Octoberic caught up with Christina L., of CMC Haunted House to get the low down on where they started, what's new this season, and beyond...
CMC dance has been a Syracuse area favorite for some time. What or who do you credit that success to? How do you find new talent every season?
We credit the success to our ever changing ideas and talented staff that knows how to bring it to life. All our talent comes from our dance students and their families. Each brings their individual creativity and strength to the characters they play in the HH. A lot of what we do starts with some crazy idea and the rest of the team says, "Sorry, but we don't know how to do that." From there, the challenge is taken and we begin to figure out how to bring the impossible to life. It is a huge sense of victory when we pull off something that we were first told we couldn't do or that seems really cinematic.
What can haunt goers expect to see this season vs last season? What does Phobias have locked away that's inventive? Brand new technology and advanced lighting and sound effects. The parents really outdid themselves this year! We feel we covered as many phobias we could cover realistically. Everyone has something different that bothers them the most, so we shamelessly took advantage of that. The problem is that some of our staff won't go in the room that matches their phobia. It says a lot that even though we may know the room and know the "scare," we still won't go in that area. That is a phobia at work!
Who presented the idea for the dance studio to put together a haunted house? Our Haunted House all began when we purchased our property and saw the unique building structures located on the property. The buildings were so cool, yet creepy inside and since Halloween is such a popular holiday with many of our students, staff and their families, it seemed like the next progression for us to develop them further into what we have today. It gave us a great opportunity to host a fundraiser for our team that gave everyone opportunity to use the talents they have. It is so much more fun to dig into such a great holiday and tradition than to do traditional fundraisers, and it gets our community involved, which we love. It is something the kids especially really take pride in, and they definitely keep track of screams or people who quit half way through the house. They know that making people shake and scream is just another day at the office, and a job well done. They take pride in that!
What supports have you received from the haunt community? We have received great support. Our customers return each year, and our clientele has increased yearly just by their positive word of mouth and shares on Facebook. We love that we have fans that come to see what we do every year and we do our best to make sure they're never disappointed. The location may be the same, but the scares never are. We love that reviewers like you visit and support us, and we take that feedback seriously. I mean, what is better than scaring a fellow scarer?
Has the 2018 Blumhouse Halloween or IT chapter 2 influenced your haunt this season? I think all Halloween movies influence all of the HH community. It's were we find ideas that worked in the theater that inspire us to use in our HH, since many of the scenes we do require extensive acting and make up, its easy for a studio filled with performers to accomplish. We never want to do something expected, so we always draw inspiration from whatever is out, but we don't want it to be so close that our guests know what's coming. So, you might be some elements from those movies, but don't think that means that you know what we're doing.
Without giving away secrets, what scene stands out to you or which scene do you expect your patrons to react to the most? Too many to tell!!! Many new and exciting effects this year. You gotta experience it! The thing about this is that phobias are personal, so what bothers me the most (spiders) might not bother anyone else in my group, so everyone picks out a different spot. Our goal this year is to take advantage of what you're already scared of, but we're hoping you can leave with a new nightmare or two as well. Good luck!
How energetic are your dance studio peeps and their families with regards to working the attraction? Our studio is full of performers. They know all genres of theater, from make up, costuming to acting. This keeps the HH fully staffed with some awesome performers that don't settle for the mediocre scare. It can be really hard to find kids who are willing to go after adults for a scare, but these kids do not back down. You'll never look at dancers the same again after this experience. Some families start this fundraiser just as a fundraiser, but they quickly get converted. It becomes a labor of love and everyone's favorite holiday ends up Halloween by the end of their experience with our haunted house. Getting those screams becomes a new addiction.
What drives you to do what you do? Seeing how much fun our staff get out of using their talents/ideas and the joy it brings to the guests that attend along with just loving the holiday. We get to celebrate Halloween for months while we plan, execute and then scare. We can't think of a better way to enjoy the season!
Finish this sentence: When I think of the dance studio's haunted house comments, stories, and Facebook posts, I get excited when someone says.... That was so creative and frightening. Great attention to detail! Over the top! I can't figure out how they did that!
Is there anything else you would like to share? Please remember, This is a fundraiser for our dance students, hosted by the students and their families. The funds go toward costuming, fees and travel throughout the season.
The support of the community is so important to our success each year and is an investment in these dancers future. We truly appreciate the opportunity to scare you!
I think it is important to remember that your admission price here really goes to these kids and their passion. Many of them are at the studio 4 or 5 days a week-that is a huge commitment- and seeing the community come out to support them really means a lot to all of us.
Thank you for taking the time to chop it up with us Christina!
Check out CMC Haunted House's Scarycuse listing HERE, for all current rates and schedule!