Prior to ScareLA, I had attended three other horror conventions - Monster Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ and Chiller Theatre in New Jersey. When I found out that I would be covering ScareLA I was beyond excited as I felt like they really represented what the horror industry was all about. Nothing could have prepared me for the amazing experience that I had upon attending ScareLA August 8-9 in Pasadena, CA.
Upon arriving to the Pasadena Convention Center where ScareLA was being held, I had an idea in my head of what I HAD to cover for my viewers and followers on Nightmarish Conjurings. The most important item on my list - making sure I was front and center for the “Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights Panel.”
Since the HHN Panel didn’t start till 4:30pm, I decided to attend the “Legend of Disneyland’s Hatbox Ghost Panel. I wasn’t sure what to expect, having not known much about the Hatbox Ghost prior to ScareLA and I’m happy to report it was an amazing panel. During the panel, Disney Legend Tony Baxter, renowned artist Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, and Walt Disney Imagineer Daniel Joseph discussed the lore and the legend that surrounded the Hatbox Ghost. It was an intriguing panel and extremely informative. One topic that they touched upon, that I found interesting, was Guillermo Del Toro’s obsession with not only the Hat Box Ghost, but The Haunted Mansion ride itself. Artists Kevin and Jody actually re-created a full-sized Hatbox Ghost for Del Toro to put in his home. To someone like me, who never knew much about the Hatbox Ghost, this panel discussed everything from the creation of the Hatbox Ghost, to why it was removed 1969, to what brought it back for the 60th Anniversary of Disney, and the fandom that surrounds this Haunted Mansion character. I would have to say hands down this was the best panel that I attended while at ScareLA.
After the panel ended, I decided to kill some time and explore the main vendor area. The main vendor area consisted of everything from SpecialFX makeup schools, to merchandise, to haunted tours, to horror books. There was no end in site to the vast amount of options to look through in the main vending area. Besides of all that, I also witnessed people walking around in some of the most amazing costume and makeup effects I had ever seen. To say that this area was a visual overload would be an understatement. Even if you just came for the vendor area, you could spend hours perusing merchandise or sitting on the sidelines people watching. There was no shortage of entertainment.
As I was walking around, I received a phone call from my partner in crime to come and meet him to get ready for the Halloween Horror Nights Panel. As I left the main vendor area and made my way over to the main stage I could see the lines of people waiting to get in for this panel. I found out that people had been waiting up to 3 hours just to get into this panel specifically. Once the doors were open we were able to make our way to the front and settle in for what I was hoping to be a mind-blowing panel on my favorite horror attraction.
The Halloween Horror Nights panel was unfortunately not what I was expecting. They did release a maze during the panel - Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home - and then proceeded to talk about the Halloween Maze for the entire hour they were on stage. Don’t get me wrong, we knew that John Murdy was going to release a maze during ScareLA and you could feel in the audience the excitement and anticipation for the announcement. What I don’t think fans, and myself, were expecting was an hour long discussion on that particular maze. As a huge HHN fan, I was disappointed because I was hoping that the panel would discuss more of the past history of HHN and what is to come in the future. John Murdy is an amazing speaker and extremely charismatic, and for the duration of the panel he held my attention, but the topic after awhile became boring. However, there is a silver lining to all of this, which is I was able to interview John Murdy (creative director of HHN) and Chris Williams (art director of HHN) after the panel. This interview allowed me to ask the questions that myself, and fans of Nightmarish Conjurings, wanted to know about HHN. John and Chris were amazing to speak too and extremely passionate about what they do and I will tell you one thing, it’s infectious. This more than made up for the Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Panel and I came away from the experience with a smile on my face.
Day 1 of ScareLA had come to a close and as I was leaving I knew that the following day held so much excitement and potential. I had two major panels to attend as well as a slew of mini-haunted attractions to try out. All in all, Day 1 of ScareLA had blown me away and I had convinced myself that Day 2 couldn’t possibly get any better. I was so wrong.