Tell us a bit about your background

I’ve always been infatuated with the theme park and themed attractions industry. I remember when my mum showed me Roller Coaster Tycoon on our first computer, my dad explained that it was “a big plot of land where mum can build any theme park she wants”, and I thought to myself – well that is perfect. I then proceeded to play that game for the rest of my childhood.

I spent a lot of my teen years jumping into the real world of theme parks, making and editing homemade horror movies with my sister, running out of ways she could be murdered on screen, and dabbling with music making (which incidentally has served me well with bringing music and video to The Joy Sequence attractions!)

I went on to study Graphic Design at college and University where naturally I set many of my projects to revolve around theme parks and themed entertainment with my end of Uni project being a multi-themed nightclub. My tutor once asked me in a seminar “would you say you have an obsession with Alton Towers?” The awkward 19 year old me shrugged and said no. I was lying. Since Uni I have gone on to work as a graphic designer and video editor, spending my spare time developing attractions and finding my path into the themed attractions industry.

How did The Joy Sequence start?

Last year I moved into my own house and decided to throw a Christmas party for all my family to come to since I now had the space to entertain. Being me, I didn’t want any old Christmas party, I wanted to take the opportunity to entertain people in a different way, make it memorable, so I decided the only good way to do that was to send them through a horror maze.

I don’t do things by small measures so I immediately started developing a detailed backstory, theming and pre-show. Thus my first attraction, The Grotto, was born. Based around the folklore story of the Krampus, I wanted to give people an experience of the darker side of Christmas, because why should my family have the merry get together they were expecting? It was a fun project and it ignited my own competitive spirit. “I can do another one and make it bigger and better” I thought, so now my friends and family are stuck with an obligation to come to my house to be terrified every few months.

Who/what are your main inspirations?

I’ve always been interested in themes of folklore tales, pseudoscience, magic, the paranormal and supernatural, so once I get exploring an idea I find the themes grow and inspire themselves! A heavy inspiration for the theatrical side of things, the use of lights, sound, smoke, mist, is heavily inspired by the use of these effects in theme parks and on roller coaster dispatch sequences such as The Smiler or the old Air dispatch at Alton Towers. There’s something heavily satisfying about a well-timed sequence that can be used to really bring an atmosphere to a space and make a room feel alive and unpredictable. I’m also going to give an honourable mention to John Wardley whose career and love for a theatrical show has inspired me from the very beginning.

Would you consider yourself a “home haunter”?

To be honest not so much. I would consider myself more a sort of creator of themed attractions currently using his house as a practice ground to host his ideas. I do get carried away sometimes and forget that I’m making them at a house and have neighbours who now hate me/occasionally peep out of their window to see a selection of grown adults running out of my garage screaming. Something I haven’t touched on is the traditional ‘haunt’ theme; blood, horror, zombies, clowns. I’m more interested in exploring a different side of things. A less traditional take on horror and more of a ‘situation’ that causes guests to end up in a place they didn’t necessarily sign up for, attacking their senses psychologically with fear and panic thrown into bizarre scenarios, such as being attacked by Pest Control or worshipping a magical (evil) box.

How long does one of your attractions take to create?

My previous attractions have taken around 3-4 months to develop and execute in total. I tend to put aside my time in several sections:
1. Planning the story, theme and logistics of how the space will work with the story
2. Creating the visual identity, branding, and sound design
3. Creating budget spreadsheets and sourcing assets
4. Construction and creation of the theming and space dressing
5 Testing of special effects, finalising and hosting the event
6. Post-event photograph editing, video making and blogging

What advice would you give someone who would like to create their own attractions?

One of the most important pieces of advice would be to expect and prepare for the worst. If something can go wrong, it will. Bluetooth speakers won’t work on the night. Strings will snap. Theming will fall down even though you swear you triple knotted it to 7 screws. It will rain. Hurricane Patricia will come. And I would say go at your own pace, don’t try too much at once. Allow yourself room to improve and touch on new areas and ideas in future projects, this will allow you to focus on bringing the most out of each project. It’s also important to consider the flow of people, and don’t expect everyone to get where they’re supposed to go and when unless it’s blindingly obvious because unfortunately, they just won’t and some consideration needs to be put in to guiding them without breaking the story or immersion.

Would you consider “going pro” in the future? Perhaps moving in to scream parks/theme parks?

Absolutely. I don’t want to keep my frights locked away for much longer and I intend on entertaining/traumatising the public with my ideas through whichever avenue fits best!

What are your plans for the future?

Something guests have mentioned they want to see from future attractions is an ‘escape room’, so that’s on the agenda for the next one. I’m working towards something that’s not a traditional escape room, but more ‘Joy Sequencey’ – a heavily story led and theatrical ‘escape scenario’, full of the good scares, panic and nervous laughter, with a punishment for those unable to escape and a reward for those that can. As my previous attractions have been more passive, taking guests through a pre-written story, I am looking forward to developing an attraction where guests take a more active approach where decisions have consequences and a bit of logic has to be used as opposed to simply having to navigate a new hell and run for your life.

Where can people find you? (Social media, website etc.)

I’m currently haunting Twitter and Instagram at the username of @thejoysequence posting behind the scenes and development stuff on there and chatting with you guys. I have a Youtube channel of the same name where I post media from the attractions (wrap up videos, soundtracks, teaser vids etc.) is the main attractions portfolio along with a blog page where I discuss my thoughts, concepts and attraction reviews. I’m also looking to launch a little shop area of the site very soon featuring branded merchandise to go with my attractions so watch this space!

A massive thanks to ImmersiveScreams for the questions, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!