Sir Henry’s Haunted Trails is back. The attraction has made some changes to safely scare attendees to their heart’s content.
For years Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail has drawn thousands of attendees to the outskirts of Plant City. The spooky attraction prides itself on offering what few can: genuinely terrifying trail walks with outstanding acting and affordable prices.
The place is normally packed without an ongoing pandemic, so owner Zach Glaros said the team had to sit down and decide how to still host the event for its loyal fans while making sure everyone was safe. Luckily, the answer was relatively simple.
“Our first goal was to entertain all of our guests,” Glaros said. “Its what we always try to strive for. We do it better than everyone else and in a very unique way. 2020 has been a wild roller coaster and if we could come up with a plan to safely offer this experience to people, we wanted to make it happen. I really feel that people need it more than ever.”
Glaros said the event has always been outside, so that part was already golden. Three heavily-themed trails wind through the massive outdoor property drawing guests deeper and deeper into the creepy storytelling while actors lie in wait to bring the guests’ nightmares to life.
The new safety plan got the seal of approval during dress rehearsals when the actors and staff realized they could execute the experience safely and effectively without ever putting anyone at risk. Face masks are required for both actors and attendees. The queue lines — which have always been the only moments of mass gathering — are now socially distanced. They’ve also cut down massively on attendance.
Sir Henry’s reduced its capacity to around 50 percent and attendees now have to purchase tickets online in advance. When picking up a ticket, they are then asked to select a time slot so the Trail can keep tabs on exactly how many people will be on the property at any given moment.
It also added some “very rigorous cleaning and safety measures on the back end” for the costuming and actors, according to Glaros. Temperature checks are required for all guests and actors, and the actors will also have less direct interaction with the attendees as they weave through the trails.
“The biggest change within the trails is nothing will be touching you or coming in contact with you as you walk through,” Glaros said. “We’ve come up with very creative ways for actors to still interact with the guests and for the guests to really be on their toes throughout the trail.”
The experience has also forgone the escape game and laser tag arena. However, the photo opportunities, t-shirt stand and concessions are still available.
The three trails this year are The Candy Tree, Marionette of the Dead and Midnight Slaughter. While all three trails are considered to be “high-intensity,” the Midnight Slaughter Trail is a lights-out experience. Usually that means guests hold a flashlight and walk in pitch-black darkness toward safety. With COVID-19 still present, the attraction shifted slightly and took control even further from the hands of the guests. A small light, barely the size of a flashlight beam, will lure the brave walkers deeper and deeper into the trail.
For those who have been fans of Sir Henry’s for years, some of the stories may seem familiar. Both Marionette of the Dead and Midnight Slaughter are continuations of themes and stories from last year’s trails. You now get “chapter two” in each respective story.
The funeral home from last year’s Reaper’s Haunting trail has been shut down and abandoned. A schizophrenic puppet master has squatted within, building puppets from the remaining parts she finds inside. Unfortunately she needs more than what is available and has started drawing guests in to finish her creations.
Midnight Slaughter follows the Brown family, whose Harvester Trail received rave reviews last year from guests.
“I think we are very different event than, say, the mainstream theme parks,” Glaros said. “One of the things I pride myself on and try to create in the event itself is the atmosphere. Our experience has a northeastern Halloween vibe and feel, which is very rare to find around here. Everything from the theming to the characters, sets and pieces, it’s all a part of this visual storytelling you’re not going to see anywhere else.”
The trail will run Oct. 16-18, 23-25, and 30-31. Tickets start at $25 and you can grab them from sirhenryshauntedtrail.com. If you plan to come, wear closed-toed shoes. The trails are recommended for those age 12 and older and it wouldn’t hurt to use some bug spray in advance.
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