Review by Jaimz Dillman
Photography by Ellie Logan
About an hour outside of Orlando, down a side road off the highways, something wicked is celebrating 10 years of frights in Plant City, Florida. Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail opens September 29th ushering in the freaks who come out at night all seeking to be spooked and scared. Waiting for the gates to open on media night, we were treated to several scare-actors surveying the crowd giving us a bit of a preview for what we were in store for.
Once inside, you’re standing in a bit of a village main square. Small food booths to your left, a witch’s shack straight ahead, merch offerings to your right, and 3 haunt experiences towards the back. You really feel like you’ve entered a movie set of ghosts and goblins. You can catch a few roaming characters for photos and some more picture opportunities along the fence with added signage and lighting. We were lucky to be there in a dry cooler evening. Definitely wear long pants and boots to navigate trails, bug spray is a good idea, and if it rains… I fear for the ghosties.
First up, we jumped right into Moonlight Massacre. The stories of each house are posted at the front of the line and the attendants will read you some simple rules- no running, don’t touch the actors or props. Easy enough. And we were in! What surprised us about this house was... it’s not just the house. You wind in and out of rooms, outside trails (hence, haunted trail, get it?), through ruins, and it seems to go on forever! Every couple of turns victims and monsters come out from the shadows and blend into their surroundings very effectively making the scares pretty good. The sets are beautiful and we were able to take our time wandering through to appreciate it all. Don’t know if the same will happen on busy nights but we appreciate it. Solid 4 out of 5 pumpkins.
A couple of escape houses are add-ons this year and we tried out Poppy’s Playhouse. Built inside a literal shed, there was some confusion about what we were supposed to do since our video feed wasn’t working with any instructions. No matter, three minutes later we found the “mischief” and were told we had solved the puzzle. Okayyyy… not my thing, so I’d probably skip it in the future. And they could add a fan to keep some air moving inside.
Next up, we got in the queue for the Haunted Hayride, but the line wasn’t moving too fast so we opted out to go to the next house and return later.
Tales of the Dead had a really great entrance and again, really impressive sets. However, there are some tight hallways that may trigger those who are claustrophobic and I can’t see some things not getting ruined. But they’ve been doing this for 10 years so I’m sure the Sir Henry’s crew is at the ready to replace and repair. We liked this one but Midnight Massacre still stood out. 3 out of 5 pumpkins.
Further down, and past a couple of booths selling shirts, books, trinkets, and hot sauce we braved Wicked Waters. No one got wet through this house but sea creatures and fishermen were not happy to have visitors. Again, a cool layout and idea, and not too many scares. Two of three pumpkins.
Back to finish the night with the haunted hayride, the line moved pretty quickly this time. We loaded into the trailer sitting on hay bales, and we were off! The payoff was worth the wait. Scenes happened at different stops along the way and actors appeared stealthily out of the darkness. Lights and pumpkins through the trees were eye-catching but some spots were so dark you couldn’t see some really cool effects and props. Definitely another 4 out of 5 pumpkins though.
The food options are priced well and are a variety of carnival-type offerings. Our crew tried the BBQ nachos, cinnamon sugar pretzels, butterbeer, and apple cider floats from the spooky eats booth. And I had a hand-dipped fresh corndog from the neighboring stand. Everyone liked their choices but agreed an adult beverage would’ve been nice. We didn’t see any listed on menus during our visit.
Tickets start at $27 for general admission with upgrades available for all-access and VIP. Compared to bigger parks pricing some people out, and super packed lines, Sir Henry’s is an affordable and spooky good time for those wanting Halloween fun without having to sell a body part to get in.
For more information visit: https://www.sirhenryshauntedtrail.com