The tale of HOS’ new haunted house, Nevermore, is one that borrows from the works of the late American poet and author, Edgar Allan Poe. Each room mirrors a different piece in Poe’s fictional saga. HOS Creative Director Scott Swenson recounts the gothic terror that’ll reel you deeper and deeper into the twisted nightmare, Nevermore.
1. What is the storyline/theme behind Nevermore?
Nevermore is a disjointed nightmare based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s like you just read the entire works of Poe and fell into a twisted sleep.
2. What made you want to create an Edgar Allan Poe house?
The truth is our Vice President of Entertainment, Nancy Hutson, had just finished helping her son with a school project on The Fall of the House of Usher. She suggested I look into some of the Gothic imagery found in Poe’s work. I started reading and finished the complete works in two nights, and I don’t read very fast. It’s great stuff!
3. When did you begin brainstorming for this new house? How long would you say this process is from start to finish?
The process really starts about a year ahead of time. We are already deciding what we can do for next year. We usually finalize the concepts and start the design work in January or February. It’s kind of a year-round experience.
4. What is your favorite room?
I LOVE the room based on The Mask of the Red Death. The lighting effect in that room is really disorienting!
5. Where do you get the extravagant costumes for the characters of Howl-O-Scream?
Our Costume Shop works round the clock to make sure all of the costumes are perfect. There are literally thousands of costume pieces for the event. Many of them are made specifically for the performers – some have details sewn, airbrushed, glued or even melted into place.
6. What is a unique fact about Nevermore?
An odd fact is that we added the smell of ammonia to the room based on The Black Cat… it smells like someone needs to clean the litter box!
7. How many zombies live in The Dark Side of the Gardens this year?
There are 260 zombies roaming the pathways of Howl-O-Scream this year and more than 350 in the haunted houses.
8. Are there any other juicy details you would like to share with fans about Nevermore?
The poem being recited by the talking busts in the first room is NOT a poem by Poe. It was written about the house using the same rhyme scheme as The Raven. Each stanza is about a room in the house. The faces and voices of these busts belong to Jill Revelle, who manages Busch Gardens’ media relations team, and me. When we recorded the video, we had to hold our heads completely still. We did so by sticking microphone stands under our chins… ah, the glamorous world of show business!