While most of your friends are planning their BBQs and trips to the beach, as a true haunt fan, you’re more likely spending your summer trying to decipher John Murdy’s Twitter hints and studying the line up for Midsummer Scream. Although we’re lucky to have two large Halloween/Horror conventions in Southern California, Midsummer Scream occurs first and is our own personal favorite. It’s truly a must-attend event for any fan of haunted attractions, spooky decor, and horror in general. The event is jam packed with panels, vendors, mini-haunts, and demos, and it gets bigger each year, making it increasingly difficult to figure out how to see it all. Here, we’ve assembled some tips to help you get the most from your weekend.
Getting the Most From Midsummer Scream: Scare Zone’s Terror Tips
1. GET THERE EARLY (OR WAIT IT OUT)
This event gets more and more popular each year, and you can count on a huge line to get into the convention center for about an hour before it opens. But their staff is well organized, and the line moves fairly quickly. Our advice is to study the event schedule before you go: if there’s a panel or presentation at 11:30 am or noon, plan to get there early and wait in line to ensure you don’t miss it. Otherwise, if you arrive an hour or so after opening, the line will have subsided almost entirely, and you won’t have to wait. Parking, on the other hand, is another matter. The nearby lots fill up extremely quickly, so if you don’t arrive early, be prepared for a bit of walk to the convention center.
You should also buy your tickets in advance online to help shorten your overall wait time.
2. BUY SOMETHING
One of the best things about Midsummer Scream is the huge variety of high-quality vendors in the exhibit hall. Masks, costumes, purses and accessories, comics, amazing sculptures and props are all super cool to look at and completely Instagrammable. But remember: these vendors aren’t there just for your entertainment. They paid a big chunk of money for their table, and their main goal is to sell. So BUY SOMETHING! Even if all you can afford is a $5 handmade magnet or a $20 t-shirt, plan to buy at least one item from a vendor at the show. Sales are what makes vendors return the next year, so to keep this convention great, budget ahead to spend some cash to support the haunt/horror community.
3. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AT THE HHN* PANEL
Nothing brings the crowds like the Halloween Horror Nights presentation (which is on Sunday this year). But unless this is your very first time at a SoCal haunt convention or you have a John Murdy poster hanging on your wall that you kiss every night before bed, there’s no real reason to wait in such a crazy long line for this presentation, especially if you’re short on time. Murdy tends to offer the same “behind the scenes” info and stories year after year, so if you’ve attended an HHN panel before, we suggest you skip it and spend your time in the Hall of Shadows or visiting exhibitor booths instead. After all, if a new maze is revealed during the presentation, 100 haunt bloggers will be broadcasting that info live on Twitter within seconds anyway.
But, we do want to note that joining the HHN panel this year will be Mike Aiello from HHN Orlando, which could change things up a bit.
*This advice actually applies to any theme park panel.
4. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE HALL OF SHADOWS
Although the Hall of Shadows showcases “mini-haunts,” there’s nothing mini about some of the lines. It can take several hours to see all of the attractions within the space. If you don’t have that kind of time, prioritize the ones you’re most interested in and skip the rest. Also, just because a haunt has a long line doesn’t mean it’s the best. Long lines typically mean pre-shows or some other feature that causes a bottleneck in queue flow.
But most importantly, be sure to thank the haunt owners/operators for their exhibits! Many of these mini-haunts are from home haunters, not professionals. These haunters have gone above and beyond to bring convention attendees a truly unique and amazing haunt experience. And they didn’t get paid to do it. In fact, it probably cost them a lot of money. We can almost guarantee you they’re frazzled and exhausted from the build. So tell them how great their haunt is and how much you appreciate it.
5. DON’T MISS ZOMBIE JOE
All the cool kids will be at Zombie Joe’s Urban Death. So don’t be uncool. Check out this amazingly creative and creepy show from a great group of performers. Performances are every half hour, so it will be easy to squeeze this into your schedule.
6. BRING THE KIDS
Returning this year is Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch, which has crafts, shows, and book readings perfect for the tender lumplings in your family. And kids 10 and under get into the convention for free! However, we do want to warn parents that even though we find the convention to be extremely family friendly, if your kids are very sensitive to monsters or scary images, this convention might not be for them.
We can’t wait to see what Midsummer Scream 2018 has in store for us! We’ll be covering the event all day Saturday, so be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook for pics, videos, and exclusive announcements.