Fear Factory is one of the top Halloween attractions in the world, made up of six buildings, up to six stories high, with two underground passages, and is a massive, haunted attraction in Salt Lake City, Utah. The FIRST major haunted attraction to open successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fear Factory has helped lead the industry during unprecedented times. In this special edition of the “Electroshock Spotlight,” we had the honor of interviewing Fear Factory’s Co-Founder and Co-Owner, Mr. Robert Dunfield!
Electroshock Entertainment (EE): Thank you for sitting down with us and spending time on this interview. Fear Factory is an industry leader and must-see show. Can you provide a brief overview of your background and history of the attraction?
Robert Dunfield (Dunfield):Fear Factory is a family owned business with a history of haunting. My dad started the Old Mill haunted house back in the 70’s and I grew up haunting from the time I was a little kid. The Factory is located on the site of the old Portland Cement Company that had a long history of unfortunate accidents that led many to believe the site was cursed. While many businesses and residents shunned the facility and left it abandoned for years, the Fear Factory has embraced the haunted history and used it to create one of America’s best Halloween attractions.
The Fear Factory features a post-apocalyptic setting comprised of 6 buildings, up to 6 stories high, with 2 underground passages. The Fear Factory has received a number of awards and been named the third scariest haunted house in the world by BuzzFeed and a top 10 in haunt by USA Today and the Travel Channel.
EE: What are the significant challenges associated with operating your business?
Dunfield: Everyone dreams of owning a seasonal business. Flip the lights on in September and turn them back off in November. In reality though, this is year-round work and the time we are open to the public is only a small fraction of the time we are working and preparing for the next season. We have a few year-round employees but have to hire a few hundred seasonal employees in the fall. Finding employees that love Halloween and are available crazy night hours is often a challenge.
EE: How has the business changed over the years and how do you maximize the attraction’s potential?
Dunfield:We’ve become more organized. When we first opened, it was wild and the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing. We’ve improved internal communication and streamlined processes.
EE: How do you maintain quality each season?
Dunfield:We have a talented team of set builders and designers that spend the off season creating and refining “scares”. During the season, we hold our employees to a high standardand are constantly communicating about what’s working and what isn’t working. We have to make decisions quickly and change up things that aren’t working.
EE: How do you ensure that your attraction stays one of the top-rated shows in the country?
Dunfield:By holding ourselves to a high standard. It’s easy to get lazy and just offer “good enough”. We reinvest 100% of our profits back into the show and employees so we can continue our growth.
Every year we try to add something new. In past years we’ve added a number of fun and entertaining experiences, including:
Vortex Tunnel: A spinning tunnel that people walk through and cause them to experience vertigo and a loss of equilibrium as their brains receive conflicting signals from their bodies and senses.
The Fear Fall: A bungee style fall that lets attendees fall to their death from the top of the Fear Factory’s tallest tower.
The Last Ride: A zipline that transports guests at breakneck speed from the west tower across the length of the Factory for an overhead view of the horror below.
Virtual Reality: We partnered with a local virtual reality company to provide a simulated experience that took fans to a unique experience that they couldn’t experience anywhere else in the world.
Selfie Stations: Selfie stations enable fans to be creative and show off their visit on social media and relive the horror for years to come.
EE: Do you have any advice for those looking to start a haunted attraction?
Dunfield:Yes, I have a lot of people that love Halloween reach out and ask for advice starting a professional haunted attraction. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to treat it like a business. It’s easy to get lost in the creative and design process but just as much if not more focus needs to be put into having a solid business plan.
Visit Fear Factory at: https://fearfactoryslc.com/