Midsummer Scream 2023 marked my 5th year attending this midsummer Halloween festival and it just might have been my best one yet!
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I took a bit different of an approach to my experience this year. Instead of trying to catch every big thing, I really focused more on absorbing the vibe. Almost like I might on Halloween night. I caught a handful of very unique performances, survived a haunt (the one in question sounded like the most intense of them all), admired the double bar themes and shopped at all the small businesses I’ve been intending to shop at for years!
Performances over Panels
My panel line-up pre-convention was intense! However, it became much less complicated as the weekend went on. I leaned more towards performances over panels and I loved it. On Saturday, I realized I had more horror trivia knowledge than I thought while watching Barry‘s Truth or Scare Game Show. Following that, I got absorbed in an abridged performance of Twirly’s Traveling Tricks. Naturally, I also returned for a second dose of Peaches Christ’s Return of the Living Drag.
We even camped out in Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch for all the performances that set my jack-o-lantern heart aglow. There was only one panel I ended up catching for 2023. If you guessed that it was Winchester’s Century of History and Hauntings, you would be correct!
Rolling the dice in the Hall of Shadows
CalHaunts once again out-did themselves with a very fun D&D themed walkthrough display as you entered the Hall of Shadows. They get more and more creative with their setups each year. In turn, I am always eager to see how they bring the theme for each Midsummer Scream to life. This year, each diorama was activated by a different kind of game dice. They also had a talking figure you could ask questions to. It was really fun!
Unlike last year, it felt like you couldn’t get me out of the Hall of Shadows. Unfortunately, I actually didn’t manage to explore the entire space this year. I don’t know what happened. It seemed like there was quite a bit more crammed into this space this particular year. In addition, the Decayed Brigade sliders seemed to take up a good portion of the central space. Which didn’t seem to be too big of an issue as they always draw a crowd. Somehow, our time in the Hall of Shadows always happened during a sliders performance, keeping us stuck on one side.
Luckily, my husband and sister walked through the majority of the haunts and caught some footage for me. However, I feel like I missed a lot from the Hall of Shadows; my only regret for Midsummer Scream 2023.
Surviving Straite to Hale’s Haunt
As mentioned earlier, I did brave the Straite to Hale Productions haunt. This was a preview of their work happing for Winchester Mystery House this Halloween Season. I wish I’d caught more of the little details (anyone else notice the lincrusta wallpaper?), but I was so focused on not totally losing it that I am sure I missed many. In true Chelsea fashion, I exited the haunt in hysterical laughter because this is my fear coping mechanism. My brain has decided that laugher is the best way to process my fear. Fun times. But now I can say I did, in fact, go through a Midsummer Scream haunt!
Haunting Paranormal Pixie’s Pumpkin Patch
Since our daughter’s discovery of crafts in the Paranormal Pixie‘s pumpkin patch last year, we spent even more time here this year. Psychic Buster was the Pumpkin Patch host for the weekend and featured some very fun talent. This area was complete with costume parades, mini carnival games and dance parties. The pumpkin patch was just as happening as the rest of the convention! I finally got to catch the Bob Baker Marionette show (has been on my bucket list for years!).
I loved seeing what Buster pulled together for the kids (and monster kids. 😀 ). Skeleton Sam showing up for dance parties was the highlight for my skeleton-obsessed son. We were literally dragging my daughter out when the adults were more ready to crash in the hotel.
I would love to see some sort of virtual tip jar for this area in the future. So many creatives contribute to this space during the convention. They make Midsummer Scream as enjoyable of a place for the families as everyone else. In fact, their efforts are not only seen, they are greatly appreciated. Midsummer Scream is and has always been a family affair for me. I’ve attended since I was pregnant with my first child and I hope to continue to bring my children along for many years to come.
More Themed Bars
The faboolous MR. HE did a detail-driven bar on the show floor called “Epitaph”. The bar was surrounded by dozens of tombstones with little nods to those whom have passed, convention guests and drag performers participating in Return of the Living Drag. She even set up a photo-op area complete with wearable ghost sheets draped onto tables to enjoy your drink beside.
In the Hall of Shadows behind the left side of the Fear Farm haunt was the hidden “Hole in the Wall” themed bar. I’m not sure if Fear Farm was also responsible of the decorations of this bar, but I loved it. It’s entrance was bordered by two 12 foot skeletons holding onto the sign. Other average–sized skeletons throughout looking like they’d enjoyed themselves just a little too much.
My only wish? That they’d had at least one signature cocktail in each bar. I get that their luck hasn’t been so great with nailing down good cocktails (honestly, not just anyone can make a good simple cocktail. It’s an art for sure.). However, even the after dark party was missing a signature drink. As a cocktail enthusiast, I would have loved even one, but there wasn’t even a list of the cocktails they could make. Just a listing of prices for premium or standard cocktails.
Final Midsummer Scream 2023 Thoughts
I wish I’d spent more time playing their trading card game! Put on by Force of Nature Productions, they had this really neat event going on as a way to earn those trading cards. It seemed like so much fun, but I kept leaving the card needed to play in the hotel room or would forget to actively record the interactions to properly document here. I also forgot to mention that my phone got to take a ride on the Haunted Hearse roller coaster and I even managed to get a couple photos with friends.
As mentioned before, Midsummer Scream 2023 was one of my best attended years to date. It really felt like a preview of the energy I want to take into the Halloween season. I spent most of my time soaking up the vibes and chatting with exhibitors. On that note, I want to say a big “thank you” to Allison of Allison’s Goods, Danielle of The Oblong Box Shop, Christina of Velvet Apparition, Carrie of Carrie Hudson Art and Michelle of Bat in Your Belfry! It was greatly appreciated that you took time out of your day to let me gush about your booths and products.
In that vein, I got to meet so many amazing people. Connecting with so many new people I had only interacted on Instagram with was a scream! I got recognized by Lauren of the Punkin Shop and a received a shout out during the Winchester panel! (The person they said they were curious to see what ensemble they’d wear for the holidays was me!) As per usual, I didn’t feel like we hung out too much with our core friend group during the event. It felt like it was just a crossing of paths. Half of us are media, trying to earn our badges and in mine and my husband’s case, we’re kind of the odd men out as the only ones who bring kids in tow. However, we actually took intentional days before the event to hang with people and it felt like a perfect balance.
The Minor bumps
There were definitely some bumps getting there. Honestly, I worried those bumps would damper my weekend, but I worked though it! One example included a cold sore surfacing a day before we planned to leave. This changed all my dress-up plans and made me self-conscious in pictures. You can tell with the weird facial expressions I’m making in my Rawl of the Dead photos.
In fact, Ghostbusters Elvira did not get to make her convention debut. However, the lack of costumes actually made the experience more leisurely. I’m considering employing this for all future events. I applaud all those that dress up each day in a total new look. I had two outfits planned (not counting Elvira). However, I was already feeling done dressing up on Friday night.
As usual, these are not things that reflect the event itself. I just like to share them for those wanting to understand where my mindset was when attending.
Midsummer Scream did amazing learning from the little hiccups of last year. The badge pick-up on Thursday was a real blessing. Every day, we walked right in during Gold Bat hours. Even the General Admission line never seemed too long once they were able to enter. Crowd control inside needed a little work. My husband and I noticed a couple times where the convention center staff needed to aide the Midsummer Scream staff. This was most notable during the Decayed Brigade performances and entrance into the show floor.
Cheers to attending 5 years of Midsummer Scream!
Did I miss you this year? Will you attend next year? I’d love to hear about your experience for Midsummer Scream 2023!