by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student
As an international student in the US, the concept of Halloween has been quite new to me. I had seen this holiday in many Hollywood movies previously but never had experienced it prior to moving to RIT for grad school.
A couple of weekends ago, I drove down to Harrisburg, PA to visit an old friend of mine. He and his friends had all planned to visit a haunted theme park called Field of Screams in Lancaster, PA, which is put together temporarily for a month or so around Halloween every year. I was quite intrigued when I heard about it and it turned out to be quite an experience.
The organizers of this place claim it is one of the scariest haunted venues in the US. When we all walked in, it was cold and raining, and none of us were quite dressed for the occasion (most of us were driving in from out of town). Once we got over the weather, we went on the first ride of the evening, on the back of a tractor trailer sitting on its hay-covered floor. This one was called the Haunted Hayride. The tractor took us through a series of stops, and at each we were met by a scary storyline and actors playing their parts perfectly, including some of them coming at us with live chain saws (except for the actual chain part)!
The second one was called the Nocturnal Wastelands, which was a 20 minute-long trek through paths laid out around the previous ride (the Haunted Hayride). This one involved physical interaction with the actors as they tried to pull us into dark corners and use scare tactics. As this was based in a farm area, the temperatures were really low, and I personally felt that that added to the thrill of this part. There were smells integrated into the whole setup which unsettled us, and made us look over our shoulders all the way!
The third attraction in the park was called the Den of Darkness. I was relieved to be indoors for this since it gave me a break from the cold rain. I liked this attraction the most as it had a good combination of jump scares, pitch dark corners, and physical obstacles. There was a section where we had to physically push through what felt like pillows pushing against us as we walked through! The Den of Darkness’ back story talks about an old, haunted mansion which has seen a lot of killings on its premises, and the whole scene is set accordingly.
The last attraction was called the Frightmare Asylum, which is set as a former home for the criminally insane patients. The jump scares here felt more real than before as there were dwarf actors here. At a fork in the path, we met a “friendly” patient who was trying to tell us the right way out but a few of us ignored that and went the other way. We actually lost our way by doing so and came out a few minutes after our friends (who had chosen to listen to the advice)! We had to then crawl through an extremely small space to get out where dead (fake) corpses were kept all around us. It was one crazy experience as we had to keep convincing ourselves that it was not real!
Finally, we were done with our fun trip to a famous Halloween tradition. We were cold, exhausted, and wet but I am sure we all looked back with a sense of relief in the end. I am not someone who enjoys being spooked so I’m just glad I got to tick this off my list of things to do for Halloween!