After last weekend’s Spooky Empire event in Orlando, we had a chance to ask a few questions to the heads of Spooky, Gina and Petey Mongelli. This was Once Upon a Fan’s second year covering the event which, in addition to lots of other TV, film and media stars, was attended by Ernie Hudson (Poseidon), Brad Dourif (Zoso, the Dark one) and Lana Parrilla (Regina). Here is what they had to say about putting on such a big event, their staff and fans, and what we can expect in the future.
AMY - All of our staff that attended have different favorite moments from the weekend. It was non-stop fun. Even outside of the posted "convention hours" there was always something going on. Do the two of you have any favorite moments that stand out from this event?
G&P - We loved the combination of all of the Special FX and props along with our event this time. Halloween Extreme was a great part of the event this May. The AHS guests were fantastic. We were thrilled to have them all, especially Jyoti Amge (Ma Petite). Petey really enjoyed his DJ spot on Saturday night.
AMY - How far in advance do you start planning each event? The vendors this year...lets just say I spent a small fortune. Great, great stuff. And the program cover art? LOVED IT.
G&P - We start each event the week after the last. But really we’re working on both all year, always planning ahead. We did have some great vendors this year, but I think we always have a great mix of merchandise to choose from.
The program cover was amazing this year! Michael Duron “Locoduck” did an awesome job capturing the event. We make a point of picking a new artist to do our cover for each show. They’ve become collectible, you can always find them on eBay!
AMY - Your volunteers were phenomenal this year. Insanely helpful, kept everything organized, just fantastic. I recognized a lot of faces from last year. Even one of our staff volunteers after seeing what a great job was done by the team. Do you have a set group that you pull from each year, or are you guys just cloning some hard core awesome volunteer DNA? (Big shout out to Deena. She rocks!)
G&P - Our volunteers are some of the best around! We do have a core group, I would say about 90% of them are regulars. Deena does a great job rallying the troops and educating/training them.
AMY - Usually May-Hem is a separate event from Halloween Extreme, but this year we got BOTH in one convention. It was huge. Does this mean any changes for what is coming in October? Can you give us a taste of what fans can expect at your October event this year?
G&P - We are definitely focusing on Halloween, since it actually falls right on Halloween this year! What better weekend to do this event! So yes, we’ll probably pull a bit of inspiration from May’s Halloween Extreme, but it will be bigger and better. We’ll have some “Screams”, a little bit of “Candy” and a lot of “Hellraisin’”, plus maybe even doing the “Time Warp” again.
AMY - We love tons of shows and movies. You guys always have great guests from many genres. You had horror, sci-fi, fantasy, blockbusters, movie, TV, music, animation.... guests from everything we could imagine. One question we get a lot of is will Spooky continue to get Once Upon A Time guests, as they seem to be a great fit with the overall convention event?
G&P - If the right OUAT guests are available and willing, we’ll take them! As long as they fit our show.
AMY - Finally I just want to open it up for anything you guys would like to say to your staff or your attendees....
G&P - We have some of the best staff AND attendees around. Both are extremely loyal and they are the core of our event, they make the Spooky Empire what it is today. We’d like to thank everyone for being a part of the Spooky Empire family!