A pounding heartbeat. Nervous perspiration. Butterflies. Your knees lock in terror.
Manufacturing fear is no easy feat, but for Jim and Tricia Cormack – it’s an obsession. As operations supervisors on our SCarowinds team, they get giddy thinking of new ways to petrify our guests. From conception to construction, this happily married couple of 27 years is living the dream by building your nightmares.
Jim and Tricia Cormack
With 10 years of haunt experience, split between Kings Dominion and Carowinds, Jim and Tricia are the warped minds behind Zombie High, Urgent Scare, the re-development of Silver Scream Studios, Slaughterhouse: The Final Cut and Dark Harvest. Each season and each attraction seem to build in intensity, and if scaring people is an art form - Depths of Darkness may just be a masterpiece.
The Architecture of Fear
Depths of Darkness is a project our teams have been working on since 2016. It started with the idea of a dark maze, but Jim and Tricia had a different vision.
“We knew with the size of the building, we could do a lot more,” said Jim. “It’s too long to just be pitch black, so we wanted to add a mixture of excitement and darkness to confuse your senses and keep you off guard.”
Once the concept was confirmed, the entire maze was gutted and a new floor plan was mapped out. From there, the build teams share ideas for rooms and plot for scares.
“One of the great things about building these attractions, they’re always changing. As you build, you start getting a better feel for the space and you come up with ideas to better utilize that space. We never really finish. There’s always something else you’d like to add,” said Tricia.
Hunting for props and finding new elements to add to our haunted attractions is an ongoing task. When Jim and Tricia aren’t building, they are usually trying to find new pieces that will add to the theming. From antique shops and thrift stores to Craigslist, they’re constantly trying to find items to morbidly transform into SCarowinds treasure.
“Finding these props and items add a lot to our attractions,” said Tricia.
“They add elements of realism. We want someone to feel like they’ve just walked into a nightmare. With these props, the guest can feel it. Sense it. It feels real,” added Jim.
Haunt hunting is one of their favorite things about the job, and they’ve uncovered some real gems, including the fully functional medical equipment inside Depths of Darkness.
Depths of Darkness Opens
After spending a year on development and construction – long nights and sweaty afternoons – Depths of Darkness opened to rave reviews. Jim and Tricia silently watched the maze’s exit opening weekend. The screaming guests confirmed their suspension; the new maze delivers.
“The reactions have been amazing. Having to exit out early cause it’s too scary, that’s what you want. If you can’t make it through the maze, then we’re doing something right,” said Jim.
Many that have made it all the way through the maze say it could be our best SCarowinds attraction yet.
A Couple that Scares Together…
After the season is over, Jim and Tricia like to escape the fog and unwind on the beach. But it isn’t long until the scream-inducing ideas reemerge and another SCarowinds attractions takes life.
Jim and Tricia have always loved Halloween
When asked about next season…
“Lots of ideas…by February we’ll already have something in movement.”