We’re all afraid of something. And it turns out, most of us are afraid of the same things.
Phobias are uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fears of a specific object or situation. Nearly one in ten Americans have a specific phobia, but even when our fears don’t rise to a diagnosable level, there are certain spaces and things that tend to give us all the willies. With a little creativity, these can make absolutely incredible haunted attractions.
Keep reading for three phobias that would make a great haunted attraction theme, and how to incorporate them into your venue.
You’ve no doubt heard of arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, but here’s how to turn it into a truly unique theme for your haunt.
Almost one third of the U.S. population has experienced this affliction at some point, making it the most common phobia. But your haunt’s theme doesn’t have to be limited to arachnids. Design an Infestation-themed haunt that plays off of so many people’s fear of creepy crawlies.
You might line your queue with lots of “bug” houses like beehives and spider webs. (Leave them empty in this area, it will help build anticipation and fear for the real bugs inside the show.) Once guests enter the haunt, use lighting effects to create “crawling” walls covered in bugs and play the sounds of swarming pests in strategically-placed speakers.
Remember Honey, I Shrunk the Kids? Shrink your guests down to the size of bugs and make everything in your next series of rooms – from the props to the set pieces – larger than life. You can get creative with animatronic critters mixed in with live actors. The ickier the better.
Approximately 10% of the U.S. population has a fear of thunder and lightning. A storm-themed haunted attraction not only plays to this common fear, but it’s really unique and unexpected, too. You’ve probably never been to a haunted house themed around extreme weather, have you?
Start by funneling your guests into a completely dark (or very dark) space, with the sounds of rain playing all around them: it will disorient them just enough to prime them for the scares to come. Mix intermittent loud cracks of thunder and bright flashes of light revealing gruesome scenes or ominous figures staggering towards their next victims.
Play off of the other scary things that can happen in a storm such as downed, arcing power lines. Or create rooms with high winds and extreme hot and cold temperatures.
Fear of forests is an oddly specific thing to design a haunted attraction around, but it plays to three of the most common phobias: animal phobias, fear of the dark, and fear of the unknown. That makes it the perfect combination for the spookiest indoor OR outdoor haunt.
There are endless directions you could take this theme, whether you lead guests through a haunted forest, enchanted woods gone bad, or bamboo jungle come alive. Use shadows to make props seem bigger and more imposing; alternate between narrow paths sandwiched between dense trees and more open spaces; and cover your scare-actors in moss, mud, or other…erm…natural substances.
Add some fog so your guests have to strain to find their way through the trees, and use unusual smells to throw them off balance. Walking through a forest feels very different from walking on paved paths, so be sure to include some interesting textures to your flooring to add to the authenticity.
Designing a great haunted attraction requires creativity and an understanding of what scares us the most. By starting with one of these common phobias, you’ll give yourself a head start in creating a theme that both startles and delights your guests.
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