Joining the holiday mob mentality, you craved to get scared, even if Halloween had passed. Scour for the last remaining haunted house in the drivable area, and you find Screamageddon. People say it is Tampa, but is actually Dade City; still, it is not too far off the highway, so you found it easily enough.
You really have to drive outside of the bigger cities just to have enough room for a sprawling attraction. The location was ideal, with forest surrounding, and in Florida, the Spanish moss hanging in the trees only adds to the creepy effect. You never know what might be lurking – snakes, gators, psychos…
There’s only one way to know for sure, and that’s to be brave enough to step foot inside the gates. The Fast Pass option is a handy way to skip around the mobs of people; tra-la-la your way to the front of the line, and be sure to grab one of those handy glow necklaces that means you opt into interactive scares.
There’s about half a dozen things to check out, each completely different from the other. To start, warm up by playing zombie paintball. Test your aim as you’re shaking scared to see how ready you are.
If there really is that zombie apocalypse that everyone keeps talking about, you need to make sure you are ready to fire under really being scared conditions. There’s a survival store in Orlando specially designed for just such an event, and if it’s near International Drive, you know the threat must be real. Thus, grab a gun, strive to keep it steady, and close one eye if you need to as you’re taking aim; fire!
Speaking of fire, you keep noticing fire balls randomly lighting up the sky. You’re not sure what to make of it at first, so you vow that you must find out. Enter the first haunted attraction to look for answers.
The first one did not have fire, but it was glowing. Try to fit the 3D glasses over your regular glasses, and as the lights go out, only black light and spray paint lights the way. The rest is a veil of blackness.
The neon colored paint seems almost nuclear, and you almost feel as if you’re in part of a Super Mario Brothers game, as there’s painted pipes that look like they lead towards a mission of some sort. Reach out and touch them, just to make sure they are real, and they are not just a 3D figment of your imagination, but actual pipes. With so many brightly painted glowing objects popping out in 3D, it’s hard to discern the real stuff from the fake sometimes, but you feel your way along the dark paths.
The spinning tunnel has always been one of your favorites, so when you enter the bridge, you stop, just to let your mind fully feel the effect. It’s as if you’re tilting, that you’re the one spinning, instead of the room around you. Grab hold, just to make sure that you do not tip over, as you feel yourself tilt a bit.
You can’t quite be sure if there’s someone lurking in the shadows or not. Just when you think there is, it’s a dead end. Get yourself oriented again. Then someone jumps out and throws you off once more.
Adjacent to the 3D haunted house is a prison break. Not afraid, you take the glowing necklace and place it on your head like a halo. Guys cower behind you, ordering you to take the lead, and just when you’re telling them that you will, you’re ordered to go in by yourself, solo mission, straight into darkness.
Starting to feel uneasy, the only light you have is the glow of the necklace, which all the people hidden in the shadows can see, too. A cornfed prisoner bleeding from his forehead rushes up to you, gets in your face, gets loud, demanding, “why did you break it? Tell me, why did you break that, huh?”
When you don’t have an answer, he yanks you, commanding that you follow him, and another friend joins. This one has dark rings around his eyes, blood stains on his clothes, looking more than pissed. Now, there’s two of them badgering you, getting in your face, threatening and dragging you.
They take you to the hole. You’re locked in a small, confined space, with only darkness around you. You hear the screams of other people, and your heart races, wondering how long they will keep you captive.
Just when you’re really about to panic, someone opens the door and bellers at you, “get out!” Following command, you zip down the dark corridor, sliming past old overflowing toilets in prison cells, taking the back way as you break out of the prison. Your tunnel starts to shrink, and you have to bend down to make it into the next area, which is another small, dark space, and there is a guy waiting to scare you.
You can’t help but jump, and you try not to scream in his face. He follows you, knowing he has gotten under your skin. Just when you think he is gone, he tugs on your shirt, just to let you know he is there.
Try to shake the tail, but you feel someone’s hot breath on your neck. Turn, and your nose to nose with another cornfed guy looking like he wants to devour you for dinner. He doesn’t want to let you pass.
To get away from him, you enter another small, dark tunnel that requires you ducking down. Looking behind, you see that he did not follow you. Don’t attempt to sigh with relief, because you just felt someone’s hand firmly grip your forearm, and he growls, pulling on you, “come with me…”
He sits you down in a chair, and other prisoners appear from the darkness, surrounding you, circling around you like vultures waiting to tear open your flesh. Some get in your face, others grab your shoulder, while others mumble comments that make your skin crawl, as the prison is all too real.
Break out of the prison by passing more gross toilets that make you want to vomit, and sneaking through more small, confined spaces. Each character that approaches you is different, but you notice some creepers follow you longer than others, or appear again when you think that you’ve lost them. The darkness is unnerving, but throwing in angry prisoners wanting revenge, and it’s a real good time.
When you break free from the prison, you need to get away, and the only moving option is the hayride. Climb up the wooden staircase and hop aboard the tractor’s wagon, fluffing up a spot in the hay to sit. Thankfully, you’d taken your allergy medicine earlier, but a sneeze escapes from you unexpectedly.
The tractor chugs along the bumpy trail, then stops unexpectedly. Angry people storm out, riling up people on the hayride. All of a sudden, a series of fireballs illuminate the sky, giving you the answer to your previous question of where the fire came from, and now you can feel it singeing your arm hair.
The tractor lurches forward, taking you to another area where a couple of hicks are mumbling about something to eat. You’re not sure what they’re talking about, when all of a sudden, a massive gator lunges forward, snapping its jaws at you. Scoot out of the way of the gator and of the blades from a combine that comes whirling from out of the blue, then jump when there’s more unexpected fire.
Pull up to a moonshine still and reminisce about that good ol’ West Virginia White Lightning. Mention to a friend about wanting to take a hooker of that, and a good ol’ boy jumps out screaming at you not to even think about touching his moonshine. Before you can react, there’s a moonshine explosion of fire.
It’s like being out in the Wild West, as you see bank robbers go in to rob a bank. This only creates more chaos with a shootout, and yup, you guessed it: more fire. Oh, try to not get sawed up by a chainsaw.
At the final stop, hop onto the wide, wooden staircase, holding onto the handrails, and spill out onto the midway. The smell of BBQ lures you in, along with other tasty delights. Take a pitstop by one of the many fires in midway, gathering a group at the picnic tables, deciding which one to do next.
Next, it’s time to get infected. Enter the lab and see a doctor pacing back and forth. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” she repeats over and over; “we didn’t know that it was going to be like this.”
Step into the contaminated area. There’s alien beings on the surgery tables, kicking as they’re being sawed into. You can’t help but reach out to touch its slimy skin, and it sends shivers down your spine.
“Aliens are real,” you hear someone say, but you cannot make out who is speaking. There’s darkness shrouding you. Find your way into another operating room, and see gooey organs on display.
Distracted by the sights, you don’t notice the doctor approaching you from behind. “We need you in surgery,” she ushers you by the arm and prepares you for operation. Feel the saw blade vibrating your neck as the doctor attempts to slice into you, and you struggle to try to get free from the operation.
If you’re lucky enough to get out of there alive, good luck trying to find your way back to your friends. They’re long gone, left you behind to fend for yourself. Now, you’re on your own to find your way out.
There’s rows of white flapping sheets of plastic. Screams fill the air, and people paw at your skin. Just when you think you’ve found your way, you’re back at the beginning of where you just were a while ago.
Get away from the infected, and stroll over to the house. Surely, in between, you will find your friends again. The Dead House calls big groups of friends, so follow the dimly lit path to find who is inside waiting to have you for dinner – not for you to eat dinner, but for you to be the main course for dinner.
“Mmmm, you look delicious.” You hear a deep inhale. You realize that you are being sniffed by people.
“Papa’s guna like you,” a slow, Southern drawl spouts. Push your way past the creepers in one shack, and find yourself back on the dimly lit trail. Twist around the path, and find another crusty love shack.
Figures from the shadows follow you, screaming when you think you’ve lost them, only to find that they’re still close behind, still sniffing at your hair and debating whether you should be sautéed or thrown into a stew. Run if you want, but it does no good, because there’s only more kinfolk waiting. Each one paws after you, trying to slice and dice you up with various objects, and you have to escape the killer kinfolk from the deep woods, as you only know that they have ill intentions for you.
Feel your heart thumping faster, threatening to beat out of your chest. Just when your heartrate thinks about slowing down for a moment, there’s another scare around the corner, waiting to make you jump. Adrenaline coursing through your veins, panic sets in, as does the fight or flight response within you.
The nice thing is that Screamageddon offers the Curse Hayride, Bedlam 3D, the Dead Woods, Blackpool Prison, and Infected Ground Zero, each being so different from each other. Add in the Monster Midway with Zombie Paintball, and it’s an evening to gather the friends for some scares. Being able to opt into the fun is an awesome chance to harken back to the old school haunted houses when people didn’t try if someone touched their arm; get taken prisoner, be held captive, and face some real fears in person.
For more information, visit https://www.screamageddon.com. For more by Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz and www.twitter.com/booksnbling.