Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a gathering of many many people who all had one thing in common. They were all united by their love and enthusiasm for all things spooky! Every year (barring those marred by plague) hoards of faithful followers make a pilgrimage to the realm of the Long Beach Convention Center. Here they delight in getting scared in the many houses infested with ghouls and goblins and make sure to visit all the talented tradesmen (and women) who travel from far and wide to sell their wares.
What a wonderful fairy tale! Oh, wait…this is no tall tale! This may seem too good to be real… but we are, in fact, speaking of Southern California’s premiere Halloween and Horror Convention: Midsummer Scream! The Worlds LARGEST Halloween and Horror Convention.
We spent ALL 3 days of this incredible event traversing the show floor, cautiously venturing into haunted houses, patiently waiting for panels, and soaking in every single aspect that this amazing event has to offer.
If you want to hear our on location coverage of the convention, have a listen to our latest podcast episode! Here we have exclusive interviews and clips from the panels.
ENTRY & THE SHOW FLOOR
As with the previous 4 years of Midsummer Scream, the necessary evil of security checks are implemented in order to ensure the safety of all guests who come to partake in the spooky fun. Unlike years before, the scanners that were utilized were touch-less. Nobody needed to go digging through your bag while you were wanded. Of course unless you set the system off, then you’ll be searched. But overall, the system was rather smooth and incredibly fast. While that may have been the case for us, we know that on Saturday (a sold out day) there was a massive line of people stretching down the street. Maybe increasing the amount of security check points could alleviate such issues in the future.
But once inside, you forget about the world you’ve left behind and completely transport yourself to the world MSS has created. A place where everyone is welcomed and nobody is judged. In fact, as we’ve said in the past, the people who are covered in blood or are dressed as the scariest monster are typically the nicest people you’ll meet.
This years show floor was incredibly overwhelming. Not from crowds but from seer size. There were so many artists, celebrity signings, prosthetic application examples, items to purchase and photo opportunities. In fact, we made sure to take our time walking around and take photos with all the creepy characters we could find. We even got a piece of artwork signed by the Chiodo Brothers! If you don’t know who they are, look no further than Killer Klowns From Outer Space!
An aspect of the show floor that we are always so impressed by is the variety of offerings it showcases within the world of Halloween and Horror. Horror and Halloween come in many different shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. Each tailor made for a different demographic and age group. As you traverse the walkways, you’ll come across incredibly cute Halloween kids books and then find yourself face to face with Pennywise or even Regan from The Exorcist. There truly is something for everyone here.
One aspect of MSS that is impossible to miss is the incredibly talented people who dress up for the event. Whether that’s Vacation Jason, Trix The Clown, Sultry Pennywise, Undead In n Out workers or anything else in-between. It’s so impressive to see the work put into such extravagant costumes. Honestly, taking the time to admire it all can take some time. So if you’re one that loves to stop people for photos because you love their cosplay or costume, then you’re going to have a blast at MSS.
THE HALL OF SHADOWS
It wouldn’t be MSS without The Hall of Shadows. The incredibly talented folks at CalHaunts always create such imaginative and fun entry pieces to set off your adventures in The Hall of Shadows. This years “Midsummer Estates”, while not as grandios as previous years, captures the essense and tone of Halloween perfectly.
As you enter The Hall of Shadows, you’ll notice that you’ve entered Midsummer Estates. This creepy corridor is a neighborhood which is comprised of different houses that represent all the different aspects of Halloween and Horror. Whether that be Killer Clowns, Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Scooby Doo, or Halloween 3; there is something that represents an aspect of the season we love. There was even an interactive portion when you rang the doorbell on the Evil Dead house!
As people who love many different aspects of Halloween, Midsummer Estates hit all the right beats and made us feel all the emotions. We love the pure celebration of the season represented in a fun display that perfectly sets the tone for the rest of guests experiences within The Hall of Shadows.
One of our favorite things to do at MSS, is to catch a slider show by the guys and gals of The Decayed Brigade. Nikki and I rave year after year about the show Decayed Brigade puts on. This year was taken to the next level!
All shows done by Decayed Brigade were different and completely choreographed. This added another level of insanity and really impressed us. Sitting down to catch a show of these incredible sliders has become a staple of the event and a MUST DO for us every single year. Do yourself a favor and DO NOT MISS this show next year, you won’t regret it.
Of course the rest of The Hall of Shadows was filled with incredible mini haunts from all over Southern California. Some of these really didn’t feel like mini haunts and just felt like shorter normal haunts…if that makes sense. Some of the major stand outs for us were Fear Farm, Corona Haunt, and Straite To Hale.
While those were the stand outs for us, there were so many great mini haunts that brought a unique vision in the Hall of Shadows this year that it’s really hard to compare and contrast them all. There were even some walk throughs that weren’t scary and more just celebrated the idea of Halloween.
CONVENTION LINEUP & PANELS
MSS always does a good job at creating panels that reach out to the every facet of the Halloween season. Whether that be the creative, historical, or fan side of the season. For example, on Saturday, you could go to the Halloween Horror Nights panel and learn about their upcoming plans for the halloween season. Or you could learn about the Halloween culture in America with the Tricks ‘r Terrors: A History of Halloween in America Panel. With such a wide swathe of subjects, there is truly something for everyone.
During our time at MSS, we only hit two different panels because our interests and priorities were so spread out. The first and only panel we hit during Saturday was the Halloween Horror Nights panel. Every year, Universal Studios Hollywood brings all the fun spooky surprises for fans that line up for hours just to get a peak into their favorite event. This year was no different because Creative Director John Murdy announced that Scarecrow: The Reaping was coming to HHN here in Hollywood. For all of you keeping track, this was the house from HHN27 in Orlando. We got a behind the scenes sneak peak into the sets, characters and story that guests will be enveloped in while visiting the event.
Then John shocked everyone by bringing out a special guest, SLASH! I think this caught everyone off guard but it made so much sense. Slash has been creating music for many mazes at HHN in Hollywood. From Clowns: 3D, Universal Monsters, Bride of Frankenstein Lives, and now Universal Monsters: Legends Collide. Slash has created and really helped shape the experiences guests have come to know and love from these mazes. So we were lucky to get a sneak peak into the music for this year’s Universal Monsters maze. You can listen to that below!
A word to the wise, make sure you set aside plenty of time to wait in line for this panel. Of any panel, it garnered the longest line and got crazy pretty quickly. But we will touch upon those issues a bit later.
We got our first look at this years Delusion which is, Valley of Hollows. Really taking it’s style and theme from the cults of the 1970’s.
With LA Haunted Hayride, we learned about the favorites that were returning and how they were adjusting existing favorites to keep them fresh and new. Not only that, but we learned about an ALL NEW maze called Laughterhouse. In this new maze, clowns have taken over the local abandoned slaughterhouse.
Lastly, we got a video message from Shaq talking about his all new event…SHAQTOBERFEST!
I won’t lie, this was really high on our list of things we NEEDED to do during our visit to MSS. Not only does it sound incredibly entertaining, but it’s the most unique and different offering we’ve had in SoCal in a long time. It also doesn’t hurt that we are MASSIVE Shaq fans because of his stint with the Lakers.
MIDSUMMER SCREAM AFRER DARK: THE DEADLY DISCO
At the end of day two of MSS, there was a party for those who purchased a ticket specifically for the party or for those who purchased a Gold Bat pass for the whole weekend. I won’t sugar coat this, I am not a party person. In fact, I find parties usually pretty awkward. I was even this way in college, which seems rather counter intuitive. So when I first walked into the after hours party, I felt that same awkward feeling. It felt like people were waiting against the walls not really knowing what to do. But what I saw happen in front of my eyes was nothing short of a miracle. Off went the “normal” music and they started to play The Monster Mash! It really seemed like in that moment the party came to life. People rushed the dance floor, people were laughing and just having a great time…including myself. I was surrounded by all our friends just relaxing. It felt so nice and just so normal. It’s one of those situations thats not necessarily quantifiable and the special “something” that really made the party fun isn’t tangible.
I think ultimately and simply, it was a bunch of people who love Halloween gathering together to let loose and have some damn fun. Which is ultimately what happened and we had such a good time. Also, when else are you going to have a chance to dance along side a demon, a skeleton, a pumpkin from Halloween : Season of the Witch, and Batman? Probably never again for the rest of your life. So we took the opportunity to let loose and have a blast.
Once again, I find myself sitting at my computer trying to figure out the right combination of words to properly convey my feelings about this years Midsummer Scream. While I am far from complaining, I do find this task to be a difficult one. After five years of attending this convention and it quickly becoming our favorite convention we attend; how do you summarize your thoughts in a way that properly conveys not just the facts but how it makes you feel? Midsummer Scream simply makes us happy, it’s like the desperately needed shot of serotonin that saves you from the terrors of real life. I find it comical how monsters, ghouls, goblins and everything in between are what we find to be escapism. Not sure what that says about us or the real world…but I digress. Either which way, I think Midsummer Scream feels like home. While it may not be perfect, it brings everyone together under the same roof to truly enjoy the season.
While some find it easy to overlook the flaws, others might not. For us, finding a much more efficient way to manage lines and security upon entry or reentry is something that can greatly improve guests experiences. Additionally, line management is something that really needs to be adjusted and worked on. While in line for theHHN panel, there was only one poor White Bat working the lines and trying their best to manage guests. But unfortunately, there was rampant line cutting and once the doors opened the switchback lines all but disappeared and people rushed the doors. The amount of people versus the amount of space in that walkway was never going to work. However this situation can be adjusted and is something that should be handled for next year. Now I understand, some situations are merely because of the location and limitations because of the location. We can let those go, but if there can be any improvements we expect them to be implemented.
While these two negatives are rather big in determining guests experiences and we definitely felt it; overall I don’t think it marred our experience to the point where we wouldn’t want to attend. Throwing a convention of this size isn’t easy and we are sure there are so many road blocks and issues that we never see and these just happen to be the two issues we do realize. We often try to take this thought into account when attending any convention. To be honest, we would and want to attend Midsummer Scream for the foreseeable future. Not only for the product, but for the people. There is simply nothing like the family and friends that are created during these events. We all laugh together and we all scream together. That ultimately is why we love Midsummer Scream…because it feels like family. As we said before, it’s not perfect; just like family. Although it has some eccentricities and maybe some flaws, there is nowhere else we’d rather be than Midsummer Scream.
Congratulations to the entire Midsummer Scream crew for putting together such a wonderfully spooky and fun filled event. We cannot see what you have in store for Midsummer Scream 2023!