Every time a new haunted house opens up in North Platte, NE, we go see it. We have to stay abreast of the competition and we have fun seeing what other people in the area are doing with their haunts.
Several years ago, we went to a North Platte haunted house that was known as “Bo-Bo’s”, I think. It was located somewhat off the beaten path, as I recall. There was a haunted forest and a tiny haunted house on the property. We went to both. It was the first year of their operation and they’d clearly spent a lot of their funds on costumes. One of the things that we took note of right away was that they’d used masks instead of make-up. And rather than walking, patrons rode the hay rack ride patrons through the haunted forest.
Overall, Bo-Bo’s was well done, especially since it was their first year of operations, but there were some important things missing from the experience. Most obvious was music and sound effects. My husband, John, is an ex-pro musician and he uses his recording skills and sound expertise to create unique sound effects and music for all of our haunts as well as the outdoor environments at School District 13. My daughter, also skilled with sound effects and recording equipment, now does all the sound effects for several of the new haunts and environments as well since we’ve grown exponentially since we first opened this haunt in 2014. Though people don’t usually notice the absence of music, the presence of appropriate music and good sound effects can make or break a haunted attraction. It always amazes me how John’s and Lydian’s sound effects change the way people experience the environments at our haunted attraction in Brule.
The haunted corn maze in North Platte at the Golden Spike Tower needed a lot of work back when we first visited it back in 2012. I heard from a few people that they may have stopped haunting the corn maze, but a quick online search seems to indicate that they opened the haunted corn maze for a few nights in 2015. When we went to the event, the scare actors stopped and talked with everyone who came through (particularly cute girls). This is a real fun killer. When the scare actors break character, it breaks the spell of the haunted house. There were only masks and no make-up on the scare actors at the Golden Spike. The maze had clearly been developed for day-time operations primarily, so the paths were really wide and the maze itself wasn’t especially confusing under the bright glow of the nearby lights. The haunted part of things seemed to be sort of an afterthought. Still, for folks who can’t make it to Brule for the Halloween festival there, it’s a fun thing to do on a fall night in North Platte.
That being said, at School District 13, we don’t use masks. We haven’t used masks in a haunted attraction since our first year at Cornstalk back in 2004. Cornstalk is closed now, but we’ve moved our operations to a new, better location in Brule, NE along I-80 where we haunt the whole town including the old school building, the community hall, the park, the streets, the old concession stand, and a bus that transports patrons through town. Every single one of our scare actors is given a costume and make-up with rare exceptions and we had over 80 volunteers who worked for us last year (that’s a LOT of costumes and make-up, but by God, this is what makes the haunt seem real, so we do it!). We use film-quality prosthetics, fake teeth, contact lenses, and whatever else we need to really give life to the characters that walk the streets and the corridors or our haunts at School District 13 in Brule.
And the sound effects and special effects that we use are top-of-the-line. Our haunts have been completely redesigned and rebuilt for the 2016 season. And we bought a bus. A haunted bus, of course. Because hay rack rides are so yesterday.
There was a new haunt in North Platte last year, but I was never able to find out where it was located. This could very well be its undoing, I suppose.