Behind the Scares: Scarowinds 2012 Trip Report Part 1

I joined CoasterCrew earlier this week for their Haunt Event at Scarowinds. It was great as I was given a special behind-the-scenes look at how these Halloween-themed events come together.

I arrived at the park around 5 PM; hours before Carowinds transforms into Scarowinds. It was a sunny afternoon and I knew the park was going to take on a much different vibe in a few hours as night fell and the fog machines kicked in. Aside from the Scarowinds signage and the scary set pieces here and there, the park looked like a typical weekend. Carowinds is one of the few parks in the Cedar Fair chain that close for a few hours and re-open for their haunt event.

Monster Central & a Makeup Demonstration

Scarowinds - Monster Makeup TourPark representative Jack was our tour guide for the event and our first stop was the makeup demonstration. Monster Central was set up in the now water-less Boomerang Bay. Our group took a turn off of the main park paths and we winded our way over to the water park. The horde known as the Scare Force were preparing for another night of scaring the masses. 500 strong, these seasonal employees show up hours before Scarowinds begins. It was funny to see some of them lounging in the water park; half-way ready. You’d see what at first looked like a group of young people enjoying the nice sunny day and then your eyes would lock in on one of them who appeared to have his face busted open. Oh, that’s right. Good old October.

At our destination, we witnessed the transformation of the Clock Maker. The demonstration was pretty cool to watch. A designer at the park explained the process and answered questions about the event. It didn’t take long for the large, but friendly-looking man to turn into an imposing monster. He already looked like an NFL lineman, but he was also wearing six inch blocks on the bottom of his feet to make sure he towered over his victims. His costume had been custom-designed by the park. The designer explained that in the past they used a lower quality makeup that would sweat off, but not anymore.  Now, each night they apply (and later remove) movie-grade makeup.
Scarowinds - Makeup Demonstration

Scare School & Rules of the Scare

I was interested to hear about how the Scare Force gets its marching orders. Well, they attend Scare School of course. All employees attend a training session where they learn the do’s, don’ts, and the different types of scares. I even got them to tell us a few of the rules.

  • They’re not allowed to touch you.
  • If they have props, they’re aren’t allowed to raise them above shoulder level. The Clock Maker demonstrated how he could only lift his huge ax a few inches off the ground.
  • They aim for older kids and adults (10/11-ish, I can’t remember the exact age). If there’s collateral damage, say an older kid is with a younger kid, that’s okay. More on kids at Scarowinds later. It’s PG-13 people!
  • In general, they target people who look like they’re having fun. If you look like you’re in a bad mood, they’ll steer clear.

I know there are some readers that have worked at similar events. Feel free to chime in below with additional rules. These are the ones that I can remember. Sadly, I lost the note-taking device I was using. More on that later.

Cornstalkers – Creepy Corn Maze

Scarowinds - Cornstalkers MazeAfter the great makeup demo, we headed over to our first lights-on maze tour. Cornstalkers is an outdoor maze set up on the park’s mini golf course. So, the sun provided the “lights” for this tour. It was lined with walls of fake corn stalks. As we moved through the park’s longest maze, we passed gruesome scene after gruesome scene. Missing its two main ingredients, darkness and actors, Cornstalkers was like a weird tour of gory plastic mannequins.

With a little imagination, I think we all knew just how scary it could be at night. Jack pointed out places meant to attract your attention and then the places where the actors were going to get you. It was an effective trick of the trade that I’d imagine most haunts employ like a bread and butter football running play.

Check back for Part 2 where I encounter the maze that’s been regarded as the best in the Cedar Fair chain. Also, I’ll recap the Intimidator tour.

Thanks to the Coaster Crew for inviting me out for their event. It was really cool to see Scarowinds from a different perspective. They often have trips like this along the East Coast, especially in the Mid Atlantic. “Verbolting Through the Snow” is an upcoming Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town event. More details here.

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What’s your take? Did you go to a haunt event this year? How was your experience?