Happy Summer! Hard to believe that Summer is here. 90 degrees comes with a lot of complaints, but then I remember how angry and bitter I am come 15 degrees with 2 feet of snow.
Next comes Halloween. Ahh sweet fall smells and the cool crisp air. Nothing better than that. Except maybe a terrifying live action zombie kill experience! A quick introduction to the iCOMBAT representative in the haunt industry: Bobby Sutton. Bobby is the sole owner of the Apocalypse Zombie Experience. As an interactive experience, Bobby travels all over the world with his show. Most recently, he has partnered with the Walker Stalker Con and is continuously evolving his business.
Naturally, zombies terrify me. I love The Walking Dead tv show, but I am scared stupid of zombies. Why would anyone want to voluntarily put themselves in a zombie apocalypse situation? Well, apparently a lot of people want to do just that. I was able to chat with Bobby to get his side of things. This busy, married father of 3 has a passion for scaring people. In his very little downtime, he loves to fish and hang out with his pup Jack.
Where did he get “The Apocalypse Experience” idea from? “I wanted to do something all year long at my Tucson (AZ) facility. The Walking Stalker group contacted us about doing a live attraction to tour with their conference. Tens of thousands of customers later and we are currently designing a brand new set to up our game to continue this amazing ride with the current zombie phenomena. I love scaring people and producing life-like attractions that allow people to live in a video game.”
What’s so cool about his business? “Very realistic weapons shooting very real zombies is the coolest part! Since developing the Apocalypse concept, we have expanded around the country and the world. We have affiliates in 10 major cities and have done weekend shows in over 30 cities and 5 countries. I designed the concept for Haunted House owners to be able to utilize their facilities throughout the year instead of just October. We are doing a 4-week show in the UK with the creator of the Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman. After this show, we will be releasing an official Walking Dead licensed attraction to the Haunted House and Laser Tag industry.”
What are your keys to success as an operator? “A solid marketing plan, great reviews, and constant upgrades and enhancements to the experiences. Our ticket averages continue to grow and the future looks awesome. Don’t try to recreate what is already being done extremely well by others. Listen to the people who know what they are doing!”
Well, there you have it. Although challenges will always be present, Bobby has proven that you can take a 1-month seasonal idea and turn it into a year-round success. And one of the awesome perks? “Yes, they (The Walking Dead actors) are very cool and not pretentious. I have made several good friends from The Walking Dead.
Visit their website to check out all the live action!