haunted houses in winter, part 4

I stepped out of the hotel and into the street. Or what should have been a street. It was instead a stagnant stream of 2 inch deep slush that was now filling my shoes.


The amusement park attraction industry has the right idea. Rent a humongous convention space in a warm space, fill it with roller coasters and carnival food and live animal exhibits, pick a weekend in November, and invite anyone with any sort of interest in such things to attend.

Sure it’s expensive. But it’s so very worth it. I’ve gone exactly once, because I had a meeting to attend at the show, and I’ve yet to stop regretting my only having a few hours to walk about an eighth of the show floor.

I’ve also yet to either stop believing that, to be taken seriously, the haunted attraction industry needs to have a bigger/stronger/faster presence at IAAPA. In November. Where the big boy parks are gathering and where the temperatures are WARM.

No, the Halloween gang instead gathers in the midwest. In March. Ideally, in Chicago, though they’ve relocated to St Louis for the past few years. (To be fair, the show tried moving to Vegas…a dismal failure…and so back to the land of winds and slush and snow we returned.)

Trans World is a show that seems constantly in flux, not just over location. The list of welcome attendees and vendors changes every few years. Admission is free, though you need to be of the right age with the proper credentials…or know someone that will let you say you work for them.

To be fair, I don’t blame the trade show for being fickle about who can attend. When I first started going in 1999, people brought extra suitcases to contain all the catalogs and free stuff they were going to glean from the booths. It was Christmas and Easter all wrapped up in black and orange trappings, and if you’re not going to place a worthwhile order, those gift-giving vendors aren’t going to be feeling all that jolly. And unhappy vendors aren’t going to buy booths for next year’s show. Which is what started Trans World’s identity crisis in the first place.

But at the first vague signs of spring, the haunters will buy their expensive plane tickets and converge on the midwest’s convention spaces and bars. Because nothing seems to inspire haunting minds better than alcohol and snow.


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