Dark News

The Haunt Cruise is now happening NEXT December — in 2015!
Book passage for our 1st Seminar at Sea in Dark Waters
(under Dark Desires)

New content and videos are being added often.  Please check back soon!

Principles of Theme creation are presented in Dark Design
Practices for Scare construction are presented in Dark Engineering
Model haunts are described in Dark Dimensions
New Concepts, Supplemental Content, & Comments are posted in Dark Ideas
(the blogging page)
Please search for grouped entries in the Categories or by choosing a Tag

Useful documents (as downloadable PDFs) and referenced books are linked in Dark Needs
Our consultation information is presented in Dark Desires
Our trusted colleagues are listed in Dark Arts (under Dark Desires)


2014 - June

6|4|14 - There have been too many logistics problems to overcome this late in the year! Other groups booked parts of the three days at sea on different ships cruising Jamaica and Haiti when we needed meeting rooms to hold the seminars and workshops for all of the days. Please have a look at the great speakers and the business topics we’re including next year, in 2015. (“Same bat time, same bat channel!”) It will be an excellent chance to network too!


2014 - May

Memorial Day Weekend – Our AAA agent is finalizing the details of our better, stronger, slower Haunt Cruise. We should be ready to take your bookings before June. Please have a look at the great speakers and the business topics we’re including. It will be an excellent chance to network too!

5|16|14 - After receiving conflicting information and a disappointing lack of attention to our needs and concerns, the travel agent we’d engaged refused to agree to signing a contract to protect both our interests.  Fortunately, I discussed our project with a savvy agent with AAA today, who agreed to handle the Caribbean Voodoo Cruise details.  This agent likes haunted houses, and more importantly, cares about the needs of her clients!  Once the new cruise is set up, all of the information will be posted on the Dark Waters page.  Please bear with our “1st Annual” birthing pains!  IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, PLEASE MAIL THEM TO ME USING THE “advancedfearmechanics” LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SITE PAGES!  ;)

5|3|14 - Happy belated Beltane and an advanced wish for a joyful Cinco de Mayo! We are putting together a “Vodou” Haunt Cruise to the Caribbean as a Seminar at Sea. It will sail from the 6th through the 14th of December. So, after you’ve escaped the October country, and braved the terrors of Thanksgiving with inlaws and outlaws, we hope you’ll be ready for a fun in the sun haunt cruise before Christmas.  There will be prizes for early registration, and booking refunds will be available until September 23rd. (Always buy cruise insurance, just in case an unavoidable conflict arises! Our travel agent will help.) I will post more information in the coming week.


2014 - April

4|16|14 - With Tax filing behind us, and a 10 x 20 storage unit downsized to a 10 x 10 (with most of the contents now underfoot in what resembles a “hoarder’s paradise” here), it’s time to begin actively blogging again.


2014 – February

2|19|14 - We’re baaack!  Picking up the pieces after two lost weeks ill with influenza.  :(

New content is being added daily to catch up!

2|9|14 - Caught flu on last day of my return drive from HAuNTcon.  Even with the preemptive shot at the beginning of January, it’s lasted over a week!  And it cycles from feeling nearly normal, but very weak, to lymph node aches, sinus and muscle aches, intense coughing, etc.  Today, I’ve lost 5 pounds, staying horizontal 95% of the time!  :(  All of the information from the HAuNTcon talk — and much more — will be added ASAP!

2|2|14 - Many people commented favorably about our HAuNTcon presentation. YouTube videos are being created from the Keynote sequences and will be posted in the coming days. Also, additional pages have been added, including several that will contain detailed descriptions of various types of Haunts.


2014 – January

1|25|14 - HAuNTcon 2014  -  Creative Sessions

Presentation by Craig Caldwell on Saturday, January 25th
George Brown Convention Center, Houston Texas

Beyond “Boo!” Use Psychology To Dramatize Your Theme & “Traumatize” Your Patrons!

A clever theme gives you distinct marketing advantages, streamlines your design requirements, and limits extraneous expenses. However, the overarching benefit of a great theme lies in it’s ability to capture the mind. It becomes the touchstone that manages every aspect of a patron’s experience and determines the success of your Haunt. We’ll explain a theme creation process in detail, plot a hypothetical sequence of interactions, and apply the psychological principles that give you precise control over every scare; the priming, timing, and emotional entrainment that elevate an adrenaline rush into an unforgettable thrill. In conjunction, we’ll provide specific guidelines and examples of how to fully manipulate the level of fear, moving far beyond “Boo!”

1|15|14 – We now have an Advanced Fear Mechanics Group on LinkedIn. Please feel free to join our discussions there!


10/31/13 – Always

Dark (“Haunted”) Attractions have a unique place in the Entertainment industry.  Unlike movies, video games, or amusement rides, they offer a complete, 4 Dimensional User Experience, with full control over sensory and psychological impact.  Our site presents a distillation of our ideas and concepts, born from numerous projects and collaborations spanning over three decades, that explore ways to implement that control.

Advanced Fear Mechanics is a league of uniquely talented professionals who design “dark” user experiences and engineer thrilling scares as part of our work, both in and outside of the Entertainment industry.  We focus on applying the powerful effects of psychology, physics, and bleeding edge technologies, to augment existing methods of interaction and devise novel ways for stimulating new encounters.  In doing so, we strive to probe unexplored areas of the market, to provide you with amazing, unforgettable interactions that give you singular positioning, expand your marketing options, and improve your revenue generation.

As an owner, operator, “haunt” enthusiast, or UX designer, we hope you benefit from our material.  Please engage with us, comment, and critique our work.

user experience


Please mail inquiries to Advanced Fear Mechanics (click link to open mail)
or call 727 – 242 – 6374 for help or advice.


Craig Caldwell is the site administrator and coordinator for consulting projects.  He is a cognitive psychologist who has studied user experience design, and is cited in Wikipedia for past research in interactive evolutionary computing using genetic algorithms to evolve a user interface.  He has worked as a director of R & D, and as owner of a development company doing high-end remodeling, where he constructed complicated, real-world environments with fancy electrical and plumbing systems.  In a past life, Caldwell earned advanced degrees in physics and space science, programmed the space shuttle launch control computers at Kennedy Space Flight Center, and tested rocket fuels at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility.  Currently, he is a consultant to a government contractor doing research on a project for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.



(Argon laser bought at HAuNTcon 2003 in Chicago, projected into waterfall from shower head.)