Midsummer Scream is the biggest and best Halloween and Horror convention in the nation. With more than 350 vendors, a schedule packed with panels and presentations on all kinds of spooky topics, a short film festival, live performances of all types, and an entire hall featuring mini haunted attractions, there is something for all fans and professionals in the industry. Although the convention takes place over three days (July 28-30, 2023), the sheer volume of activities offered can be overwhelming, and it’s nearly impossible to see everything. That’s why we’ve developed this guide to help you narrow down the best of the best at this event.
General Tips and Recommendations
- Buy your tickets in advance: This is a popular event, and many ticket tiers sell out well in advance. Don’t be disappointed; get your tickets before you go and have them loaded on your phone or printed out. Tickets are available on their website here.
- Download the Midsummer Scream app: The app lists the full convention schedule for all three days. You can create your own personalized lists of events so that you don’t miss any of your priority activities.
- Arrive early: Lines for both entry and the parking garages will be long! If there’s a panel or presentation early in the schedule that you don’t want to miss, we suggest arriving at least 90 minutes before the doors open to allow plenty of time to park, walk to the venue, fix your wig, and get in the door. Although the lines may look long, they usually do move relatively quickly.
- Consider upgrading to a Gold Bat pass: These passes allow for early entry to the convention as well as priority access to panels and the haunts in the Hall of Shadows. It also includes entry to the “After Dark” dance party on Saturday night. The Gold Bat pass is good for the entire weekend, and we think it’s definitely worth the cost.
If you have only one day to spend at the convention or are otherwise pressed for time, we recommend that you prioritize the following:
- Hall of Shadows: A truly unique convention experience, this is our favorite part of Midsummer Scream. In this dark, fog-filled area of the convention hall, experience some great mini-haunts, from both professionals and home haunters. The lines can get long here, but the Gold Bat pass will allow you priority entry.
- Vendor floor: With so many excellent vendors, there will surely besomething here to help empty your wallet. Be sure to support the amazing artists and small businesses by coming prepared to drop some cash!
- Panels and Presentations: Listen in on some very interesting discussions and presentations. At the top of our list this year are “the “Hot Haunts for 2023” (Saturday 2:30 pm), “BIPOC Horror Creators” (Saturday 3:30 pm), “Knott’s Scary Farm 50” (Saturday 5:00 pm), and “Happy Haunts Materialize” (Sunday 1:30 pm).
- Learn Something: Don’t miss out on some excellent classes where you can learn valuable skills such as how to get cast in a reality TV show, tips for bringing in some horror to your Dungeons and Dragons game, and getting into the horror soundtrack business (from Edward Douglas of the legendary Midnight Syndicate). There are even opportunities to create your own Halloween prop you can proudly display this year, including tombstones, flicker boxes, and a “Halloween Town” sign inspired by Nightmare Before Christmas. Reservations are required for the make-and-take sessions, so be sure to sign up in advance.
What to Skip
Because Midsummer Scream has such a jam-packed schedule, it’s going to be impossible for anyone to see it all. So here are a few things we think you can skip out on this year.
- Halloween Horror Nights Presentation: This is probably the most popular panel during the entire convention, and that’s exactly why you can skip it. There will be numerous bloggers, vloggers, and TikTokers filming the entire thing, and the full hour will be on the Internet before the convention is over. So just watch it on Monday from the comfort of your desk at your office job. Sure, there will be certainly be a maze announcement during the panel, but the same news will be broadcast from the official social media accounts simultaneously. And John Murdy hasn’t told a new story in years. Skip this one.
- Black Cat Lounge: No one loves black cats more than we do, but it’s soooo hard to get into this. You either have to line up for a reservation first thing on arrival or check back numerous times throughout the day for openings. If you want to adopt a kitten, visit your local shelter or rescue organization.
- Celebrities: OK, if there’s a celebrity you’re “dying” to meet (it’s Harvey Guillén, right?) this might be worthwhile for you. But otherwise, avoid celebrity row, which is overcrowded and hard to walk through. Most celebrities also require preregistration for their photo-ops, and you get about 2 seconds to pay for a rushed photo. Not worth it. (Again, unless it’s Guillermo, of course.)
Other Worthwhile Entertainment
- Slider Show: Sliders are integral to the haunt community, so don’t miss their show in the Hall of Shadows. It’s loud and frenetic, and kids especially love this presentation. There are multiple shows throughout the day.
- Zombie Joe’s: If you’ve never seen a Zombie Joe show, here’s your chance to get a taste of the demented and scandalous entertainment of this avant garde theater. Shows last about 18 minutes and run continously throughout the day. Not for kids!!
- Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch: This is a great place for kids to hang out, with entertainment, crafts, and a place to actually sit down for a bit. Even adults without kids will find the magic show and balloon show entertaining.
- Midsummer Scream After Dark: The costume dance party on Saturday night is a blast. Catch up with friends, meet new people, or just have some drinks and dance. It’s a fund, relaxed event
There is so much more to do than we can even list here. We strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with the schedule, vendors, and entertainment listings before you go and formulate a plan so that you can everything that’s important to you. And don’t forget to follow Scare Zone for live updates and videos/photos from the event!