Furor over Halloween Horrors’ sudden cancellation

Liyana Low

Fans of Halloween Horrors are up in arms over the sudden closure of the annual Halloween event held at the Night Safari.

Many are questioning Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS), the Night Safari’s parent company, over its decision to can the event two weeks before its scheduled start date.

They criticised the sudden announcement as an illogical move. Why not stop the event from next year or why agree to have it this year in the first place, some wondered. Others lamented the waste of the efforts of 17 Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students who helped plan the event for their final-year project.

The Halloween event, held since 2006, was supposed to run on weekends between 30 September and 3 October this year. On early Thursday morning, WRS announced that it will be cancelling the event to “refocus our energies on organising more relevant activities for the whole family to enjoy”.

In the evening, WRS posted another statement by its director and group chief executive Isabella Loh explaining that the decision was made “because of the negative feedback received from corporations, friends of the zoo, the public and the media about the event, especially over the relevance in relation to conservation”. She said that WRS parks will hold more “family-centric activities”, which include new youth engagement and interactive activities.

Loh also apologised to SP students affected by WRS’ decision.

The 17 third-year integrated events and project management students had conceptualised the theme, developed characters and designed costumes for the fright night event over the last seven months. There were other student volunteers as well.

Describing the efforts of the students, Lim Yinliang, who was part of the event’s audio team, wrote, “Lots of people in our team have internship, and the only time they have to do the soundtrack is at night, late into the mornings, rushing tracks to meet deadlines, then getting up early after a miserable 2-3 hours sleep to consolidate the tracks and running down to submit the tracks to the IC (in-charge).”

Samuel Lee noted, "These volunteers have spent easily more than half their holidays just to satisfy the requests of the Night Safari management. People who have been looking forward to have their works put into their portfolio now have nothing to show for their efforts."

In a Straits Times report, SP lecturer Jacqueline Ho said the students' grades will not be affected and added, "We're disappointed. The students have done 90 per cent of the work and everyone was hyped up."

Facebook poster Josiah Tan said many people are urging WRS to reinstate the event, which had already sold 1,000 tickets. "So just quit playing games with the public and start giving us the real answer,” he wrote.

"I find it hard to believe that Halloween Horrors received substantial negative feedback to find it necessary to cancel it,” said Nadia Haniff.

WRS had also announced that it would hold a “'special Deepavali event” in October in place of the Halloween one. To this, William Tan pointed out, "It is not fair to cancel Halloween event for another new event."

A Facebook petition has been set up to call for the return of the event. As of Friday night, it has over 700 likes.