By Jaimz Dillman
When you approach the entry to Scream and Stream, one of the new drive-thru socially distanced Halloween offerings in Central Florida, you may wonder who’s running things. The rain on media preview night made for a quick change in schedule and it seemed confusing for employees and attendees alike. With masks on and hands sanitized we pressed on.
The event is being housed out of Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures and S&S uses the main building for checking in and restrooms. From there, the outside patio has S&S merchandise for purchase (masks $16, fog air freshener $8, posters $5), and meet and greet appearances of promoted icon The Fog Queen. Although we waited a good 45 minutes with word she would be appearing alas, the Queen never materialized.
Everything else is run by the airboat company including several food offerings- pizza fries or tots, bacon ranch fries or tots ($11 each), assorted ice cream, and candy. Drinks and libations will be offered at the tiki bar (anyone drinking will have their hands marked so they are identified to not be allowed to drive in the haunt). Of course, haunted airboat rides are also available ($25 per person).
We met up with a (masked) character actor but it wasn’t clear what his role was and how he played into everything. He was having fun entertaining the guests but again, we didn’t get any kind of story from him.
There is an early evening family-friendly Drive Boo Trick or Treat option (starting at $56 per car) from 5:30-6:15 pm which includes free contactless candy treats. Unfortunately, lighting in the area scratched this from our preview but the website states the drive will be full of friendly (masked) characters. No late entry is permitted.
The evening Night at the Die-in (starting at $56 per car) runs 7:00-11:00 pm, again no late entry is permitted. Partial proceeds do benefit Second Harvest Food Banks so yay for doing good in the community!
This is where I’ll say doing your due diligence prior to your visit and reading through the company’s website will help you out. A lot.
Throughout the space, there are a few signs posting several rules and guidelines but nothing is listed all together so if you miss one sign you’re in the dark - pun intended.
We waited in the car line for over 25 minutes and I can only imagine how long it’ll be once opened. There is mention online of a VIP pass that will put you in the express lane but I couldn’t find the price or where the purchase button was located. Now, being in Florida, I’m fine to wait in my air-conditioned car listening to the radio and out of the rain and bugs so I didn’t mind so much. But, I’m sure the (masked) attendants will get an earful from future visitors for the lengthy hangout. At least they’re pulsing the cars through so (masked) actors can reset and it’s not just a steady stream through like in some bigger haunted attractions we know.
Speaking of attendants, while they seemed pleasant and polite they could use a little more training with the directional flashlights. One holding a tall STOP sign was waving us forward with a lazily tilted hand so we actually asked him if we were supposed to drive forward or not.
As we approached the entrance to the “Die-in” another (masked) attendant was ping-ponging between the two lanes of cars qued up for the safety spiel. Rules of the road are posted in between so everyone can read them but she kindly goes over them again to make sure you understand. What’s not listed is the FM radio station you can tune to for a more “orbital sound” experience. The event’s slogan for basically their sight and sound. It wasn’t as great as it could’ve been (pipe in the actor’s!!) and barely added anything to the show but there’s potential! Also not reviewed was the system to stop at certain spots for the actors to perform their scenes. With the trail beautifully lit, the red for stop and green for go lights get lost as part of the setting. It wasn’t until instructions were casually tossed out by one of the first (masked) characters yelling at us while we rolled by at less than 3 miles an hour did we realize that’s what you’re supposed to do.
Having read a brief synopsis of the storyline beforehand I kind of had an idea of what the creators were going for in this series of scenes. Basic horror movie tropes- high school kids out where they’re not supposed to be, oops... one goes missing and one escapes to get help. Then it plays out from there. I was very happy that the (masked) actors were on mic giving us a pretty clear interaction with some. I am wondering though, how well it’ll work if it’s raining and windows are up. My hearing-impaired guest had a hard time understanding some of them as well.
But they were going to town with most of them living their best spooky lives. You can tell this is where the director and actors alike shine. Plenty of cheesy one-liners, pretty good improv from a few as they stalled for the path to clear, and great physicality within their environment. That being said, there was some bleed over from scenes across the way from each other, the story got muddled towards the end and we didn’t realize one character was carried throughout as casting wasn’t consistent to make it obvious (matching hair and mask color is important!), there was a hold for us to wait at a stop sign to proceed toward the finale, but as cars in front of us exited, we could see the end scene play out right in front of us. The big climatic roundabout had absolutely no payoff and was, frankly, confusing as to why it was even there. As music from Andy Garfield with HHN composing credits played it sounded great but left us wanting and wondering.
We were guided out toward the exit and saw the end scene- again- that’s when we realized the one girl is supposed to be the same throughout the story. And then it was over. Friendly safety vested (masked) staff waved us goodbye and said “have a nice night”.
Yes, the COVID pandemic has forced us to think outside the box. While I’m thrilled someone has stepped up to keep Halloween events alive- I’m sorry to say this one just falls short of bringing the monster to life.