Every year since 2002, at about this time, a bunch of the freakiest, most diabolical, and most creative folks in all of the Palm Beaches gather at the South Florida Fairgrounds to put on a haunted festival of concerts, spirits, and fun! On the 10th night of October, zombies, evil clowns, and other various miscreants began their yearly quest to celebrate everything that helps to make All-Hallows Eve the second most celebrated holiday in the world. The assembled freaks are taking part in Fright Nights, which lasts for nine nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings through the 26th of October.
For 2013, the attraction consists of four “houses,” a monster midway, and various live entertainment, including concerts and helicopter rides. Each section is rated based on its level of theming, and general scare factor. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10.
Haunts (descriptions courtesy of MyFrightNights.net)
The Smiths: After years of traveling the dusty back roads of Middle America with their Carnival of Creeps, the Smiths decide to settle down in a sleepy town. A little quality time with the family and a celebration is in order… for all the murders and abductions they got away with on their whirlwind tour. Now the Smiths are busy plotting how they will terrorize their new hometown, plucking off, torturing and usually dismembering their victims. No one knows what the new neighbors are all about, but they will find out soon enough.
- Theming: 10
- Scare Factor: 8
(Who doesn't like clowns? These scary versions of your favorite circus characters are waiting around every corner trying to spook you, and generally do a great job. The costuming is amazing, background scenery is second to none, and theming can't be beat!)
A Grim's Tale: What’s under the bed? What lurks in the closet? But most of all, what rotten beasts live in the pages of those books on your shelf? Let your imagination get the best of you and you will realize that all of the fairy tales we were told as children were dulled down versions of the real things. Tales of murder, betrayal, abduction and pure horror are what truly graced those bloodstained pages. Your childhood memories are wrong. You will soon see, that the truth is a nightmare world where your senses are turned upside down and fear is playing sweetly in the background… a lullaby of death.
- Theming: 6.5
- Scare factor: 7
(This was our first house of the night, and had just opened when we arrived. It has a few good scares, but IMHO, relies too heavily on strobe lighting. It is also new for 2013, but uses elements that previous visitors to the event will recognize)
Sunnyville Orphanage: The lost, forgotten souls march in a line. Down the dank and smelly halls they trudge to their lonely rooms. They know they are unwanted and this feeds a fire in their bellies that almost erases the gnawing hunger. A loneliness and madness echo through the building, and darkness is the only true companion. They are beaten and tortured and told they are worthless. Then, the solitude brings anger and hatred so harsh and real, there is only one way to express it. To KILL. Everyone and everything must DIE! The children rise up into one collective monster, one powerful energy, that has only one thought…..MURDER.
- Theming: 9.5
- Scare factor: 9.5
(One of two new houses for 2013, this awesome house is filled with many playful little kids who all seem just a tad off. The decor is awesome, scare factor is the best of the year so far, and the ending of the house must be experienced to be explained!)
Country Bill's Meat Market: Off the beaten path, in a small Louisiana town, lies Country Bill's Meat Market, where they sell the finest cuts of meat this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
Bill's secret recipe has been handed down through many o' generations and is hand made 'til this very day.
Don't venture too far off into the woods. You may not like what you find...
...or better yet, what might find you.
- Theming: 9.5
- Scare factor: 8.5
(This house has lots of potential, but was unfortunately experiencing a few staffing issues and technical difficulties on the first night. The Local Getaways examiner was fortunate enough to have had a sneak peek of the house during a lights on tour, so the theming score is higher than what you will probably notice going through in the dark. The actors is the house were definitely on their game, but there were a few elements that still need some work. )
· What better way to experience South Florida than by doing a brief helicopter tour? Available every night of the event for a mere $20 a ride, this gives you a whole new perspective on the area, and might help to settle your stomach after experiencing the haunts.
· The event features a live band every night. The opening band was awesome, featuring some of the finest death metal this side of the graveyard. If they are any indication of what is to come, then it is going to be fun to just wait in line and listen!
· This year, the monster midway features 13 rides, as well as some cool looking carnival style games (complete with barkers trying to scare the money out of your wallet), and enough fair type food that you won’t go hungry. They also have fortunetellers, merchandise sales, and even frozen alcoholic beverages.
Tickets are $30 for admission to 3 of the 4 haunted houses and all rides. For $70 you get to see all 4 haunted houses, 4 RIP Passes, all rides. The R.I.P. pass is a "fast pass" and also gets you access to the R.I.P. Lounge with cash bar. If you want access to the other 2 haunted mazes, or additional entries into any of the haunted attractions, tickets can be purchased on the midway for an additional fee.
If you are a fan of haunted attractions, you can’t afford to miss this year’s Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds. It is more than worth the price of admission, and you never know who you’ll run into in the haunted mazes (literally). Visitors to the attraction should note that, due to the expanded midway and new layout, access to Fright Nights is off of Fairgrounds Road, through gate 8.
The first person to email me will be sent two tickets for the event, good on Thursday Oct. 17, or 24 for admission to one of the haunted houses, as well as unlimited rides at the midway, and more! Good luck!
Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following this column for news on other spooky events and more. If you know of another local event that needs additional undead light shone upon it, please tell me about it!
Tonight's sojourn into the world of the undead is the first of many this Halloween season. On the twenty-sixth of October, the local getaways examiner will delve into the heart of darkness and try to discover what evil tricks the thirteen have up their sleeves this year at Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens, Tampa. If I survive, I'll let you know all the gory details!
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