Apr 17, 2014
11:20 AMArts & Entertainment
Like ‘Survivor’ as Horror Movie: Haunted Camping Coming to Connecticut
In the middle of the night, Connecticut campers will be forcibly subjected to one or more of the following: isolation, sensory deprivation, gags, blindfolds.
And they’ll be paying for the privilege.
It’s all part of Reaper House Entertainment’s plans to usher in a new era of haunted attractions when it brings the Terror Trails haunted camping experience to Camp Cedarcrest, in Orange, Conn., for two nights in July.
The event is a 13-hour horror themed overnight camping experience that immerses participants in a "live" horror story. The goal is to dramatically up the scare factor of a standard haunted house. To participate, attendees must be over 18 and sign a waiver.
“It’s about as intense as any experience anyone can have in a staged haunted attraction,” says Bobby Arel, the director of the event. “You will be touched, you will be forced to do things that are kind of messed up. There is nothing even remotely close to what we’re doing to my knowledge, and I’ve been in the industry for a long time. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most scary, we’re going to be about like a 45.”
The first Terror Trails event will take place on July 11 and there will be another, separate, installment the following night on July 12. Admission is $140 per person and includes, one night’s accommodation, dinner, and a continental breakfast. Reservations can be made at the Reaper House Entertainment website.
Though Arel guarantees plenty of frights, he makes it clear that at no point will guests be in any real danger.
“We make participation completely voluntary which is our way of balancing things,” he says. “We’ll be playing horror themed and really enjoyable classic horror films in a safe zone where people can go to calm down. We’ll also be marking tents to allow people to choose what they are more interested in – whether they are down for the full experience or they need us to take it easy on them a little bit. We will go based of the customer’s request.”
However, he adds, “If you’re coming to experience it, and you want to get the full experience out of it, it will be the most intense thing that can ever happen to you.”
But who would actually want to pay to be chased through the woods, pushed shoved, and blindfolded?
Plenty of people, says Arel.
"The buzz has been overwhelming. We’ve had calls from all over the country, and we have a couple from Ohio who are actually coming just for this event. It’s filling up really fast.”
Arel won’t reveal any specific scares that are planned for either evening, but he did provide a basic itinerary. When they arrive campers will be treated to a buffet style barbecue dinner, followed by a traditional scary campfire story. As the campers listen to the story, the story will begin to come to life around them.
Campers will then be separated into groups to complete a series of dares, challenges and missions while being accosted by a variety of “creatures from the netherworld.” Though the terror will continue into the dark of the night, participants will have enough time to sleep. The event will conclude at 9 a.m.the following morning after breakfast.
Arel is no stranger to Connecticut horror attractions. He runs The Only Scream in Town, a haunted attraction that is staged every fall in North Haven at The Only Game in Town, a miniature golf and kids gaming outlet. Terror Trails came about when Arel began working with California haunted attraction producer Mike Brady, who is producing the Terror Trails event.
“He flew me out in June of last year to work with him on some other haunt related projects in California; we just had a great partnership. He said, ‘I have this other idea, haunted camping. What if we rented out campgrounds and staged themes and scenarios? Had dinners, gave people some good food, some good movies to watch, and created a really intense but enjoyable experience?’ I was like ‘that sounds awesome.’ So we started planning this.”
The premiere of the event in Connecticut will serve as its test run, but ultimately Brady and Arel hope to take Terror Trails on the road.
“We really want to get through checking and testing and doing everything as crazy as possible in Connecticut,” Arel says. “We’ll get feedback and reviews from that, then we’ll go ahead and start planning next year’s tour which will go all across the U.S.”