We got the chance to check out ScareLA 2017, a horror and Halloween convention, this past weekend. Unfortunately, our experience left much to be desired. This year, the event moved from it’s long-time home at the Pasadena Convention Center to the Los Angeles Convention Center. With the change in venues to Los Angeles, I had hoped they were experiencing a crunch of not having enough room for their exhibitors. More exhibitors means more stuff for attendees to see and purchase, which makes everyone happy. Unfortunately, exhibitors were purposefully spaced out from one another in an effort to fill the West Hall of the LA Convention Center, and this created an empty feeling throughout. There was a lot of unused space that could have been taken up by booths or shows or anything. Additionally, the West Hall of the LA Convention Center was very dimly-lit, and not in the spooky way. It is a very large space and the overhead lighting is not really bright enough to properly light it. This is why at E3 Expo, we usually see lighting elements on all the booths carpeting the hall (not to mention that it also makes their booth more eye-catching). Also, the West Hall food court was available to guests, but its food quality isn’t the best and LA Live is a bit of a hike from there, leaving people (especially those with mobility issues) fewer options for lunch.

The Scarywood Dark Zone was something of a mess, with a windy pathway that seemed to be severely lacking in mini-haunt experiences. The Decayed Brigade slider group was putting on a show when we walked through, and they were engaged in an audio war with the Rhythm Coffin Show band playing forty feet away. Someone should have timed that better so they didn’t blast guests with two entirely different audio tracks at the same time. I walked out of Scarywood with a quizzical look upon my face, unsure of what I just walked through.

There were several bright spots in the event, of course. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights unveiled two brand-new attractions based on the “Titans of Terror”, the merging of iconic horror characters Freddy Kruger, Leatherface, and Jason Voorhees. The LA Convention Center is next to LA Live, but it is a bit of a walk as opposed to last year’s being right next to the marketplace with plenty of food options. There were some cool classes that people could attend (with the proper pass) including some on horror marketing, mask creation, and tips on succeeding in the haunted house business. They also had an array of celebrity appearances, like Dave Fennoy (Telltale Games The Walking Dead), Naomi Grossman (American Horror Story), and Jake Busey (Starship Troopers) to name just a few. They also had the local blood bank bring their truck into the hall to take blood donations, a noble and worthy cause.

Overall, this year’s Scare LA event was somewhat of a letdown, and I hope that the management team can regroup and create a better event for next year. If they rent out the entire West Hall of the LA Convention Center, they really need to fill it with everything they can. I would love to see them return to Pasadena, that city’s convention center has better lighting and is closer to an array of tasty restaurants.

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Jennifer Paxton