Haunted attractions are big business in the United States but this Halloween visitors to Branson, Missouri, were able to experience the next generation of haunted house. Park World peeks inside Castle of Chaos, the world’s first “5D” haunted attraction.
Combining original 3D movie content, 4D effects, a game and live animatronics, Castle of Chaos is the first attraction of its kind from Alterface and Clostermann Design …and it’s scaring audiences witless!
Marketed by its creators as TheHouse, this exciting new multimedia attraction soft opened this summer next to Branson’s Hollywood Wax Museum, but really came into its own over the Halloween period.
Key to the experience is fully themed room featuring a rotating 30-seat platform and four walls of action, three of which are used as backdrop for rear-projected horror movie content. The remaining wall is packed with gruesome animatronics.
The attraction exploits the technical expertise of Alterface, the Belgian firm famed for its Desperados interactive theatres, and combines it with Clostermann’s theming and animatronic skills. By finding an operator with the same vision they have been able to realise Castle of Chaos less than 12 months after the original model of The House was shown at IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando.
For over 50 years, Branson has been a major Mid-America tourist destination, a slower-paced Las Vegas famed for its live shows and country music revues (and free of gambling). Opening an intense, scream-your-pants-off experience in this environment was a deliberate decision for the Wax Museum’s owner, Kuvera Attractions. Castle of Chaos sits inside a new building next door, and is designed to coax a younger crowd over to the “strip.”
“The merging of 3D film, an interactive game, special effects and a rotating platform in a haunted house is a unique achievement,” highlights Kuvera Entertainment’s Tej Sundhers. “All our visitors are guests are highly impressed. The opinions from the first visitors in an exit satisfaction survey make it clear: they love it!”
The film shoot for TheHouse involved professional actors from across Central Europe and took place inside a real medieval castle in Belgium. This live action footage is fused with CGI content and eerie music composed especially for the attraction by a silent film pianist. Kuvera Entertainment, meanwhile, commissioned its own pre-show using professional news crews.
The storyline revolves around Carli Winepeg, who mysteriously disappeared from a castle whilst shooting a horror movie in the 1920s. Sat in themed seats resembling tombstones, players hear the voice of Stan Kablowski, an eccentric billionaire so obsessed with Carli he shipped the castle over to North America. A battle ensues for control of the castle, as the audience is whisked from one screen to another in complete darkness.
The high definition 3D images create the illusion of new rooms opening up in front of the players, and creatures coming out to attack them. Some actually do. Flies buzz around the room, bats emerge from the ceiling, a dog leaps through a door, a body bound in chains writhes around on a wall and zombies do what zombies do.
Perched uneasily on the edge of their seats, audience members are subjected to a torrent of effects including leg ticklers, neck ticklers, butt kickers and in-theatre lightning flashes, water, wind and low smoke. As the frightful face of Carli appears from the dark, foul smells circulate the room.
But players also get a chance to fight back. Armed with a revolver, they take shot at targets on screen and watch insects explode, candle flames flicker, and even see the scenery wobble. When the ordeal is over, each player sees their score displayed next to their photograph on screen, a common feature in each of Alterface’s interactive games.
“This attraction brings together everything we can do in one room,” highlights Alterface CEO Benoit Cornet. “The market for haunted houses in the United States is huge, but this creates a new world of interactivity.”
Clearly any attraction boasting this level of technology requires a significant investment, but it also offers operators some efficiencies. It requires only a limited space (less than 200 square metres), and also strips away the largest single running cost of most haunted attractions – live actors. And, as the operators of the Hollywood Wax Museum have found, there won’t be another attraction quite like it for miles – at Halloween or any other time of year.
View Castle of Chaos video content here.