On Sunday, October 4, under a moonless, foreboding sky, nearly 200 of South Florida’s freakiest and most fiendishly clever minds gathered at the South Florida Fairgrounds Agriplex for the second of two dress rehearsals before the grand opening of the 2015 season of Fright Nights. Let by their fearless overlord “Eggman,” many of the assembled masses took turns being transformed by a cadre of makeup artists from their normal, everyday selves into the monsters that lie just below the surface.
“We’re all like one big family here,” stated a man known simply as Animal, who standing at nearly 7 feet tall is a foreboding presence even before having his zombie makeup applied. “This year, I even have my daughter here with me, who was born during Hurricane Wilma nearly a decade ago.”
Animal, who has been with the production for seven years, works as a school bus driver during the normal work week, and scares his riders on nights and weekends during October.
“I got the job here because I frightened two of the girls who were in one of the houses several years ago,” Animal continued. “Once I got out of the house, Alex (the production manager) approached me and said you need to come work for me. The rest is history.”
His was not the only family represented. There was also a woman accompanied by her two children, who stole the show not only in the hours before the rehearsal, but were among the best actors in their house as well.
The event, which runs for 11 nights during the month of October, is divided into four different houses. Each house is operated like an individual entity, with their own crew, set designer, and house manager. They all have their own unique personality, but all of them share the same creative energy that has been the hallmark of the event for many years. It is also part of the reason why the event is often mentioned in the same breath as Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream, and other “corporate” haunts. The main difference being that in these haunts, you aren’t part of a never ending conga line, but are in a group of no more than fifteen individuals, each one with as good of a chance at being scared as the other.
The haunts, which range from witches and warlocks, zombies, mutants, and military experiments gone awry, were impressive enough during the dress rehearsal, and will be !can’t miss experiences when they are fully up and running!
Memento Mori: After a year of slaughtering in a South Florida hotel, two murderous sisters relocate to the enchanted streets of New Orleans. Peddling witchery as their wares. Deep in the bayous of Louisiana, the common grounds of voodoo and witchcraft, where spells are a part of the religious culture. The two girls take part in a voodoo ceremony, where they find their new “identities”. They learn the ways and the various spells, hexes, curses and fixes.
Animal Farm: There’s a fine line that separates man from beast, the opposable thumb and the supposed conscience for example. Either way, deep within lies a soul that can be easily filled with the deepest hatred and darkest intentions. You are part of this dichotomy, and the time has come for the animals to rise up and reclaim their place at the top of the food chain. The Animal Farm blurs the traditional roles of the monster and the master. Humanoids, freaks, and half -beasts roam the trampled acres and await your arrival. You will be judged, placed and processed because you are the meat.
Beyond the Gates: There are certain times when the veil between our world and the underworld are very thin and we may see a glimpse of the other side. A darker side… a shadow seen out of the corner of your eye, the door that creaks open without warning, the feeling of something watching you, sounds of footsteps on the floor or nails scratching at the bedroom door. There are many things that we see with our eyes that the human mind cannot comprehend. Most often these occurrences are ignored or rationalize for comfort sake. Only a very few among the living possess the esoteric knowledge of the creatures beyond the gates. For everything that goes bump in the night resides in a parallel dimension. Only the eyes of the dead can truly see where nightmares and fairy tales are born.
Meadow Lakes: Nestled quietly against calm waters, Meadow Lakes quickly became the last bastion on Earth amidst global chaos brought on by an unknown virus. While the lakeside community nervously looked on as the turmoil unfolded, Sector Four staff worked at a feverish pace to secure the last stronghold in their control. Established to combat the looming threat, its concrete walls which seemed to stretch upwards infinitely, a large titanium door strong enough to withstand a nuclear blast, and guard towers littering the perimeter, Sector Four officials were confident in their ability to contain and reverse the virus. Soon, however, the community of Meadow Lakes began to experience civil unrest stemming from what seemed to be random attacks and mysterious disappearances of friends and loved ones. As the air became contaminated with a thick smog of fear and paranoia, cracks began to form in the once impenetrable walls of Sector Four…
“We pride ourselves on the scare and therefore we are always striving to find new ways to get you there,” Craig (Eggman) McInnis stated. “Our creative team spends countless hours from concept to execution of our themed haunts. You will be haunted by freaks, mutated animals, hillbillies, the infected, witches, demons and the undead just to name a few. Attention to detail is at an all time high and our sets are bigger and better than ever. You will be amazed at how we bring you into our world and don’t let you go until you are back safely in your car.”
This Thursday, the curtain will open for a few brief hours, as Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds offers a glimpse behind the scenes. The tour group is kept small, no more than 15 people, and each is guided by a scareactor who will let you know some of the secrets to each attraction before the gates open to the rest of the world.
“If you are curious about how large haunted houses are put together, now is your chance to see “behind the curtain”. Our 2nd annual Behind the Scenes Tour is a great way to see what makes Fright Nights tick,” McInnis added. “You will gain insight into many aspects of our production, including: props, construction, design, wardrobe, make up and the art of the scare to name a few. You will also get to meet some of our featured characters and ask as many questions as you like.”
You might think, “Hey, I can’t afford that kind of access.” Well, yes you can. Admission for the night is only $10 per person, and includes a free preview ticket for one of the four houses on opening night! If you’re feeling lucky (and who isn’t) check out our special Facebook contest for two Fright Nights Terror Tickets, good for one visit to three out of the four haunted houses, as well as the monster midway!
Visit their website at MyFrightNights.com for tickets to this special tour, as well as tickets to the haunt itself. Tickets are limited, and some nights will sell out.
Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following Palm Beach Happening for news on other spooky events in the Palm Beaches. If you know of another local event that would appreciate the undead light shone upon it, please let us know!