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Q&A with the masterminds behind Legends: A Haunting at Old Town

We got a chance to talk to co-creator Jim Shackelford and the haunt’s fictional undertaker, Archibald Ashdown



It seems like there’s some serious history going on with the animatronics in the building. Can you tell me a little bit about those?
JS: We actually have a figure of a prisoner in an electric chair, and it looks like he’s being electrocuted when it goes off. There are strobes and fog and things like that. That piece is made by a company called Distortions Unlimited out of Greeley, Colo. They were also featured on Making Monsters on the Travel Channel. That specific animatronic is credited for starting the idea of vending to the haunted-attraction industry.
So that one in our window is believed to be one of the first ones sold in the industry. When we moved in, all that was left of it was just the wooden chair. The body, the motor, everything was gone. So we shipped it off to Distortions in February and they refurbished it for us, and we’re proud to have a piece of haunted attraction history on display.

Some folks argue that horror is a tough market, that it’s small and tough to access. How do you feel about that?
JS: I don’t actually hear that a lot, because the people who come to see us are horror fans. We’ve gotten a lot of excitement from Orlando about the fact that there’s a year-round haunted attraction. A big part of our cast and crew are alumni from Skull Kingdom and Terror on Church Street.
AA: Speaking of which, there are people who still to this day lament the closing of those two attractions. So if you look at the big park events like Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream, how many people attended those events and how they’re extending their days into November, clearly it’s not a niche market or a market that’s going anywhere any time soon. To that end, we’re going to be opening a ghost tour in November, so we’re actually adding another attraction once the Halloween season ends, simply because we truly believe that people want this kind of entertainment all the time.
JS: I hear people keep saying that Orlando needs something a little darker at the end of a day of sugar, spice and everything nice at the big parks. That the adults need something a little different, and this guy, Mr. Ashdown, fits the bill.
We’re a very immersive, intimate, personal horror experience. We send a group of six people in every five minutes, and so you’re not with a bunch of other people. It’s your own show, and if you’re a horror fan, it’s like being in your own personal horror film.
It’s not just eye candy, there’s a lot of action going on.
AA: There are a lot of sick, sick people in this world and someone has to cater to them. That’s what we’re here for.

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