Transworld 2011 Article

Transworld Reflections
By Noah Wullkotte/

Every March haunt owners, actors, workers and enthusiasts decend upon downtown St. Louis for the annual Halloween & Attractions Show. For the first time since 2008 both the Halloween and Haunt side of the industry will be side by side showing off the latest in fright and fun. St. Louis is truly the meca for the haunt industry this time of the year and it doesn’t get any bigger than Transworld. The festivities officially began on Wednesday morning through the evening with 30 minute speed seminars covering everything from the history of haunted attractions to why America has a fear of clowns. For $80 you could experience some of the best seminars available taught by leaders of the industry.

But, it didn’t end there. On Thursday a separate group of educational seminars were also available with haunt owners like Bill Crisione of Ghostly Manor (Sandusky, OH) and Hollywood artist Robert Kurtsman of the prop company Creature Corps teaching the classes. If you were in need of a haunter’s education, then Wednesday and Thursday would be the days you look forward to most even though there were plenty of seminars being taught throughout the weekend as well. 
The social aspect of Transworld this year was nothing short of spooktacular with many choices to satisfy your sick and twisted needs. If you got tired of the tradeshow on Thursday there were plenty of options available for entertainment. Insane Shane’s 3rd Annual Kick Off Party promised to be bigger than ever with an all you can eat buffett, music, plenty of socializing and nearly $30,000 worth of giveaways from the biggest haunt vendors the industry has to offer. Even world famous illusionist Dan Sperry Showed up to get his freak on the night before his show in Downtown St. Louis. 
After the tradeshow floor closed that evening you could even hang out with fellow haunters at Flamingo Bowl during Transworld’s opening night industry party featuring drinks, food, fun and laughs. It would be a night to remember, but if you weren’t into social parties you could experience some great haunts nearby. The world renowned “The Darkness” once again had its popular lights on tour where you were able to videotape all the action in the haunt, take as many pictures as you want and go behind the scenes. Less than 2 miles from The Darkness, The Lemp Brewery Haunted House would have its very own lights on tour as well. Both haunts were created by Halloween Productions and couldn’t be any more different.
Transworld offered a full week of spooky events, education and a large showcase of the biggest and best vendors in the haunt industry. Friday offered a lot of choices for haunters from a live tour of the new Lemp Brewery Haunted House, a HAA Auction to an interactive haunt called Quarantine on 17th. This unique event is organized by Digital Sound and Lighting and promised to be a one of a kind interactive experience involving the undead.
The 2011 Transworld Haunt Show was the talk of the industry and the show anyone who has an interest in the haunt industry attends and City Blood was sure interested. This would be our fourth year attending the annual extravaganza. Where else could you see bloody corpses, mutant bugs, latex babes and costumed creeps in one place? This is Transworld and St.Louis would never be the same after haunters invaded the gateway to the west.
Friday morning we packed our bags and would soon take a trip through Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennesse and Illinois in order to make it to Missouri. The weather was cold and brisk, but we were ready and prepared for the journey that lied ahead. The ride through 6 states involved golden pancakes, gas station hot dogs and plenty of high fructose corn syrup soda and tunes playing on the radio. After 6 hours of driving we finally made it to The Hilton Hotel. This is a very modern hotel with Apple Computers, a fancy loby and everything you could ask for in a hotel that’s right next to the highway. So, we checked in, dropped off our bags and took a small break before heading off to America’s Center for the one and only Transworld.
After getting a chance to take it easy for a second, we got back into the rental car and headed down to downtown St. Louis. It’s an easy drive from the hotel (less than 15 minutes) and we were determined to find a parking spot that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. We made it to Downtown St.Louis in no time and this would be our third year in a row visiting the home of the arch. Luckily we found a parking meter near by and we made our walk to the America’s Center. We proceeded to pick up our press passes at the show office and finally we were going to experience the 2011 installment of  the Transworld Halloween & Attractions Show.
First on our agenda for the day was the Halloween & Costume Section. It would be the first year in a long time since both the Haunt and Halloween sides were together again. And to my surprise, the Halloween side was small and rather uneventfull. It didn’t have much to offer except for low quality costumes, novelty toys, inflatable lawn decorations and products that just didn’t stand out or were really innovative and ground breaking. After about an hour or less of snapping a few photos and checking out the various booths, we decided to check out the haunt side of the tradeshow which was the main focus of our trip.
The Haunt Show is a completely different world. The most frightening and over the top animatronics, costumes and effects can be seen with many debuting for the first time ever. It’s not out of the ordinary to see bloody corpses, twisted freaks and massive animated monsters that only nightmares could dream up. This year’s show seemed much larger than in year’s past with thousands of people filling the convention center to its brim. It’s great to see how big the industry has grown over the years and the pinacle is Transworld.
Friday, we weren’t able to stay long at the Tradeshow as we would like and had to head back to feed the meter. Trying to make it back to the hotel, for the second year in a row we accidentally drove through East Saint Louis once again. This area of Illinois is one of the most god awful neighborhoods. It looks like a nuclear bomb had hit and the entire neighborhood had been annihilated. The only sign of life left were those wanting to tear apart the living and feast on their flesh. Thank God we survived and made it back to the hotel.
Friday was a very surreal day. I had an incredible time at the tradeshow, but the mood was a little somber because of what had happened in Japan that day. A 8.9 magnitude earth quake hit East Japan causing a tsunami to roll across the Pacific at 500mph. Thousands were feared dead, but time would only tell the extent of the damage. Everyone at the hotel was glued to their television screens and Transworld was the furthest thing from my mind.
Saturday afternoon would be the day we got to experience Transworld fully and take it all in. That night we would enjoy the hotel, St. Louis and eat some delicious food at the nearby Ruby Tuesday’s. The waitress was new and a little rude, but the endless fries and juicy triple burger really hit the spot. It was a great day and Saturday promised to be even better.
Saturday arrived and once again we would head on down to America’s Center for all the haunted happenings during Transworld. When we arrived the place was packed where you could hardly walk down aisles and not run into people. There were many new products from vendors this year from Pale Night Productions new Portrait Panic to Scarefactory’s new line of animatronics that use bright LED eyes to make the props even more eye catching.
After I took plenty of photos and checked out what’s new in the haunt industry, I was tired and ready to leave. But, first I needed to experience the infamous Wax Museum I’ve been hearing about for quite a while. I was looking forward to their Chambers of Horror inside the dusty basement and I wanted to get creeped out by the wax figures that were falling apart.
So we fired up the GPS and were ready for Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum. A couple minutes later we had arrived and to our surpise there was a massive crowd that had formed and all of the businesses were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. St. Louis must celebrate this day the Saturday before so it benefits all of the local businesses. Unfortunately the Wax Museum was closed, but we still had a good time checking out the sites like the local costume store and all the crazy people dressed up on the street. A local band was even playing.
It was a fright filled day and it would hopefully only get better later that night when The Darkness Haunt tour would be open to attendees of the tradeshow. Hours would pass until we had to get a bite to eat. I was almost nauseous and needed to fill my belly with something good. So, we picked Steak ‘n Shake to get some grub. The Butter Burger was delicious and I was full. 
Time flew by and before I knew it, it was almost time for the highly anticipated Darkness Haunt Tour. So, we left Steak ‘n Shake and I drove back to the hotel before descending upon Downtown St. Louis. My Darkness ticket was for 11pm-12am and I just couldn’t wait to get my haunt fix that night. Would I walk away with goose bumps and a chill down my spine or would I be wanting my money back?
Click Here for the In-depth review of The Darkness.
I got back to the hotel around midnight and before I would drift off to slumber, I headed down to the hotel’s gym which was surprisingly nice. After about an hour of pumping iron, I went back to the room and hit the hay. So much had happened that day from seeing an obese woman dropping her drawers in broad daylight to experiencing one of the most detailed haunts in the nation. It was a great trip thus far and one I wouldn’t soon forget.
Sunday was a day of rest and there wasn’t much planned except for checking out the infamous Wax Museum downtown. Sadly, it was once again closed and our trip came to an end as we decided to head back to Cincinnati, OH. We would never forget what we had experienced in St.Louis and are looking forward to next year’s Halloween & Attractions Show when it returns to the Gateway to The West.
See You Next Year Haunters!
Transworld Tradeshow Hightlights:
*Distortions Unlimited – Shooting Gangster
*Scarefactory – Attacking German Shepherd
*Midnight Studios FX – Realistic Winged Creatures and Figures
*Pale Night Productions – New Line of CGI Animatronics
*Night Frights – Magic Mirror
*Dark Raven Designs – Realistic Attacking Snake
*Spookywood and Nightmare New England’s Interactive Haunt
*Dead House Designs – Roach Wall Projection