By KORKY VANN, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
April 16, 2014
If your idea of a scary camping experience is spooky stories around the campfire, you've got another scream coming.
"Terror Trails," a horror-themed, 13-hour frightfest in the woods, will debut at Camp Cedarcrest in Orange in July, and director Bobby Arel says the interactive happening is not for the weak of heart.
The overnight scream-a-thon, which will include isolation, sensory deprivation, rough terrain, sudden loud noises, live actors and terrifying visual effects, is designed to scare you right out of your sleeping bag.
"Participants must be 18 years of age or older and they have to sign a hefty waiver," says Arel. "We're going to put people right in the middle of a live horror story."
Which means camp songs and s'mores could be followed by you being handcuffed, moved by force, restrained, gagged, blindfolded and subjected to simulated torture. You could also hear some strong offensive verbal language and witness graphic simulated violence and gore.
(A disclaimer on the website reads, "Terror Trails is NOT recommended for women in the later stages of pregnancy, people who have a heart condition, suffer from epilepsy, or display a nervous disposition.)
Arel emphasizes that at no point will anyone be in any actual danger. A licensed nurse, two EMTs and security staff will be on site throughout to insure everyone's safety.
"It's a totally scripted production," he says. "We're looking to frighten folks, not hurt them."
Millions of fans are looking for that experience. According to the Haunted Attraction Association, scary attractions are a $6 billion dollar, high-tech industry. Each October, haunted houses, spooky hayrides, ghost tours, zombie walks, cemetery séances draw millions of visitors — and old school cold-spaghetti-worms and peeled-grape-eyeballs have been replaced by Hollywood-quality special effects.
Arel, who operates several haunted attractions, including "The Only Scare In Town" open each October in North Haven, says the audience for terror tourism is expanding beyond Halloween season. After the Connecticut debut, he hopes to stage the camp production in seven other states this summer.
"People love to be scared, and that's what we're going to do," says Arel.
Terror Trails will begin with a buffet dinner and campfire, followed by a night of, well, nightmares. Everything wraps up at 9 a.m. the next morning.
"If things get to be too much for people, they can opt out of the live action for a while and calm down by watching horror movies," says Arel. "Just don't expect to get much sleep."
Terror Trails takes place on July 11 and July 12. Tickets are available at www.reaperhaunt.com. Prices are $140 per person for tent accommodations and $200 for a bunk in a tent. (Group discounts are available.) Admission includes one night's accommodation, dinner, continental breakfast, parking, and horror movies. Participants provide their own sleeping bags, pillows and flashlights.
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