Zombie Cycle copy

Zombies are lazy… A rant

This post is a long time coming, and I may not make any new friends, but bear with me.

After attending 5 Zombie themed attractions this season alone, the stereotypical zombie scare actor is getting old fast. The general impression is that of a Dawn of the Dead type zombie  A fast moving, still mostly human, but slightly bloodied character wearing slightly tattered street clothing and reaching, grabbing, lunging, and chasing patrons while growling or screaming/yelling.

While there are certainly plenty of startle scare possibilities with a zombie reaching out from the unknown and a certain spooky charm to several zombies “allover”, the scares are rather short lived as soon as the awkwardness of the zombie not being able to do anything after the initial scare sets in. While a zombie scene in a hayride can be fun, a full attraction based around zombies who startle scare, linger, and stalk till the next area becomes very boring very fast.

But zombies are soo popular…

Yes, zombie culture is huge, plenty of movies, tv shows, books, games, events, and general merchandise prove that fact without a doubt. However the popular aspects of zombie culture are not at all what the haunt industry tends to deliver. Rather than impressively gory, varied characters who really swarm and dig into whatever warm flesh they have at their disposal, most haunts are instead delivering mindless plain looking zeds who have a lot in common with the endless waves of nazis, terrorists, or other generic bad guys a cheap video game would throw at the audience again and again with limited interactivity due to the hands off 2 dimensional approach to such characters.

I am not saying haunts should drop their zombie attractions, but rather add some interactivity to them, either in the form of a gimmick or working in more interactive variety to make these shows work. Such gimmicks could include zombie paintball where the customers are able to fire upon padded zombies for a nominal fee, touch football belt challenges where zombies are instructed to attempt to take patrons flags as they pass by, or even the more extreme option of allowing optional touch to full contact in the attraction so that zombies can do more than just leer at patrons prior to nudging them along to the next room.

While those gimmicks would surely help any zombie haunt, a less easy but promising solution lies in looking more closely at why zombies are such a pop culture phenomena. The drawl to zombie movies is much more about the survivors than the zeds, as every living human is a lucky or special type of person who has managed to survive in a post apocalyptic world. It takes all kinds to make the world go round, but once the z virus hits the majority of people, be they children or adults, UPS delivery men or politicians, sports mascots or birthday clowns, will not survive and will join the brain eating team. Reflecting this variety of zombies will add fast visual and character interest as it’s no longer a faceless monster, but perhaps a delivery man with a box of bones, or a gas station attendant with a fake gas nozzle spraying water on patrons as it stalks them.

The Zombie apocalypse also entails many more threats than just zombies. There are sure to be other survivors who don’t want you drawing zeds to them and their supplies, who want to take your supplies, or worse. Animal populations may be affected, displaced or infected. There are also likely CDC and military folks about who will want to quarantine and “test/treat” those potentially exposed.

The moral of the story, zombie culture is awesome, and just the tip of the iceberg of distopian fiction which is ripe inspiration for haunts. So please stop being lazy with startle/linger/stalk zombies and start turning these attractions into the badass engrossing experiences they could and should be.


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