It is now December and the holidays are right around the corner, and so naturally I think it’s time to talk about Goosebumps! More specifically, we’re going to look at the Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show and FunHouse which ran for just one year at Disney-MGM Studios in the late 1990’s!
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📰The Orlando Sentinel
“Oh, horror! Disney-MGM Studios to open Goosebumps attraction” (Jun 9 1997)
“Yikes! Goosebumps sales hit a slump” (Jun 22 1997)
“Getting Goosebumps at attraction” (Oct 9 1997)
“Small World will be decked out only in California this holiday” (Nov 17 1997)
📰The Tampa Tribune
“Beware the master of scaremonies” (Jun 12 1997)
“Hapless teen stories (Quips, Quotes, Quibbles & Bits)” (Oct 20 1998)
📰Tampa Bay Times
“Show will give you Goosebumps” (Jun 16 1997)
“It’s Getting Bumpier!” (Jan 12 1998)
Announced in June of 1997 and with plans to open that October, #Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show and FunHouse was to be a 15 minute stage show followed by a walkthrough attraction that led to, well…, to a Goosebumps gift shop. I mean, this is Disney. It was a collaboration between Stein and Disney that would prove to be more than just a business arrangement, as it turned out that RL Stine was a major Disney fan. His wife, Jane Stine, was quoted as saying that “For Bob, taking Goosebumps to Disney World is like going to heaven. He adores everything and anything Disney,”
On October 8th the show would premiere to the public along New York Street and it was… well it was something? The Goosebumps HorrorLand Fright Show was more or less a 15 minute magic show hosted by Amaz-O the magician, and featured cameos from Goosebump characters such as Curly, Slappy, Cuddles, and The Executioner. Kids from the crowd would be brought on stage as magic trick volunteers, and after the short production guests were able to walk through the fun house, which consisted of a maze of mirrors.
The Orlando Sentinel reported a “lukewarm visitor response” upon opening, a reception that resulted in a couple of changes to the show early on. The fun house itself was considered to be a let down, since guests were expecting more to the space than just a maze. So Disney dropped its emphasis by removing the “and FunHouse” from the attraction name and adjusting the lighting and difficulty of the maze to make it a little more challenging. The Goosebumps characters were also added to the maze to add more variety.
With such a simple execution, the show would run five times a day throughout 1998, before ending that fall after Halloween. It was a short-lived show, but then again, that was typical of the era. It’s worth noting that in the early fall of 1997, just before the show premiered, Scholastic would first announce a decline in sales of the books which resulted in a 40% drop in their stock price. Just months later in December of 97 RL Stine would formally end the original run of Goosebumps books and kick off a new series called Goosebumps Series 2000. So I think it’s safe to say that while Disney had their mind in the right place by pursuing Goosebumps for the parks, they waited until the tail end of the craze to actually act on it. So perhaps had Disney launched the show a few years earlier it would have lasted longer, but we’ll never know.