Calling all those that love the paranormal - I had the chance to talk to Dakota Laden of Destination Fear!

I am one of those people that absolutely loves all things scary, including the ghost hunting shows like Destination Fear and Ghost Adventures. Dakota and other cast members from the show were in Duluth recently at a paranormal convention.

I reached out to him around that time and he was kind enough to take some time out of his busy filming schedule to talk about the event and the hit show, which has earned him a huge following.

We also talked about his Minnesota upbringing. Yup, he's from Minnesota! I also learned that his home state had a whole lot to do with where he is now, including how the show got started and what it is like working with his sister, who is also a cast member.

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It was a super fun talk and I love the show even more now knowing the stories behind it and how the cast is so passionate about it and the places they go. If you missed the interview on The Breakfast Club, you can read it in full below:

Let's get right into it. You're a big Travel Channel star. You got your start with another huge Travel Channel star, Zak Bagans. Can you tell us how Destination Fear came to be?

Yeah, I have always been fascinated with the paranormal. Even growing up in Minnesota, I would go and explore the abandoned buildings that locals said were haunted and I did that with my friends, my best friends Tanner and my sister Chelsea. One day, we were getting a little older, high school was over and I said "gosh, it would be sweet to go across the whole country and hit abandoned haunted places, not just Minnesota and Iowa and Wisconsin." They agreed and said let's do it. So we did a passion project documentary called Trail To Terror and it pretty much turned into what Destination Fear is. We shot the whole thing back in 2015 and we were just very lucky. I don't even know how it got into the hands of the Travel Channel but it did and they liked it and from there, we developed the show.

So you kind of touched on this but can you go into a little bit more detail about your upbringing because I know that you dealt with some hauntings and the paranormal growing up. That also contributed to where you are now. 

It is weird because our house was built. We didn't buy an old house but right away when we did move in, my dad would get warnings from neighbors who said they wouldn't build on that land, that they have seen some things in these woods. We got a lot of weird warnings to not build on the land but he did and later in life, we actually did start having things happen. When I was around seven or eight years old, we had a big family and so at first it was just the siblings experiencing things like all the t.v.s turning off and on at once in the house, unplugged radios cranking way up, really creepy things. I was just a kid so our parents said we were just seeing things. But then one day my mom had an experience and that same week, my dad had an experience and we called in people to try to take care of the problem. It was from a very young age I was definitely thrown into it.

So aside from the fact that you have experience with the paranormal from your upbringing, your show is a little different from other ghost shows because it focuses on what terror does to your brain. Also, we have to talk about how you guys always separate and branch off on your own and sleep on your own. I need to know whose idea was that and how do you guys even do that?

Well, I love the paranormal but I don't consider myself an investigator. I am more of an explorer, adventurer and thrill seeker. When we got into this, even when we did the original road trip in 2015, it was about fear. It was chasing fear. For me, I had to try to think of ways to intensify fear. One of those ways was hey, halfway through the night, we should all agree on the scariest places, throw out of a hat and go sleep alone for four to five hours. That was very scary. Another way we kind of bring about the fear is the fear of the unknown. I only tell them where we are going pretty much twenty hours before we get there so this whole road trip no one really knows where we are going so it is kind of just this uncomfortable, fear-driven trip the entire way through.

You guys all have special connections to the places you go visit, plus your sister is on the show. How is that for your sibling relationship? I assume that she probably gets mad at you based on how scary the places are that you take her!

It is definitely really fun. It has actually brought us closer which is awesome too. There is a lot of fighting between us in a good way, more just bickering on the road but as expected, when you are doing something like this. I don't know, Chelsea is very clever too. You will see in this new season, she figures out a way to get back at all of us and there is no revenge for her anymore. She got it.

I want to talk about an episode in particular where you come to the Duluth area, the notoriously haunted Nopeming Sanatorium. A lot of people have investigated there but you might be the first crew that has gone there in the dead of winter! How does that change things? Are you less scared because you're just thinking about how cold you are? 

Yeah. I mean, so that was funny because that to me was another way of just bringing out even more fear, more uncomfortableness. Not only are we going to go to Nopeming but we are going to be there in the middle of January. There were moments I can say, that yeah, it did make me less scared but at times it made me more scared just because I was so - I don't know, like in the summer I feel like I can quickly dash places but in this place, there was ice on the floor two inches thick. You had to very slowly creep your way down these hallways so if anything did happen, you weren't able to sprint out of there. It was definitely very scary. It was actually colder inside than outside because the whole place was like an ice box.

You guys have season three dropping on July 24th. What can we expect from the new season?

Yes, this is very bias because I edit the show but I love this season. This is my favorite season. I think the haunts and the places we went are equal to or better to what we have done in the past but for me, I just think the pit stops and our personalities really shine this season. We did some things, because usually we will go take a pit stop and do something kind of fun before the scary. This season, it was just basically always scary. We did some things I never thought I would ever do and it is a very intense season.

You can watch episodes from the past two seasons of Destination Fear on the Travel Channel or online at Discovery+ and of course, catch the new season when it returns Saturday, July 24th. It was awesome getting to talk to Dakota about the show and from the sounds of it, this season is going to be the best one yet!

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