Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA
We’ve come upon it… our final update from Midsummer Scream. As has become traditional, we round out our coverage by looking at the ever-growing exhibition halls of the convention as well as doing a little bit (or a lot) of people watching, celebrating the passionate and devoted fans who dress up for the event and add that extra flair of legitimacy to what has definitely become a respected and beloved festival. Are you ready?
The Exhibition Hall
The convention floor was bigger than ever this year, with Midsummer Scream occupying the entire Convention Center for the first time. As usual, there were plenty of stalls and booths featuring a variety of vendors, artists, and even various independent haunts advertising for the fall. Although there were more exhibitors than ever—over 350 of them—the floor actually felt less crowded because of the extra room. Where the aisles were crowded last year (despite being widened compared to 2017), this year felt less packed. Of course, the floor was still busy, but it was at least possible walk through without becoming trapped in congestion that would rival the 405 freeway.
Being a haunt and horror convention, there were plenty of merchants selling props, make-up kits, special effects, and anything else one would want to start building a haunted attraction. The exhibition halls were littered with gruesome figures, terrifying masks, set pieces, and projection, fog, and lighting effects on display. It was a cornucopia of toys for the biggest dreaming haunter, for sure!
Aside from vendors targeting people looking to craft their own haunted houses, there were also plenty of independent sellers with their own crafts and apparel and furnishings. Some of them celebrated famous attractions—the Haunted Mansion was a common theme throughout Midsummer Scream, thanks to this year’s 50th anniversary of the original attraction. But others also sold purses, hats, T-shirts, and posters devoted to all things spooky, from popular to indie movies and media to general Halloween items. Besides, that, there were also talented artists creating home furnishings and decorations fit for the most gothic of fans. Buying from such vendors helped support independent business people, and it was great to see so many of them!
There were plenty of artists in general as well, selling illustrations and sculptures. The Hall of Shadows featured Tiki artists to blend with the convention’s “Tiki Terror” theme, while other talented artists showed off posters, paintings, comics, and other artistic expressions centered around horror.
Finally, the exhibition floor provided a great opportunity for many haunts to advertise for the fall season and gain publicity for their upcoming attractions. Although mainstays, Knott’s Scary Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest were not present, the L.A. Haunted Hayride had an amazing centerpiece set right at the entrance into the exhibition floor, showcasing the fresh, detailed creative direction coming from Plague Productions. Dark Harbor also had a photo op, and smaller haunts like The Fleshyard and Perdition Home also had booths. So even if they weren’t in the Hall of Shadows, Midsummer Scream offered independent haunters opportunities to advertise themselves to the fans.
One of my other favorite aspects of attending Midsummer Scream is seeing and appreciating all the talented and ardent fans who come dressed up in one way or another to show off their fandom. I wrote a few years ago that this was the first sign that Midsummer Scream was quickly become a “legitimate” con, but now, in its fourth year, Southern California’s premiere Halloween and horror festival has become not only a cult hit, but a member of the region’s mainstream conventions.
As with any con, there were plenty of guests in costume in the vein of their favorite scary movies or macabre or horror-related franchises. The level of detail and effort that went into these outfits was truly amazing, and it illustrated just how devoted many of these guests were to an interest that might be seen as dark and twisted but is really a labor of love, just like any other fandom.
There were also plenty of guests who came dressed up in one way or another—not necessarily in cosplay for an IP, but just for Halloween or horror. Autumn fashions and visages gory and spooky were common sights. Those who weren’t dressed up like a certain franchise character might still have garb that suggested recognizable attractions or shows. Others simply got creative with make-up and costume, blending horror with other themes to generate fun, original mash-up’s.
Midsummer Scream also showed off the family dynamic of the horror and haunt community. Parents dressed up with their children, or allowed their children to dress up to indulge their love of all things horror. This highlighted the communal support nature of the haunted community, which provides a judgement-free and open and honest atmosphere for people to just embrace their ardor. It was a heart-warming thing to witness!
Every once in a while, one could also spot a horror icon posing for photo ops with regular guests. Jason, Pennywise, and more provided some nervous thrills to many guests, and some giddy selfies for others. These weren’t always people affiliated with some promotional campaign. Some simply appeared to be doing this just for the joy it gave to others.
Looking to pad your Instagram? Midsummer Scream was a scenic place to do it. Even if one wasn’t clad in meticulous cosplay garb, the general atmosphere provided a great backdrop to get portraits and soak in the ambiance. So to that end, there was plenty of interesting haunt eye candy in general.
Another common sight at Midsummer Scream was the appearance of familiar haunt monsters. Dark Harbor, Fright Fest, and Knott’s Scary Farm talent could be seen throughout the convention center—most on unofficial ambassadorships—to entertain and scare. Whether slinking in the Hall of Shadows or strolling around openly in the lobby or somewhere in between, these monsters provided a preview of the fall haunt season. They certainly helped push guests into the mood of the spookiest time of the year, if everything else at the convention hadn’t done so already!
And that does it for Midsummer Scream 2019! If you missed them, check out our updates about the convention’s entertainment offerings and attractions, the vaunted Hall of Shadows, and some of the panels that we covered this year. Our next haunt update will come from the Knott’s Scary Farm preview event, coming at the end of this month. And haunts continue to announce new attractions coming this season, so stay tuned for announcements on that front. We’ll also be publishing another Haunted Attractions Guide, similar to previous years. Haunt season is our passion, so stick around for more from the world of the spooky!
Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.