It was fun. I got to check out works in progress that, with the lights flipped off and costumed/made up actors in place, are intended to be scream and giggle harvesters, devices that pull the shrieks of fright and laughter from attendees’ throats before they’re stored away in their makers’ brains.
The motivation to make these structures stuffed with frightening scenes was nearly unanimous on one count: the creators love hearing those screams. Love it. It’s their version of applause, their standing ovation to let them know they nailed it.
After writing the story, I went to check one out for myself as a patron. Circus of Screams is in Eagle Point, and boasts about 6,000 square feet of mazes, toothy clowns and dozens of other under-the-bed dwellers. I went with my wife, and after squeezing into what seemed like the last parking spot available, we went to wait in line and get our tickets.
That’s where I got struck by something. This long, long line was comprised of about 75 percent teenagers and young 20-somethings, either with a parent or on their own. They speculated on the horrors that waited beyond the spider web-smothered entrance, snapped pictures and laughed every time they heard someone howl in fear.
This is the generation that’s supposed to be disconnected and playing on their iPads 24-7, yet there they were: conversing, experiencing, making memories.
So bravo, nightmare weavers. You just might be one of the last remaining refuges for the digital generation to look up.
And scream themselves hoarse.