Sunday, October 27, 2013

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest is located on S.R. 436, just 1/4 mile West of 17-92 at (1360 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL). This Halloween, experience the night-time terror of Central Florida's premier haunted scare trail. Within this Altamonte Springs haunted house, you will find over 85,000 square feet of sheer horror right in the middle of the forest. While at the outdoor Halloween festival, enjoy live bands, food, Laser Tag, Backstage Tours, and other surprises. If you are looking for a family-friendly, Halloween event conveniently located just outside Orlando in Altamonte Springs, this is it! The haunted outdoor trail is not just for adults. Even your younger spooks will find something to entertain them. Outside the scare trail, there are events that your younger family members will enjoy.

I contacted  Nichole Scott, the severed head of marketing in order to sketch a spot on the haunted trail. It was still light when I arrived and I parked in a rutted dirt lot along with what I assumed were the cast member's cars. The attraction is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through November 2nd. On the evening of November 2nd there will be a total eclipse of the moon so it is a perfect night to be scared. Surrounding the trail is a large wood slat wall. The theme of this year's trail is "The Museum of Mayhem". Actors sat at picnic tables chatting before the first guests arrived.

Kimmy Clark, a stage manager shouted out, "Whose House?!" "All the ghosts and ghouls shouted back, "OUR House!" "I didn't hear you, Whose house?!" "OUR HOUSE!!" "Boo Rah!" They all shouted, like marines. The stage manager explained that if a child had a glow stick, then they should ease up. Do to a new noise ordinance, the attraction could only be open till 11pm. Because of this, actors were told to "Scare forward." By scaring people from behind, they could keep people moving forward. Since foot traffic is high they can't afford to stop people in their tracks.

I was walked back to the "Haunted Swamp" by Sylvia Viles Vicchiullo. Dry ice vapors and green lasers created the effect that people were walking through water. When I sat, only my head appeared above the green layer of haze. Guests never noticed me. When the actors were kneeling they were "below water" and couldn't be seen. They could stand up right next to people and scare them out of their whits. The thing most people said as they entered, was "Wow, cool!" As they enjoyed the effect they would be startled by Spencer or Sam, a reptile skinned girl and a vampire in a top hat. In the cabin at the far end of the swamp, human remains were stored in mason jars as a sort of hicks gift shop.

The battery on my book light died and I had to consider the sketch done. I then walked through the whole forest to experience it all. I joined a group of 6 teens at the entrance. One girl screamed before even entering saying she couldn't go in. Her girlfriend guided her back out. Little Red Riding hood was in my group and I heard her screaming quite often. One emaciated ghoul shouted "I'm a starving artist!" Artists are often a scary sight. At every turn someone would jump out. I took the lead of my little group not because I was brave but because I knew most shocks would happen as actors rushed up behind us.

The trail was incredibly long with black light effects, chain saws and some startling banging from angry spirits. Just when I started enjoying the artistry involved, I would shout out, having let my guard down. Tickets for the trail are $17, but there are many other options like laser tag and VIP tours as well. You don't need to go to a major theme park to experience one of Orlando's premiere haunts.

Leaving was a real adventure. The cast lot I had parked in was blocked off by several cars. Some teenage girls were back in the woods and one had her shirt off, I don't know what that was about. A parking lot attendant helped me back out and inch my way through a ditch to get out. My little Prius isn't build for off-roading and it bottomed out but never got stuck. I literally had to drive through the unpaved forest to find a way out. That in itself was worth the adventure in an evening full of uncertainty and fear of being trapped in tight spaces.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

No comments: