ST. LOUIS – A four-day haunted attractions show has taken over America's Center in Downtown St. Louis.
“This is the big one. This is like the granddaddy of them all,” said former childhood TV star Butch Patrick, who played Eddie in “The Munsters” show.
Transworld’s Halloween and Attraction Show is for operators of amusement parks, haunted houses, escape rooms, pumpkin patches, and the like.
Over 10,000 people come from all over the world. I think it’s now St. Louis’ second biggest convention,” said Larry Kirchner, Halloween Productions of St. Louis, who helped get the event off the ground 10 years ago.
The company builds attractions around the world and operates “The Darkness,” “St. Louis Escape,” and “Creepy World” in the St. Louis area.
The show is not for the faint of heart or the general public.
Exhibitors from the US to UK feature everything from a $100,000 animatronics ape suit you may see in a movie or a Disney theme park to the far less pricy “drying flesh on a clothesline” you may see this Fall at the Hayride of Horror in haunted attraction in Lockport, Illinois near Joliet.
“It’s a lot of inspiration…we have a cannibal hillbilly scene,” said Stacy Bresnahan, spokesperson for Hayride of Horrors, pointing to pie that features a blood human face. “A human pie, that’s just perfect for our cannibals to come out and be like, ‘Here, you go.’”
Big scares have become such big business that an oil field engineer from Joplin, Nate Lawrence, is now building massive “haunted ships” and selling metal works (like canons and bear traps with severed bloody human limbs) to those who operate haunted amusements.
“We came down and showed last year. I went back home. I quit my day job. I do this full time now,” Lawrence said.
Patrick is pitching a Munsters-themed escape room for Universal Studios theme parks. Transworld is a far cry from the Munsters.
“We had bats on strings and I was being thrown to the ceiling with wires,” he said. “It’s a whole different world, believe me.”
“It’s not just haunted houses or escape rooms. You’ve got pumpkin patch operators. You have amusement parks,” Kirchner said. “[The show] used to be a fraction of the space and now it’s literally morphed into almost the entire convention center. It’s like unbelievable now.”
“This is international,” said Jordan Brawner, Little Spider Creations of Myrtle Beach, who is working with Patrick. “This is appealing to a much broader spectrum. A lot of amusement parks, the people I’m dealing with, are going to this show specifically.”
Transworld just keeps getting bigger. Next year it’s going to nearly triple in size, expand into and take over the dome. It won’t just be haunted attractions. It will be a full-fledged Christmas display show, too.