During the weekend of March 20, 2015, HauntedIllinois.com attended Transworld’s Halloween and Attractions Show, in St. Louis, Missouri. Over the years, this show has emerged as “the” trade show to attend for the Haunted Attraction Industry. Featuring a plethora of trade show vendors, an extensive seminar series, product demos and more, this show has many elements designed to help haunters grow their businesses.
The show floor area was huge. It was definitely not something you could walk through in a couple of hours. We were there the entire weekend and it was a challenge to cover all of the vendors that we wanted to. According to the vendor list published on the TransWorld Trade Shows LLC website (as of a few days before the show), there were 239 companies exhibiting. I think there may have been more. The wide-open spaces on the show floor that we saw in 2014 were filled with vendor booths this year.
Jumping on the bandwagon… or hay wagon, several paintball companies were exhibiting to support the growing demand of zombie paintball attractions that seem to be popping up everywhere. In addition to their standard paintball products, these companies have started to introduce zombie-themed paintball accessories. Zombie masks with large eye openings & built-in goggles, as well as zombie costumes integrated with full body armor are now being offered by a growing number of vendors.
Another growing trend in the Haunt Industry is Escape Rooms. Escape Room attractions are adventure games where a group of people is locked inside a room. Participants need to work together to find clues and solve various puzzles, in order to unlock the door and escape before their time runs out. We saw two or three companies providing consultancy services related to these types of attractions.
While the show itself seemed bigger than it has ever been in St. Louis, the Dark Zone was a bit underwhelming. The overall size was much smaller than in years past and most of the floor space was covered by just two companies. Yes, there were a couple of other vendors along the one side isle, but they didn’t really stand out. Considering that the Dark Zone is one of my personal favorite features of the show, I was disappointed to see it downsized.
While there wasn’t an Interactive Haunted House on the show floor like there had been the past couple of years, there was a mini haunted house set up near the entrance of the trade show. Built by Halloween Productions, this haunt was a completely enclosed walk-through. It had several detailed scenes filled with high end props, animatronics and CGI effects. There were even a couple of scare spots!
This year, TransWorld Trade Shows LLC introduced a VIP ticket for $350 (compared to the regular $50 admission fee). The VIP ticket included entry to the show floor, a few free seminars, VIP lounge, early access to the show floor on Friday and a couple of other incentives. Although there was a lot of chatter online about this prior to Transworld, I didn’t really hear any comments at the show from anyone who took advantage of the VIP option. From the way it was advertised, it seems like they offered many perks for VIP ticket holders, so I have a feeling we’ll see this option again in 2016.
In the past, Transworld had established the reputation of being a "business only" trade show, but now they are making an effort to create a more well-rounded experience. Every year they are adding more after-hours activities. Previously, the main after-hours entertainment was socializing at the hotel bar, but options have grown significantly year over year. This year, there were many Transworld sponsored social events, including the Thursday night opening party, Flamingo Bowl party, the Lemp Brewery, Talon Falls Scream Park & The Darkness Haunted HouseTours, the Gantom City Museum Party, the Skull and Bones Bash, Froggy’s Fog Party Room and the Price Is Fright Party.
There was so much going on and unfortunately we were only able to be in one place at a time, so we couldn’t cover everything. Even so, in this review we have included more pictures than we ever have in an online feature... 672, which include photos taken on the show floor, as well as various other after-hours activities & events. Our main focus was to promote the vendors at the show. All of the vendor pictures are alphabetized by company name and pictures include hyperlinks to company websites, so you can find out more information about the products and services that they offer.
I hope you enjoy the review!
Webmaster of HauntedIllinois.com