Launch - In Depth - January 2018

Zombies from "The Walking Dead" invade two new attractions at Thorpe Park's "Fright Nights." (Credit: Thorpe Park Resort)
Creating a Ghoulish Halloween Starts Early

by Keith Miller

Some nightmares linger longer than just a dream from the night before, and feeding frights around the globe doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. In the United States alone, growth in Halloween spending soared from $3.3 billion in 2005 to an expected $9.1 billion in 2017. 

Developing a Halloween event can tap into guest spending and drive repeat visitation after the traditional season comes to a close.

Creating the scare is now a yearlong process. For instance, Patrick Braillard, show director of “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Orlando Resort, and his team routinely lock themselves in a conference room each January for a week-long summit to plan the next season’s scare fest.

Here are a few highlights showcasing how parks and attractions worldwide rolled out scary and fun new ways to celebrate Halloween in 2017.

United Kingdom

Thorpe Park Resort in Chertsey, Surrey, England, debuted two new scare mazes based on “The Walking Dead” TV show. “The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare” featured scenes from the seventh season of the popular TV series, where visitors experienced a series of terrifying encounters and met Negan, a character from the show who carries a baseball bat covered in barbed wire that he’s named “Lucille.” In a second maze, “The Walking Dead: Sanctum,” participants tried to “survive” when confronted with obstacles, while not being caught by the roaming zombie walkers. 

United States

If encountering Halloween ghouls wasn’t already scary enough in the darkness of night, imagine experiencing them in the woods at a wild animal park. The Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida, subjected visitors to its new “Whispering Woods” experience during its annual Halloween event, “Creatures of the Night.” Described as an evil forest with a thirst for souls, guests winding their way through a mysterious forest heard “whispers in the woods and the voices of souls trapped within the trees.” It’s the only “Creatures of the Night” experience the zoo rated as a five-star scare. 


MOVIE PARK GERMANYMovie Park Germany in Bottrop-Kirchhellen, Germany, made a conscientious effort to ramp up its “Halloween Horror Fest” by putting more monsters in its streets and haunted houses, while intensifying the distinctive theming of its scare zones. “Three scare zones covered most of our park streets and were themed in three ways,” explains Jessica Demmer, the park’s public relations coordinator. “The main street is themed like Thanksgiving, with pumpkins, bales of straw, and dried corn stalks. The second section, the ‘Streets of New York,’ is like a zombie apocalypse—abandoned police cars, searchlights on our rooftops, sounds of helicopters, and barrier tape saying, ‘Do not cross—crime scene.’ The third area is the ‘Dead West,’ with windows locked by wooden laths and wanted lists of criminals in a Wild West style.”

Movie Park Germany added more Monsters to its streets and haunted houses during "Halloween Horror Fest." (Credit: Movie Park Germany)


Though Universal Studios Florida is world-renowned for its “Halloween Horror Nights,” Universal Studios Japan also stages a terrifying and popular Halloween event of the same name, minus the final “s.” For 2017’s “Halloween Horror Night,” the park rolled out “Deadman’s Forest: Escape from the Forest of Death.” Visitors were chased by a horde of zombies into a dark and gloomy forest, where they encountered a series of awful traps, and to survive, they had to escape on their own. For those wanting the maximum level of horror, the “Trauma 3” maze exposed guests to “twisted human experiments” and creatures that attacked wherever they went. Because of its extreme content, no one under high-school age was admitted.



Instead of horrifying guests with gut-wrenching terror, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, had some fun with its “Halloween in Tivoli” event. In addition to its annual “Danish Giant Pumpkin Championships” that features real pumpkins weighing up to an astounding 750 pounds, the park put on the “Copenhagen Zombie Crawl,” a parade involving over 150 monsters, like zombies, phantoms, and beasts from movies.

During Halloween, Tivoli Gardens offered its annual “Danish Giant Pumpkin Championships” and a zombie crawl parade. (Credit: Tivoli Gardens)