2013 keynote and guest speakers
Cydney Neil is the Producer and Creative Director of the legendary Rocky Point Haunted House, one of the most iconic and successful haunted attractions in history. Under her direction Rocky Point went from 100 guests and $500 in income to nearly 70,000 and over $1,500,000 in her closing year. Through Rocky Point’s reign, her haunt garnered international recognition and dozens of awards, including the prestigious Best Special Event and the Best Small Business in the State of Utah, for three straight years, and was recognized as the best haunted attraction in the country for many years. Her marketing, sponsorship and business plans have been used by many of the top haunts and her set designs have been the inspiration for nearly everyone in the industry. Apart from these successes, Cydney maintains that her greatest achievement and what she is most proud of is the youth program she created that changed the lives of thousands of “misfit” kids she will always consider her own.
After selling her haunt, Cydney was hired to build The Haunted Hotel, the first interactive dark walkthrough for Disneyland Hong Kong. In doing so, she became the first designer outside Disney’s own Imagineering department to design and create an entire attraction for Disneyland.
She stepped out of the spotlight soon after to help her father complete his entire “Bucket List” and create a record of his life before he passed away in 2011.
This past summer, Cydney said she “felt drawn back to her old haunt to complete unfinished business”. After five years out of the haunt industry, she created yet another groundbreaking attraction, “Junkyard Zombies”, an interactive live game where the guests earned points and prizes by shooting real zombies with laser tag guns. Being back in her old building, with her “kids” again, revived her belief that it was important to tell her story.
Cydney is currently working on her memoirs and the 2nd documentary film about her 25 years with Rocky Point.
Scott Simmons is the Creative/Marketing Director and co-owner of The ScareHouse in Pittsburgh, PA - ranked as one of “America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions” by Travel Channel and featured in multiple online and print publications including USA TODAY, Forbes, AOL News, Yahoo, Funworld, Fangoria, Haunted Attraction, and Money magazine. The ScareHouse is an elaborate haunted attraction featuring Hollywood-quality sets, original characters, and high concept attractions created by a talented team of artists, actors, and designers.
What was once a modest seasonal event created and operated by Scott, his wife Barb, and his father Wayne has grown into a major attraction that employees more than 150 cast and crew members, and requires a year-round commitment from the design and operation team. Visit www.scarehouse.com for more information about Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Haunted House.
Michael began designing and building attractions over two decades ago at the age of 18. Throughout his career he has designed and built for numerous charitable organizations such as the Jaycees, non-profit arts programs, the Optimist Club and he helped these groups raise millions of dollars in the process. During this time, he began to grow his own company and design team with other friends and haunt enthusiasts. This team has a well deserved reputation within the haunted attraction Industry as a group of talented designers willing to share ideas, techniques, and their collective experience to help novice and professional haunters alike learn how to raise the level of detail and realism in their own attractions.
As one of the founders of Bad Boys Scenic Design he helped to design and build their most well-known attraction--Terror on the Fox. During the 13 years operating Terror on the Fox, the Bad Boys continued to advance, promote, and elevate the artistry in the haunted attraction industry through teaching their methods of foam carving, sculpting, scenic design, and sponsorship writing.
In 2007, he co-produced the Frozen Tundra Fright Tour, a tour developed with the purpose of showing how the haunt industry could work together as one. The tour was an overwhelming success; it resulted in securing over 40 sponsors and raised over $25,000 for IAHA. (International Association of Haunted Attractions)
In that same year, he was the recipient of the prestigious Isabella Award which honors an individual whose achievement is measured by his/her contributions towards improving and strengthening the haunt industry as a community of artists and enthusiasts and who set a positive example for others to follow.
In 2008 he embarked on his new role as Director of Operations for Nightmare New England, an ambitious new scream park featuring 4 original haunted attractions. One year later the park acquired SpookyWorld and added three more attractions. In three short years, his guidance and experience has elevated Nightmare New England and SpookyWorld to be one of the largest most successful scream parks in the country. Today the park features 7 haunted houses, a midway, live music, restaurants, games, rides and more. He is responsible for the design, construction, marketing, and staffing of over 300 seasonal employees.
In September 2010, the producers of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition invited him to lead the scenic design team for their first ever Halloween episode where the haunt “Nightmare Factory” was redesigned, re-themed, and modernized to improve fundraising for the Oregon School for the Deaf. Working closely with show producers as well as film director and musician Rob Zombie, he guided a team of talented artists and volunteers to produce an incredible attraction. Extreme Home Makeover showcased to a national audience the level of artistry and innovation that our industry is capable of. The leadership that he brought to this challenging project was just another example of his ongoing commitment to bringing people together to work towards a common goal.
Mike Krausert continues to devote his time and energy towards advancing the artistry and professionalism of this industry. His expertise has been consulted and relied on to educate and inform the New England Fire Marshalls Association about haunt safety as well as the latest fire prevention materials and applications available to our industry. Mike adapted colleague Kelly Allen’s Employee Safety Handbook to reflect safety and emergency protocols specific to Nightmare New England and SpookyWorld. This handbook has been instrumental in serving two purposes beyond ensuring the safety within his attractions—it has helped to educate local, state and national inspectors about the importance emphasizing safety in the design of haunted attractions but also underscored the professionalism of our industry.
Last September Mike was a guest speaker at the annual meeting of the New England Fire Marshalls where the National Fire Protection Agency was also represented. Mike spoke passionately and knowledgably about the advancements within our industry, conducted a lecture on life safety in the haunted attractions and presented his version of the Employee Safety Handbook. The New England Fire Marshalls Association elected to make this handbook available online for fire inspectors nationwide to consult and reference. Mike continues to work with these important organizations at local, state and national levels to promote our industry in a professional manner and to work closely with them to evaluate, inform and develop the code for special amusement attractions.
Last March, Mike was the recipient of the Haunted Attraction Associations Presidents award, an award that recognizes an individual for their level of artistry, skill and leadership in the field.
This past season Michael and the team at Nightmare New England designed, built and ran The Fear at Fenway, a new and unique Halloween park located at Fenway Park, the home of the Boston Red Sox in Boston Massachusetts.
Mike’s career in the haunted attraction industry has been chronicled through numerous industry and national magazines, newspapers, television shows, and the recently published book “Spooky, Creepy Boston” where he was featured and interviewed to show the connection between haunted houses and Halloween in historic New England. More than anything, Mike is known as someone who is intelligent, approachable, generous and sincere. He brings the passion he has for haunting to every aspect of his life and continues to share what he has learned with those around him.
Ron Rivera, Haunt At Heritage Hill, City of Lake Forest
Ron Rivera is a veteran from the worlds of Hollywood, pro wrestling, haunting and government work. He worked his way through college as professional wrestler and booker working for XPW, BTW, WCW (3 matches but hey that counts!) and the owner of Revolution Pro and Revolution X.
He was the stunt coordinator for the “Nikki” show on the WB and Wrestling Society X on MTV. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, his haunting experience began as part of Knott’s Scary Farm. He has 12 years’ experience as a scare actor including the last 8 as a Ghost Town Streets Slider. During this time he also spent 4 years on haunt production. In 2008 He founded Haunt at Heritage Hill.
He directs this event in its entirety including acting both as production and design manager. In 2012 Haunt at Heritage Hill received the state level coveted award of excellence in the area of Marketing Design by the California Parks & Recreation Society.
Ron Rivera has an A.A. in Associated Arts from Fullerton College, a B.S. in Kinesiology from C.S.U.F, a M.P.A in Public Administration from C.S.U.L.B and a certificate in Public Employee Leadership Development from C.S.U.F Extended Education