Last year, I ran dozens of stories on haunts around the country. My goal was to highlight ones that were unique, bizarre or even over the top. Most websites like mine highlight Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream or Knott’s Scary Farm. If you’re looking for coverage on those events, which are all great in their own right, you can go to literally dozens of sites. Meanwhile, I continue the search for the haunts that are making waves that you’ve probably never heard of.
For example, I recently got a chance to speak with Cody Meacham, creator of the Radley Haunted House in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently in its eighth year, this house continues to improve year after year with a house that rivals anything you’d find in nearby theme parks. Like many yearly regional haunts, Radley follows a continuing storyline with a new chapter unfolding each year.
The stories all revolve around the Radley family and how it seems that each one of them is cursed, either by birth or through contact with an object with some bad juju. Last year’s story took guests through an orphanage. The attention to detail is pretty amazing, especially considering this haunt is not produced by one of the bigger theme park players. “We had people drive by in previous years during the daytime thinking our sets were the real thing,” says Meacham. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
If it’s your first time at the haunt, understanding the house’s story will be no problem. Guests waiting in line to enter the house are treated to a pre-scare video that gives the rundown of this year’s backstory and what they can expect to experience. This year, we follow the story of a doctor who specializes in sleep therapy. As it turns out, he comes across a sarcophagus that gives him the ability to control minds.
Instead of using his clinical background for good, the evil overcomes him and he now has the power to induce nightmares. As much as I would love to tell you more, I can’t. Meacham was very tight lipped about what kinds of scares you’ll find at this year’s event at Radley Haunted House. However, he has told me that he is not a fan of using automated scares or ones that use animatronics.
Most interesting, this year they will be doing their own version of an extreme haunted house which seems to be a growing trend in the haunt industry. Last year, I interviewed the creators of several of these haunts, including Blackout and Freakling Brothers. This year, for the first time in Central Florida, guests will be able to go through the haunt in a special event where the actors are allowed to touch you and your “tour” through the house will be much longer and more terrifying.
If this goes over well, it could be something Radley Haunted House does more of in the future. Only time will tell. Meanwhile, if you want more information on the haunt, check out www.RadleyHaunt.com. Also, be sure to like Theme Park University on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!