Scarywood Haunted Nights officially celebrated it's 10 year anniversary just a few weeks ago, kicking off it's 11th year of operations. That's a big
milestone for any theme park, and particularly for a special event such as this one. There have been some highs and lows to be sure, but overall
the event has steadily improved to where it is today. We've attended every year with the exception of 2016, and we thought it might be fun to take
a look back through the years at how things have changed and evolved.
Before we dive in, we should take a quick moment to acknowledge that, in order to preserve the authenticity of this post, all photos below were taken
from the specific years in which they are referenced. :)
2009 - "Something Spooky is Coming..."
As we've said a few times now, it's hard to believe that it's been over 10 years since we first saw those words posted to Silverwood's Facebook
page. (Then again, looking at that photo above, maybe it really HAS been that long...we look like little kids!!) The first year of Scarywood was probably the most different from any subsequent year. For starters, the park was open all day, and
experimented with a family-friendly "Halloween Party" aimed at younger audiences, during the day.
Guests could wear costumes, trick-or-treat
at Garfield's Summer Camp, and meet characters. At the end of the day, everyone was herded back to the front of the park, while the conversion
over to Scarywood Haunted Nights took place.
The attraction line-up for the haunt was limited for this first year. Nick Norton had a magic show called "Nightmare", which was essentially
his summer show but with one small "scare". The train was converted to the MidFright Express, and consisted of pre-recorded audio and a couple
of mildly scary moments along the way. Finally, the Thunder Canyon rafting ride trench was drained and converted into the Terror Canyon Trail.
Even in it's first year, this was a pretty impressive haunted attraction!
Our memories of Scarywood 2009 are still etched in our minds to this day. The weather was rainy and dreary, and crowds were moderate. We
enjoyed Nick's magic show as always, particularly the Haunted Mansion theme that played at the start as the lights dimmed. We laughed and
cringed at the train ride audio...indeed "Scary Jerry" will never be forgotten by us!! We distinctly remember sprinting from the train over
to Terror Canyon, due to the limited time we had to experience all three attractions. And we will never forget being truly terrified as
we were chased out of the exit by the chainsaw scareactor!
Although it was a worthy effort for a first year, much of Scarywood 2009 came to be a learning experience for the park. This would be
obvious in 2010 when just about everything was scrapped and re-imagined.
2010 - A $1M investment kicks things up a notch
Scarywood's second year saw what we would argue was the most substantial amount of change from one year to another. For starters, the park
was no longer open during the day. Although we lamented not getting to experience the park with no lines, we completely understood. The daytime
offerings were obviously not a big hit with guests, as no one really seemed to show up. Additionally, the logistics of herding everyone out to the
courtyard was probably more work than it was worth.
Next, the attraction lineup was given an overhaul. Terror Canyon was the only thing that returned, and was given a boost with a storyline
of a group of girl scouts that had gone missing. This was a nice addition to an already very well done attraction.
Unlike Terror Canyon, which got a relatively minor makeover, the train ride was completely unrecognizable. It was re-imagined into the
Zombiewood Express. Rather than attempting to make a scary attraction, Nick Norton was
given the reigns to create some entertainment for park-goers. Guests were taken on a zombie hunting adventure, with Nick leading the
charge. This was much more of a "show" as opposed to a haunt, and that was definitely the right move.
Due to Nick's new role as Sgt. Buzz, he would no longer grace the stage of the magic theater, so his show "Nightmare" would not run in
2010. In the end, a great move, as this gave us all a chance to see a different side of his talent and showmanship. The new train
ride was a fantastic addition, and would grow to become an award-winning, legendary staple of Scarywood for years to come.
The park also added a new permanent haunted maze: Blood Bayou. This was installed in the old Ice Palace building. It was created by a
professional Halloween company that had been hired to overhaul the event as well as build the haunt. And that investment paid off
immensely, as this was a truly top-notch attraction. We had previously been to Knott's Scary Farm a few years earlier, and we can safely
say that Blood Bayou was at or even above the level of what we had experienced there. It was incredibly long, had immersive theming, and
tons of scares to boot.
Last, and certainly not least, 2010 saw the introduction of the park running the Timber Terror roller coaster backwards. This was a massive
hit with guests, with lines running upwards of 2-3 hours long. We remember hearing people talking about this throughout the entire
evening. It's something we look forward to every year, and was an absolutely brilliant addition.
Indeed, Scarywood 2010 raised the bar for this event in many ways.
2011 - The Freak Farm and Mind Warp
In 2011, the amount of changes started to slow back down a bit. Blood Bayou, and the Zombiewood Express both returned largely unchanged.
Sure there were a few additions and tweaks to both, but by and large, it was the same.
Terror Canyon also returned, but this time with
the addition of the "Freak Farm" theme that was mixed in with the "missing girl scouts" theme from the previous year. It was probably
the most disturbing incarnation of this maze we can recall - it was very well done!
Aside from these returning haunts, the park added "Mind Warp: the Maze". This was located in the grass field near the Boulder Beach
entrance. It consisted of a three-section maze: first was a maze of hexagonal rooms with doors on all walls; some opening and others
not. After this section was a chain-link fence maze that you had to navigate. Finally, to exit, you went through the spinning vortex
tunnel, and walked out across the field back towards the train station.
We'll be a bit brutal here: this was a lousy attraction. Probably the worst one the park ever created for Scarywood. It was nice to
have something a little different, but it was just not at the same level of the other attractions. It usually took only a minute or
two to get through, and the "maze" elements were simply too easy to figure out. Luckily the park did not ever bring this back, and
instead utilized all of the components of the maze in different attractions in the future. We think it was best said that, Mind Warp
was really good when it was put inside other haunts...but not on it's own!
2012 - 3Dementia makes its debut, plus a new scare zone
For 2012, the only attraction that did not return was Mind Warp, which we were glad to see get axed. Instead, a new attraction was added
over by the Roller Coaster Alley sign - 3Dementia. The story here was that you were being taken inside the mind of Rusty Sprocket.
was a 3D attraction that incorporated many of the elements of Mind Warp, but with a TON of other fun 3D gags and "fun house" props as well.
It was long, unique, and a great addition to the line-up.
The park also added a new scare zone near Panic Plunge, called "Oddities". This was supposed to be a sort of "freak show" circus type
area, with things like a fortune teller, baby-eating snake, and an elephant man. There were several booths you could go up to, many of
which contained a jump scare of one sort or another.
It was an interesting take on the idea of a scare zone, but ultimately it didn't
really work. It felt more like a sideshow than a scare zone or attraction, and was too spread out for the atmosphere they were trying
to go for. It was no wonder we didn't ever see this come back.
2013 - 5th Year Shakeup: Ancient Ruins, Total Darkness, and Zambora's Curse
For Scarywood's fifth year, a significant number of changes were made. For starters, the Terror Canyon Trail was changed to a completely
new theme - The Ancient Ruins. This was more than just a change in storyline - the entire attraction was re-vamped. All of the sets
and theming were totally different.
The haunt now had more of an Indiana Jones feel to it, as the setting was one of an archeological
site that had several terrible prophecies foretold, according to markings on the walls. Today was the day that all of those events
were set to take place. We absolutely loved this theme, and found it to be the best of all of the "Thunder Canyon trench" haunts.
Next up, Total Darkness made it's debut. Set inside the magic theater show building, this was a completely pitch black maze that required
you to put your hands along the walls to "feel" your way through. And since you were forced to touch the walls, they were cleverly covered
with fake snakes, spiders, and other creepy crawly critters. We enjoyed this one a lot the first year, particularly since we had never
experienced anything like it before. It was a lot of fun.
Blood Bayou and Zombiewood Express returned, again largely unchanged. 3Dementia also returned, but was instead moved back to the picnic
pavilion, where it would stay for several future years. The 2013 version was a noticeable step down from it's inaugural year in 2012.
There were two identical routes through the maze, presumably to increase throughput, but that drastically shortened the overall length.
And many of the props from the first year were missing, including the vortex tunnel, which had been moved to a very odd location out
in the middle of Roller Coaster Alley.
The final big change was the addition of Zambora's Curse in the location formerly occupied by 3Dementia. This was a short "optical
illusion" show that lasted a couple of minutes. It was fun to watch, but the walls were all canvas, so you could hear all the audio
outside before entering...sometimes multiple times before it was your turn.
This kind of killed the effect when you actually got inside,
but nonetheless it was nice to see the park trying new things.
2014 - Ancient Ruins moves; Thunder Canyon is used no more
With all of the major changes and additions of the previous year, 2014 saw very little. The biggest changes were with 3Dementia and Ancient
Ruins, both of which were returning from the previous year. 3Dementia was back to just a single walkthrough, and had many of the elements
returned from it's first season, including the vortex tunnel. This one was vastly improved from its 2013 version.
Ancient Ruins was moved to an entirely new location, in between the Log Flume and Tremors, where Zambora's Curse had previously been.
This marked the first year that the park did not have an attraction in the Thunder Canyon trench, and we were sad to see that go away. No
doubt, there were sound and valid reasons for this, but we always loved the feeling we got while walking through the deep, empty trench.
It really felt like you had been transported into a different place, with trees and bushes completely engulfing the trail. Nothing else
was quite like it anywhere we had seen, so it was tough to say goodbye to this unique offering.
That said, Ancient Ruins was still a
lot of fun in its new location, and felt very different due to the fact that it was re-designed for that space.
Zambora's Curse was not relocated to a new location, but instead was axed all together. A wise choice, in our opinion.
2015 - Caved In added to the lineup
In the 2015 installment of Scarywood, the only real change of substance was the replacement of the Ancient Ruins with Caved In. This
used many of the same props and facade as Ancient Ruins, but was much more difficult to navigate. Dense fog and very dimly flickering
lights lined the pathway through the attraction, making it very disorienting. Despite the fact that this particular physical location
had seen 4 different attractions in the previous 4 years, we were glad to see one that truly deserved to stick around a bit longer.
Indeed, this was a great addition to the lineup.
Aside from that, literally everything else was the same as 2016, with marginal improvements and changes to each attraction.
2016 - Copy and paste from 2015
This was the one year we can recall from memory that not one major change was seen or implemented. Every haunt from 2015 returned.
Admittedly, this was the one year we were not able to attend, but since there was nothing new, we don't feel like we missed out
on much. :)
2017 - The era of the Zombiewood Express ends, and a sequel is born
We made it back out for 2017, which saw a massively major change to the lineup - the Zombiewood Express was not coming back, but instead
would be succeeded by a new attraction - Planet Zombie. This would serve as a sequel to the train show, in that the zombies finally overtook
the train and have started invading the park. Sgt. Buzz and his crew are now fighting against the creatures on foot.
It would be dishonest of us to say we weren't (and aren't) saddened to see the Zombiewood Express shelved, as it was the single most unique
attraction that Scarywood had. Indeed, it was recognized by Travel Channel as one of the top 10 haunts in the country, so you know it had
a lot going for it. Alas, capacity issues and other logistical challenges necessitated the change, and we've just learned to live with the
Still, Planet Zombie was a worthy replacement, adding a storytelling "theatrical" element to the traditional haunted maze. It's
very long, incredibly well themed, and does an effective job of making you feel like you're part of the action.
2018 - Pharaoh's Curse joins the ranks, and Nick Norton returns to the stage
2018 marked the official 10th year of operation for Scarywood, and a few new changes were thrown into the mix. First of all, Nick Norton
and his wife Amanda Norton put on a new Halloween magic show called "Dillusion: An Eternal Encore". This made perfect sense, since Nick's
physical presence wasn't really needed in Planet Zombie - that could be achieved through video and audio recordings, since you didn't get
to see much of his character anyways.
It was much better for him to have a chance to be on stage, working a crowd in the perfect way he
always does. This did nothing to detract from Planet Zombie, and instead added a fantastic offering to the entertainment lineup. As we
said in our 2018 review, if Nick isn't going to play Sgt. Buzz on the Zombiewood Express, then putting him back on stage in the magic
show theater is exactly the right move.
With Nick Norton now using the magic theater for his show, Total Darkness needed to find a new home, which it did back in the picnic pavilion.
This meant that there were now two haunts back in this part of the park.
The other major change was the retirement of Caved In, and its replacement with Pharaoh's Curse. The idea here was to install a more
permanent structure for the attraction, and the result was a much more well-themed, immersive experience.
All of the sets, décor, and even
animatronics (yes, you read that right!), were amazing - so much so that this was our favorite of all the haunts that have been in this
location. Caved in was a great attraction in its own right, but it was starting to feel stale fairly quickly. So it was great to see it
replaced/upgraded to this new experience.
Lastly, the log flume was added to the rides lineup, with a teaser of possibly having some elements of a haunt. We hoped for something
drastic, but instead, not much of substance has been done with this. The only changes added to the ride are some fog machines and flashing
lights in the tunnels. But to date, no actors, props, or story have otherwise been added.
2019 - A new 3D attraction and an official 10th anniversary
Although 2018 was the 10th year of operations, it wasn't until 2019 that Scarywood officially celebrated it's 10th anniversary of
opening. This final year in our walk-back through time was by and large the same as 2018, with the one exception being that 3Dementia
was retired, and replaced with Dr. Delirium's 3D Rockhouse.
This is now housed in a new permanent structure back behind Aftershock. It
feels a lot like 3Dementia on the surface, but in reality we felt it was much improved. There were a lot more actors inside, the length
was noticeably increased, and the sets and theming were top notch.
In addition to this, all other aspects of Scarywood were firing on all cylinders for 2019 - from the other mazes, to the scare zones, it
seemed like everything was working in full order.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn't include a mention of "Ma", in this chronology. She had been a part of Blood Bayou for every year
of its operations, as one of the actors in the cannibalism scene. Earlier in 2019, she passed away, and was memorialized in the haunt
with a photo in the very room she used to work in. She will always be remembered as a true staple of this attraction.
Well, there you have it! At least from everything we can remember and piece together, a full 10-year (11-year??) chronology of the Scarywood
Haunted Nights history. It has been so much fun to watch things evolve and change over time. Reflecting on all of this has only made us even
more excited for what the next 10 years will bring.
Planning an trip to Scarywood? Be sure to check out our Scarywood Haunted Attractions Guide and
Scarywood Trip Planning Guide
to help you get the most out of your visit! Let us know in the comments below what are your favorite and least favorite memories from Scarywood
over the past 10 years? Which year stood out most to you?