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Not your average family: a scary Australian legacyphotos, video

Not your average family: a scary Australian legacy | photos, video TweetFacebookTerror trainingShowtime Amusements is run by Lewis and Leonie Osborne, a married couple based on the Gold Coast.
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Their business has been providing rides, games and attractions to shows, fetes, carnivals and other special events around Australia since 1976.

The house in which they live is located right behind Movie World, a situation which is either the result of a scary coincidence or something ordained by a supernatural force.

While their house isn’t haunted – save for a lot of rides, sets, props, costumes and paraphernalia kept in storage there for work purposes – their family situation is anything but normal.

With the couple having become grandparents (and clearly quite certain about the future career paths of their grandkids), the younger Osbornes now represent the sixth generation in a blood line that has dedicated its entire being to amusing Australians.

According to Mr Osborne, this takes the family legacy back to the late 1800s, when their ancestors were eking-out livings in travelling entertainment troupes.

“It was totally different to now. A lot of things were novelties, like kewpie dolls on sticks, and tin can games,” he told the Gazette.

Surprisingly, Mr Osborne wasn’t always planning on entering the family business. He was looking at working in a bank or as a surveyor before his father got the better of him.

“He asked me to come away with him and the next thing I knew, I was building a haunted house. I’ve now built about five ghost trains and haunted houses, all to do with the creepy and scary,” he said.

As a child, he spent nearly every weekend at shows, watching fireworks. “I can definitely tell the difference between a bad and a good set of fireworks now,” he said.

“The showgrounds of Australia have been my home all my life, and travelling around and entertaining people. Everything has been around families and fun.”

EERIE: Being buried alive might be your biggest fear, but if it floats your boat then Fearaphobia is the place for you. Picture: Geoff Jones

Blood workScaring people out of their wits has become increasingly popular over in the US, where Mr Osborne has spent a lot of time. During Halloween, ‘scare parks’ pop-up all around the country.

“I’ve been flying to America for the past ten years developing concepts about how to do a true Halloween-scary theme park and scaring the living daylights out of people,” he said.

“I got serious about five years ago when I went to HAuNTcon [sic] in the US –a haunted conference for people who are dedicated to the creepy and scary.

“But this has been my lifelong dream. Our own scream park, and the first dedicated one in Australia. We’ve put a lot of thought into it.

“We’ve always concentrated on scaring people rather than just thrill rides. Scary is what we love to do –we get that extra added thrill out of watching people get frightened.”

Punters are expected to flock from all over to attend Fearaphobia, and the plan is to make it an annual event.

CREEPY: The Scare Taker experience is the final leg of the journey and apparently the most terrifying. Gazette editor Matt Lawrence took his camera with him to film the experience. Picture: Geoff Jones

Fear factorThe Fearaphobia website states: “We have assembled a horrific collection of 7 terrifying scare attractions that will stretch your fears to the limit.”

Mr Osborne stayed ‘mum’ on many of the details (so as not to ruin the suspense), but he did reveal that the entire park will be part of the experience –including having to walk through a graveyard to get to the toilets.

He also revealed there will be a complete maze dedicated to “generously very scary” evil clowns, along with “rampant deranged monks and torture chambers”.

Punters will in turn be hooded and blindfolded and “forced to hang on to the chain of death”, and exposed to intense lighting and claustrophobic situations.

Ten per cent won’t make it through the first room, according to Mr Osborne, but there are ‘chicken exits’ along the way so people can tap-out if it gets too much.

The actors hired to take on the scary roles are extremely professional, switched on and dedicated, with many having honed their art over a number of years.

Their skills go further than just acting, with many doing their own makeup and making their own costumes.

The actor who plays Bozo 2.0 has been perfecting his particular brand of scary clown for his entire life, and was flown in from The States especially for the event.

He refused to break out of character the entire time the Gazette was photographing him, which creeped everyone out.

“I say ‘if you dont scare me, you don’t have a job’. That proves how dedicated they are to working here and enjoying this,” said Mr Osborne.

“This is designed for people that want to get frightened. They want a different form of entertainment that’s completely full-on, and since we ‘care about scare’, we’re going to cater for them.”

Mr Osborne encouraged visitors to dress-up: “We want people to come in costume. We like that,” he said.

As for what scares Mr Osborne these days, not much, he said. Except spiders.

“I hate them. I’ll jump. I had a huntsman run across my window recently and I almost stacked my truck! That’s just something I cannot deal with,” he said.

“Fancy a man that owns haunted houses being scared of spiders!”

Hawkesbury Gazette

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