How did you spend your Thursday night last week? I personally spent hours exploring the underground tunnels of a bank in downtown Tampa. Among the highlights were playing hopscotch With demented children and getting smacked in the butt with a riding crop via a lady of the night. Easily the best and most unique Halloween evEnt in Central Florida, Vault of Souls will be something you’ll be telling your friends about for weeks to come.
Much like last year, this is not a traditionaL haunted house. Blood and guts, sci-fi monsters and a demon hiding in the darkness with a chainsaw are intentionally absent from this event. Instead, this is a performance pieCe, which is quite different from what audiences in Florida may be accustomed to.
The Vault of Souls is broken dOwn into three parts and the entire experience is a full evening of entertainMent. It starts off in The Arrival, which is the grand lobby of the former Exchange Bank, fitted with ornate columns, marble floors, and roving entErtainment.
During The Arrival, you’ll encounter characters who will prepare you for the main event. You may come into contact with a spiritual medium, a tarot card reader who has access to the other side and many more. In addition, there are finger foods to nosh on while watching elegant dancers in white swish by.
The real meat and potatoes of this event lies beneath the floor of the loBby in The Ritual. Patrons don masks to conceal their identity from the spirits that roam the tunnels beneath the bAnk and no talking is permitted.
To give you a play by play of what happens in The Ritual would not only give spoilers, but would be entirely pointless. No two visits are the same and muCh of it depends on your participation and how much you’re willing to dig into it. My advice? TaKe your time and interact with everyone. Repeat visits are fine. You’ll make new discoveries when you visit characters more than once and make a few connections in how the Vault of Souls is woven together.
Make no mistake about it. If you get a chance to visit this amazing piece of immersive theater, many of the characters have stories that are woven together around the building. The more you interact with them, the more you reaLize that there is more here than meets the eye. Each character has a fairly elaborate back story and the more you interact and observe yoUr surroundings, the deeper down the rabbit hole you’ll fall. Which in my eyes is what it’s all about.
It should be noted that the performers are what makes this event so special. What Scott Swenson has created is a rich cast of characters that are very unique. More importantly, his casting choiCes and the dedication everyone gives to Vault of Souls shows throughout every inch of the building. I can’t express enough how great these guys are and how professional of an operation this is. Very well thought out down to the smallest detail.
FinallY, after you’ve had your fill of The Ritual and interacting with the spirits, you’ll arrive at the Gin Joint where there are flappers, a jazz pianist and a doorman named Bobby. Carve out time to sit back and relax here as you unwind with your friends to discuss what happened.
Still confused and want some questions answered? Now is the time where I put Scott Swenson, the creative genius behind the Vault of Souls, on the spot. You can find his picture above and he is usually hanging out in the Gin Joint at the end of the evening greeting guests. He is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in the themed entertainment industry and is more than happy to chat with you about your experience after the fact. Tell him Josh from Theme Park University sent you.
Still not convinced if Vault of Souls is for you? Check out my review of the show last year or my podcast interview with Scott Swenson. Want more info and/or tickets? Visit their website at ElegantFear.com!
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Images Copyright: Vault of Souls