Continued from November 2009 CTI Newsletter

The Gravesend Inn

I had a lot of fun attending the New York City College of Technology's Gravesend Inn installation this year at the Voorhees Theatre on Jay Street in Brooklyn.  Each Halloween, the students put on what might be described as a cross between a haunted house and a Disney theme park. To get an idea of that it's like, click here for a short video from NY1 Television.

The Entertainment Technology program at City Tech is one of the few in the world that trains students for jobs in the real world of theme parks, themed entertainment, theatre, concerts, cruise ships, special events, and other highly technical areas of the entertainment world.  Students are trained in all the typical areas of entertainment technology such as scenery, props, lighting, sound, and video projection, and they also tie these areas together by studying show control.


The Gravesend Inn show utilizes all areas of the students' and faculties' expertise in ways that you would expect:  scary scenery and and props, moody lighting, and eerie music and projection. All of these areas are well done, and looked completely professional to me, like you would expect to see at a major theme park.. In fact, the entire exhibit had a Disney "Haunted Hotel" look and feel to me.  

The installation is tied together by show control, and the audience is the operator.  Without an audience member, the show doesn't run at all.  Audience members are admitted a few at a time and they immediately begin to trigger sensors that start lights, sound and video running.  As visitors wend their way through the "Inn", they encounter a variety of scenes.  If you are a technology geek, you'll spend most of your time trying to figure out where the sensors are, and where the light and sound is coming from.  Lighting positions are tucked in everywhere, such as above air conditioning ducts and on pipes lagged to the walls.  

Wiring, both AC and data, is everywhere.  My thought as I wandered through the show was that it must be a blast to install and run.  

Oh yeah, there are lots of people screaming all the time since this is sort of a haunted house.  The shocks are not bloody or brutal, but they are surprising.  And like Disney, The Gravesend Inn team heightens the suspense with a wait in line where you hear screaming from inside.  There are even signs on the walls like at Disney World that say "From this point you are 15 minutes away from the entrance."

And at the end, there is a surprising technical twist.  I won't tell you what it is but when you see the show, you will surely hang around for a while when you exit the Gravesend Inn.  The surprise is one of the coolest technical parts of the show, and you'll enjoy it.  Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until next Halloween to see the show since it is now closed, but it does run each year and you should make it a point to see it next year.  You'll enjoy it.  City Tech is just over the Brooklyn Bridge and easily reachable by public transportation and there was ample on street parking on the Saturday evening that I attended.

Here are the cast and crew who made the show happen this year.  Congratulations!

The Gravesend Inn 

An animatronic pirate move and talks

This scary scene uses lighting and sound effectively

A very disconcerting upside down room

A cast member who enjoyed scaring the crowd