Halloween Haunt: A Review by Someone Afraid of Everything

I love Halloween. It’s the best day of the year and the season leading up to it is what makes October such a happy time. Bring on the ghouls, please and thank you! So, naturally, when my friends asked if I wanted to go with them to Halloween Haunt, Canada’s Wonderland’s own spooky celebration — complete with live costumed actors and themed scare zones — of course, I said yes.

Here’s the thing: I don’t like the dark, I don’t like things chasing me and I don’t like jump scares or horror movies. I like decorating with creepy stuff and watching, like Halloweentown — and there’s nothing better than freaky history, but put me in the actual freak zones? Oh, that’s a TREAT.

First impression: WTF is with all these twelve-year-olds? I’ve never been so intimidated by children. I think I screamed more than they did COMBINED. Seriously, what are these kids raised on? Also, excuse me, but when I signed up for this I didn’t think that meant getting a face full of an angry villager the second I walked through the gates. Have some respect: a girl had to pee.

First up: The Scare Zones!

Themes!! I loved that each “room” had a distinctive theme and each matched the area they were in (ie. the butcher shop and fantasy forest were in the medieval fair section). Oh AND the fright zones with people just walking around? Those were the best. Nothing better than tossing a bunch of medievalists into The Plague. But here are the actual houses we hit:

CODE RED: Basically all about freaky experimentation, with surgery tables and scalpels galore. And, oh god, I had such a bad feeling about this. We’d just walked in the doors and BAM, I’m being shoved into some Doctor’s Office of Horrors and like, I have ENOUGH anxiety about doctors and surgeries, thank-you-very-much. Upon reflection, though, it was a pretty good intro to the houses. Beginners rejoice! I’m not going to lie, I was essentially super-glued to my friend the whole time, but my screams were more like surprised yelps in this one. I think. Tried to save the blood-curdling screams for the bigger, badder houses.

Though if someone came anywhere near me with a needle I was OUT.

FOREST OF FEAR / BLOODSHED: These came as a combo pack of fright. You finish in the forest, get like two-seconds outside in a legit dark forest, then get ushered into the butcher shop. These two — especially the forest one — were probably my favourite, because it balanced the “I’m-a-wimp-and-I’m-screaming” with the “psh-I-can-handle-this.” BUT PLEASE NO HANGING PIG BODIES — AND PLEASE NO JUMPING OUT FROM BEHIND THEM.

THE RUINS / BLACKOUT: These were good but, ironically, had the least of the freaky people. The first was better, a haunted Indiana Jones-style tomb inside of Wonder Mountain, almost pitch black, with only a faint orange flashlight given to one person in your group to guide you (sorry, Maddy). But what was surprising is that it’s more paranoia than anything else: you’re always waiting for someone to jump out —these were the last ones we hit so we by then knew all the corners, the crates, the curtains — but … they didn’t? Blackout was a bit of a letdown TBH, except for this weird blow up cushion thing you needed to push yourself through. Like a birth. We were birthed.

Though I guess it must have been worse than I thought because one of my friends legitimately punched the actor who jumped at her. Beware kids with violent reflexes! If you’re afraid of sacking someone, you might be right.

It’s great that there are so many different themes, but the concept is the same for all of them: Darkroom, narrow passageway and actors behind corners. I wish I could say that I stopped freaking out — spoiler alert: I did NOT — but I can say I stopped being surprised. Also, much to my foolish dismay, no one in there actually chases you. It’s too tight space, so you always know someone could be beside you or in front of you, but you don’t get the utter terror of being chased by a madman with a chainsaw through a cornfield. They also don’t touch you, which, like, yay, but also, less scary than I was expecting. When it came time to hit one last ride or one last house, I was kind of lukewarm on the whole thing and we opted for a show instead. 

Speaking of, that show was grand. Freaky devilish voodoo doctor, alien contortionists, self-stabbing demonic nurses and a pyre execution? SIGN ME THE HELL UP ANY DAY.

Oh, and back on the topic of rides, if you need to break from the freak-out for a sec and want to hit a coaster, be ready to wait. And I mean WAIT. Seriously. Leviathan took longer than some of the houses we were heading into. Shoutout to that random BDSM test for keeping us occupied while we froze our asses off. 

Overall, I had a blast. It’s not exactly what I expected — i.e. a horde of zombies cornering me or a flurry of knives dripping blood or some ghostly gal in a pseudo exorcism (I may or may not have an overactive imagination …) — but definitely freaky enough to give me the adrenaline rush I like. And probably give my friends bruises on their arms from forcibly making them my human shields. Sorry, not sorry.

Happy Haunting!