By: Jaimz Dillman
Few people have a busier schedule than I do, but Patrick Braillard, who is heading up Sea World's first year of Howl-O-Scream, re-working Scream n' Stream, and launching a new card game, Oh! The Horror!, well, he may just take the title. I was able to steal a few minutes from him as he zoomed in from his car (not driving) to tell me all about his many projects coming up in spooky season.
Starting this weekend, Braillard will be joined by partners Nate Stevenson and Jacob McAllister at MegaCon to promote their creative endeavor - Oh! The Horror! - which is backed and fully-funded by 420 supporters on Kickstarter. The concept was created as all three found themselves out of work with the massive layoffs through the theme park industry due to the pandemic. "Nate approached me about the idea, and within a matter of hours, we had the basis of the game. There's a killer, and a victim, and players have to tell the best three-card horror story. There are definite twists to the game, including a death at random, and a guardian angel card. There's also a number of ways to play. And it's definitely 18 and up,” said Braillard.
Bringing in McAllister helped add visuals to the game design and card deck, with all the original art. Braillard said, "We brainstormed as a group with notes, and Jacob came back with something that far exceeded our expectations." All three of the creators have panels throughout the weekend on the creation of the game. You can find them, and a limited supply of the game to buy for $35, at booth N54 in the convention center. He continued, "A bigger supply will be available soon, as shipping should be in by month's end. We want to make sure our backers have them first, and will include some additional cards and special goodies for them."
Ticking down the list of Braillard's schedule, he's taken on the role of creative director for the first year of Sea World's nighttime Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream. Located at Busch Gardens in years past, the more adult party has moved up I-4. Sea World was known for their kid-friendly daytime event, Spooktacular, but when the sun went down most revelers looked to other parks for their nighttime frights. "No one saw it coming. It's a massive undertaking. They're taking on the challenge of running the day and night event. What better way to do it when there's a want for it coming out of COVID? Being able to create a multi-year event - you can only say you were part of the inaugural year once,” he said.
He'll have touches in all the houses, scare zones, and shows, and is currently writing a show that's yet to be announced. "There's more than one event out there to see. There's so many voices. You're bound to find something for you,” Braillard said, on adding another haunted option in town. Being seasonal through December, when asked if he'd like to stay on in a more permanent role, he said, "If they're willing to have me, I'd love to play."
But there's not a lot of time to play in the coming months, as Braillard has also signed on to re-imagine an event returning from it's first time around in 2020: Scream n' Stream. The original drive-through fright experience was created to keep guests and actors at a COVID-safe distance from each other, situated on a huge plot of land in Boggy Creek. Now, the whole concept has been revamped, and moved to the parking lot of the Oviedo Mall. That makes it not only closer to folks not wanting to travel too far from Orlando, but also a lot easier to navigate than wild Florida terrain.
Lead Creative writer for a whole new story, Braillard is excited to launch visitors into a world of clowns vs. zombies. "Chad Lewis, owner of the company, approached me last year and asked if I wanted to come play. I never got to see the original incarnation, but once we switched venues, and made some technical upgrades, I knew it would be amazing and provide a more thorough experience for the guests to be more immersed. Plus, being at the mall gives people a lot of options with restaurants, a brewery, and the movie theater to make a whole night of it,” Braillard said.
Taking notes from what didn't work last year, Scream n' Stream has made improvements to entering the space as well. "This year's ticketing system is timed to avoid a long wait, plus how many are put through an hour," said Braillard. Prices are per car, so the more people you can fit in (safely) the better the deal is. Dates given on the website give you options as well as VIP upgrades. Also, each car is given two interactive guns to shoot actors wearing receivers through your 20-30 minute experience, but you can pay for more if you have additional players. "Guests are given a tech box they have to get from point A to point B to finish the storyline. I'll be there to help shepherd the rehearsal process, and make sure the actors get what they need. I'm also looking to see how guests respond to the evolution of the event,” Braillard said.
And lastly, although bittersweet, Braillard will finally see his hard work at Universal Orlando come to life, when four of his houses for Halloween Horror Nights open to visitors. Having been a part of the events team for years, he was laid off before a lot of what he created was realized. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, and Revenge of The Tooth Fairy are the ones announced so far. "They were in development in 2019 for the 2020 season. Then there was a complete shutdown of everything and layoffs,” Braillard said.
Although daytime options of Bride of Frankenstein and Tooth Fairy were available on a limited basis last year, this will be the chance for the designs to be experienced in their full glory. "We shot the Bride reveal in 2019, and it's probably the best we've done. It looks like a movie trailer. When they introduced the house this year, I was glad they saved it,” Braillard said. Changes to the houses open in 2020 during the daytime were made based on COVID protocol to make sure everyone stayed safe and he says the team did it well. "I've got nothing but love for the team and the work. I get to see the houses come to life as they should be as a guest waiting in line like everyone else."
Where he'll find the time is the question. Maybe investing in a Fast Pass will be another first for Braillard. Whatever happens after the screams are quieted and the houses are locked up again, I'm sure this isn't the last we'll hear from this very creative - and ambitious - person.
For info on tickets for Orlando’s Howl-O-Scream, visit seaworld.com/orlando/events and look for a special two-park ticket, combining with Busch Gardens' event. More information for Scream N' Stream can be found at screamnstream.com. Tickets and information on Halloween Horror Nights is at orlando.halloweenhorrornights.com.