Central Florida is a growing hotbed of Halloween haunts designed to give patrons of every age a fun and scary October experience.
In Orlando, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights brings iconic horror movies to life. In Tampa, The Vault of Souls presents an adults-only descent into psychological fear that culminates in a dank basement teeming with frights.
But the best Halloween attraction may also be the most unexpected: Scream-A-Geddon, a sprawling wooded park in rural Dade City, with five haunted attractions and a consumer-friendly ticket price under $40 per patron, outshines its high-concept and higher-dollar competition.
The reason: The haunted houses and outdoor scare trails are longer, more immersive and heavy on the gore, as evidenced by the park’s Media Preview on October 6.
“We wanted to differentiate ourselves,” said Scream-A-Geddon President Adam Sala.
Returning for its second year, Scream-A-Geddon has improved what worked well in 2015 and added a new interactive attraction, Blackpool Prison, where the willing become part of the show.
Sala said significant improvements were made to one attraction in particular, the Cursed Hayride, which unfortunately wasn’t operating during the preview due to Hurricane Matthew. The hayride, which in 2015 was fun but somewhat meandering, has improved its lighting and sound and more carefully focused its pyrotechnics for maximum effect.
The park added more actors to each of its five attractions – the Cursed Hayride, Blackpool Prison, Infected, Bedlam 3D and Dead Woods – and brought in a haunted house consultant to make sure all the attractions contained key features to provide the proper build-up and execution of specific scares.
The park’s commitment to providing a satisfying Halloween experience definitely shows, and Scream-A-Geddon should be at the top of your list to visit this season.
Blackpool Prison: Patrons who want to enhance their experience can choose to wear a glow necklace, which means they will be pulled out of line throughout the prison and interjected into various prison scenarios from being locked in a cell to being pushed into an incinerator. Blackpool Prison represents a major step forward in interactive haunted houses. The attention to detail is everywhere from the burned, dirty mattresses stacked in cells to the disgustingly awesome mess hall where flayed bodies hang from the ceiling and goopy mounds of flesh meat splatter the tables.
Infected: BVB: Blood Violence and Babes' favorite attraction from 2015 has been improved to include more interactive moments in the medical tent, the ground zero crash site source of the infection and a chilling bus filled with zombies that you must navigate to reach the impressive main house. From the soldiers staked out front of the house in various stages of disembowelment to the crazed cannibals roaming free inside, Infected is a rollicking roller coaster of zombie goodness.
Bedlam 3D: Bedlam 3D, which requires you to wear special glasses, is like an exhilarating acid trip into hell where the mother of all raves is taking place. Special day-glow and ultraviolet paint make the walls and floors move, completely disorienting you. Scary clowns lurk around every corner or launch out from recesses on bungee cords. Bedlam is deliriously good.
Dead Woods: This haunted trail takes you deep into the woods where you have to traverse uneven terrain as you encounter a number of hellish cabins populated by backwoods cannibal hillbillies cooking up dinner and sizing you up as their next meal. Dead Woods is fun and makes excellent use of its outdoor environment, but it remains too dimly lit to thoroughly enjoy because many of the detailed props simply can’t be seen.
If You’re Going:
Where: 27839 Saint Joe Road, Dade City, FL 33525
When: Gates open at 7:30 p.m. on Monday-Sunday, October 18-31, and Friday-Saturday, November 4-5. Park closes at 11 p.m. weekdays, 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tickets: Available here from $20.95 up to $37.95 per person, depending on the date.