I love Halloween
I love Halloween. In my mind, it's better than Christmas. Fun costumes and free candy? Count me in.
I love haunted houses too. I've now been to Reaper's Revenge twice. We ran a story I wrote in the Fall Upper Delaware Magazine. Well, we ran a portion of it. In the spirit of keeping it a surprise for readers, we cut a lot of detail out.
So, SPOILER ALERT.... here's the write up in it's entirety. Spoilers, screams and all.
Halloween is my favorite time of year. The candy, the make-up and costumes, the amazing decorations and displays around the neighborhood all make for a frighteningly good time in my mind.
The tradition of haunted houses has always been a staple in the area. When I was a kid in Wayne County, PA, it was what I looked forward to every year (even though I knew the man at the end of Tanglwood's Haunted Ski Lodge with the running chainsaw didn't have a chain on that bar). Sadly though, times have changed, and that haunted ski lodge hasn't run in years.
When I found out Reaper's Revenge was so close, I gathered up my teenage daughters, my husband, my best friend, and her husband as well. We took the trip over to Scranton on a drizzly Friday night in early October. I had been told that earlier on in the season the crowds weren't as large.
We arrived at Reaper's and parked in a hay field. A short walk up a spooky trail got us to the main area, where tickets were bought, and there was a nice bonfire going.
After signing a waiver (yes, a waiver) we walked up and stood in line for the Haunted Hay Ride. Hundreds of people were also in line. Kids, adults, and groups of teenagers all eager to have a chance at either proving how brave they are, or possibly wetting their pants. Either way, I knew this was going to be way better than the haunted houses of my youth.
The line split into 4 and people waited (almost impatiently) to get on one of the four wagons that take you down the trail. After about an hour of waiting we got on the wagon and sat with our backs to the rail on a good amount of hay. I looked around the wagon, my family and friends all in the same corner. Other people lined the other side of the wagon and the tractor pulled us down the trail.
I could hear screams in the distance as we pulled up to our first stop. and laughed a little as the police officer pulled my husband, Marty, off the wagon for disobeying the rules. I knew why they pulled him off.. he was wearing a neon orange sweatshirt. After "roughing him up" they let him back on and we continued through the trail.
This adventure ghastly, and spellbinding... at least to me. The screams I heard from those around me made me think others weren't quite as excited about things to come.
A trip to the underworld and some amazing actors on stilts and in costumes that really looked fiendish happened to be one of my favorite parts. In almost complete darkness, with only strobe lights around, the apparitions boarded the wagon and proceeded to scare the majority of people. After that, a trip through what appeared to me as eerily similar to Deliverance, brought murder and mayhem and interesting redneck characters. With awesome air effects and gun shot noises, it really felt like you were in the middle of the fight.
Most certainly my second favorite part was the zombies along the trail. As they came out of the woods and descended upon the wagon, I laughed and my best friend screamed. That made me laugh more. After significantly rattling the nerves of everyone around, it seemed as though a flash mob of zombies was on the trail. With Michael Jackson's Thriller playing, they all did the iconic zombie shuffle that was so prominent in the 80's music video. When the music cut out, the zombies resumed their cries for brains and shuffled back into the woods.
We passed flames, and more maniacal characters and then stopped in a clearing where the little girl from The Ring slithered out of the iconic well. Since I'm writing this now, it's safe to say I made it longer than the seven days that the movie says you have left to live.
After a little more riding and some more spooky encounters, we finally were told to get off the wagon. We survived the first leg of the trip and entered the Lost Carnival. Call it a side show, a freak show, or just a fun walk in the woods with some insane clowns, this was an amazing interactive spectacle that caused just as many screams, if not more than the hayride.
Spectacular makeup and costumes with actors who were completely in character greeted us and taunted us, separating our group of six into pairs and keeping us from each other as we wandered through. Ahead of me on the trail I could hear my younger daughter, Alex squeal, and then yell at one of the clowns for scaring her. The clown keeping us from them just stared blankly at us as I tried to crack my funniest clown puns in its face. Not wavering or even smirking, this clown had me beat. I stood and waited until this stoic madwoman let us through.
We wandered down the trail further, greeted by clowns who were grabbing and breathing heavy like they were thinking about having us for dinner. Literally. The next clown who stopped us on the path looked like a happy psycho and was making strange jokes. After my earlier attempt with trying to make the clowns break character, I decided one last try wouldn't hurt. I asked him with a straight face, 'Why don't cannibals eat clowns?" He cocked his head and smirked at me. I thought he knew the answer, but he instead shrugged and said he had no idea. I continued with, "Because they taste funny." Genuine laughter erupted from this evil clown and he let us pass through.
Collecting my best friend as I walked by (she was hiding behind a tree), we continued on through the end of the Lost Carnival. The rest of the group was waiting there for us. This is where we entered Pitch Black. Picture if you will, my small group of six, wandering through a maze. In the dark. No light at all. After the first ten feet of fumbling and bumping into each other, we formed an impromptu conga line. I was in the lead, with two giggling teenage girls and my husband close behind and my two friends bringing up the rear. As we walked through hands grabbed at our legs and feet. My hands were busy feeling for turns in the halls, and dead ends. Half way through we met a lovely pair of female clowns who insisted we stay and play hide and seek forever.
I'm a fan of that game, but forever sounded a bit too long to be in the dark. We moved on and slowly made progress through the rooms. Some had dangling body parts and what I hope was fake spider webs. At the end of the line, in a very dimly lit room, we struggled to find a way out of this obsidian madhouse. Finally my hand pushed against something soft and I felt what reminded me of a bouncy house wall. Feeling brave I pushed into it. With the space being tight, there was really only room for one at a time. We all pushed out and started laughing and talking about how much fun that was.
At that point, there was a choice of either calling it a night, or heading Sector 13. Of course, we all knew I wasn't going to leave without heading into this post-apocalyptic playground. Entering in small groups, we got split up completely. They randomly lined us up and two military type men came in, showed a video and started barking ordered. Apparently giggling as they were yelling wasn't in my best interest. After being threatened with some sort of mutant zombie danger possibly eating me, I stood tall and kept my best straight face. Finally the doors open.
We enter the place, and I immediately felt like I was plopped straight into an episode of The Walking Dead only even more hard-core. We make it into an examination room and Marty was promptly taken and thrown on the examination table. Again with the orange sweatshirt! They thoroughly checked him to make sure he wasn't contaminated. As I smirked about the sweatshirt, I too was grabbed and tossed on the table, right next to him. A "doctor" with one eye continued to check me over, then asked if he could have my eye for science. I agreed, but told him to wash his hands first. That got a smile out of him as he broke character slightly, then pushed us off the table and down the hall.
Before I could make it five steps, I was grabbed from behind and thrown in a cage. "Leave her for the zombies," he said as they pushed Marty away from me. I feigned fear, and really had to control myself as the zombie/mutant things came for me. After trying to rattle my cage, so to speak, they ran off chasing another group that went through. Sensing my freedom was imminent, I waited for someone to let me out. No one came. So, as the creatures prowled around I began reaching for the lock to undo it. My escape was rather lackluster since it was rather dark and I fumbled with opening the cage and almost tripped stepping out. I wandered through by myself, wondering what laid in wait around the next corner.
A few twists, turns and run ins with more of the mutated beings, I finally caught up to Marty who was standing at the entrance to the building. After that walk through the make-shift prison yard, I was excited to see what was coming. It was dark, smelled like an old basement, and generally spooky as we stepped in through the metal corridor. The dim lighting added to the sense of foreboding as we turned a corner and a creature popped out from over the top of a 500 gallon oil tank. At the same time, someone jumped from a dark corner, and for the first time all night I was completely caught off guard and startled. I'll admit, I almost sucker-punched the actor who scared me in my moment of fright.
Marty started laughing and I did as well. Finally, a good fright! We continued through, taking in the sights, sounds of gunfire, and really enjoying ourselves. Leaving proved to be the hardest part of the whole adventure.
We met the rest of our group outside the door as zombies chased us back towards the bonfire. As we made our way back to the truck (and honestly the whole ride home) we talked about our different experiences in each of the parts and laughed about the squeals and screams. I vowed to make this a yearly Halloween tradition as we arrived home. I was elated that my friends and family agreed, because a good scare is worth the trip any time.
Reapers Revenge Haunted Hayride, Scranton, PA
GPS Location: 460 Green Grove Road, Scranton, PA 18447