By: Jaimz Dillman & Johnnie Maier III
You wouldn’t think a Christmas tree farm would be the ideal setting for a horror happening - let alone two - but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Santa’s Farm in Eustis, Florida. This is the new location for the latest immersive offerings from Orlando-based Phoenix Tears Productions.
Caution to attendees: long pants, close-toed shoes, and bug spray are HIGHLY recommended, as you’ll be venturing into an actual tree farm. Before you arrive, keep your eyes peeled for the turn-off road, as this is the first thing that sneaks up on you.
Once parked, the lot is very pretty, with loads of market lights leading to the bar, with several different themed options - a favorite sampled was the Alkemesh, a beer float made with pumpkin ale and coffee ice cream. It sounds weird, but it works. There will be food options in this area, too, including burgers, hot dogs, and vegan options, as well as chips and candy for purchase while waiting for your tours.
Each experience starts with handouts of headphones and flashlights. The actors perform in unison to what you’re hearing. We started with The Resurrection. We were led deep into the forest by an actor laying out the story, keeping us on watch for a crazy murderer on the loose. Although, we weren’t too afraid, as the actress seemed a little too chipper and flippant about the seriousness of the situation. Very Gen Z, if you will.
Through our trek, things started to unfold, letting us know she may be hiding more than she initially let on. The climax of the story did end in the best way possible though, and gave a creepy button for this tale.
Moving on to the slightly longer Camp Alkeridge, after we got our headphones and flashlights, this one started with a hayride! Under the guise of a campground tour, our group was dropped off for a nature walk with our host happily pointing out different flora and fauna. (No Merryweather.)
Quickly things take a turn when a carnivorous flower injures our guide, and we think the purpose was for the blood to attract the Alkemesh… the Bigfoot of the East - that has troubled the camp before. But it was a little unclear, and explained away, as we were led further down the trail.
This story was a bit longer than the first, but could use some trimming. And while the ending was thought-provoking, it was also pretty anti-climactic. Having seen the immersive offering, Infected, last year, we were missing the scare factor of attacking beasts, and the missed opportunity of additional effects this year.
It’s not the place to come if you want to be scared, but with everything Santa’s Farm has to offer, this is a fun night out with good value for the ticket price. Tickets are timed for specific entry at $20, including pumpkin patch, haunt, and “Beer Garden.” (Note: If you buy online, you save 10 percent.) More information on HORROR IN HEADPHONES can be found on the event's Facebook page. HORROR IN HEADPHONES runs select nights through October 30, 2021.