Written by Grant Duvall
Photos by Ellie Logan
One of the benefits of going to an event's inaugural year is that when you return the following year, you can really see how much things have changed. Last year, I went to the first year of the Christmas version of Sir Henry's Haunted Trail in Plant City, Florida, which is between Tampa and Orlando. I enjoyed the 2021 edition, finding the juxtaposition of Christmas with horror to be playfully frightening. This year, when I found out it was returning, I was very excited to see if this still holds up.
I arrived with my wife to meet up with fellow Creepy Kingdom member Ellie Logan. The outside was well decorated, repurposing classic Halloween decorations with a festive twist, such as Santa hats on skeletons. Ellie had not experienced this, so she was coming in with fresh eyes. Soon after arriving, we were allowed in.
The complex consists of two haunted trails, several creepy walk-around characters, two mini escape rooms (I'll get into those later), snack stands, merchandise, laser tag, and axe throwing. The axe-throwing and laser tag were not operating while we were there, my best guess was that they knew I would dominate so hard that it would be embarrassing for all of the other guests, and they would all leave sad. I will point out that everything other than the trails and the walk-around characters appeared to have an additional charge. The complex itself is not very large, allowing people to see everything in a relatively quick clip.
When we first entered, we encountered several characters ranging from gingerbread men with knives, a tattoo artist version of Santa and Mrs. Claus, some diabolically funny elves, killer snowmen, and Krampus himself. All of the actors gave their all and were super entertaining to watch and interact with. These characters encouraged interaction and would converse in long conversations with us, and I was impressed with their improv skills. There were even a few animatronic characters in various spots with creepy lighting to further set the mood. The decorations were all nicely hand-painted original pieces that were clearly made with love. We got timed tickets for the two escape rooms, and while waiting decided to investigate the two haunted trails.
Click the pictures to enlarge.
The first one we did was Slay Bells. This was your traditional Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, and North Pole idea, but with a very dark twist. The elves wanted revenge on Santa and were not going to let anything stand in their way. This was a surprisingly long haunted trail, with the path leading beyond where I thought the property ended. There were so many scare actors inside that it was astonishing. To have constant actors jumping out around every bend clearly required a lot of thought. Many of them would talk with us and were happy to converse. This was a pleasant surprise as normally in haunts you keep moving. The sets were very well done, which was surprising as this event only runs six nights! Overall, a very fun, funny house with a few scares.
The second house was Krampusnacht 2, a sequel to last year's house. This is basically watching Krampus come and torture and punish naughty children. This would be a great trail to take a bratty young child to in order to straighten them up. This was a long house but not nearly as long as Slay Bells, however, this did have more claustrophobic areas and was significantly scarier. I got a few jump scares thrown my way and was definitely shocked by them. This one was gorier as Krampus got to be in full creepy mode. Once again, this was well-decorated and amazingly put together.
After completing the trails, we then did the two mini escape rooms. These are three-minute time-limit rooms. One was Toy Store of Terror and the other one was Big Jimmy's Gingerbread Escape. Ellie had never done an escape room before, so how would we fare? Well, I can't really go into specifics as I don't want to ruin them, but the first one we did we had 40 seconds to spare, and the second one we did in a minute and twenty seconds! We SLEIGHED them! These were fun, but I kind of felt like they were a little too easy. These would be fun for a younger crowd to see if they could handle a much more complicated one. With these completed, our time was at its end.
Overall, this is a very fun experience that I would highly recommend to all of those in the Central Florida region. It's not too scary, so if your kids have a taste for the spooky, this would be a great way to dip their toes into the haunt game. For those seasoned haunt fans, this is still an incredibly fun way to spend an evening. Sir Henry's improved over last year, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2023!
Sir Henry's Haunted Christmas is open on select nights from 12/9-12/18.
Visit their website for more info: https://www.sirhenryshauntedtrail.com