In the first week of April, Delusion: Interactive Theatre announced that it will return for Halloween 2021. There is no word on dates or location. The only news is that Jon Braver's immersive theatrical production has partnered with 13th Floor Entertainment and that the storyline will feature a return to the franchise's horror roots, after a detour into science fiction territory for 2018's The Blue Blade and 2019's Alt Delete.
The announcement came via two emails. The first first, dated April 2, was a personal message from Braver to his fans, promising a new "original, terrifying, and live interactive play" that would offer the kind of personalized entertainment denied during the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020: "Never has there been a more dire need for in-person human connection.... We want to be part of the process to revitalize that visceral connection through our productions."
The second email, on April 6, was an official press release from 13th Floor, announcing the merger:
Two of the biggest names in Halloween and horror entertainment are joining forces to produce LA's most popular interactive event. This fall Jon Braver, Delusion Creator and Director, will once again bring this one-of-a-kind immersive and interactive horror theater to life. But this time, Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, the largest Halloween entertainment company in the world, joins Braver as the producer of Delusion. Braver will also join Thirteenth Floor as Director of Immersive Entertainment. The joining of these two Halloween heavyweights promises to bring fans their best Delusion experience yet.
"Delusion has always been my favorite immersive event, I have gone out of my way to attend the show for years. I have so much respect and admiration for the world that Jon has created with Delusion and am truly honored that our company will serve as its producer" says Chris Stafford, Thirteenth Floor's CEO. "I think what will be awesome about our collaboration is that the strength and structure of Thirteenth Floor will allow Jon to focus his primary attention on ensuring the story and creative design is the best it can possibly be."
"Being able to lean on Thirteenth Floor and their resources will be great for Delusion," says Braver. "Chris and I have been speaking for years about working together, and finally, everything has lined up. I feel invigorated being surrounded by such talented Halloween die hards. I couldn't be more excited for the next Delusion show."
Location scouting is underway and a venue is in the process of being secured. In a recent newsletter to the Delusion fans, Braver has promised that 'Delusion will return to its horror roots this fall.' Stafford adds, "Jon has shared with me little pieces of the story line and it sounds amazing, fun and terrifying! As a fan, I can't wait to see this production of Delusion come to life."
This is good news, not just for this year but hopefully for the long term. As popular as it is, Delusion has had trouble maintaining itself as an annual event since its impressive 2011 debut: the show went on hiatus during 2015 and 2017, and its 2019 production was reduced to a twenty-minute "micro-experience." The reason for the hiatuses (not counting the 2020 pandemic) was securing an appropriate venue that could accommodate moving audiences through what is essentially a combination of walk-through haunt and immersive play.
Moreover, the theatrical nature of Delusion is a challenge for bottom-line profitability, limiting the number of tickets sold because guests enter in discrete groups at regular intervals - unlike the conga-line approach of many haunted attractions. Consequently, Braver had expressed concern about Delusion's long-term viability, telling us in 2019: "There's a real problem of venues and sustainability.... I am not convinced this is an industry. It may be more of a hobby,"
The question mark at this point is what influence 13th Floor will have on Delusion. The entertainment group owns numerous haunted attractions around the country. They are probably most known to Los Angeles Halloween fans for purchasing Los Angeles Haunted Hayride a couple of years ago. Their 2019 Hayride, Midnight Falls, was pretty decent, but their 2020 attempt at a Covid-safe drive-through fell short of expectations.
That may have had something to do with the fact the LA Haunted Hayride's creators are no longer involved. Braver is still involved with Delusion, and as the press release indicates, he will now be able to rely on 13th Floor's "resources."
Of course, independent haunted attractions are vanishingly rare in Los Angeles, so the spectre of a large company swooping in to take over a jewel in L.A.'s crown feels slightly disconcerting. Hopefully, 13th Floor's involvement will overcome Braver's "sustainability" issues. As they said in Delusion: The Blue Blade, "Time will tell."