TOWN OF TONAWANDA —
That fall, District of the Dead was born.
"This is in my blood, graphic design, industrial design," Chris said of the project. "It's something I was always into. I think it's just growing up, my dad started taking me and my brother, probably 5 or 6, to haunted houses ... I think between that and all the different creature drawings I used to do ... it really just blended all together."
Chris said that he's always messed around with design; in fact, the basic plans for the haunt were probably born at least a decade ago or so.
"That's how most guys started, though," he said. "It takes a lot of time and effort to make the dream a reality."
Chris and his father are running two haunts this year, including the titular one and the new Lake Effect haunt, from the Sheridan Plaza site. Last year, District of the Dead occupied the former Don Pablo's restaurant on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo, but when the building was purchased and turned into an AutoZone, they had to scramble to find a new site, remove the old framework and transfer everything over.
"The last 90 days have been quite interesting," said Chris, who still lives in Arizona, but returned to Western New York the past two Julys to start working on District of the Dead, while his brother Dan "holds down the fort" with the business in Phoenix (while still doing graphic design long distance for District of the Dead).
Since the interior walls of the old site were part of the haunt itself, Chris and David Haynes had to build about 40 some new wall panels for the haunts, which, on the other hand, enable them to have twistier, closer corridors for visitors to navigate.