Scare it Forward

We’re often asked what you can expect to see when you tour Thrillvania Haunted House Park. Just how terrifying will it be? Other than warning first-time guests about strobe lights and uneven floors, we like to just tell folks to expect the unexpected and prepare to be thrilled. But we’re going to let you in on one little secret: We like to “scare it forward!”

Imagine you’re throwing a fabulous Halloween party. You want your party to be the most-talked-about-event of the season and you’ve spared no expense on costumes, decorations and creepy special effects. You’ve spent weeks mapping out every inch of space so your guests will be terrified, horrified or downright scared half to death no matter which way they turn.

And it works, too. As soon as you fling open the front door your guests run screaming in terror after getting just the briefest glimpse inside. Nobody actually attends you party because they never made it over the threshold. Your party fizzles, shrivels up and dies – along with your hopes for hosting the hottest party in town.

The mistake you made was what we here at Thrillvania like to call “Scaring it Backward.” You frightened your guests so successfully at the front door that they backed up, ran away and never even saw your motorized skeleton or the bloody corpse laid out on your kitchen table.

At Thrillvania we “Scare it Forward.” There’s an art to scaring people and it’s all in the timing. Jump out with your chainsaw too early and everyone backs up in fear, missing the rest of the attraction. Let’s face it, nobody wants to try to run past the guy with the axe. On the other hand, if you jump out too late nobody sees you because they’re gearing themselves up for what lies ahead.

The trick is to cue the frights at just the right moment so everyone rushes forward, further into the attraction, rather than trying to turn around and leave the same way they came in.

So here’s the secret for touring Thrillvania:

Bring along a group of friends. It’s always more fun when you’re in a group. And don’t worry. We know what we’re doing. We’ve sent more than one brawny football player screaming out the emergency exit and we guarantee you’ll be scared.

If you’re easily scared, stay near the front of the group. Because we “scare it forward” most of our actors and special effects are geared to activate near the middle or toward the end of the group to keep everyone moving in a forward direction.

On the other hand, if you’re the brave, strong, silent type who thinks haunted houses are just a lark, stay near the end of the group. But beware. The last person in the group is also the last person to make it out alive.

How to Host a Safe Seance

After viewing the horrors of Granny Lupus’ Seance Theater you might wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to participate in a séance. Thankfully, not everyone who communicates with the Dead is a screeching hag, and not all the Dead who answer are benevolent entities.

A séance can actually be quite a pleasant experience…when conducted properly. The secret to a safe séance is all in who you invite and how you set the mood.

Your Guests

There’s no particular number of guests you should have around your séance table but only invite as many as you can comfortably seat. If everyone’s all crowded in together they’ll be too uncomfortable to concentrate. Having too many people in a small room may also deter some of the kind spirits you want to contact and attract those spirits who like to work their mischief in front of large audiences.

It’s also important to keep non-believers out of the mix. Their negative attitude will make it difficult for your other guests to focus. More important, the negative energy emitted by non-believers may make it difficult for some weaker spirits to come through and may even attract benevolent spirits.

Your Setting

There are those who believe that a dark room with heavy draperies, a big, round table and a black tablecloth will be more attractive to the spirits. Some also believe that a dark room will attract evil spirits while a lighter décor attracts gentler spirits. Obviously, at Thrillvania we’ll take the Bad Guys over the Good any time but you might think otherwise.


How to Host a Safe Seance



The truth is, you don’t need heavy drapes and eerie lighting.  You don’t even need a table and  it’s not the color scheme that matters to the spirits, it’s the energy in the room. Lots of positive energy makes it easier for kinder, gentler spirits to come through while an abundance of negative energy makes your seance attractive to evil spirits who not only already have the strength to come through, they can put your guests in mortal danger.

Surrounding your table – however it’s decorated – with positive guests goes a long way toward ensuring a safe séance. But here are three more things you can do to protect yourself and your guests:

Cleanse the room

Smudge your séance room with sage before your guests arrive. This will cleanse the room of any lingering negative energy.

Use candles

Spirits are attracted to energy, in particular light and heat. Place plenty of white candles, for peace and purity, around the room to attract peaceful spirits. While it’s not necessary, having one blue candle in the room will help ensure your safety.

Mind your manners

It’s extremely difficult for spirits to cross over and communicate with the Living so treat them with the respect they deserve when they make an appearance at your séance. Invite them to attend, don’t demand it. Remember to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Don’t shout or curse at them. Always remember that Evil spirits sometimes masquerade as Good. Don’t make Aunt Tilly angry or she might just show her true colors.

Haunted Mirror from OculusAt Thrillvania Haunted House Park we take great pride in the fact that our attractions cause even the bravest of souls to run screaming in terror. We’re not permitted to allow our guests a behind-the-scenes look due to safety concerns, but we are able to pass along a few trade secrets. One our best kept secrets is how to make a haunted mirror.

Since the dawn of Time, haunted mirrors have been a central fixture in horror movies, from the absence of the Count’s reflection in “Dracula” to the evil mirror in “Poltergeist” and even the possessed mirror in this year’s blockbuster, “Oculus”, there’s a demonic reflective device tucked into the scenery in every horror movie.

It makes perfect sense, too. There’s a mirror in every bathroom, bedroom, hallway and foyer in America. What better way to instill lasting fear in an audience than to make an object of abject terror out of something so seemingly innocent and so common you can’t possibly avoid it?

Which is exactly why you need to include a haunted mirror in your Halloween decorations this year: So you can scare the bejeezus out of your guests so deliciously they’ll still be trembling when they make that midnight trek to the bathroom weeks after your party!

How to Make a Haunted Mirror

What you’ll need: 

Any mirror: New or old, hand mirror, makeup mirror or an antique monstrosity that hangs ominously on the wall.

  • Steel wool, or paint remover and a cloth
  • Clean, lint-free cloth for buffing
  • Picture of something evil: An evil clown, Freddy Krueger, or your aunt without her makeup – any picture will do as long as it’s something scary.
  • Clear or disappearing adhesive tape

Basic Directions

Turn the mirror over so you’re working on the back, or silver, side. If it has cardboard backing, remove it so you can get directly at the silver coating.

To use steel wool: Begin in the center of the mirror and work outward, using the steel wool to scratch off the silver coating.

To use paint remover: Apply a small amount of paint remover to your cloth and again, begin in the center of the mirror and work outward to remove the silver coating.

After you’ve removed the silver use the clear adhesive tape to anchor your picture to the backside of the mirror with the image facing out through the glass.

Making Your Mirror Scary

The amount of silver you want to remove will depend on the size of the picture you’re going to use. Start with removing just a small area of silver in the middle of the mirror and gradually widen the area until it’s a little over half the size and shape of the picture you’re going to use.

Then, ease up on the pressure and continue enlarging the area until it’s about an inch smaller, all the way around, then your picture. You don’t want your guests to look in the mirror and see that they’re just looking at a picture behind a clear piece of glass so don’t remove all the silver at this point. Leave enough around the edges of the picture to make it look cloudy.

Use the clear adhesive tape to tape your scary picture to the glass with the image facing out through the mirror. Use as little tape as possible and try to place it where you haven’t removed any of the silver coating so it won’t be noticed through the mirror.

Now, look for strategic locations for your mirror. The best place is in a room like the bathroom, a room where the lights are generally off until someone enters and it’s small enough that no matter where they’re standing when they turn on the lights they’ll immediately see the image in the mirror.

You can also hang your haunted mirror just around the corner in the hallway so they bump into it on their way to the kitchen, or inside a cupboard door so they see it when they reach for a glass. Turn an antique hand mirror into a haunted prop for your Halloween costume or place a haunted mirror in the middle of your séance table.

The possibilities are endless but one thing’s for certain: When you include a haunted mirror in your Halloween decorations your guests will remember your party for a long, long time.


Freak Show Skeleton

Here at Thrillvania we’re ecstatic over the news that American Horror Story Season 4 will revolve around a carnival freak show. A haunted house? An asylum with an evil Nazi doctor? A coven of witches with super powers? They’ve all been done before. But, what could be more deliciously terrifying than a Halloween party filled with sideshow freaks and not-so-human monstrosities?Man with Revolving Head

The best, scariest Halloween party and costume ideas are those which are rooted in reality and even though we’re pretty sure AHS will stretch credulity to the snapping point, carnival freaks were real and they were big attractions in the late 1800s and early 1900s. While none were particularly scary and all were to be admired for their courage and tenacity, these early circus sideshow freaks can be a good starting-point for putting together a truly gruesome Halloween costume.

For example, consider Myrtle Corbin, a successful sideshow performer who had 4 legs. Weng, the Human Unicorn, had a 14-inch horn-like spire growing from the back of his head. Perhaps the most famous of all, Joseph Merrick, so horribly deformed he was nicknamed “The Elephant Man.” And the contemporary sideshow performers, The Spider Sisters, conjoined twins who share four arms and three legs.

On your invitations this year, tell your guests they need to “Go big, or go home!” It’s safe to assume that series creator Ryan Murphy will be unleashing unimaginable human atrocities that will make even the most terrifying chainsaw-wielding clown look like a 4-year-old in a cuddly bunny costume and your Halloween Freak Show party should be equally as terrifying.

Group of Circus Sideshow FreaksA good Halloween party only starts with the costumes.  Let’s not forget the endless possibilities for your carnival freak show decor.  Put up a dingy, dimly lit circus tent in your backyard. And right down the center aisle be sure to set up a shelf full of traditional, old-time circus oddities – jars filled with eyeballs, brains, and other assorted organs and body parts, all soaking in formaldehyde. Turn on the creepy calliope music and let the party begin!

Ghost in the Graveyard

Ahhh, it’s finally Spring. Time to put down that video game controller, go outside and have some fun. What’s that you say? You don’t have anything to do? Playing outside is boring? Gather all your friends and let’s have a rousing game of “Ghost in the Graveyard!”

Hundreds of years ago when you parents were just kids, everybody played outside all the time. There were no video games, all televisions were black and white and there were only 3 channels to choose from. Way back then (in The Dark Ages), kids had to make their own fun and they played games like Tag and Hide ‘n Seek. But the best game of all is Ghost in the Graveyard.

So, gather up all your friends – the more the merrier – and head outdoors!

Set the boundaries for your game. Your playing field can cover your own backyard, a few neighboring yards, or better yet – the graveyard across the street.

Choose a home base that’s big enough for all the players to touch or stand on at the same time. It can be a large spooky tree, your swing-set, the back porch, – or maybe a large tombstone?

Choose the first person to be the Ghost. Use any method you like – Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo, or My Mother Told Me, or Rock, Paper, Scissors.

The Ghost is “It” in this game and everyone else is a Ghost Hunter. The object of the game is for the Ghost Hunters to find the Ghost, warn all the other players, and try to make it back to home base before the Ghost catches them.

Here’s how you play: 

All Ghost Hunters stand on home base and count to 50 (or 100 if you’re playing field is larger).

While everyone is counting, the player who’s the Ghost runs and hides.

When the Ghost Hunters are done counting, everyone shouts, “Star light, star bright, I hope I don’t see a ghost tonight!”

Then all the Hunters move out in search of the Ghost.

The first Hunter to find the Ghost shouts, “Ghost in the Graveyard!” to warn all the other Hunters, then everyone rushes for home base.

If the Ghost catches you before you reach home base, then you’re the next Ghost!

(Hint: Smart Ghosts hide well and wait until all the players have moved past him before springing out to try to tag someone.) 

Of course, it’s always possible that the Ghost will catch more than one person. When that happens, all the people he catches become the next Ghost and they all hide together to catch the next wave of Ghost Hunters.

evil leprechaunThe little guy on your box of Lucky Charms is cute with his rosy cheeks and his big toothy grin. As he describes each tiny marshmallow treat he charms you into believing he must be a friendly little fellow, someone you could really have some fun with. But beware! For beneath that charm and lilting Irish brogue lies the heart of an evil trickster.

Leprechauns are most often portrayed as fun-loving mischief-makers who spend their days cobbling shoes and guarding pots of gold. In their off hours they enjoy a hearty flask of Irish whiskey and a rousing Irish reel. In short, they work hard all day and then play even harder into the wee hours of the morning.

It’s said that if you’re ever able to capture a leprechaun he must then grant you three wishes and, of course, everyone’s first wish is always for that elusive pot of gold. But have you ever heard of anyone collecting? Of course not. In fact, more often than not, the unfortunate human being who manages to trap a leprechaun is driven utterly insane by the evil trickster’s manipulations.

First, it’s extremely difficult to catch a Leprechaun. They’re tiny, fast and slippery as eels. And when you do manage to catch one you must keep your eyes on him at all times. Glance away, even for a second, and he disappears, which is exactly what happened to one poor lass who thought she’d bested a leprechaun.

Clutching her captive in the palm of her hand she forced him to lead her to his pot of gold. Using his magical abilities the leprechaun made a loud buzzing sound in the girl’s ears and shouted at her, “Look out! We’re being followed by a swarm of bees!” When the girl turned to look the leprechaun disappeared and she was left to forever wander the meadow, certain she was mere steps away from the pot of gold.

Some years later a farmer managed to catch a leprechaun and knowing about his magical ability to disappear kept his eye on the prankster all the way until they reached the spot where the pot of gold was buried. There, in the middle of the forest, under this particular bush, the farmer would find the treasure, said the leprechaun. As the forest was filled with thousands of similar bushes the farmer tied a red ribbon around the exact shrub, released the leprechaun, and ran home to fetch his shovel.

Upon returning just minutes later he found that every bush in the forest was tied with a red ribbon. The farmer spent the rest of his life digging, and digging, and digging as he slowly went insane.

So trap them if you must but never try to come between a leprechaun and his pot of gold. They may look cute and soft as marshmallows, but inside their hearts are cold as stone.