It’s that time of the year again… no, not quite Halloween season, but close enough. Thousands of fiendish fans of the most haunted of holidays descended upon the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando this past weekend, May 24-26, 2013, for a double-dose of Halloween fun across two special events.
Spooky Empire‘s May-Hem 2013 once again drew horror fans from around the country, this time at a new (and much improved) location further down International Drive. And in conjunction, TransWorld’s first-ever Halloween Extreme event brought industry-level animatronics, decorations, and special effects to home haunters and enthusiasts.
The weekend kicked off with the always-entertaining zombie walk, presented by the Deadite Empire, sending the undead stumbling through the hotel’s convention area, passing by the pool, and down I-Drive, beginning with a chainsaw-fueled “body cutting” ceremony.
Video: Zombie walk at Spooky Empire’s May-Hem 2013
Once the undead were corralled back into the hotel, three days of horror-celebrating hilarity ensued, including opportunities to meet and talk with celebrities, pick up macabre merchandise, attend special presentations, and spot plenty of killer costumes.
Video: Highlights of Spooky Empire’s May-Hem and Halloween Extreme 2013 conventions
The side-by-side conventions were at times hard to distinguish, each spanning similar subject matters. But Spooky Empire’s May-Hem was a celebration of all things horror while Halloween Extreme was intended to help create some.
Spooky Empire May-Hem 2013
This year’s May-Hem event presented some of the biggest and best entertainment to date on its main stage, decorated with props from the Mucklebones Museum. It was a perfect setting for attendees to engage in Q&A sessions with celebrities from “The Walking Dead,” “American Horror Story,” “Saw,” and even… Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
For Disney fans, the must-see special guest this weekend was Pat Carroll, best known as the original (and only) of Ursula, the sea witch who stole Ariel’s voice. The first Q&A session with Carroll took place on Friday, May 24, with another on Sunday, May 26. In between sessions, long lines persisted throughout the weekend filled with fans (including many Walt Disney World cast members) excited to meet her.
The Q&As produced some of the weekend’s most entertaining moments, prompted by expert moderator Jim Doyle – who also regularly appears as part of the band Mulch, Sweat, and Shears at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The first full session is featured in a video below, along with two highlights from the weekend, one of which has gone viral online commanding tens of thousands of views as Carroll reads lines from The Haunted Mansion as Ursula. It’s a must see, again and again.
Video: Full Q&A with Pat Carroll, voice of Ursula, at Spooky Empire’s May-Hem 2013
Video: Pat Carroll reads The Haunted Mansion ghost host lines as Ursula
Video: Pat Carroll as Ursula and Spooky Empire May-Hem attendee as Ariel read from The Little Mermaid script
Other exceptionally approachable celebrities at the event included…
Betsy Russell from the “Saw” film series
Zach Galligan from “Gremlins”
Several cast members from “The Walking Dead”: Daniel Thomas May, Triston Johnson, and Theodus Crane
and Naomi Grossman from “American Horror Story.”
And, of course, no Spooky Empire event would be complete without plenty of gross-out and clever costumes:
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a full slideshow of photos from Spooky Empire’s May-Hem 2013.
Halloween Extreme 2013
Continuing the menacing motif, Halloween Extreme was a first-of-its-kind event. Its organizers, TransWorld, put on the Halloween and Attractions Show for the haunt industry each year. This time, the event was targeted toward consumers instead of professionals, providing access to quality home haunting products.
In addition to a series of presentations, including a fantastically in depth one by Universal Orlando about Halloween Horror Nights, the Halloween Extreme show floor was filled with products that you definitely won’t find at your local party store when preparing for October.
From super-powered fog machines to spider web spinners to customizable audio-animatronics, Halloween Extreme offered an up-close view at props and decorations previously accessible only to haunted attraction owners. Here’s a sampling…
A few reality TV stars were on hand, including the “Making Monsters” folks from Distortions Unlimited and quite a few familiar faces from SyFy’s “Face Off.”
And a local group of haunters was on hand to show off the beginnings of Legends: A Haunting at Old Town, a brand-new year-round haunted house scheduled to open this summer in Orlando, just south of Walt Disney World.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for a full slideshow of photos from Halloween Extreme 2013.
Wrapping up the first day of excitement at Halloween Extreme and Spooky Empire’s May-Hem was the Zombie Prom, presented by Zombie Army Productions. Believably transforming a convention hall into a high school gymnasium, this prom was less “Pretty in Pink” more “Carrie” with blood covering the decorations, skulls adorning each table, and plenty of makeup artists on hand to create undead makeovers.
Video: Zombie Prom at Halloween Extreme 2013
But zombies are (or were) people too, just wanting to party the night away like anyone else. The event was hugely popular, with attendees going all out with their bloodied up suits and dresses. One couple even got engaged there, a proposal to remember.
And on the dance floor, zombies and zombie hunters alike boogied the night away to today’s pop hits.
Expect many more photos to arrive soon from both Spooky Empire’s May-Hem and Halloween Extreme as our intrepid photographer Michael Gavin will soon offer a view of these events through his lens. In the meantime, flip through the slideshows below.
More photos from Spooky Empire’s May-Hem 2013:
More photos from TransWorld’s Halloween Extreme 2013 and Zombie Prom: