Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show 2014
By Noah Wullkotte
Transworld’s Halloween & Attractions Show is where the big boys play. It’s where the haunt industry’s top vendors showcase their most frightening and over the top props and services to thousands of attendees looking to improve their attractions. There are many conventions competing for the customer’s top dollar, but nothing compares to Transworld. Without Transworld, many companies would not be able to make a profit and provide new and exciting products every year.
City Blood is considered press. We aren’t there to purchase products for our attraction since we don’t own and operate one. We’re there to observe, take pictures, film the tradeshow and get a sense of how Transworld has changed and where the industry is headed. If it’s your first time attending Transworld then it can be a little overwhelming. The sights, sounds and creatures who roam the trade show floor can be intimidating and you’re unsure where to go.
2014 marks City Blood’s 7th year attending Transworld. We’ve seen it evolve over time and focus on the haunt industry instead of playing second fiddle to the Halloween and Party Supply vendors. They dominated the show when it was located in Rosemont, Illinois. Saint Louis isn’t our favorite city, but Transworld is definitely our convention of choice. Transworld is known as the business show while Midwest Haunters Convention is the cash and carry show.
Our journey to Transworld began on Friday, March 21st. After leaving Cincinnati and driving 6 hours, we arrived at the Gateway to The West, better known as Saint Louis, Missouri. We checked into our hotel in Fairview Heights, Illinois and we were ready to head on down to America’s Center where all the fun was taking place. Luckily, the convention center is only 13 minutes from where we were staying. After parking and picking up our press badges, we were ready for the biggest show of the year. We were ready for the one and only Transworld!
The trade show was packed and people were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. The smell of fog was in the air and monstrous roars from animatronic beasts echoed throughout the convention center. To outsiders, Transworld is a Halloween freak show personified. But to people who love Haunts and Halloween, Transworld is a demonic Disneyworld on steroids.
Gore Galore is one of the first companies you’ll lay your eyes on. They’re best known for their gigantic costumes, gory props and actor controlled animatronics. I was most impressed with their new actor controlled prop known as Skullieth. Skullieth is a massive ghoul with glowing eyes that lunges at his victims as he viciously growls with anger. Travel Channel has cancelled Making Monsters, but that doesn’t mean Distortions Unlimited wasn’t there to make a big impact. Distortions had a variety of props on display from a large talking skull to mutant insects and a killer snake. The best animatronics are ones that interact with customers and Distortions had plenty of them. You’re sure to get wet around Distoritions Unlimted and you’ll get your socks scared off of you when you meet The Throne of Pain!
Transworld has everything a haunt owner could want from deep fried donuts to rotting zombies. The Dark Zone was over the top this year where companies like Scare Factory and Poison Props really stood out. The new Burning Witch from Poision Props is startling and obviously inspired by the Salem Witch Trials. Scarefactory didn’t offer anything ground breaking, but had some of their newest and best props on display.
The tradeshow was full of mask and costume companies. Silicone Masks are one of the newer trends in the industry with many companies popping up every year. There were companies like CFX Masks, SPFX Masks, Immortal Masks, Shattered FX and more. The prices can be steap, but the masks can be quite beautiful in a dark and twisted way. Burlap seems to be a new material mask companies are using. Grim Stitch Factory and Sinister FX are the companies that really stood out. Their take on the modern day Scarecrow is different and truly appreciated.
Many years ago, interactive CGI animatronics were introduced to the haunt industry and Pale Night Productions was the front runner. This year Halloween Productions has really stepped up and has shown the industry what they can do with CGI. I’m a fan of CGI, but I’ve observed many times that customers will just walk past a CGI animimatronic and miss the scare completely. The technology is still confusing to the average haunt goer, but it’s impressive none the less.
There wasn’t anything truly ground breaking that will change the haunt industry forever. Froggy’s Fog has edible bubbles with flavors like Tooty Fruity and Margarita and companies like Nevermore Productions really brought their A game. Their animated manequins are creepy beyond belief and their new marrionette will give you chills. It features dismembered body parts that have been linked together to form a scary puppett. We also enjoyed Mini Spotlight’s LED Warp Tunnel. It’s not exactly innovatie, but it’s a different take on the traditional vortex tunnel.
Transworld had more vendors than ever before. Some were great while others fell short of expectations. The Interactive Haunted House was too dark and uninspired. It needs haunting music, better lighting and some show stopping props on display. It’s cool, but unnecessary. We enjoyed various events at Transworld like the Haunted Attraction Association’s Oscares. It’s an awards show that celebrates the best haunts and companies in the haunt industry. It’s a fun and entertaining show, but there were many techical difficulties and some of it was missed because of how poor the audio was. It was still entertaining with a few funny moments like the HAA Selfie which mimicked Ellen’s Oscars Selfie. It featured HHA board members and industry veterans. They even called a pizza parlor and had pizza delivered. It was amusing seeing everyone tip the pizza guy.
Our two day trip to Transworld is what we look forward to every year. Transworld is the trade show every haunter needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. It’s where you can see the biggest and best props the industry has to offer and there are many events and seminars you can take part in. We spent two days seeing bloody body parts, ghouls rising from their graves and monsters only the sick and demented could dream up. City Blood is excited to see what Transworld has in store for us in 2015 and we’re looking forward to experiencing their version of Midwest Haunters Convention this June.
This is Noah wishing you Happy Haunting and Spooky Wishes!