Among Central New York's many Haunted Attractions, a few stand out a bit above the rest as fall-time-favorites. They've become a go-to activity for many during the Halloween season, and have garnered dedicated, large followings of the not so faint-of-heart.
Utica's Cayo Industrial Horror Realm fits this description like a glove.
The brainchild of Joshua Reale, a scarily-creative genius, Cayo is quite unlike any Haunted Attraction you may have visited before. Housed in an old building in a dank industrial district on Broad St. in Utica, entering any of the 4 attractions immerses you into a parallel universe. Anything that may have been on your mind before, is gone. Now you must survive! :-)
Congratulations on winning TWO Scarycuse awards last year!
Thank you! It was a team effort.
Of all your attractions, which was everyone's favorite attraction last year?
Last year, 2015, I managed to get Archana Asylum opened to a late start, but that one seemed to have the most attention. It was a new event and also on a different floor of the warehouse, above ground instead of underground like the others.
Very cool, I thought you did a good job of capturing the feel of being in the halls of an asylum...
How long has CAYO been in business?
Cayo began in 2003, operating in an old knitting mill in Little Falls, NY. It has traveled
from there to an old church basement, to an old historic jail, then to Utica where it resides
currently in this abandoned style building district.
Did you run or work at any haunt before CAYO?
I have never worked anywhere previously to opening Cayo. I have only attended a few
when I was a little kid, being obsessed with horror movies and Halloween stores/attractions
when my family took us on trips.
What made you decide to get into this business?
I have always wanted to be an actor in films, do graphic design, set design, make films, and loved horror/cyberpunk sci-fi, etc… I made a list of businesses to attempt and also told
myself I had to start turning my creativity into a business. Realizing making a multi-
million dollar film didn’t seem feasible at the time, so I combined all my interests into one
entity and designed Cayo Industrial Horror Realm.
Are you from the Utica area?
I grew up in Herkimer, NY and moved to Utica, NY in 2008 to be closer to Cayo. I signed
in to a more permanent location at the time, and making long dangerous sleep deprived
trips back and forth to Herkimer stopped being exciting.
There's a lot of very customized props at Cayo, do you make them all?
I worked at a prop company back in 2006-08 where I made custom props for one of the
attractions, named Biowar. In other attractions, I have always worked closely with that and
another company to have a more custom approach to props incorporated into the event
and tried to slowly remove props that may be seen elsewhere to maintain Cayo’s unique
approach to its representation.
The way you themed CAYO and branded it as an "Industrial Horror Realm" rather than a haunted house... Was that something you planned prior to finding the space, or something you decided to do when you saw the space?
I think the term haunted house was a term used back in the day to describe a low budget attraction geared towards children and families. Since Cayo’s conception, I have always thought of it in a way to derive itself from a normal haunted attraction with its concept and vision. The meanings behind each attraction are not typically Halloween related, but if looked into each, have deeper meaning that is relative to our world. I understand now though after being in the industry that the term “haunted house” is just a label to describe the type of business regardless of scare level, design, etc…
When we visited last year, there was a woman being taken away by ambulance due to
hyperventilating- Do you get that often?
We actually found that woman’s body decayed in an elevator shaft after months of being
there. Just kidding. The situation of the woman taken out in an ambulance during operation happened a handful of other times, but we try to provide care and assistance to guests who have difficulties going through to calm down before escalating to calling an ambulance, as it does hold up the attractions during the scene.
Our Scarycuse secret-shopper survey respondents gave CAYO high marks on the NUMBER of scare-actors at the attraction. How many people usually work on the crew on a typical Saturday?
Cayo usually has about 10-15 actors per attraction. Many of them do not like to sit still so are seen more than once per group. The first year of Cayo in 2003, there were only 3 actors including myself!
You mentioned you just finished up doing set design work for an upcoming film (Death House), can you tell me about that?
The director of Death House contacted me one night by email. At first I thought it was a spam email or someone asking to film in Cayo or rent props. I forgot I had read an article about Death House a week prior and liked it on Facebook. The experience was amazing and I set up various scenes in the film. I would ask the director how he wanted a set to appear, in which he would just respond “Make it Cayo”. It was hard to believe I was making sets for Kane Hodder, Debbie Rochon, Barbara Crampton, etc. I brought Cayo props to the production and custom made different pieces for the film.
What does CAYO you have in store for this Halloween season 2016?
Every year we reinvent the attractions to make them different. Archana Asylum is getting an extensive revamp as it was completed quickly last year to make the opening. Biowar, Biotech, Archana Asylum and Revelation have been re-dimensioned and the set pieces I used in Death House are incorporated throughout the attractions.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Every year we are visited by other owners/actors of haunted attractions who visit Cayo. I
had the opportunity to meet some great people from these haunts who also share the same
passions toward Halloween and horror. To all the haunted attractions on Scarycuse.com,
have a successful 2016 season! Thank you again from Cayo Industrial Horror.
Thanks Josh! I hope 2016 is a huge year for Cayo! Best of luck!
Cayo Industrial Horror Realm is open weekends and select days in September & October. For more info, you can view the Scarycuse listing here, or visit their website at www.cayoindustrial.com.