Central Florida Haunts: Local Haunted Attractions

Lisa Fritscher October 3, 2014 No Comments

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Terror on the Lake is a creepy local haunt in Clermont, Florida.

While Central Florida is well-known for its major theme park haunts, including Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream, as well as the permanent Legends: A Haunting at Old Town, what is less widely advertised is the area’s plethora of smaller local haunts. From tiny backyard walkthroughs to fully realized haunted houses with all the latest technology, no matter where you are staying, there is sure to be a haunt near you. Here is a look at what 6 local favorites are doing for 2014.

Terror on the Lake
Located just outside the library in Clermont’s Cagan’s Crossing, Terror on the Lake has rapidly developed a well-deserved reputation for professionalism and fun. With high-quality props, sets, costumes and scares, it is clear that the team knows what they’re doing. The designers put together a new storyline every year, and the 2014 event is known as The Legend of Fear Manor.

What is particularly unique about Terror on the Lake is the intensely personal experience the haunt provides. You might be asked to participate in some way, and don’t be surprised if your group is split at some point. The house is intentionally scary, and kids aged 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Other onsite attractions include a zombie shooting gallery, a Buried Alive coffin simulator, and a small assortment of carnival games. If the youngest kids are too scared to go through the haunted house, they can enjoy the carnival while the others walk through.

The Shallow Grave

The Shallow Grave
photo by Ricky Brigante

Winter Haven’s The Shallow Grave is a true competitor to the bigger and better-known haunted attractions. Featuring two walk-through haunted houses, each with its own storyline that connects seamlessly with the other, the experience is purposefully scary. The haunt bills itself as one of the most intense haunted attractions ever mounted in Florida, making it a rival to even the legendary (now closed) Terror on Church Street.

The Shallow Grave is not recommended for kids under age 12, although all ages are permitted. Note that, unlike most haunted houses, the attraction stresses that you might receive minor physical contact from the actors. If you take the kids, prepare them for this possibility.

A Petrified Forest
Located outside Orlando in Altamonte Springs, A Petrified Forest is a highly-rated outdoor haunted trail. New for 2014, the attraction has added a second trail, doubling the scares. The trails are intentionally scary, but offer two special experiences that allow guests to fine-tune their desired level of fright. Total Eclipse Nights are for those who want an extreme experience—each group gets only one glow stick, and all the lights are turned off. On those nights only, the scare actors are allowed to touch you, pick you up, move you around, and so forth. They can also steal your glow stick, forcing you to make your way through without light!

At the opposite extreme, Kids’ Day is the best choice for squeamish little ones. This morning event provides trick-or-treating on part of the trail, arts and crafts, games and even a bounce house. Other options for all ages include nightly Laser Tag, live music and food. Nightly backstage tours are also offered for both kids and adults. These tours allow you to see behind the scenes, meet some of the cast and crew, and even try your own hand at scaring people who walk through.

Hellview Cemetery

Hellview Cemetery
photo by Ricky Brigante

Located in St. Petersburg, the entirely free Hellview Cemetery has been a local charity house since 1996. The attraction continues to grow in both size and scope, but maintains its commitment to free fun for all. The haunt is intentionally scary, but many kids make it through just fine. Only you know what your child can handle.

Please note that this year’s haunt is based on some old religious and spiritual belief systems including serpent worship and ritual sacrifice, and there are some references to cannibalism. Although nothing is extreme, use your discretion when deciding whether the haunt is appropriate for your family.

The Radley Haunted House

The Radley Haunted House
photo by Ricky Brigante

The Radley Haunted House is a local St. Petersburg haunt with big aspirations and the talent to match. The designers truly understand what goes into a successful haunt, and despite a limited budget, they have managed to create something special that is a worthy rival to the biggest theme park haunts. For 2014, they ran a successful KickStarter campaign, raising more than $4000 to fund their expansion. The storyline changes every year, but always focuses on the adventures of the mysterious Radley family.

The attraction is intensely scary, utilizing many of the same tricks and secrets as the big-budget haunted attractions. However, the haunt is theatrical rather than pointedly gruesome, and many families return every year.

Haunted Angelus Scream Park
Located in Hudson, the Haunted Angelus Scream Park is a family-friendly haunt complex. There are two main walk-through haunted houses, a haunted hayride, and a special children’s haunt. Glow sticks are available for little ones and squeamish adults. Although everything except for the children’s haunt is scary, the designers work hard to strike a balance that is entertaining rather than terrifying. If you have any doubts about your child’s ability to make it through one of the haunts, consider purchasing unlimited tickets and previewing the attractions before bringing your kids inside.

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Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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