“This is your first time here?”
Rain on the hot pavement created a natural mist, skimming the cobblestones of Old Town in Kissimmee, Florida. My partner-in-crime, Brittany, nodded alongside me. Both of us are chickens to the extreme, and here we were, standing in line for a haunted house. And not just any haunted house–Legends Dark Amusements, a highly reviewed and well-liked tourist attraction.
“Ooh, you’re in for it,” the woman behind us grinned.
“Is it that bad?” I asked. The boy ahead of me, in my group, started laughing.
“I was crawling on my hands and knees at one point,” he said . “I was here like a week ago.”
I glanced at Brittany. I don’t do scary stuff. Why am I here.
“We got this!” Brittany said encouragingly. “Besides. No refunds. It’s all or nothing. We’ll be okay, don’t worry!”
The door creaked open to reveal a woman in a black dress, twenties-style. She grinned, her precisely-applied makeup suiting the mood perfectly. “Come on in,” she said. “We’ve been dying to meet you.”
It was too late to turn back. She shut the door behind us and the mood shifted to nervous excitement. We were led into a parlor of sorts where a painting came to life, explaining the backstory of the haunted funeral parlor, whose patrons prided themselves on ‘making death their business.’
“Please step this way. Anyone wanting to back out now?” without missing a beat, she continued, “No? Perfect. This is where I leave you. Keep moving, and have a frightfully good time!”
A long hallway faced us. Brittany and I clasped arms. And then—
“RAWAARGH!” (Or some noise of the sort.)
A black hooded figure leapt out of the shadows behind us, chasing us down the hallway. A scream escaped my throat, but it wasn’t nearly as high-pitched as the shriek of terror coming from the only man in our group.
“Wait!” Brittany yelled. “I lost my shoe!”
I turned back. She was facing the zombie, her expression torn between, should I be scared? Or should I just grab my shoe?
The undead actor growled at her, advancing.
“No, sir, you don’t understand.” She pointed at the ground. “I really need my shoe.”
Clearly the zombie had never experienced this problem before. He eyed her, as if wondering, do I get her shoe? Should I let her grab it? Should I just chase them down the hallway?
Finally he retreated a few steps and growled, shaking his arms so his cloak billowed. Brittany darted forward and grabbed the shoe, squeaking out a, “Thanks!” right before he uttered a raw-throated growl and chased us mercilessly down the hall.
We ran straight into the backs of the other couple. They were huddled in a corner, facing a long black room.
“You go first.”
“No, you go first!” We were all strangers, but we clutched each other like terrified little girls. “We’ll all go together.”
I knew what was coming, but that didn’t make it any less scary. Out of the walls, shadows and hidden doors, alarmingly dressed undead popped out, growling, yelling, lumbering towards us with outstretched arms.
For the most part, I stopped paying attention to the details and focused on survival. I know we went though a hallway with body bags or something, where the bodies came to life and attacked. There was a hallway with hanging heads. (Rubber. I ran into one.) And then we stumbled across the chapel.
“We know what you’re going to do!” the guy in our group shouted into the darkness. There was an open coffin and several pews full of undead mourners. “You’re going to jump out, right? Please don’t. Don’t do it. Stay where you are.”
Part of me wanted to laugh. Really, dude? But part of me was in agreement. Let me walk out in peace.
We hadn’t reached the end of the coffin when the legions of well-dressed dead revived. The couple in front of us literally dropped to their knees and began to crawl forward.
“Are you SERIOUS?” Brittany shouted. “Get UP!”
Running, clutching each other, screaming and panting, we burst into the light of the gift shop, where some festive workers grinned and welcomed us back to the land of the living.
“How was it?” one asked.
“It was awesome!” we replied, still out of breath. Outside on the wet pavement, the clouds sprinkling mist over our flushed faces, we bid goodbye to the utter strangers we had just clutched for dear life moments earlier and took off.
The adrenaline high lasted at least the next hour. We wandered Old Town and ate ice cream, laughing at ourselves and the fact Brittany’s shoe broke in two during the chaos.
I will happily tell anyone who is interested, Legions Dark Amusements was a well-crafted, detailed and personal-feeling attraction that provides jump-out scares rather than insidious creepy crawlies, making it ideal for a good old fashioned fright. I don’t do haunted houses, but this was a fun experience.
I will also say this: people who have asthma or heart problems and stuff shouldn’t really go for this experience. We were running–and I mean literally booking it out of there–while screaming our heads off, and by the end we all pretty much needed throat lozenges and inhalers.
Worth it? Yes. (Plus, it was fifteen bucks, which was a price happily paid.)
I’d do it again, and the fun part is that the attraction has the potential to change every time because its a small, locally-owned house of horrors. It’s a walk–through, which is nice. I mean, they don’t let you move at your own pace to some extent since they’re chasing you from one room to the next, but being self-guided is kind of a cool experience.
If you’re thinking about doing it, don’t think twice. It’s a blast. You get a good workout.
An experience, dare I say…. to die for?