The Haunters Spotlight is a series focused on presenting an inside look into the world of those who dedicate their lives to the haunt industry. Each piece will focus on owners, actors, and staff who have deep passion and love for haunting.
With this edition, we are honored to feature the career of Rich Litzenberger, Creative Services Lead Designer of Dorney Park’s Haunt. Dorney Park’s Haunt is a premier attraction that exceeds general expectations held by those who may at first write it off as an “amusement park” event. Each season, Rich and his team create a memorable show that targets the diverse interests of Halloween fans of all ages.
Dorney Park’s Haunt has grown into an event that takes many resources. Rich attributes its success to the many artisans and technicians on staff that deserve tremendous credit. From design, build, lighting, maintaining and training. Let us also not forget the actors that take time away from their busy lives to perform. They put many hours into the event and Dorney Park’s management is very proud of what they do.
Describe your history in the history, including what roles you play at your current and former haunt. In the early years when it was Halloweekends, our department (Creative Services) were included in the planning process of creating a Halloween event. We were the ones that would take the ideas and make them a reality. A few years after, the application of makeup effects began. I was one of four makeup artists which grew over time to a team of twenty-four today.
I slowly took the lead on design over the years, especially after we changed to Halloween Haunt. The event has grown so much so that I’ve had to step back from makeup to concentrate my efforts on the overall design.
Describe your interest in the haunt industry. What made you want to work in a haunted attraction? What first interested or inspired you? My interest isn’t as much with the Haunt industry as it is with the scenic elements that make it up. Creating a space that has a sense of realism as well as entertaining.
What is the source of your creativity? What drives you? I try to do as much research on a given subject as possible. Taking notes and archiving photo ideas along the way.
What do you enjoy most about your position? During operation, I try to walk the attractions stopping at times to witness the guest reactions. It is satisfying watching a guest get excited with something that our team created.
What are the greatest challenges you face each season? Finding the right props that tell a story without telling a story.
If you could tell your customers one thing, what would that be? Why? Take a look around. We take great pride in creating the right environment. You never know what kind of details we sneak in that you might have missed.
Where do you see the industry in 10 years? Escape rooms are becoming more popular; however, they don’t have the capacity. I can see our Skeleton Key rooms pushing the envelope and becoming more intense.
Any advice for those who one day would like to enter the haunt industry? Start at the ground floor. Learn all aspects of a Haunted Attraction. The more you know how things are run and how they are built enables you to make sound decisions.