Screams park offers fright through diversity, lurkers

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    Located in the woodlands of Waxahachie, Screams Halloween Theme Park resembles an abandoned New England Colonial village straight from the Salem witch trials of 1692.Trees tower over the pathways, and shrieks of the night lead customers to vendors, including tarot card readers, henna tattoo artists and gift shops. The park is filled with ghostly noises and new fear lurks behind every corner.

    Screams targets from ages 12 and under, who played in the Spooky Hollow Children’s Area, to college students and adults, who drank from the five different beers at The Taboo Tavern.

    Kalen McCarthy, 11, who works as the “torturer” in The Castle of Darkness, said her favorite part about working at Screams is “making people scream and watching people run.”

    Screams offers diversity of fear in four different haunted houses and supplies customers with thrills, chills, and food and drink, said Orvis Melvin, director of sales and marketing.

    The Background

    Screams, whose brochure touts it as the world’s largest Halloween theme park, opened in 1995 with two haunted houses and two hayrides, Melvin said.

    Over the years, a castle was built along with three other houses and in 2006 Screams welcomed over 50,000 guests in the four weekends it was open, Melvin said.

    “We’ve created the most unique Halloween experience in the area,” Sevier said. “At Screams, a family can visit the houses, have dinner, go back through the houses again and enjoy a whole night of Halloween fun.”

    The Houses

    “Terror Vision in 3-D”

    With a clown theme based on Stephen King’s “It,” this haunted carnival is not for those with weak stomachs. Three-D glasses are handed to customers as they walk through a swaying, spiraling tunnel with psychedelic colors bouncing off the walls. Though the clowns are not allowed to touch the customers, they will creep behind.

    Rating: 3.5 jack-o’-lanterns

    “Arcane Asylum”

    Lurking around this psychiatric institute are escaped patients waiting to scare their next victim. The asylum is deteriorating, with loose floors and cracked walls. Minutes into the institute, customers walk into a refrigerator. Bright florescent lights illuminate the plastic bags hanging from the ceiling, and it is understood those are not bags of meat, but of bloody bodies.

    Rating: 4 jack-o’-lanterns

    “The Black Hole”

    It’s pitch black, and there’s a runaway train. Feelings of vulnerability build up as customers walk deeper into the woods as creatures of the night jump out from behind the trees. Because it is outside, the thought of drifting off the path is a constant fear. There are multiple scenes from swamps to grave sites, each initially hidden by fog making each twist and turn a mystery. Things to look out for in this house are Jack the Ripper, cannibals and the rocky terrain.

    Rating: 4 jack-o’-lanterns

    “Castle of Darkness”

    This castle is visible upon entry into Screams. It does not allow anyone under 13 and is by far the scariest and shortest event. However, before entrance is granted, the guard of the castle explains the rules and croaks, “Welcome to hell” and lets the customers begin the tour. The castle is lit by candles and contains prisoners who loom with chains around their bodies. Scenes of torture float around while screams of agony echo.

    Rating: 4.5 jack-o’-lanterns

    Screams gets fright seekers to do what they love best – scream

    Overall Rating: 3.5 jack-o’-lanterns