Throwback Thursday — Wanna Know How Haunted Houses Got Started?
Greg Delange is busy building Terror Behind the Screen -- the largest, scariest and most high-tech haunted house in the Mid Columbia! That got me thinking, where did the idea of a haunted house attraction come from? They've been very popular for the past dozen years, but how old is the concept? You'll be surprised by the answer!
The idea of paying someone to be scared or see something gross goes back at least 200 years! Madam Tussaud's wax character museum in London has been a famous tourist attraction since she fled the French Revolution. Her first wax heads were made from death masks she took off French royalty beheaded. Her museum was famous for having grotesque oddities to see.
But that's not the "haunted house" kind of attraction we're talking about.
As early as 1915 manufacturers of carnival rides created spook houses with steam-powered pranks like gusts of air and moving floor boards while people shuffled through in the dark.
As amusement parks gained popularity in the 1920s it was common to see "scary" rides and spooky elements inside fun houses. "The Haunted Shack" at Knott's Berry Farm in Anaheim opened in 1954 and Disneyland's Haunted Mansion followed 15 years later.
But seasonal haunted house built and then torn down just for October are a more recent phenomenon.
The first people to make an "industry" out of haunted houses appears to be the Junior Chamber (JC's or Jaycees). The Pasco Jaycees do the "Haunted Forest" out at Sacajawea State Park each year to raise money. The Jaycees are a service organization. Apparently Jaycees have been building such attractions since the 1960s. The first documented, official Jaycees haunted house was in 1970 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Once they showed the world what could be done, entrepreneurs have been building haunted house attractions annually in empty warehouses across the nation!
Terror Behind the Screen will make history in 2014 with the first ever 3-D haunted house in the Mid Columbia! Half the haunt will be zombies and parasitic aliens. The other half will require 3-D glasses so the killer clowns can JUMP out at you!