The 2010 Halloween & Attractions Show: A Frightening Perspective!
By Noah Wullkotte
Friday March 26th City Blood drove out to Saint Louis Missouri for the 15th annual Halloween & Attractions Show. This would be the second consecutive year the haunt industry would have its own exclusive tradeshow. But this will all change in 2011 when The Halloween, Costume and Pary Show merges with The Haunt Show once again. Hopefully the haunt industry won’t be pushed aside like in year’s past. Time will only tell.
The 6 hour drive was pretty straight forward with very few obstacles having to be faced. The drive up to this somewhat beautiful city was pleasant, but boring at the same time. While there were few cornfields like you would see in Ohio, there were plenty of empty fields and country road. After 6 hours of driving we finally arrived at America’s Center. This convention center is massive and unfortunately connected to the Edward Jones Dome. 2 NCAA tournament games were being played both Friday and Sunday at the dome and this affected traffic somewhat, but it wasn’t too bad.
Scalpers could be seen selling tickets on the street corner and parking was as high as $20. It’s sad how cities take advantage of people when there are big events taking place downtown. But it happens everywhere and is unavoidable. Thankfully we were able to park in a nearby parking garage for only $8. So we parked our car and walked quickly to the Halloween and Attractions Show. Our first stop inside America’s Center was room 106 where all the press badges were held. To my surprise they didn’t print out enough badges for us, but they fixed the issue in a timely fashion.
We walked excitedly to the entrance of the tradeshow and showed our badges. As we entered, our eyes lit up in amazement. The sounds of horns, the smell of fog, the flashing lights and huge crowds of haunt lovers were all signs that we were at the one and only Transworld. This year’s tradeshow didn’t seem as large as 2009’s, but it was massive none the less. We walked around for about an hour checking out booths, eating cotton candy and exploring The Dark Zone. I even got to take some pictures. Even though we were happy to finally make it to Saint Louis, we were tired. I only got 3 hours of sleep the previous night and it was starting to take a tole on me.
Unfortunately the hotel was 25 minutes away in Chesterfield Missouri, but it could be much worse and it was. We drove for about 10 minutes and all of a sudden the area we were in didn’t quite look right. There were vacant buildings, strange smells in the air, borded up businesses and miles of empty land. It looked like a nuclear bomb had hit this town. I would later find out that we were in good ole East Saint Louis. I really feared for my life and wanted to get the hell out of this God forsaken area. East Saint Louis makes Cincinnati’s Over The Rhine look like a fancy gated community.
After escaping East Saint Louis and driving some, we finally arrived at The Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center. The hotel itself was pretty nice and featured many amenities that are unusual for your typical hotel. This included a basketball court, raquetball rooms, tennis court, swimming pools, hot tub, bars and more. We were tired. So we checked in and rested a bit before we explored a little of Chesterfield Missouri.
Around 6 o clock we got out to explore the Chesterfield Mall. I wasn’t surprised at how nice it was since Chesterfield seems to be one of the nicer areas in Missouri. There were plenty of unique things inside the mall like a massive Merry Go Round and even a modeling contest with judges. After over an hour of walking we drove around some and decided to order some pizza. Apparently Imo’s has the best rated pizza in St. Louis or at least that’s what their ad says.
So reluctantly we ordered some Imo’s Pizza after picking some stuff up at the local grochery store. It took around 15 minutes for the pizza to be made. We drove around for 15 minutes until it was ready to be picked up. 15 minutes later we picked it up and went back to the hotel to eat St.Louis’ best pizza. Unfortunately it may be some of the worst pizza I’ve ever eaten. The crust was cracker thin. There was hardly any sauce and it had a creamy consistency that wasn’t very pleasing to the pallet.
After eating the pizza we walked around the hotel some and then we’re off to bed. The next morning we watched some TV and decided to get something to eat and drink. After we were done getting our grub on we were off to sign in to our next hotel. Priceline.com wouldn’t except my bid on a second night at Doubletree so I had to choose a different hotel in another area. The hotel was around 25 minutes from The Doubletree. When we arrived I was simply blown away. The hotel was The Renaissance Hotel near the airport. And to say it was luxorious was an understatement. It made the Renaissance Grand downtown look like a roach motel.
After spending an hour in our room we decided to travel downtown to America’s Center for the 4:30 HHA Auction. To my surprise there was a huge line outside of room 104 where it took place. After a seminar was finished people were let inside. Rich Hanf was the auctioneer for the evening and did a pretty decent job at getting good prices for the items on display. Before the auction started everyone was allowed to walk up and view the different props and items that were for sale. After everyone was done with that, the auction officially began.
The first item up for sale was a Scarefactory Paul Barrer animatronic. After a couple of bids it went for $3,000 which is $200 more than the asking price. There were plenty of items up for auction that evening like masks, busts, advertising graphics and more. Ben Armstrong would win the new Gill Man CFX Mask and would try it on as people laughed at him. The mask was pretty detailed and seemed to fit well. The auction was pretty slow moving and after an hour and a half we decided to leave. It was fun, but tiring for some reason.
We proceeded to walk back to our parking spot and drove around for a while. We would eventually choose where we would eat after checking out places St.Louis is known for. We chose to eat at a small Chinese buffett called Happy Dragon. You can’t really go wrong with a Chinese buffett since they all pretty much serve the same type of food. The music they played was terrible. It was that cliche Chinese elevator music that’s always played on Kung Fu type shows. I wanted to take a Samurai sword and shove it through my abdomen. By the time we were done it was close to 9 o clock and I had to make sure that I saved time for The Darkness tour at 9:30. Hell, it cost me $50 for a ticket and I was sure not going to miss it.
When I arrived at The Darkness, suddenly a large silver charter bus pulled up near the entrance. It was of course the Insane Shane Charter Bus. When Shane isn’t using the bus He rents it out to people like the band Journey or anyone who is interested in riding in style. I was quite surprised that there wasn’t a massive line outside of the building, but once I walked inside it was a whole different story. It was packed, but the wait wasn’t long at all.
There were some interesting people in line. Behind me was a group of Germans who were planning on starting their own haunt in a country that had little to do with the haunt industry. They said that one of the most popular attractions in their country had rubber bats hanging from the ceiling. I thought it was pretty humurous. I also got to chat for a few seconds with Dent School House’s Josh Wells. He seemed to be excited about The Darkness, but I was a little indifferent you could say.
Click Here to read the full review of The Darkness.
After close to 2 hours I was done touring the Darkness and ready to go back to The Hotel. 15 minutes later I was back at the hotel and ready to watch some TV. At first I thought about going to the Hustler Hollywood across the street, but decided against it. I wanted to check out the pool, but about 15 kids were packed into the pool splashing around. Damn those energetic kids. After a couple hours I decided to hit the hay and was off to slumberland to dream about what I had experienced so far this weekend.
Morning came and I needed to get downtown once again to check out the tradeshow. I didn’t take enough pictures or video Friday and Saturday and needed to check out some booths that I might have missed. The weather was terrible that morning and the rain wouldn’t stop. The wind was violent and there seemed to not be a parking spot in sight. Thankfully we found one not too far from America’s Center. We walked a little and finally made it to the America’s Center for the final day of The Halloween & Attractions Show.
Before I even entered the tradeshow I was greeted by Bill and Jayme Criscione of Ghostly Manor. They are quite simpily some of the nicest people involved in the haunt industry and run one of the best haunts in Ohio. The day was off to a great start and it would only get better. The tradeshow floor was surprisingly packed. Last year it was dead on Sunday, but this year you could hardly walk around without running into someone.
I took plenty of pictures and video as time seemed to go by so quickly. But there’s always next year. After we were done with the convention we drove back to the hotel and packed up all of our stuff. It was a couple minutes before 12 and we were headed back to good ole Cincinnati, OH. But man we were hungry. My belly was gurgling and it felt like a demon Spawn was ready to bust out.
St. Louis has always been known for its frozen custard and we decided to get some. The third Custard place we spotted was a strange looking Pizza parlor that had swing sets in front of its building. When we approaced the ordering window a man with a German accent asked if He could help us. We were real hungry so we decided to get large Concrete Chocolate Frozen Custards with pieces of Oreo Cookies. The guy was obviously clueless to what He was doing and actually wanted to give us cash back after using a Credit Card. After waiting about 30 minutes the Frozen Custards were finally done and it was well worth the wait. Frozen Custard is similar to regular ice cream except it’s made with eggs and butter cream. It’s thicker and much creamier than your typical ice cream.
The time was about 2 PM and we needed to get back to Cincinnati, OH. I enjoyed Saint Louis, but it was starting to wear thin on me. After about 6 hours of driving we were finally back to the Nasty Nati. The Halloween & Attractions Show wasn’t that much different from last year, but it will go down as one of the best times I’ve had in a while.
The highlight of the trip for me was being able to explore different parts of Missouri that I’ve never been to. I still have nightmares about East Saint Louis though. The stench was nausiating. The tradeshow itself was great, but there didn’t seem to be too many must have items like there were last year. But it was still great being able to see so many haunters gather together in one place and celebrate the haunt industry. Hopefully combining The Halloween, Costume and Party Show with The Haunt Show will make the convention better than ever in 2011. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.