By REBEKAH JONES
David Miller, owner of Millers Thrillers Haunted Woods in Columbia, Tennessee, grew up with a love for Halloween and a passion for business and entertainment.
He recalled that as a young child, he grew pumpkins on the farm with his grandfather and sold them on the street corner. Flashing forward several years to college, Miller and his friends started drafting plans to open their own haunted house.
In 2007, Miller opened Millers Thrillers Haunted Woods to the public.
At the beginning of each year, Miller and his staff brainstorm ideas for the upcoming spooky season. From there, he meets with his production team and plans out the execution of the final ideas with deadlines.
Next, he said, “we start with new build-outs of set pieces and designs to painting and distressing of the sets. From there we add any animations and effects stationed in their specific areas. Once the build-out nears ending, we begin lighting design and sound. While that is all happening, I am meeting with my other team regarding marketing and advertising, casting of actors, training, costumes and makeup design.”
The entire planning process takes almost a full year to complete.
As the business grew and attendance numbers rose, Miller said he has been challenged with finding new exciting things to add each year.
“This is a good challenge as we are constantly thinking about what new wow factor can we bring,” he said. “This year we are excited that we have extended the Haunted Woods… The guests will enter the intense hour-long trek through the twisted groves and gnarled oaks, with a surprise around every corner.”
In addition, The Greatest Hayride Unearthed is their newest attraction. It’s a Zombie Paintball Hayride that enters the woods for the very first time with two new additions.
Miller has also brought on new creative managers to his team to further development and bring fresh, scary ideas. He said his favorite part of the attraction is collaborating with his team.
“What makes it magical is to see other talented people come along and make the idea and concepts better with their own flare while they keep things in the same conceptual idea, making it an epic collaboration to share on,” he said.
The team is comprised of seven creative producers, 10 managers, 90 scare actors, 30 artists, and 30 staff members for security, box office, and crowd control.
Millers Thrillers is open every Friday and Saturday in October from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. It is located at 1431 Carters Creek Pike, Columbia, TN 38401. Be sure to buy tickets online here and print them before arrival to avoid the ticket lines.
Miller said, “We are excited to blow you away this season with plenty of wow factor moments!”