Last year a group of 20-something women was wandering through Scarywood – the Halloween incarnation of Silverwood Theme Park – wondering aloud how scary it would really be, when a zombie lurched at them from behind a trash can. They fled to the other side of the path, only to be jumped by another zombie emerging from behind a fence.
”They were literally like a pinball machine” running from one side to the other, said Cody Pearson, a 32-year-old Coeur d’Alene construction company owner who was among the actors playing zombies at Scarywood. Pearson said he quickly signed up to work this year, too.
“It was that much fun,” Pearson said. “I was looking forward to it every night.”
This year, the North Idaho amusement park is taking haunting to a new level, fueled by a more than $1 million investment. Silverwood hired a professional design company that has created haunted features at major theme parks nationwide. Gore Galore of Illinois built dozens of “tree creatures” and “swamp monsters” – towering 12- to 16-foot-high creations – that will lurk in the new haunted swamp attraction.
The swamp, which has yet to be named, is being built in Silverwood’s former museum. It joins two features that the park offered last year – a haunted canyon and a scary train ride. The park will also plant actors, like Pearson, portraying zombies and other creatures in “scare zones” throughout the park.
Last year, Kaylee Kosareff, of Hayden Lake, played a porcelain doll, sitting quietly on a hay bale holding a balloon. She appeared fake, she said, so it was easy to scare people by either following them or just turning to look at them with her blacked-out eyes when they sat down next to her.
“It’s hard not to start cracking up laughing because people are so scared,” the 18-year-old said. “I’ve always loved Halloween.”
Scarywood will be open weekend nights in October, along with all the park’s other features, except the Boulder Beach water park. Preparation included a publicity photo shoot at Hamilton Studio on Tuesday in which two young women, Dianna Temple and Alisha Hart, played the parts of scared visitors, screaming their lungs out as they were clawed by the creatures. The creature costumes are operated by actors either wearing them or manipulating the arms from behind.
In the new attraction, visitors will wander into a dimly lit swamp where dozens of creatures will emerge out of the fog, eyes glowing red, large skeletal claws reaching out. The attraction will be a themed story that visitors will walk through, passing through a sewer, snakes and rats the size of German shepherds, said Nancy DiGiammarco, the park’s marketing director. Visitors will decide which way they want to go based on what they see and hear.
“There will be twists and turns and switchbacks. They’ll be totally disoriented,” DiGiammarco said. “Pretty much anything that people fear, they’re going to find it in there.”
As a result, she said, this attraction is not for young children or the faint-hearted. DiGiammarco said Scarywood is targeted at visitors about age 13 and older. The park will remain open full time through Labor Day then switch to weekends only for the remainder of September. In October, the park will be open Thursdays through Saturday nights, starting Oct. 1.
Silverwood is expecting to attract between 3,000 and 5,000 people nightly for Scarywood, at $24.99 per ticket. The park will break even if it attracts 1,240 people per night, DiGiammarco said.