Haunted House Tours
Halloween Extreme Friday Night Haunt Tour!
THE SHALLOW GRAVE and HOWL-O-SCREAM at Busch Gardens Tampa!
At Halloween Extreme this year we will be touring some of the best haunts in Central Florida! Your adventure begins on Friday May 15th at 5:00pm when we board coach buses at the Doubletree Convention Center and travel to THE SHALLOW GRAVE in Winter Haven, FL. This highly detailed, in your face event features two elaborate attractions: HAUNTED HILLS and ADHD – Attention Deficit Haunt Disorder. We will tour both shows in full production with actors, followed by a lights on tour and dinner at the Shallow Grave Haunted House.
Then it’s off to Tampa, FL for a behind the scenes tour of Busch Gardens epic Halloween Extravaganza, HOWL-O-SCREAM! As part of this exclusive never before offered event we will tour two of their most popular mazes, Deadfall, a deeply haunted Victorian garden and greenhouse, and Zombie Mortuary, a small town funeral home infested with the living dead! These attractions will be shown without actors in both a show lighting and full lights on format. We will also get to experience a taste of Zombie Containment 15 , take photos with the undead and try out the latest in Zombie hunting weaponry, the Z.E.D. (Zombie Eradication Device). The event will conclude with refreshments at the Pantopia Theater, featuring an in depth Q & A session with the HOWL-O-SCREAM at Busch Gardens Tampa Production team!
The Halloween Extreme Friday Night tour is chock full of both scares and behind the scenes education, perfect for any Halloween and Haunt lover!
Halloween Extreme Saturday Night Haunt Tour!
LEGENDS of Old Town and THE REPUBLIC
At Halloween Extreme this year we will be touring some of the best haunts in the Orlando area! The Saturday night May 16th tour starts at 8:00pm when coach buses arrive to whisk you away to a night of horror! This evening’s tour features a visit to LEGENDS of Old Town, a multi-floor attraction loaded with amazing detail, hidden passage ways and terrifying live actors! Not only will we get to see a full tour of LEGENDS, but we will also get a lights on tour of this incredibly scary show!
Our second Haunt of the night will be an entirely new Theatrical Horror Experience called THE REPUBLIC. In this unique production, guests roam freely throughout the building interacting with characters that draw them further into the mystery. Groups may be separated, actors will touch you and some participants may even be kidnapped! We will also be granted access behind the scenes of THE REPUBLIC, to discover how such a different kind of haunted attraction operates.
Two unique Orlando Horror Attractions, one night of screams, behind the scenes and lights on access, available only on the Halloween Extreme Saturday Night Haunt Tour!
The Shallow Grave and Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Haunted Bus Tour
FRIDAY MAY 16th
In Florida, you typically think of sun tans and flips flops, but in a darker part of Florida there lies a haunted house so sinister, you’ll never think of Florida the same again. Oh sure, for years Florida has had Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream, but til now, have they ever really experienced that grungy in your face, high intensity, wet your pants, riveting experience you can only seem to find in other states like Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana & Missouri, just to name a few? Well they do now! The Shallow Grave in Winter Haven Florida combines a haunting blend of over the tops sets, animatronics, and high energy actors to make a fear cocktail few in Florida ever get to experience at the big parks. Located deep in the sticks between Orlando, FL and Tampa, FL, The Shallow Grave comes to life. The horror geniuses at Shallow Grave have taken a 30,000 sq ft warehouse built in the 50’s and made it home to the most talked about haunted attraction in Florida since the great “Terror on Church Street”.
Haunted Hills – The Rage: You will be dropped off outside the Van Buren two-story farmhouse next to the once quiet uneventful old cemetery. As you approach the porch of this playground from Hell you can see the living dead roam back and forth in the upstairs windows from the front yard. Enter the foyer and make your way through the house that holds so many evil secrets, as you lumber through the Van Buren house you will witness the havoc that Thaddeus wreaks on his victims as you try to keep from becoming one of them. Make an effort to survive where he prepares the meals or follow the stench of rotting flesh to the blood stained morgue and see where evil thrives. Thaddeus is everywhere in this old house. If you happen to make it through his abode, you still must trek through his backyard, work sheds and graveyard. Make your way through a fully themed environment of an 18thcentury, above-ground graveyard complete with fully scaled tombs and crypts laced with oversized monsters and enough walking dead to make the most seasoned Call of Duty player nervous.
ADHD (Attention Deficit Haunt Disorder): This is a completely different drink of water for your haunt thirst. ADHD is a litany of nightmares experienced by the few victims that escaped the wrath of Thaddeus Van Buren, but never truly escape his grasp. It’s a phobia based haunt that blends all things: fear of being choked, snakes, spiders, clowns, serial killers and a dash of Voodoo. Then, sprinkle in a zombie or two, and ADHD is sure to have something for everyone. ADHD was added in 2014 to rave reviews and is a nice complement to the rustic, classic horror movie feel that Haunted Hills offers.
SATURDAY MAY 17th
Picture if you will a lovely, all-American street dotted with brightly-colored buildings and cheery, festive lights. Shoppers and strollers float merrily down the lane… only to pause for a moment before a shadowy, solitary structure that seems somehow out of place in such a blissful atmosphere: a seemingly-abandoned, reportedly haunted house. Many of these same passers-by will press their faces to the darkened windows of the gloomy edifice, hoping to catch a glimpse of what terrors might linger within. To their disappointment, only darkness stares back.This is not the set-up for some grainy old ‘70s horror film, but rather, a snapshot of what was a closed down haunted attraction in Kissimmee Florida, located in the heart of the Old Town entertainment complex. The Haunted Grimm House, which had operated there for 25 years, had closed its doors.
But Dallas haunters, Jim Shackelford and Jay Westerman, along with their Orlando-based partner, Dan Carro, saw potential and dove into the daunting task of building a whole new haunted attraction in the old Grimm House location. They liked the potential the location had to offer. Old Town is a walking district in Kissimmee with a unique collection of shops, rides, dining options, amusements, events and night life. Renovations began in February of 2013, as the building was gutted to the studs and the creative team undertook the labor of designing an entirely new haunt experience for the space.The all-new show titled Legends A Haunting at Old Town challenges guests to enter the halls of Ashdown and Son’s Undertakers. As the new attraction’s story goes, the mortuary was established in 1889 by Archibald Ashdown, an unscrupulous undertaker who drummed up business by poisoning perfectly healthy townsfolk and interring them alive while their unsuspecting loved ones paid prime dollar for inflated funeral expenses.
Fast forward to the present: Ashdown’s evil deeds have awakened something dark within the mortuary. Now, the dead won’t stay dead and Ashdown’s victims are returning to exact their revenge upon the Ashdowns—and anyone else they may find roaming within the mortuary halls.
“Story is important to us,” says Carro, who has worked as a freelance artist, writer and director for several well-known Orlando attractions. “Not just our back-story, but our guest’s story. Our real story is about a night when a group of people got more than what they bargained for while taking a tour of a mortuary and our guests are the stars.”“We’re right around the corner from some of the greatest attractions in the world,” says Westerman, “so we knew we had to create a high quality experience for our guests. Most of our visitors would’ve just spent the day at one or more of Florida’s greatest theme parks, so our goal was to give them a theme park worthy experience at our haunted attraction too.”Shackelford, with his degrees in interior architecture and design as well as several years of experience working in an actual mortuary, was the perfect man to bring authenticity to Legends. “We wanted this to feel like you were walking into a real place,” says Shackelford. “It needed to look lived-in and functional as a mortuary.” As such, a great deal of thought went into the look of each room. Antique furniture and actual funerary items were sought out and used throughout the haunt, including real embalming tables, caskets, church pews and antique Victorian funeral items.Several custom pieces were also created for Legends, including two full-sized animatronics of the sinister Archibald Ashdown, the show’s icon character. Ashdown was brought to pneumatic life by Ed Edmunds of Distortions Unlimited and was even featured on an episode of Travel Channel’s ‘Making Monsters’.
“People often ask what separates us from what the big parks are doing at Halloween,” says Carro, “and let me say we are first in line to see those shows. We live for them! But the big difference with us is we are year-round. So you can come get scared in March if you feel so inclined. Also, we don’t have to be ‘people eaters.’ We aren’t taking in thousands of guests every night. We don’t allow groups larger than six people. So you get a more intimate experience. We can take our time with you. Learn your names. Figure out what really scares you and use that to tailor our performance for you. It’s an incredible haunting experience!”
That incredible performance is given by true haunt actors, hand-picked from year-round attractions such as the classic Terror on Church Street, Skull Kingdom and seasonal giants such as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream. “We are so fortunate to have a fantastic team who knows their stuff,” assures Westerman.
While reviews for Legends A Haunting at Old Town by the Central Florida press and national and various travel writers have been decidedly positive, there are still challenges that come with operating a year-round haunted house that seasonal haunts rarely have to consider. Many haunts operate for a month or two at a time and usually only on weekends. Legends is open Tuesdays through Sundays, all year long, including holidays. This means that animatronics, props and sets accumulate a full season’s worth of wear and tear in only a matter of weeks.
“There’s definitely more upkeep to be done,” says Shackelford. “But the artists and techs on our team are very good. They’re up to the challenge.”Another peril of year-round haunting: keeping the show fresh for performers and guests alike. “Repetition is a sure-fire wire to make things boring for performers, so our actors aren’t chained to a particular set,” says Shackelford. “We designed our show to be a playground. The haunt actors can and do go anywhere. Plus, this design allows for more extreme acting!”“We had a group come through three times in a row,” Carro recollects. “After their second trip through, we completely changed the show up. We could hear one of the patrons through the wall counting the differences. ‘There was a guy over there before…Where did he go?’”Like any good haunt, Legends will make new additions before next Halloween such as upgraded costumes, new animations and quality effects, plus an icon-character merchandise line for the gift shop and even a Ghost Tour that will launch in 2014.
One room that rarely changes however is The Chapel. It’s a favorite set-piece among cast and guests alike. “It’s the finale,” says Carro. “We wanted to make sure we had a full storyline with a set-up, a rising action, a finale, and an epilogue just like any good story. The Chapel is definitely our finale.”
SATURDAY MAY 17th
The Republic is a first of its kind experience, combining an immersive theater performance with elements of gaming, haunted attractions, and escape rooms in original, elaborately-themed environments. This 18+ groundbreaking interactive show puts you into a world inhabited by intriguing characters, taking on an important role in our conflicted society. You will be watched. You will be deceived. You will be touched. You may even be kidnapped. Your decisions dictate how the rich story ends. Inspired by Greek mythology, Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” and Plato’s literary work. Created by top theme park attraction designers on a team of artists, writers, engineers, and musicians.