During the weekend of March 18, 2016, the staff of HauntedIllinois.com had the opportunity to attend Transworld's Halloween & Attraction Show
at the America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri. General admission was $50, which gave qualified buyers access to the show floor from March 17th through March 20th. VIP tickets were also available for $300. VIP buyers had their own separate entrance to the show, preferred seating at the seminars, access to a VIP lounge and numerous other perks. If you wanted to get in with a minimal wait, VIP was the way to go. At show opening time, I never saw more than 10 or 15 people in the VIP line. The general admission line, however, stretched as far as the eye could see.
Prior to the show, there was some buzz on social media and people were speculating that this year was going to be bigger than ever. Having spent a few days at the Halloween & Attractions Show, I would definitely have to agree with that assessment. After first seeing the size of the show floor, I knew it would be a lot of area to cover. The footprint of the trade show was much larger than last year and , per the buyer brochure handed out at the event, more than 260 companies were there to show off their products and services.
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VIP tickets were available for $300
The 'no costume policy' was enforced on the show floor.
Master Fog provided free coffee for all attendees
Part of the expanded show floor was a vendor block called "Escape Room City". This area was devoted to vendors who provided products and services related to escape rooms. Escape rooms are adventure games where people are locked in a room with other participants. The group has to work together in order to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit. Because of their ease of set-up, low staffing requirements and year-round profit potential, escape rooms have become the latest craze in the Haunted Attraction Industry. Kudos to Transworld Trade Shows, LLC for responding so quickly to this developing trend.
Over the weekend I spoke with several haunt owners about escape rooms and the general consensus was that they have a lot of short term profit potential, especially for people with year-round locations. Everyone I talked to seemed to have the same question, though. What is the longevity of such a business? Will it be popular for many years to come or will it quickly fall by the wayside like zombie runs? I guess only time will tell.
A few weeks before the show, Transworld Trade Shows, LLC announced via social media that attendees would no longer be able to walk the vendor floor in costume. This sparked quite a debate on Facebook. Many industry professionals supported the policy, but a select few were very vocal in opposition to it. A couple of individuals were even talking about boycotting the show if they couldn't arrive in costume. What those in opposition apparently didn't understand is that Transworld's Halloween & Attractions Show is first and foremost a trade show, with the sole purpose of connecting serious buyers with vendors. That is why the event isn't open to the public and why you have to provide credentials to get in.
For those who aren't aware, Transworld has always had a no costume policy, but show management never had to strictly enforced it... until this year. For many years there have been moderate issues with attendees in costume on the show floor and recently those problems have escalated significantly. Over time, costumed characters have become quite a distraction, which takes away from the business atmosphere of the show. Additionally, you have some attendees wasting the vendors' time and taking expensive color catalogs, when they have no intention of buying anything from them. These vendors are there to make a living and a lot of them count on this show for the majority of their orders for the year.
Also, things have really gotten out of hand the past couple of years. There has been A LOT of bad behavior witnessed, including vandalism in the hotel with people putting stickers all over everything, stink bombs in the elevator and just in general, breaking things. Many of these antics seem to coincide with these "fearless" people in costume.
In addition to that, costumed actors have been harassing the general public, trying to scare everyone they can, both inside and outside the hotel & convention center. Not only is that unprofessional, it's irresponsible and juvenile. Last year, there was an incident where a girl was going to her dance recital and ended up having a panic attack so bad that an ambulance had to be called.
When certain activities at the show affect business being conducted or adversely affect the reputation of Transworld Trade Shows, LLC, that is when they have to step in and do something about it. With all of that going on, at what is supposed to be a Business-to-Business Trade Show, I don't think anyone can blame them for finally cracking down. For those people who were upset with the no costume policy... If you want to walk around, showing off your best costumes / characters, you do have other options. There are events in the industry with a more social atmosphere like the Midwest Haunters Convention
and Chicago Frights
, both of which have a costume ball. On a related note, rumor has it that there will be a costume party at Transworld's Halloween & Attractions Show
in 2017, so attendees will have a place to show off their best costumed characters.
Anyway, while walking up and down the aisles it was quite apparent that they were enforcing this policy. The only costumes that I saw were characters at vendor booths, helping to promote vendor product. That didn't seem to affect show attendance, though. For most of the weekend, the aisles were packed with buyers and there were several times it was so congested that I couldn't even get into vendor booths to get a decent picture. Transworld's Halloween & Attractions Show is an event that just seems to get bigger and better every year.
In the rest of the review, we have provided an overview of after-hours activities, as well as covering vendors on the show floor, including 500+ pictures and 30 video clips. To give credit where credit is due, the vendor pictures and video clips are captioned with vendor names and include hyperlinks to their websites, so you can see more of what these companies have to offer. I hope you enjoy this review!
Webmaster of HauntedIllinois.com