This was an exciting Haunt for me, not only because it was the closest to my home, but because being geared for kids, I decided to take my 9 year old HellSpawn (son) to his first ever Halloween Haunt. I was a wee bit nervous just going by the advertised age-level, but the multitudes of tweens and parents (even grandparents) in line assuaged those fears pretty quickly. My son, the lover of all things Scary, was barely able to be contained as we waited for our turn in line. He's on the autism spectrum, so my fellow ASD parents already know what a horror-show that can be, but his anticipation for the Haunt kept him plenty occupied.
The spookiness began with a short hike into the dark woods through a plenty-wide trail which lead to a small wooden shack and a plain-clothes volunteer who warned us that 'Skully' was just inside, and would be telling us the rules. My son and I were the first ones in to see a life-sized skeleton with glowing eyes and a black cat neck tie (Skully) seated at the front of the small room. Our journey hit the pause button for a good five minutes before Skully even began to speak, because one little boy of 8 or 9 in our group absolutely *refused* to enter the room. Eventually his fright convinced his little sister that they were on a path to certain death, so both of them and the grandparents that just paid for all four of them eventually headed back to safety. Only another little girl and her father, my son and myself were left. And we hadn't even heard the rules yet.
After Skully's shack, where we learned the 'lore' of the haunt (a housing development that had been abandoned because people kept going missing) we were lead to what looked like a house built in the middle of the woods. Each room was appropriately decorated in a vintage haunted style. The living room, kitchen, and bedroom were all quite cramped and claustrophobic, but excellent on the creep factor. The actors (all volunteers) had minimal costume and make-up, but stayed in character the whole time. Best part of the house was the kitchen, where an undead house wife offered my son 'black waffles'. He of course said 'yes please'.
Upon exiting the house, we learned we'd lost our other group member and her dad- now it was just my son and I. Guess Skully wasn't kidding around.
Beyond the house was a long walk through the haunted woods. The path was very wide, but still very clearly marked (no woods wandering for us), and dotted with effects like strobes, fog machines, and stalking, jump-scaring actors. There was a section on the trail occupied by a handful of actors dressed in plain clothes but wearing masks easily recognized from The Purge movies- one of my favorite franchises. Even with no decoration behind them at all, these actors stayed in character and brought the high-tension feel of the movies to the Haunt. My son also loved the light-up LED masks.
Other parts of the trail were similarly grouped into subtle, but clear themes; zombies, woodland monsters, even cannibal hillbillies- all of which would spook my boy, who would scream, then laugh and scream 'Hi!' back. All except the chainsaw man- the loud noise was a little much for him.
All in all, the Lion's Club haunted woods was pretty low on the scare factor (mostly startle effects and jump-scares and a considerable lack of gore or makeup), but still managed to be a blast for both myself and my kid. Granted, my kid is a little strange (he's MINE, after all), so I would gauge each child's temperament and tolerance to all things scary. If it turns out to be too much, the guides are happy to escort you back to safety.
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