What do you think of Icon characters? – they seem to be taking over the UK
Anyone who follows the US Scare scene will know that the major theme parks love their big Icon characters each year. This is probably most noticeable at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights where famous Icon characters have included The Director, Bloody Mary, Jack and this years’ Lady Luck.
Here in the UK we have always eschewed this sort of marketing and characters have become famous in their own right. Clearly the most obvious example is the beautiful but twisted Esmeralda, who first appeared properly as the mistress of the house in Terror of the Towers in 2007.
Whether it was the character of whether it was the incredible skills of the actress Toni Griffiths, but Esmeralda struck a chord with scare fans and a trip through Terror of the Towers wasn’t the same unless Esmerelda was there. This was the same year that Michael Haynes created the larger than life Master character and the attraction felt all that stronger for their presence.
Fan forums and scare people started to take more note of these characters and when they started appearing outside of Alton Towers people really started to notice. One of Esmerelda’s first appearances was at ScareCON in 2008 where she hosted a terrifying scare attraction called The Cloakroom. Years later she was to be found propping up the front door of The Cellar at Tulleys Shocktoberfest and once again working alongside her beloved Master at the Scare ZONE at LIW – a promotional attraction created by the ScareCON team.
Esmerelda has gone on to be an internet celebrity with her own website, viral videos and a face book page where she shares her warm and fluffy views of the world to anyone who cares to listen!
Another potentially iconic character was Bozo the clown from Room 13 at Alton Towers. Anyone who visited this amazing attraction and experience Bozo’s bizarre and frankly random expressions will remember just how demented he could be. Like Esmeralda – Bozo soon made his way to Tulleys and now has his own attraction built for him, the It’s Curtains maze.
These three characters are iconic because of the things they have done and the history behind them. They sort of extend beyond the 2 dimensional characterisation that they were given, and now live as real characters in our world.
So after their success – what’s next? 2011 has seen a bit of a push for more icon characters across the UK with Tulleys already pushing Ethel as a potential title holder. Ethel is a fantastic scare character and has made me jump a number of times but unfortunately doesn’t have the longevity of Esmerelda or the Master. This is no slight on the wonderful actress playing her, it’s just that she doesn’t have enough time to truly interact and bond with people as she is usually only in a scare role.
Yorkshire Scream Grounds have announced no less than four new icon characters including Lord Fear and Sebastian. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. A lot will depend on how they are utilised around that attraction. For an audience to truly respond and come to love/hate a character they need to spend time with them and learn more about them. It isnt enough to just have a quick scare and move on.
So what do you think? Are icon characters the way forward or should we let people create their own icons?
Many of you will know me already. My name is Michael Bolton and I am passionate about Scare Attractions and being scared. I have been visiting and reviewing attractions since 2002. Why not come along on one of our trips and have a scream?