All those wonderful actors, scriptwriters and visual artists who put so much heart and skill into making a visit to the recently concluded New York Renaissance Faire at Sterling Forest such a pleasurable immersive experience – what do they do in the off-season? Well, some of them just change their costumes and shift their operations across the road to the Forest of Fear. It’s the same core group of madcap creative types, Renaissance Entertainment Productions, that puts on the scariness at this multi-award-winning Halloween-season attraction. So one may confidently expect well-written scenarios with a strong streak of gallows humor, outstanding costumes, makeup and props and topnotch, experienced and fully committed roleplayers. Sounds like a recipe for fun, if you have a taste for blood.
In fact, besides making many of the haunted-attraction industry’s annual must-see lists, the Forest of Fear – now beginning its second quarter-century – has developed a reputation as one of the scariest in the Northeast. Bringing kids age 12 and under is emphatically discouraged, and buying a ticket is explicitly considered releasing the proprietors from any liability if you have a serious freakout and injure yourself. There’s a long list of official warnings: “You will experience audio and visual disturbances, low visibility, strobe lights, fog, damp and/or wet conditions, encounter uneven walking surfaces in a physically demanding environment…you should not participate if you are: pregnant; suffer from claustrophobia; are prone to seizures; have heart, back or respiratory problems.”
Unlike partially motorized “haunted hayride” destinations, the Forest is what’s known in the trade as a “walkthrough.” All seven of the attractions are accessed on foot in and around a single cluster of buildings. There’s plenty of gore to be found here, with such attractions as the Craven Brothers Chainsaw Repair and the Slaughterhouse; and at least one, titled Blind Panic, involves having to move through a series of dark rooms (wear your spikiest ankle bracelets). There’s a necropolis populated by ghosts and walking dead, a carnival full of psychotic clowns and a biohazard-contaminated laboratory. “Halloween is a harvest festival, and you’re the harvest,” says one of the Forest of Fear’s advertising taglines.
So, if your idea of an appealing chillfest depends more on interactivity with live (or undead) human talent than with high-tech special effects, this attraction should move to the top of your list for what to do with a spooky autumnal weekend evening. The Forest of Fear admits visitors between 7 p.m. and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and between 7 and 11 p.m. on Sundays from October 6 through 29. (There’s no telling when they’ll emerge, though – if ever!) Saturday nights typically have the longest lines. Tickets cost $30 for Friday and Saturday admission, $25 for Sunday. The onsite ticket booth opens at 6:45 p.m., or you can purchase them in advance at www.ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1473437.
The Forest of Fear is located at 600 Route 17A in Tuxedo, directly across the street from the main entrance to the Ren Faire. Food and souvenirs are sold on-site, and there’s a screening room where you can sit and watch classic horror movies whilst awaiting the foolhardier members of your adventuring party, if you decide that you’ve had enough. For more info, visit www.theforestoffear.com.