If you have been to Orlando, Tampa, or anywhere in between on I-4 in the last three years, you have surely seen their billboards. Scream-A-Geddon started delivering scares to Dade City in 2015. While the event has only been going here 3 years, the folks that run the event have also run an event in Indiana so they are no newcomers to the scare industry. The event features four mazes, a hayride and a midway. Adam Sala, manager at the event, told us that they wanted to create an environment that offered more than just going through the mazes and heading home, they want their guests to be able to spend an evening here. The midway features food, drinks, booths like caricature artists and 3D photos and fun diversions like Zombie Paintball and other games. Of course, the mazes are the stars of the shows, so let’s get to them!
Bedlam 3D is, as the title suggests, a 3D house full of everyone’s favorite friends, clowns! The use of chromadepth in the house is quite effective, using light patterns to shift the floor below you and painted from floor to ceiling in bright, neon colors. I’m not usually one for 3D houses but this is a very good execution of the medium and a lot of fun.
Deadwoods is a maze through the deep dark woods of Dade City, Florida. I’ve never been to Treehoppers Aerial Adventure park during the day, but at night it is pitch black. This maze leads through a deranged family’s holler as you walk through their houses and follow dark paths into the pitch black woods. You are given a glowstick to find your way, but this is really just a way for the family to see you coming. The dark paths really add an element of surprise no matter how many times you go through. The actors in this maze also did an incredible job. We don’t get a lot of outdoor mazes here in Florida so it was a great fresh experience.
INFECTED: GROUND ZERO
Infected: Ground Zero, also a mainly outdoor maze, brings us to the crash site of a car-sized meteor that quickly begins to turn anyone that interacts with it into a bloodthirsty zombie. You are in the quarantine zone, walking through winding paths of sheeted-off rooms and outdoor areas. This maze also features a…. maze. a fully fledged maze in the middle of the attraction. I’m so used to the conga-line pathways that when I saw open paths to the left and right, I didn’t even consider them possible exit ways. This house is pretty neat on its own, but this is where things really get interesting. If you so choose, you can don a glow necklace to “mark” yourself and take things up a notch. Actors will then be able to touch you, pull you off into side rooms, separate you from your group and get more interactive with props. For example, I had a soldier pull me out of line, sit me in a barber’s chair and go at my hair and beard with a pair of clippers, which luckily for me, were fake. This brings a whole new angle to this labyrinth-like house and makes it a must-see attraction.
Blackpool Prison puts you in the middle of a prison environment during a riot. The inmates have escaped their cells and are going on a murder-spree through the jail. Guards locked in cells scream at you for help as you go by and inmates threaten and intimidate. If you’ve been in a prison themed house, you probably know what to expect. Except… this house is interactive as well, so if you wear your necklace in you will be transported to an episode of Scared Straight as inmates pull you away, push you up against walls, lock you in cells and get really in-your-face. While I took this one in stride, my girlfriend was not as comfortable with large guys cornering her and splitting her off from me. She went all the way through and was okay, but it was a big enough concern for her to tell me about it after. Luckily, if you start to feel uncomfortable with this enhanced experience, you can take the necklace off at any time and hold it to your side and you will not be bothered.
Florida has a lot of haunts, but one thing we lack is hayrides. The creators of Scream-A-Geddonwanted to bring that midwestern tradition to us here in florida and they certainly didn’t pull any punches in the execution. You travel through multiple scenes complete with fire and pyro and all with a decidedly southern twist. As my first experience with a hayride, I really enjoyed this and hope it catches on more in the south. I don’t want to give too much of the show away, but if you’re there, you have to check it out!
Overall, the event evokes for me the feeling of fall in the Midwest where I grew up. There are picnic tables and benches in the midway area for folks to grab a drink and hang out, a carnival-style atmosphere and even fire pits on either end where you can make s’mores with kits you can purchase at the concession stands. It feels like a block party that also happens to feature a bunch of great mazes that have enough variation to withstand multiple trips through. Scream-A-Geddon is located just 33 minutes from Howl-O-Scream in Tampa and and hour and a half from Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, so if you are in the area for those events it’s a short trip to check them out. The event runs every night except November 1st and 2nd until November 4th and tickets start at $21.95 depending on the evening you attend. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.screamageddon.com/