Kissimmee, Florida - Legend's A Haunting At Old Town
By Dale Lucas
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Orlando Haunted Houses are some of the scariest and best in America! Hauntworld.com rates and review the best haunted houses, haunted attractions, and Halloween events in America! Legend's A Haunting At Old Town is located in Kissimmee, Florida near Orlando and has one of the scariest haunted houses in America! Prepare to scream! Sit back and prepare to scream through our review of Legend's. This Halloween you can't miss the scariest and best haunted attraction in the entire state of Florida, Legend's A Haunting At Old Town The Legend of Old Town is a YEAR AROUND haunted attraction open every night in the biggest tourist town in America ready to make you scream. When you are looking for things to do in Orlando Florida especially at night take a visit to the ONLY and BEST year around haunted house in Orlando Florida.
To learn more about Kissimmee, Florida's Legend's A Haunting At Old Town visit their websit below:
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Picture if you will a lovely, all-American street dotted with brightly-colored buildings and cheery, festive lights. Shoppers and strollers float merrily down the lane… only to pause for a moment before a shadowy, solitary structure that seems somehow out of place in such a blissful atmosphere: a seemingly-abandoned, reportedly haunted house. Many of these same passers-by will press their faces to the darkened windows of the gloomy edifice, hoping to catch a glimpse of what terrors might linger within. To their disappointment, only darkness stares back.
This is not the set-up for some grainy old ‘70s horror film, but rather, a snapshot of what was a closed down haunted attraction in Kissimmee Florida, located in the heart of the Old Town entertainment complex. The Haunted Grimm House, which had operated there for 25 years, had closed its doors.
But Dallas haunters, Jim Shackelford and Jay Westerman, along with their Orlando-based partner, Dan Carro, saw potential and dove into the daunting task of building a whole new haunted attraction in the old Grimm House location. They liked the potential the location had to offer. Old Town is a walking district in Kissimmee with a unique collection of shops, rides, dining options, amusements, events and night life. Renovations began in February of 2013, as the building was gutted to the studs and the creative team undertook the labor of designing an entirely new haunt experience for the space.
The all-new show titled Legends A Haunting at Old Town challenges guests to enter the halls of Ashdown and Son's Undertakers. As the new attraction's story goes, the mortuary was established in 1889 by Archibald Ashdown, an unscrupulous undertaker who drummed up business by poisoning perfectly healthy townsfolk and interring them alive while their unsuspecting loved ones paid prime dollar for inflated funeral expenses.
Fast forward to the present: Ashdown's evil deeds have awakened something dark within the mortuary. Now, the dead won't stay dead and Ashdown's victims are returning to exact their revenge upon the Ashdowns—and anyone else they may find roaming within the mortuary halls.
“Story is important to us,” says Carro, who has worked as a freelance artist, writer and director for several well-known Orlando attractions. “Not just our back-story, but our guest's story. Our real story is about a night when a group of people got more than what they bargained for while taking a tour of a mortuary and our guests are the stars.”
“We're right around the corner from some of the greatest attractions in the world,” says Westerman, “so we knew we had to create a high quality experience for our guests. Most of our visitors would’ve just spent the day at one or more of Florida’s greatest theme parks, so our goal was to give them a theme park worthy experience at our haunted attraction too.”
Shackelford, with his degrees in interior architecture and design as well as several years of experience working in an actual mortuary, was the perfect man to bring authenticity to Legends. “We wanted this to feel like you were walking into a real place,” says Shackelford. “It needed to look lived-in and functional as a mortuary.” As such, a great deal of thought went into the look of each room. Antique furniture and actual funerary items were sought out and used throughout the haunt, including real embalming tables, caskets, church pews and antique Victorian funeral items.
Several custom pieces were also created for Legends, including two full-sized animatronics of the sinister Archibald Ashdown, the show's icon character. Ashdown was brought to pneumatic life by Ed Edmunds of Distortions Unlimited and was even featured on an episode of Travel Channel's ‘Making Monsters’.
“People often ask what separates us from what the big parks are doing at Halloween,” says Carro, “and let me say we are first in line to see those shows. We live for them! But the big difference with us is we are year-round. So you can come get scared in March if you feel so inclined. Also, we don't have to be ‘people eaters.’ We aren't taking in thousands of guests every night. We don't allow groups larger than six people. So you get a more intimate experience. We can take our time with you. Learn your names. Figure out what really scares you and use that to tailor our performance for you. It’s an incredible haunting experience!”
That incredible performance is given by true haunt actors, hand-picked from year-round attractions such as the classic Terror on Church Street, Skull Kingdom and seasonal giants such as Universal's Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream. “We are so fortunate to have a fantastic team who knows their stuff,” assures Westerman.
While reviews for Legends A Haunting at Old Town by the Central Florida press and national and various travel writers have been decidedly positive, there are still challenges that come with operating a year-round haunted house that seasonal haunts rarely have to consider. Many haunts operate for a month or two at a time and usually only on weekends. Legends is open Tuesdays through Sundays, all year long, including holidays. This means that animatronics, props and sets accumulate a full season's worth of wear and tear in only a matter of weeks.
“There's definitely more upkeep to be done,” says Shackelford. “But the artists and techs on our team are very good. They're up to the challenge.”
Another peril of year-round haunting: keeping the show fresh for performers and guests alike. “Repetition is a sure-fire wire to make things boring for performers, so our actors aren't chained to a particular set,” says Shackelford. “We designed our show to be a playground. The haunt actors can and do go anywhere. Plus, this design allows for more extreme acting!”
“We had a group come through three times in a row,” Carro recollects. “After their second trip through, we completely changed the show up. We could hear one of the patrons through the wall counting the differences. ‘There was a guy over there before…Where did he go?’”
Like any good haunt, Legends will make new additions before next Halloween such as upgraded costumes, new animations and quality effects, plus an icon-character merchandise line for the gift shop and even a Ghost Tour that will launch in 2014.
One room that rarely changes however is The Chapel. It’s a favorite set-piece among cast and guests alike. “It's the finale,” says Carro. “We wanted to make sure we had a full storyline with a set-up, a rising action, a finale, and an epilogue just like any good story. The Chapel is definitely our finale.”
The Chapel is certainly the largest room guests enter in the haunt. Having just traveled through a tight labyrinth of hallways, guests then enter into a large detailed set filled with flowers, church pews, a large pipe organ and an open casket. The room is quiet enough... at first. But as guests move further into the scene, all hell breaks loose as several animatronics and live actors descend from all angles.
“Guests are hysterical getting through here,” laughs Westerman. “This is where guys leave girlfriends behind, mothers abandon their children. Fight or flight kicks in. People really freak out!”
While Shackelford, Carro and Westerman refuse to boast whether they are the goriest, the longest, or even the scariest haunt on the market, they all proudly agree that their guests are consistently pleased and terrified. “I think people are surprised by how much entertainment they get from a satellite attraction in the Orlando market, which is our benchmark of success,” says Shackelford. “Plus, a wonderful thing for us is our location. Many of our guests come to shop, dine or experience the rides at Old Town with no idea that they were going to wind up in a haunted house that night. For many, it's been months since they thought about Halloween or haunted houses and now they're coming in cold and really getting scared to death. It's a good feeling.”
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