By: Jaimz Dillman
A very busy Tuesday night in September saw the creeps come out in full force for SCREAM N' STREAM's media preview. Relocated from swampy back roads, you can now find the experience in the parking lot of Oviedo Mall. (Note: That’s undoubtedly, one of the best changes from last year.) Being located within walking distance of several bars, restaurants, and shops allows guests to have an entire evening out, instead of the previous long drive in the middle of nowhere.
"We wanted people to experience the Halloween holiday, and enjoy themselves." said creative director Patrick Braillard, who seems to have become a one-man horror factory, as he addressed the crowd of awaiting reviewers inside the District Eat and Play center. The revamp has been 10 months in the making, to get all the tech, set pieces, and parts together. And with enhancements such as interactive guns to shoot zombies and clowns, you're tasked to get from one end of the drive to the other.
Another bonus this year is the virtual queue. Once you check in for your pre-purchased arrival time, you'll be queued to receive a text when it's your time to get in your car for the drive-through. And this, of course, allows the local businesses to benefit from the added bodies coming in for thrills and chills. Several restaurants, the food court, and Oviedo brewing are available. Last night Calliope Street, a paint and sip shop, was open and ready with Zombie juice specials and Duckies, an 80's themed vintage store, expanded hours to accommodate anyone looking for possible costume additions or treasures.
Once you receive your text to gather your group, and start your engines, you drive in line, where you have to show your driver's license and proof of insurance, before getting prepped on how the ride-through will work (green lights mean go, red lights mean stop). They also cover safety measures, such as ensuring the drivers aren't filming/taking pictures while driving, using the laser guns while driving, etc. This can take a bit of time, so even though it's your "turn,” make sure you've used the bathroom, and you have a bit of gas for possible idling, and any delays, especially for weather. There's also a radio station to listen to for your wait. We had to ask about it though, as there wasn't any signage, and some of the escorts waving us in didn’t know about it. This just added pre-show music and ambiance. You'll hear all the show audio through speakers at each stop. That’s another upgrade to this year’s event, as we heard everything perfectly.
We were informed that the area was a military zone, and what to look out for, before our shooters got a bit of target practice. The car was then, um... decontaminated? That wasn’t my favorite part, but I won't spoil it for you. They just might want to ask the driver to put the car in park for this station, lest a foot slip off the brakes. And we rolled on.
Hanging strips of black vinyl, like carwash curtains, helped hide the action from scene to scene. But - and I KNOW I'm spoiled from years of theme park employment - seeing the awaiting actors across from where you start gives away a little of the mystery. To be fair, I'm not sure how they could really fix this with such an open layout.
I'm not sure why the story was zombies vs. clowns. We got a little summary about medical experiments, where something went "terribly wrong.” It didn't really dampen the fun of yelling for our gunners to shoot the encroaching attackers, and it genuinely made us laugh out loud. The actors are giving it their all. I'm hoping they pace themselves, because it's a long run.
Priced per car with VIP starting at $140 and regular entry at $84, you'll encounter over 50 scareactors on both sides of your vehicle, in 21 micro-scenes, for a good 20-25 minute slow roll through. The more people you bring, the better the deal. And the price goes up the closer we get to great pumpkin day. Age appropriateness all depends on your kid. Braillard said his nine-year-old would hate it, but his seven-year-old would be all about it. You know your kids best, but I'd it’s about a PG-13 rating. It’s really nothing outside of what you see on tv and in video games, but some may be more sensitive than others. I'm not a fan of clowns, and they got me… a couple times.
Gather up the crew, and get a night of frightful fun in Oviedo. It's a safe, spooky, experience, especially if crowds at the theme park events aren't your cup of zombie juice.
Check out info for dates/times, available upgrades, and packages at scream.stream.com. SCREAM N' STREAM runs through October 31.