan of Escape From Horror Land, the video game growing up, and so I always appreciated all the environmental subtleties of like, crickets, the haunted winds, and stuff like that. So, I just hope that when you walk away you remember being immersed in Delusion and that the soundscape of its haunts you a little bit, but in a comforting, cool, exciting kind of way. Also, hopefully, you won't just remember the creatures you know by their visual design, but also you remember what they sound like, and that will kind of make its way into your dreams or nightmares, whichever it may be.
Greg Beharrell: That sounds comforting to me. So, Ted, what do you want?
Ted Dougherty: Well yeah, for me it's about escapism. We're in the entertainment business, so if for an evening if we can get folks to kind of forget about you know the bills that they have to pay, regular life, for a while and pretend that they're in the world of Midnight Falls for an evening, I think, we're on the right track.
Greg Beharrell: And Chris yours is going to be a little bit different, right?
Chris Stafford: Listen, at any one of our events I want people to leave thinking they had fun, a good time, and they celebrated the season that we all love. I think, as it relates to Shaqtober Fest, specifically this year, I want people to have experienced something new and something different, and I really do hope that people can share that experience with some people that maybe they haven't been able to do.
Writer/Director of Plague Productions
Ted Dougherty has worked in a creative capacity with Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, Knott's Scary Farm, Queen Mary's Dark Harbor, LA Haunted Hayride, Cedar Fair, FX Networks, Epic Entertainment, Hollow Studios and Plague Productions. His start in the Haunt Industry came at Knott's Scary Farm's Ghost Town Scare Zone as a Slider
Director of Immersive Entertainment at 13th Floor Entertainment Group
Jon’s personal and professional life has been eclectic and exciting. He worked as a film, VR, and theatre writer/director, action coordinator, stuntman, and creative consultant for Disney Imagineering. Jon's passion project is DELUSION, the first ever interactive horror theatre company. DELUSION engages with audiences to play their part in fantastical and otherworldly tales.
Producer and Creative Director for Film & Immersive Theater
French in blood, Victor Mathieu is an Award-winning writer, director, and producer. His latest directorial work includes feature films Dead List, The Monster Project, and CarnieVille. He has also directed commercials for distinguished brands like Coca-Cola, Aol, Durex, and Doritos. Victor is reprising his role as Assistant Director and Creative Supervisor for his fifth year on one of his greatest guilty pleasures; Delusion.