Sunday, September 1, 2013

Frightworld 2013 Preview

  It's here. Septemeber is here, the start to the of the Halloween season. The days will get shorter, the the air cooler, and the pumpkins will soon light up the night. And on September 13, "Frightworld," my local Western New York and always impressive haunted house attraction-- which I've written about in years past-- will open their doors.

 This week, my good friend Laura and I-- who have long made our yearly visit to Frightworld a highlight of our fall-- had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Szortyka, GM and Director of Operations for Eerie Productions and Frightworld, America's Screampark, and talk about how it is to run such a large and successful haunted attraction and production company, and what new horros lie in store for the coming season.

 Thanks so much for this opportunity, Stephen. First question. How do you measure your success as a haunted attraction? Is there an ideal reaction from visitors (to get them screaming, crying or exiting the attraction) that you use in measuring success?

The success of our haunted attraction is based on our customer feedback. We do exit interviews every night to get a better understanding from our customers as to what is working and what is not working.  

 What are the biggest challenges to putting on an attraction like this, and how long does it take you to prepare?

TIME. We are always wishing for one more day. We have been in business for 12 years and every year we surprise ourselves with what we are capable of doing. We are a production company and this is a year round job for some of us. We build and design haunted attractions both nationally and internationally. Every project, we progress on not only our skills and abilities, but also our time management.  Of course, we always finish on time, after no sleep, but we love what we do.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Do movies, books or real life events influence you?

Our crew is a very talented, small knit group of friends that work hand in hand on each project we do. This may sounds repetitive but we build our skills and inspirations with each project. Movies, of course, have somewhat of an impact on our vision.

Does customer feedback matter and do you make adjustments or get ideas for next year’s show based on this feedback? 

ABSOULTELY. If it wasn’t for our customers, we wouldn’t be here today. We do exit interviews every night to get a better understanding of what our customers liked, and what they didn’t like.

Do you have a memorable moment or response you've witnessed from a visitor? 

I think the biggest memorable experience is not a single time, but a season in general.

What's up with those big balloon rooms? I’ve written about them before. They are terrifying. 

Claustraphobia!!!! How cool are they?! This year, they are even bigger and longer!

Have you ever come up with an idea, only to deem it too scary? 

Yes, of course. We have to be cautious on how we approach certain things. To us, it’s all about how scary can we make it and how good will the impact be? What we always need to be aware of, is how bad will the impact be, both physically and mentally for our customers.

What are some of the new things we can anticipate? 

2013 is an exciting year for us. We are at a new location which allows us to present new layouts, new floor plans, new ideas and concepts, new marketing strategies and, of course, a great time designing and detailing.

One thing that has always struck me about Frightworld is how vested you seem in the WNY community (I remember two years ago your ticket booth taking donations for the Jamey Rodemeyer family after the loss of their son.) Is this something that comes naturally to you?  

Completely Naturally!!! WNY is our hometown, just like it is home to many others. We are a local company, all owners and management are from Buffalo. As a small business here in WNY, we are bringing part time jobs as well as great entertainment to our local community. Alongside of that, we donate roughly 300 compliment tickets to local charities and events.

Frightworld 2013 opens Friday, September 13, 2013, in their new location at 2309 Eggert Rd, Tonawanda, NY. 


  1. I can not wait to go again. Last year my family went and we had a blast. Keep up the Awesome job

  2. man i just want to know what the 2 new houser r gonna b already

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