HauntedIllinois.com's Interview With Troy Stone
The owner of The Halls Of Madness haunted attraction in Paris, Illinois.
Troy Stone talks about the origin of his haunted attraction The Halls of Madness in Paris, Illinois. He also discusses the details about his attraction's
special opening in May, as well as his personal thoughs about other haunted attractions.
1) What is the "Halls of Madness" and how long has it been in business?
The Halls of Madness is a haunted attraction in Paris, Illinois. I like to say it's old school. We use a lot of jump-scares and not a lot of
high-end animatronics or lots of money in precise detailed scenes. Although very intriguing, I think that's what makes people like us so well.
It feels real as you walk through. You begin to question yourself whether or not this is just some family who is trying to actually keep you as
their own. LOL. We have been in business for 15 years now. Since 2004, we have seen several people from all over.
2) Where did the name of the attraction come from?
That was difficult. It was a hard thing to come up with. Obviously, I didn't want to at the time (in 2004) have anything that sounded like
what anyone else was doing around here. I always liked the madness side of a haunted attraction. I didn't want to go with "insane" or "crazy"
or anything like that, although it all was included in the process of putting together this business. At that time, we also used the 4000 square
foot facility of inside space. Since then, we've had to move everything outside. Our customers make their way through different scenes and cabins.
The really creepy factor that I have always used, even when we used the 4000 square feet inside, took you outside through a trail. Now it's just
all built on the grounds in which we call the "Slaughter Farm", from the Halls of Madness makers, which incidentally is funny since "the makers"
happen to be me. That's by choice, which I'll explain to you a little later. So, the Halls of Madness was just, in my vision, a labyrinth of
madness from all of your worst fears.
3) What first inspired you to open a haunted attraction?
When I when I was younger, I was petrified of any kind of haunted house and I would not go in them. LOL. When I was a sophomore in high school,
I had a friend who worked in a Jaycees Haunted House. He said if I went through the haunted house with him then I could work in the haunted house
for the rest of the season. So I sweated bullets, gritted my teeth, put on my big boy pants and walked through. It freaked me out, although I loved
the thrill. I worked the last few nights it was open and "got the bug", I guess you could say. After that, as an adult, I worked in Nashville
Tennessee at Opryland Howl-o-Ween Nights as an actor and also worked at the Nashville Shores Haunted Attraction as an actor. I lived in Nashville
cuz I am a professional musician for a living and lived there for quite a while doing tours. So that's explains why I was in Nashville. Anyways,
we moved back to Illinois in 2004 to help my mom out after my step father passed away with throat cancer, so I could be around for her whenever
she needed things done at the house that she couldn't do. That's when I purchased the property I live on with the 4000 square foot facility. I
figured I could bring a big-time entertainment other than a local chapter to a rural area and that's why I decided to open up... not knowing how
it would go over and 15 years later it is more than I could ever have imagined.
4) When do you start building and planning every year?
I am always jotting things down in a notebook year-round. I am fortunate enough to live on the property that is also the Slaughter Farm.
It's a little bit easier for me to go out and build on a nice day or night, anytime throughout the year, but I'm always coming up with ideas
year-round. Also, being a musician and songwriter, this is really a release for me... like writing somewhat of a movie then watching it come
to life by bringing people in to act in the movie I wrote. I'm watching the payoff when the customers come through and go through the hills
and valleys I created. Some laugh, some scream, some cry, some run, but as long as they're out with friends or as a family and sharing
that time together, that's all that really matters to me is just giving some good entertainment back to what sometimes can be a boring world.
5) What do you think makes a good haunted attraction?
Obviously, this question is a question for opinions only and everybody has a different opinion. Everyone has a different taste in food,
everyone has a different taste in music, everyone has a different taste in haunted houses. My personal opinion is I like to try as many
haunted attractions as I can go to, which are limited to me since I am open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October. I have to hit
the early ones at the end of September and those that are open on Thursdays or throughout the week, but I tried to get a little of every
one that I can. I like a good spooky mental feeling. That creepy feeling of the unknown of what's about to happen is what I think makes a
good spooky time, when you're out trying to find that in the times of year that most of us go to get scared.
6) Do you have any favorite attractions aside from your own?
Kind of like the question before, we try to go to as many as we can and there's several other haunts that I really do enjoy. We have
good friends all around us who haunt in their own attractions as well and I have always believed that we are all together in this type
of adventure. For instance, all of you who go to haunted houses. Other haunted attractions probably do the same thing I just said
that I do and that is you hit as many as you can, taking in as much as you can with the finances that you're able to and the time you
have; therefore, those haunted attractions who are sometimes in so much competition with each other I believe lose out on the big
picture. Sometimes it makes them look a little self-centered. I think if we just step back and we help each other out, all of us
will gain from that. I have yet in 15 years to hear any of my customers state "the Halls of Madness is my haunt exclusively.
I will not go to any other haunted attractions except for the halls of Madness". I mean, that's ridiculous to think that.
Everyone's out to try to hit as many as they can and if we can support each other and point our customers to the direction of other
haunted houses as well, then we all look good and all are together in the customer's eyes. Just my personal opinion.
7) What's your favorite benefit of having a haunted attraction? After all the work and time that goes into it, what motivates you to keep it going year after year?
My favorite benefit is, as I said before... I am a songwriter. I am a musician before I am an exclusive haunted attraction owner
creator. Therefore, for me it's writing this movie, this horror film, then bringing in actors explaining the movie as though I'm
giving them a script and watching them make that movie come to life. Also, hearing the comments and hearing the people have fun
and seeing the cars pull in from other states all night long. That's the benefit and the payoff that makes me continue to do
this year after year after year. We all know how hard it is to keep going with marketing, insurance laws and just the general
public that has changed a little throughout the years. Sometimes it's a hard balance if you're an owner. You're not dealing
with just the thousands of customers but you're dealing with a staff and taking care of those who are your family within the
haunted attraction and dealing with customers, parents or family answering calls after the haunt is over when your crew has showered
and are playing video games or fast asleep in a warm place. You're still shutting down, locking up, going over the books,
answering social media emails, dealing with a problem that may have happened that night. You all know the stories, you owners,
but it's still the payoff of creating something that people love and keep coming back for and you all know that feeling too, I'm sure.
8) Is running this attraction your full-time job?
No. My full-time job, believe it or not, is still a pretty cool job. I'm an entertainer. I've been a professional musician
for years and since I've been back here in Illinois I have figured a way to keep doing music Monday through Thursdays. I
entertain assisted facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities and then Fridays and Saturdays I am either singing with a
rock band or I am drumming with a rock band, so I keep busy throughout the entire year; however, staying creative by doing this
haunted attraction keeps me busy full-time. I kind of juggle through the year with both. It's crazy sometimes, but it's all
entertainment and I'm very blessed for sure.
9) Do you have any hobbies or interests aside from haunting?
My hobbies... I love to fish. I love to bass fish, I love to spring time crappie fish, I love to catfish. LOL. I used to play
baseball quite a bit but everything's kind of taking over and I haven't been able to do that very much, but I suppose fishing
would be my favorite hobby.
10) Why did you decide to open your attraction during the month of May?
Well, like a lot of other owners and haunt enthusiasts I couldn't wait an entire 11 months to open up again, so I decided
upon a midseason attraction the end of May around Memorial Day weekend. Most kids were out of school, most families are on
the lake all day skiing and fishing and cooking out. Then night time would fall and you've got your whole family that can't
necessarily go to clubs, so it's something for everyone to do. They pack up the car from the campsites and head out to get
scared as a family, have a great time and then go back to where they came from and finish out their vacation. It was just a
cool thing to do. Plus, it's very nice and not cold, being an outdoor haunt. Although we have other elements to worry about
in May that we don't have to in October such as mosquitoes. LOL. So, we go through a lot of blood and all. LOL.
11) What dates and times will you be open?
This May (2019) we will be open on Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th. We open the gates and start the show at 8pm. We will end at midnight both nights (Central Standard Time).
12) Will the May show be similar to what customers saw during October or will it have a different theme?
Madness in May is just as big of a production show-wise as our October shows. The theme that I always have is entitled "The Slaughter Farm".
13) How can people buy tickets for this special event?
People can get tickets at the box office the nights we are open, starting at 6pm. Tickets are only $10 per person.
14) Will you have any guest actors from other haunted attractions?
Yes, I always have people stop in from other haunts in October such as Spook Meister from the Ashmore Estates days. Him and his wife come
every October and scare a night with us, plus others hit and miss. Every May we do a really cool thing with our good friends of Night
Terrors of Effingham. There's a lot of die-hard actors and they're all good friends who like to come and play mid-season with us, so
there's a combination of Night Terrors of Effingham and the Halls of Madness together, making a killer team on the Slaughter Farm.
15) How can people find you online?
You can find us online on our website and social media:
Website - http://www.hallsofmadness.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hallsmadnessinsanity/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/halls_of_madness/
Twitter - https://twitter.com/hallsofmadness
And feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also, our physical address is:
Halls of Madness
7857 Il Hwy 16, Paris Il, 61944
(Click here for directions)