2006 videos found!

I did my first haunted house video in 2005 – a TV commercial for Sleepy Hollow Sports Park‘s “Fear 2005” Halloween event. In 2006, I began what would become a 31-part series covering the Sleepy Hollow Sports Park haunted houses. These videos were available in a video podcast (for the iPod with Video, if anyone is only enough to remember that). The videos had to be made tiny (320×240) for easy download.

Later videos in the series (starting in 2007) were also uploaded to 2006, but as far as I remember, the first eight episodes were only available through that video podcast.

Or so I thought.

Last night I discovered I made a DVD of them. It contained 7 episodes of the video podcast (in full size DVD quality) as well as the TV commercials from that year. I seem to remember it also had a hidden easter egg for a secret video. I do not recall how to get to it, but I will be trying to figure it out.

DVD main menu from 2006

Even if I cannot find the original video files, I should at least be able to pull video from this disc and make this available on YouTube.

More to come…

UPDATE: I found the easter egg. Or at least, I thought I dad. I have recollections of adding easter eggs in other DVDs I made, but when I tried that here, I got a dead end.

But some random trial-and-error led me to this screen. I have only managed to get to it once, but knowing my sense of humor, this screen saying there is no easter egg is probably where the easter egg is.

UPDATE UPDATE: Found it! I don’t know how, but I found it.

Oh man, DVD easter eggs. Those were fun. I’d forgotten all about them… Now to see what all is on this hidden menu…

This will be fun…

Videos are back!

The Videos page now has several new interview videos from 2017 (Zombie Hollow, Haunted Woods and Trail of Terror). I will be working on interviews from Barnum Circus of Freaks and Linn’s Haunted House next. I have many more I want to get to and get interviews with, but we have some family obligations (Living History Farms and Night Eyes) that limit my haunt time.

In addition to these new videos, I have posted some pre-DMHH videos, which were the predecessors to Des Moines Haunted Houses:

  1. You can see a 2007 interview with Nathaniel James about his HauntedFX Urbandale home haunt. Nathaniel later went on to be general manager at Sleepy Hollow and helped transform that scream park in to what we know it as today. It appears I may have done a second one in 2008, but I haven’t found it yet.
  2. I have also posted my 2009 interview with Scary Acres in Omaha. That haunt dwarfed anything we have around here, operating 35 nights each season.
  3. I am also searching for my 2006-2008Screamcast” video series (31 episodes) that covered the Sleepy Hollow Sports Park event as it was moving from up front, to the brand new Renaissance festival park that opened in 2006 (useless trivia: I did the initial layout and design of that park, then those got handed off to architects). Some of these videos have only been seen by folks who subscribed to the early iPod video podcast (in glorious 320×240 resolution, if I recall). I *think* I have found the original full-sized exports of them.

…and if I can find time, I’d like to organize all the various haunted house TV commercials I did over the years and get them uploaded to the new DMHH channel.

Time permitting.

Stay tuned…

Three nights left for Tormented Souls

If you have never taken the short drive to Madrid (only 22 miles from Merle Hay Mall) to see Tormented Souls, it really is a unique experience unlike other haunted houses. You park in a city park and abandon your car. A repurposed school busses (the “terror bus”) shows up regularly then drives you out in to the middle of nowhere. The haunt is on a plot of land surrounded by trees and you see nothing of the outside world once you are there. They have a trailer ride where you shoot paintballs at targets and zombies, as well as their long haunted walk (they call it a maze, but it’s not really a maze – one path all the way through it, through rooms, outside, more rooms, etc,). It has a vortex tunnel, laser swamp, one of the largest animated props around (it fills a room) and most areas feature custom sound effects tracks made specifically all for them to match the area. They have very ambitious plans to keep growing and expanding the haunt, and it’s a fun night.

And this TikTok video of theirs had over 62,000 views – check it out (no account needed to watch the video):

Plus, it’s outside of DSM so you might be able to catch the Orionid meteor shower away from the city lights. We wanted to see it and we’re trying to figure out where. Madrid may work well.

Trail of Terror recap

DISCLAIMER: These posts should not be taken as reviews. They should be taken as my interpretation of what the attraction is like. See “what is scary” for more details.

I first learned of the Trail of Terror many years ago when I was working in Masrhalltown. I had seen a small wooden sign along the highway, but couldn’t find any information about what it was. The following year, I somehow learned it was a fundraiser for Baxter Fun Days. I remember doing a video interview with them one evening after work while still in my work shirt and pants. Fun times.

Trail of Terror is held at the Ashton Wildwood Park in Mingo, Iowa. Upon my first visit, it instantly became one of my favorite haunts because of how many volunteers they had scattered along their half mile walk through the woods. It took about twenty minutes of continuous walking to get through it. The scenes were varied and fun, and most had multiple volunteers that would “tag team” to scare you. Someone would jump out on one side, and then someone popped up from the other, and so on.

Due to the rough terrain of the trail, they started making folks read and sign a waiver (read it; it is important).

They also loan each group a small flashlight to light the way. Use it. Keep an eye on the ground. There are some small steps, and some large ones. But also look around (and up) to see the various random decorations. One year there were trees full of baby dolls. For some reason.

It has been several years since I visited, and getting back there tonight was great fun. While the walk is the same long (LONG) walk I remember, that was about all that seemed familiar. There were multiple volunteers in each scenes, lots of body parts, baby dolls, and even a random butcher shop (in the woods?). There was a clown scene (loaded with far, far too many clowns), and a few loud surprises along the way. (One was very effective at getting your attention.) There were plenty of “low level” folks waiting along the path as well. (Again, keep an eye on the ground…)

And don’t fall for their dirty tricks. They love to try to get you attention while a few others leap out at you.

They let groups in five minutes apart, so lines can move quite slowly. BUT, this space makes for a better experience. During our 20 minute walk, we did not have anyone catch up with us, nor did we catch up with the group in front of us. (This probably will not be the case if you run; but DON’T run. The trail does not like running.) This also lets their volunteers mess with you for far too long 😉 You might find yourself with a few clowns (or other nasties) following you.

“Scary” is always subjective, but we heard plenty of screams while we were there. Some folks freak out when they realize they are being followed. Some folks find someone jumping out from dark bushes to be terrifying. And some folks just hate clowns. So many clowns.

This haunt has one of the cheapest prices of anything around here – $15. Since it is a fundraiser, the folks volunteering are doing so to help out, and not just for a paycheck. That gives it a fun vibe that commercial haunts don’t always have. The people here all seem to be enjoying themselves and having a blast. Even if a path with eight clowns doesn’t scare you, you can at least know your money went to help a community event.

If you’ve never been, and can handle the long walk, it’s worth the short drive to Mingo, Iowa.

Oh, and come hungry. They have El Meson Taco Shack they’re serving their “fluffy tacos” and other hot Mexican food. Tell Juan and Jesus the website guy says hi!

Haunted Woods was great!

We visited the Haunted Woods in Carlisle tonight, and were pleasantly surprised at their scaring techniques. I call them “distraction scares.”

This 1/4 mile walk though the woods is a bit different. They try to fool you at every scene, and it pretty much made us jump at almost all of them. As soon as we thought we figured out what they were going to do next, we were wrong. They have some VERY fun hiding spots.

They try to limit groups to around four people, and allow ample spacing between groups. You feel like you are all alone in the woods except for the screams you hear from other groups in front of you. It is very nicely done, and I can’t wait to go back.