Since it first debuted back in 2016, it was clear that MIDSUMMER SCREAM had the potential to be something truly special. Here was an event that celebrated all things Halloween and it served to be a safe space for all who felt the spooky holiday running through their veins that was just dying to get out. While last year had an attendance rate of about 10,000 people, this year was no joke. With over 30,000 attendees swarming to the Long Beach Convention Center, this was literally the biggest year yet for the much-beloved spooktacular convention. And, overall, it was a much-needed giant kick for all of us in getting ready for the upcoming Haunt season.

It being a very heavily attended convention this year, I’d like to give a shout out to the team at MSS for making sure to warn all attending in advance about the parking situation locally. Parking in Downtown Long Beach can be a pain in general, but I applaud the team for getting the word out via their social media a couple of months in advance. I know there were attendees who complained about the lack of parking, but with an event like this growing each year and with the convention itself reminding patrons of the parking situation, it just means that we attendees need to prepare to approach this convention like any other large convention at this point.

However, while parking was one thing, the lines were another. I don’t think any of us could have anticipated how big MIDSUMMER SCREAM was going to be this year, with roughly 30,000 attendees making its way through those spooky ooky doors. The White Bat team did do its best to figure out the logistics of organizing the lines for the panels, but there were some noted difficulties given the corridor and hallway spaces that they had to operate in. Trying to make sure the lines didn’t violate fire code while making sure that attendees’ questions were answered and that they were able to understand the line system in place, I definitely think the White Bat team managed to do its best. However, given how popular the event is now, I’m curious to see how the team will prepare for the lines next year and if new procedures will be put in place to accommodate the crowding.

As always, the programming at MIDSUMMER SCREAM was completely top-notch and on point. There were panels for all flavors of the community, with some focusing on the art of the scare while others took a look at what went into all the hard work immersive creators like, for example, what JFI Productions brings into their productions. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all of the major haunts panels, with many surprising announcements coming from LA Haunted Hayride, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Halloween Horror Nights, and Knott’s Scary Farm. While there was plenty to tackle information-wise at the panels, there were other offerings available for others to enjoy. There were live-performances featuring burlesque, vaudeville stylings, and magic. On the first floor of the convention center, there were a couple of immersive shows being held. Unfortunately, I personally didn’t get a chance to wander over there until the very end of my time at MIDSUMMER SCREAM. Then there were the haunts, so many incredible haunts.

What really stood out to me this year was how big the Exhibit Hall was. With an estimated 350 vendors, this was the largest gathering of vendors we had ever seen before at MSS, which really goes to show how much the convention’s reputation has grown since its inception. There were so many different types of things to look at vendor-side: artists, horror merchandise, photo stations perfect for Instagram, books, adorable spooktacular plush, and more! My ritual at every convention I go to is to walk the length of the Exhibit Hall to get bearings on what all there is so I can recommend to my friends and colleagues where should they go for particular items. Although I am pretty certain I walked the entirety of the hall, it was so big that I kept running into vendors that I couldn’t remember seeing with each walkthrough. That’s a testament to the space that was sold but one could argue that it might have been very overwhelming for some attendees.

On a special note, I’d like to thank the organizers of MIDSUMMER SCREAM for taking extra precautions on Sunday. For many of us attendees, we did not find about the shootings that happened on Saturday until later that night. So, when it came time to prepare for Day 2 of the convention, I did wonder how the tension would be abated for those who had the shootings in the back of their minds. While increased security measures did make the entry process a little more difficult time-wise, especially for General Attendees, I think the team at MSS handled the safety concerns quite well and I am forever grateful to them for acting swiftly in taking steps to making the convention a safer place for all.

Overall, I was very happy with MIDSUMMER SCREAM. It is still by far the best Halloween-oriented convention and continues to make all of our hearts happy. While there was an issue with crowding and lines were a bit of a hassle, the programming curated by the team stood out for its exceptionalism and its variety. There was again something for every spooky loving fan out there to enjoy and, for people who always love to bring something new and exciting home, there were plenty of vendors for attendees to interact with and enjoy. The haunts in the Hall of Shadows were great and were so popular that I don’t think the lines ever died down. I can’t wait to see what the team brings for its fifth year next year!

Sarah Musnicky
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