When it comes to Halloween in the Palm Beaches, Fright Nights is king

On a dark and stormy night at the South Florida Fairgrounds, the undead, as well as more than their fair share of killer clowns scattered across the midway for the final evening of Fright Nights. This event, which has been a staple in the Palm Beaches for more than a decade, transforms the Agriplex into a variety of haunted attractions; each one with their own twisted sense of what makes Halloween special.

Palm Beach Happening was once again honored to be able to attend this celebration of the macabre.

This year, the event consisted of four haunted mazes; Doll Factory, Pestilence, Sunnyville Schoolhouse, and the Void. They also featured a large midway, with numerous rides, games, and food vendors to satisfy your need to be entertained and refreshed.

The one difference we noticed from past years was the lack of any sort of organized scarezones, either in the midway or the area at the exit of the haunts. Although we aren’t the sort of people who are generally scared by these sort of attractions, their absence was definitely noticeable, and it did take away from some of the atmosphere.

Other that that, it’s obvious that the fairgrounds is the place to go for your Halloween needs. The bar has been raised by other local haunts, such as Enigma Haunt in Boca Raton, but the larger budget, space, and word of mouth advertising helps Fright Nights to stay on top; at least for now.

Below, each haunt is rated based on its level of theming, and general scare factor. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10.

Haunts (descriptions courtesy of MyFrightNights.com)

  • Doll Factory-  Gears grind as production at the Doll Factory lurches forward with a sole purpose: the creation of maniacal porcelain demons for distribution into the unsuspecting world. They live in the toy boxes and closets and they sleep under your children’s beds. The dolls are bent for blood and thrive on your fear, reflected back to you through their empty glassy eyes.

Theming: 9.9
Scare Factor: 8.0
One of our personal favorites, this toy factory run amok was very well staffed with actors who seemed to be motivated by their fear and storyline. It was laid out well, and the theming continued throughout the house.

  • Pestilence- The Russian ship “The Demeter” washed ashore from a sudden and violent storm with its foreign passenger Count Orlok. After some time, the townsfolk began to wonder if he was to blame for the Black Death ravaging the land. The rats continued to spread the disease and within days the plague doctors took over the city to rid it of the infected. While the stench of burning flesh still hanging in the air from the pyres, the reign of Nosferatu was about to begin. The town could not prepare for the terror about to unfold.

Theming: 9
Scare Factor: 7
If you didn’t read the description of this house ahead of time, you would quickly lose the idea behind it. It seemed to want to weave a few different storylines together, but once inside, they did not seem coherent enough for an effective presentation. Still, the décor was amazing, and the sound of squeaking rats would be enough to scare anyone at least a little.

  • Sunnyville Schoolhouse- Through the entrance, the smell of stale soot arises from the ground. Walls plastered with decades of muck. The eerie laughing of children bouncing down the hallways. Abandoned classrooms remaining as time capsules. Lights flicker throughout the war-torn building. Daylight fading quickly through the windows. As night approaches, the children’s voices grow louder. Eyes following every step taken. A spine tingling chill runs its course…

Theming: 9.5
Scare Factor: 7.5
It has been said that growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional. This house takes that idea to a whole new level. The “children” who are trapped inside these walls seem to be eager to keep you as new playthings, as their toys have aged while they have not. They seem to be lost in a state between zombies and ghosts, and although they are happy, there is something off about them. Probably the most fun of the houses, but beware of the old schoolhouse itself; it has VERY narrow halls.

  • The Void – The Dry Fork Mines closed in 1954 after an explosion ripped through the deep caverns. Hundreds of miners lost their lives in the calamity, their bodies were never recovered. 62 years later, the ML Mining Corporation has plans to reopen the site, hoping to attract jobs and commerce to the now economically depressed area. The team of miners and scientists sent in to assess the safety and viability of the mines reported seeing strange organisms before losing communication topside. Your job is to recover that team – dead or alive.

Theming: 9
Scare Factor: 6
Looking at this from the queue area, with the mine cart outside crawling with spiders, it gave me high hopes. To say that my hopes were realized would be a stretch, however. The creatures you encounter within are scary, but I wasn’t 100% sure how they fit into the storyline.

For all the gory details, including information about the Monster Bash, visit MyFrightNights.com.

Fright Nights marked our final  sojourn into the world of the undead this Halloween season. We’d like to thank them, as well as Enigma Haunt and Fright Fest at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for showing us such a “horrible” time this year!

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 this column for news on other spooky events and more. If you know of another local event that needs additional undead light shone upon it, please tell us about it!