Yesterday marked the autumn equinox, officially the first day of fall. Now you can start packing away your summer clothing, consume pumpkin-flavored snacks and drinks and redecorate your abode to suit the season.
With every autumn comes beautiful scenery when the leaves turn colors, the smell of a cool, crisp air comes with every sunrise, and the sun sets earlier each passing evening.
But while we’re all excited for the beautiful scenes and pleasant weather, we can’t forget about the ghost and ghouls that’ll be taking over our neighborhoods in anticipation of Halloween.
Throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley, there are scores of haunted scream parks, hayrides, corn mazes and so much more, designed to scare and excite those who dare to enter. One attraction that’s made a significant impact in the world of haunt is Shocktoberfest, a haunted scream park in Sinking Spring.
Celebrating its 25th year this fall, Shocktoberfest in 2015 was named by USA Today as the third best extreme haunted attraction in the nation, and with new additions to this year’s events, it should live up to or surpass that acclaim.
“Twenty-five years ago, we were a simple haunted hayride, and now we are one of the most well-known and established scream parks in the country,” said Lauren Konopelski, marketing manager for Shocktoberfest.
Since its inception, Shocktoberfest has added new features and attractions year-over-year, and offers something for everyone:
Notable features at the scream park:
• Ground Assault – Zombie Laser Tag: Battle zombies with a tactical laser gun.
• The Prison of the Dead: A horrifying, 50,000-square-foot condemned prison compound.
• The Zombie Safari Hayride: The zombie paintball hayride where you can shoot real-life zombies (well, not actually real zombies, but you get the idea).
• The Unknown 2.0: A phobia-themed haunted house which uses cinematic 3-D effects.
• Club Shock: A haunted night club with disc jockeys and live bands.
• The Zombie Experience: Where you are transformed into a zombie and get to scare other customers.
• The Zombie Night Run: Run for your life from the blood-thirsty zombies.
• The “Almost” Naked and Scared Challenge: Go through a haunted house with almost zero protection in nothing but your underwear.
• Prison of the Dead Escape: Escape-room experience inside the prison of the dead haunted house.
• Monster Midway: Complete with scare zones, shows, games, music and great food at ShocktoberFeast and Shockers Café.
On Route 422 just west of Reading at 94 Park Ave. in Sinking Spring, Shocktoberfest is a great opportunity for friends and family to celebrate the eerie holiday.
“Shocktoberfest benefits the local communities because it is a fun, special and unique event that gives families a place to come together and have a good time,” Konopelski said. “… We get tens of thousands of visitors each year.”
According to Konopelski, what makes the attraction stand out is that it has “always been a leader in innovation and offering unique and specialized experiences.”
The scream park has received critical acclaim from a panoply of media outlets besides USA Today, including being rated one of the scariest places in America by the Travel Channel.
And while Shocktoberfest focuses on bringing new and fearful attractions each year, it also gives back to the local community.
Konopelski said that one year it held “Nick’s Fright Night,” a charity event for a local boy diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. The fundraiser, which raised more than $2,000, allowed him to live his dream and scare people at Shocktoberfest.
The scream park employs more than 150 people and uses local services and vendors, Konopelski said.
There is something for everyone at Shocktoberfest on all levels of fright, and there are opportunities now through early November to get your fix of fear.
Sept. 26, 27 and 30.
Oct. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29 and 30.
Nov. 4, 5 and 6.
Ticket booth hours: Thursdays and Sundays, 6-9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, 6-10 p.m.
Attractions open at 7 each night and remain open until all guests experience attractions.
Single attraction pass: $20 regular, $35 RIP.
Double attraction pass: $28 regular, $43 RIP.
Triple combo pass: $34 regular, $49 RIP.
Quad combo pass: $40 regular, $55 RIP.
All-access combo pass: $45 regular, $60 RIP.
Note: RIP pass allows you to go to the front of the line.
Zombie Safari Hayride: Additional $10 to any regular attraction pass.
Prison of the Dead Escape: $25.
Ground Assault: Zombie Laser Tag: $20.
Shocktober Music Fest (Oct. 2): $15 advance, $20 at door.
Note: Admission for children is half price on selected dates with coupon. Some attractions not recommend for children younger than 6.
Returning for 2016 is The Zombie Mud Run on Oct. 8. It’s a post-apocalyptic 5K obstacle mud run teeming with zombies infected with the “living dead virus.” Whether you are an avid mudder or have never participated in a mud run, it promises to be heart-pounding and adrenaline-producing.
The race course includes more than 30 natural and manmade obstacles that will test your strength and endurance, including the toxic swamp, mud pit crawl, tower climb and cemetery open graves, all while zombies chase and try to capture you.
The Zombie Mud Run will donate part of its proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berks County, which provides programs to at-risk youth.
More information and ticket purchasing for Shocktoberfest can be found at www.shocktoberfest.com.