By: Grant Duvall
Halloween is too short of a season. It kicks off mid-September (unless, of course, you're Disney, and then boom, Halloween in August), and concludes on October 31. While Christmas understandably needs to take over, due to the natural progression of a year, it's hard not to be wistful for the scary season. Fortunately for those of us in Florida, a new, unique concept has arrived for 2021: a Christmas haunt. When I first got the word that I would be covering SIR HENRY'S HAUNTED CHRISTMAS in Plant City (roughly 45 minutes from Walt Disney World), I was perplexed. What could this possibly be like? Would this potentially be sacrilegious, as for a great portion of the population, Christmas is a very holy day? Would I get to see what I dreamed of at first thought, which was a nutcracker crushing the head of an innocent? Only time would tell.
On December 5th, I arrived at Sir Henry's. Immediately I felt as though I was at a Halloween Horror Nights-type event, which was much needed, as unfortunately, I did not get to attend any haunts this year. There was, however, a different type of magic in the air. There was fake snow, creepy Christmas music, and Christmas lights as far as the eye could see. This was going to be perfect. Walking in, I was greeted by Krampus himself. The costuming and movements of Krampus were excellent, and I knew I was in for a top-notch experience. Also, around were a creepy Santa and Mrs. Claus, a gingerbread man with a knife, and most entertaining of all, were three evil elves that were causing mischief. They were a true hoot to watch, and made me laugh on many occasions.
There were various activities available, such as axe throwing and laser tag. There was also a snack stand with several spooky treats. I wasn't hungry, but people seemed to be enjoying them. The main focal point were the two haunts, so after exploring the central hub for a little while, I entered A Christmas Haunting.
The sets for A Christmas Haunting were very detailed, and the costuming was better than expected for a first-time event. I could tell that a lot of love and care had gone into all of the makeup and costuming. The actors were very good, and they moved the story along, which was reminiscent of A Christmas Carol. Of note was that the actors would talk to me, I would respond with something, and they immediately had a quip. Winding through the house eventually took me into other Christmas scenes, such as a really pretty Jack Frost area. I will note that both mazes were on sand/dirt, so be sure to wear close-toed shoes! With a few nice jump scares, I had finished the maze in around seven minutes.
Next up was Krampusnacht. This is the true star of the show. This is a very long maze with a full story of a child who was naughty, and has the wrath of Krampus (the German demonic version of Santa, swell dude) brought upon her. This maze went through houses, through the Florida forest, various light displays, a manger, and most impressively, a village straight out of a renaissance fair! The sets, the acting, and the costuming were a cut above. This took me about eight minutes, but I could imagine during peak season it would be much longer. The Christmas lights to guide the way were festive as well as useful. I exited the maze, but my journey wasn't over yet.
I have never done a micro escape room before. The House of Mischief is an escape room with a three-minute time limit. I was paired with a couple of guys that I had never met, and we were told that we were entering a trap-filled room, and had to figure out a code in order to escape. While I am not allowed to say what I had to do or what the traps were, I will say it was scary, unsettling, and we figured it out with ten seconds to spare. It was a joyous way to round out the evening.
While I didn't get my nutcracker crushing a skull (they are more than welcome to steal that idea for next year), I did get a beautifully dreadful interpretation of Christmas. I was told that this was an experiment to see if an expanded version would work. If this was an indication of what's to come, all Floridians are in for a real treat. I hope that this continues to grow and get even jollier! SIR HENRY'S HAUNTED CHRISTMAS really left me in a creepy, festive spirit, and ready for Christmas. Merry Creepy Christmas, everyone!
SIR HENRY'S HAUNTED CHRISTMAS is a very limited event, but there are still tickets available on December 17, 18, and 19.