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Halloween Haunt 2016: the terror and laughter cannot be dampened« Go Back Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
The true magic of the season doesn't kick in until one hears screams of terror. Canada's Wonderland's Halloween Haunt aims to deliver those spine-chilling cries to the point where one's mind snaps with joy and an overload of fear. From the moment one approaches the entrance, with the creepy funereal music and sound effects blaring, there is the anticipation of a true celebration of this most magical of all holidays.
We set out on a night filled with drizzling rain and threatening thunderstorms. Not ideal for wandering or running from the marauding monsters, but excellent for avoiding line-ups to the many dark mazes and thrill rides. I shivered with excitement and anticipatory trepidation while scooping up a map listing the attractions. Blood Shed. Cornstalkers. Club Blood. Ghostly Pines. Streets of the Undead. Louisiana Scream.
The attractions are impeccably evil with the brand new Spirit Manor being particularly intense. A multitude of haunted house tropes are mashed up to create a salute to Gothic ghoulishness. Wandering into a vast den with walls lined with giant stuffed toy animal head trophies, one of the flitting ghostly denizens of the hellish place whispered in my ear, "I want to put your head on my wall too." I should have listened to the ghost at the door who had hissed, "I wouldn't go in there if I were you . . ." But then I would have missed the nerve-jangling nursery where the decapitations probably took place.
All the maze entrances featured a crone or creature who warned us not to enter or angrily barked, "Go away." Wonderland is now nestled in a sprawling toxic sea of suburbia and some of it has leaked in, perversely twisted into these inverse, or perhaps just exaggerated, Walmart greeters. The Ruins, new to me, was filled with giant snake statues that spewed venomous smoke, gorillas and sinuous creatures that blended with the foliage to jump out at the most shriek-inducing times. I was so entranced and fascinated with the intricate detail, second only to Sci-Fi House, that I became an annoyance to the fear-mongers who wanted to make me soil myself and move on.
The Ruins shares the bowels of Wonderland's central mountain with Zombies 4D Interactive Dark Ride. It is a mini-roller coaster that travels past huge film screens filled with zombies who, in 3D, attack and actually appear to leap off the screens while clawing at one's throat. It was so silly and fun that I forgot about the interactive part where one is given a laser gun to shoot the zombies for points. The last surprise of the ride is a really good one that is so shocking and unexpected that it knocked my heart into my throat. Raul enjoyed the ride even more than I did because, having had experience with video games compared to my utter lack of trigger-happy skills (I will need him if there is a real zombie apocalypse), he earned 232,000 plus points to my measly 43,000.
The entranceway to the Clowns at Midnight has been re-erected but the tent of wonders and horrors is gone. Instead there is a bumper car track. It seemed like a poor substitute until discovering that one of the cars was being driven - with complete disregard for any rules of the road, decorum or apparent safety - by a crafty collison-happy clown. He even, much to my joy, jumped out of his car when the time was up and chased, cackling wildly, some of the other drivers off into the night. If only he had been carrying a giant plastic knife or dangerous-looking engine part stained with blood.
Halloween Haunt runs select nights until Mon, Oct 31 at Canada's Wonderland, 1 Canada's Wonderland Drive, Maple. canadaswonderland.com
For more posts from Drew Rowsome, visit his website.