What is Britannia Manor? It's a no-holds-barred full-contact haunted house. It's tough to get in, and tougher to get out. Be prepared to swim, crawl, climb, negotiate, solve puzzles, and run like hell. And, of course, be scared in some imaginatively terrifying ways. If you've been here before and just want to check out new additions, go to What's New.
You've got to have a pretty good reason to enter the Inferno. The premise for the '94 Manor was that the Inferno had intruded onto good Lord British's house and grounds, and the guests have to enter the Inferno to retrieve the magical Star of Palestine and save the Avatar. For the full description, see The Premise.
Britannia Manor is held (usually) every two years at the house and grounds of Origin Systems co-founder Richard Garriott (aka Lord British), in Austin, Texas. It's a big production, using every corner of RG's palatial mansion, including the indoor/outdoor pool and dungeon, as well as most of the 5 acres of surrounding ground.
The '94 incarnation of the Manor was held for four days at Halloween. Of course, the construction of the Manor had been going on for several months. Planning started well before that, early in the summer of '94. Cleanup afterwards took only 12 days, thanks to the tireless efforts of many volunteers.
Speaking of volunteers, Britannia Manor '94 was designed, built, staffed, maintained, and destroyed by an all-volunteer force of lunatics. No pay stubs were harmed in the production of this haunted house. It took about 400 lost souls to build the thing, and over 200 warm (?) bodies to pull off a production night, including actors, technicians, firemen, safety crew, fixers of broken things and food preparers.
Admittance into Britannia Manor is traditionally free. A block of tickets was donated to a local theater group, which sold them as a fundraising proposition. The majority were handed out on a first-come, first served basis on performance nights. Of course, the line was a bit long; people camped out for a week in line. That wasn't just a few diehards trying to be first. The entire series of performance nights was full from people in line a full week before the first run night. The impromptu campsites up and down the road bore an uncanny resemblance to Woodstock.
Britannia Manor '94 consumed vast quantities of lumber, paint, makeup, and electricity. Hollywood-quality prosthetic makeup was provided for major characters. Over $100,000 of lasers, fog machines, and sophisticated light and sound effects gear was loaned to the production by generous sponsors.
Why would anyone go to this much trouble to scare the wits out of people? Or wait a week in line to be scared for an hour? The guests get an unparalleled personal adventure fueled by the talents and imaginations of hundreds of the most fiendish hams on the planet. The volunteers get to participate in a spectacular production as insiders, with all the pride of saying "I built that", or "I scared some lady so much she wet her pants." As for Richard Garriott, I'll just quote one of the volunteers who said "If you had a gajillion dollars and loved haunted houses, what would you do?"
The Virtual Britannia Manor '94 is set up in four parts.
All sections are as cross-linked as I can manage with the photos I have. For each station on the Guided Tour, I've attempted to link to photos of construction activity in that area, and to the people directly involved with running the area. All photos are linked to large versions of the same image. This is very much a work in progress; look at What's New for changes since your last visit.
There have been souls wandering here.
The premise, and the script for Britannia Manor '94 were masterfully
crafted by Brian Martin.
All layout and other text is (c) 1996,1997,1998 "Dammit" Jim Gould.
All photographs are (c) 1994 Richard Garriott except for the photo of "Dammit" Jim, which is (c) 1994 Susan Johns.
Thanks to Aaron Allston for the site maps.
Thanks to all participants in Britannia Manor '94 - Descent Into Darkness for creating such a wonderfully bizarre experience.
A special thank you to Saint Tassie, for publicizing these pages above and beyond the call of duty.
Direct questions and comments to Jim Gould (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Visit my home page at http://www.io.com/~jgould/ for more interesting stuff, including the KHFI Raft race.
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