Some of you might have read my last post and wondered what this whole “archiving” thing is about? I wanted to set out this little explainer about who I am, what we’re in danger of losing and my future plans for archiving. Rome wasn’t built in a day of course but stay tuned to this site and you’ll see some awesome history and artifacts from this amazing event.

A Little About Me

I feel like most other big HHN fans have a story that goes something like this: “my parents dragged me along to the event when I was 7 and I didn’t do a single thing the first year but then I tried a couple the next year and the year after that I was doing everything”. Well, my story isn’t like that at all. I didn’t grow up around HHN, instead I grew up around other Halloween events, like Halloweekends at Cedar Point. I loved the rides, especially the big coasters, and the atmosphere of the event but I was too scared to do even the scare zones, much less the houses. But even though I was scared, I still followed HHN Orlando really closely, attracted by the amazing production value and quality and the intricate backstories. I watched all the videos I could, I browsed the forums and the fansites and I devoured trip reports. But by the time I finally got over my fear, I was entering college and couldn’t afford to go to Orlando, either money-wise or time-wise and I kind of stopped following the event. The first few years after I graduated the money was too tight but finally in 2019 I could afford to go to my first HHN in both Orlando and Holllywood. And I was hooked! The quality and detail was everything I hoped it would be and I could feel the passion throughout the event even in a year without strong icon representation. Over the next few years, I got more and more into the event, getting back into the forums and sites. And that translated into more and more time and money spent at HHN, going from one Unmasking the Horror tour to both to public RIP to private RIP. The time is here for me to give back to the fans and to the event that I love so much. We are at risk of losing so much history of the event and I’m doing what I can to stop it.

What’s At Risk of Loss?

When I first got into HHN in the late 2000s, it was the peak of HHN sites, in my personal opinion. Sites like posted hundreds or thousands of pictures, lots of information and history of the event. They featured forums for users to discuss the event and articles written about HHN and more. But despite what you likely grew up hearing, the internet is not forever. Starting in the late 2000s and accelerating in the 2010s, social media took over the internet, sucking most eyeballs and discussions to within its locked gates. Over time, fansites died and largely took their archives with them. Much of the information and images in those fansites are lost and at this point likely only exist on the hard drives of their creators. But surely social media is a safe place to store event media, right? Recent history shows that that’s not the case. At the end of the day, we’ve replaced stewardship of event history and media by individuals that care about the event like dR.fReAK from hhnvault or Brian from Inside Universal to those who don’t care one bit about the event and will remove media and information with great prejudice whenever it suits them, like Elon Musk with Twitter or Zuckerburg with Facebook. Now it’s not all bad. Thankfully some fansites have perserved, the biggest HHN one I’m thinking of is Orlando United which merged with Inside Universal. They run a fantastic forum that’s home to one of the best HHN communities in the biz. And we’ve had some misfires through these past couple years too! I’m thinking of the very hyped launch of HHNVault -> HauntVault. I was hoping for this fantastic resource like the old site with tons of pictures but instead we got this uber basic site with text descriptions and 5 star voting of all houses and scare zones. If this iteration were lost, it would be sad to lose the brand again but nothing of value in the site would be lost (and funny enough as I write these words, the site is down again).

Sidestepping the issue of availability, there’s also the trouble of web technology moving forward and leaving the past behind. Large parts of the classic HHN sites were written in Flash. Flash was an awesome tool allowing non programmers to make these amazing interactive games and sites. Well… thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, the technology ended up being removed from modern browsers and can’t be viewed natively in browsers. Jobs had some good points against Flash (namely that it was insecure, battery hungry and buggy) but with its loss, artists lost a great tool that really hasn’t been replaced. With its deprecation, the HHN websites ceased to work. Thankfully, the Ruffle project adds a Flash emulator to the solid browser. Without it, these websites would be totally useless. And so, someone that understands the technology needs to safeguard these files and make sure they’re working satisfactorily. And that’s where I come in.

What Do I Plan On Saving?

So I want to make the best repository for HHN information ever made, think GreatAdventureHistory but for HHN. That means saving media from many different sources, Flickr, blogs, the Wayback Machine, Youtube and plenty of other sources. But it also means that this media is organized and presented in a way that’s easy to navigate and read. I plan on having tons of pictures and editing together video to best represent the events.

I plan on maintaining the sites I have up at the moment and adding even more sites (we’re missing 2012-2015 and 2018-present). The current sites aren’t as interactive or exciting as the older ones but they still deserve to be saved! I’ll start putting out “Looking For” posts soon as I try to find media that’s missing.

So yeah! That’s a quick little intro about who I am, what the problem is and what I’m aiming to do with this site. Stay tuned for plenty of new interesting finds and sneak peeks of the HHN sites!