By Jill Diver
Goblins, vampires, zombies, witches and plenty of other terrifying sights will haunt the dreams of anyone who dares enter southern New Hampshire this fall.
Canobie Lake Park in Salem is in the thick of its annual Screeemfest attraction that features several haunted houses, including The Village, The Dead Shed and Merriment, Inc., while Spookyworld’s gates in Litchfield have opened with three new attractions,
So what goes into creating these horrifying haunts?
“It’s a year-round process,” said Mike Krauser, the designer for Spookyworld. “You write down ideas when they come to you and you watch what is popular in the horror movies.”
Krauser is in his third year at Spookyworld, and with a background in theater and a fascination with horror and haunted houses, he understands what it takes to scare just about anyone.
“Driving around, I’ll see an old house in the field and adapt that to the park,” he said. “We want to take you out of reality and take you out of where you are.”
This year, some of the brand new haunts are the Catacombs, where you can dig your own grave, and The Colony, where Krauser and his team recreated an old village out in the woods.
“The Colony is completely outdoors,” Krauser said. “People really enjoy the outdoor aspect. The Colony is where backwoods people vanish into the woods. As you go through the colony, you basically become what they want for dinner.”
There is a lot of research that goes into making an attraction believable.
“We have a great network of owners and operators,” Krauser said. “Once we have a floor plan, we decide on costumes and we have a wardrobe staff on site.”
If he were to put a rating on his attractions, they would PG-13.
“We have 130 actors a night,” Krauser said. “If they see a kid can’t take it, they back off. We have a very professional staff.”
And while the haunts are there to scare visitors, it’s also about enjoyment.
“In New England, it’s such a celebration of Halloween,” Krauser said. “If everyone comes here and gets scared, it’s a great night. We want people to be entertained and happy. It’s a great atmosphere, and we are making it better every year.”
IF YOU GO
What: Canobie Lake Screeemfest.
Where: Canobie Lake Park, 85 North Policy St., Salem, N.H.
When: Through Oct. 31.
How: General admission $24.99; under 48 inches tall or over age 60, $13.99; ages 3 and under free. Call 603-893-3506 or visit www.canobiehaunts.com.
Where: 454 Charles Bancroft Highway, Litchfield, N.H.
When: Weekend nights through Oct. 31.
How: General admission Friday and Saturday, $34.99; all other days, $29.99. VIP tickets Friday and Saturday, $59.99; all other days, $49.99. Visit www.spookyworld.com.
This ran in The Daily News of Newburyport on October 14, 2010