HauntCon Announces Haunters to Watch Awards

HAuNTcon, the annual Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention, in partnership with the Haunted Attraction Network has announced the launch of Haunters to Watch, a new recognition and awards program created to highlight innovation, mentorship, and creativity, and designed to showcase unique and out of the box thinking.

Nominations are open now through December 6th, 2019. The 5 Haunters to Watch are selected by the steering committee, comprised of industry experts Scott Swenson, Robbi Lepre, and Michael Bolton, with awards’ Chairman Philip Hernandez. Each honoree will be presented with an award at HAuNTcon 2020 (January 17-19 in New Orleans), a profile in Seasonal Entertainment Source Magazine, and the opportunity to share their story on-stage.

“Through our conversations with haunters we have seen so much amazing creativity, collaboration, and exciting new concepts, that we are always brainstorming ways to share this thinking with the broader community. Haunters to Watch will celebrate and share the ideas of those that are disturbing the norm through their storytelling, mentorship, marketing, acting and more. We are so thrilled to partner with Haunted Attraction Network and continue to be a forum where innovation and new ideas are recognized and take center stage,” commented Liz Irving, senior vice president of marketing for HAuNTcon and the co-located Halloween & Party Expo.

The Categories and Recognition Details
Nominate yourself, your haunted attraction, or another individual across the following categories:

  1. Up-and-Comer: a new haunt (5 years or younger) which has received recognition for offering a unique experience.
  2. Fastest Growing Haunt: the haunted attraction with the highest percentage-based attendance increase between the 2018 and 2019 season.
  3. Mentor: an individual who helps new haunt staff grow professionally and or personally.
  4. Off-Season Business: The best non-Halloween season event hosted by a haunt, such as Bloody Valentine’s Day, Krampus Fest, Halloween in June, etc.
  5. Excellence in Storytelling: the maze with the most cohesive story that has been brought to life.

The categories, selected by the industry steering committee, spotlight haunters who push boundaries in both creativity and business and are committed to the growth of the haunt community. HAuNTcon, the Haunted Attraction Network, and the steering committee will recognize the top 25 submissions online and the top Haunter to Watch in each of the 5 categories receives a 2-night stay in New Orleans during HAuNTcon 2020, and will share their insights on stage, and be profiled by Seasonal Entertainment Source Magazine.

“Haunts exist at the intersection of macabre creativity and business acumen. The Haunters to Watch program perfectly celebrates that intersection in a way which bolsters the industry. The program benefits the entire industry by sharing real-world examples of competitive thinking. I’m grateful to HAuNTcon and our steering committee for their effort in bringing this program to life,” commented Philip Hernandez, publisher of Seasonal Entertainment Source magazine, operator of the Haunted Attraction Network, and Chairman of Haunters to Watch.

The Steering Committee
The Haunters to Watch steering committee is comprised of industry icons whose expertise in entertainment and haunted attractions spans more than 90 years. The steering committee will review all of the submissions to choose the 2020 honorees. This year’s steering committee includes:

Scott Swenson has been bringing stories to life as a Writer, Director, Producer and Performer. After 21 years working with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment as the Director of Production, Scott formed Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC. Since then he has been writing live shows, creating and implementing themed festivals and developing communication-based training classes. Learn more about Scott here.

Michael Bolton has been fascinated with the haunt industry since screaming his way round Terror on Church St in Orlando in 1999. Now, he is the owner of ScareTOUR – a news and reviews site for scare events, as well as running ScareCON – Europe’s only trade show for the scare industry. In his career, he has visited every attraction in Europe, as well as multiple attractions in the US and beyond. He has used this experience in a consultancy capacity and has designed multiple scare attractions for UK theme parks and attractions including PrimEVIL, Frightmare and the critically appraised Ghost of Christmas (the UKs first out of season horror experience).

Robbi Lepre has more than 40 years of theme park leadership experience at Busch Gardens Tampa as entertainment department director, project manager, technical director, and producer for award-winning live shows and events. Robbi is now CEO of Eye Insights, LLC where she provides solutions and insights for improving the “Guest Experience” of disabled visitors to your attraction or business.

Concluded Irving, “We thank Scott, Michael, and Robbi for their guidance as we continue to grow and evolve Haunters to Watch – as well as that of the entire haunt community. We are so thrilled to see all of the new ideas that are developing for the 2019 haunt season and hope that this program can serve as an additional source of inspiration and recognition in the community.”

Haunts and individuals are invited to visit www.hauntcon.com/haunterstowatch for additional information and to put forward a nomination. Tickets are also available for HAuNTcon 2020 taking place January 17-19 in New Orleans, where haunters to Watch joins a full schedule of networking, idea sharing, and game-changing new products and concepts.

For more Halloween news, follow @HalloweenDaily.

Matt Artz

Founded Halloween Daily News in 2012 and the Halloween International Film Festival in 2016. Professional writer/journalist/photographer since 2000.