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Where the boos flow freely: Scarywood celebrates 10 years of making people scream

Since it opened in 1988, Silverwood Theme Park, located in Athol, has been the perfect place for people from the Inland Northwest and beyond to spend a summer day (or two). There are rides and games galore for all ages and intensity levels, plus entertaining shows and Boulder Beach, a waterpark for when you need to cool down.

But in 2009, Silverwood took a 180-degree turn with Scarywood Haunted Nights. If you’re a fan of “Stranger Things,” you can think of Scarywood as the Upside Down of Silverwood – rides that were fun-scary are now plain scary-scary, and people are running around the park not to get to their favorite attraction faster but to avoid the monsters chasing them.

Taking inspiration from theme parks across the country, including Knott’s Berry Farm, which hosts Knott’s Scary Farm, Silverwood decided to transform into Scarywood. But according to director of marketing and communications Jordan Carter, it wasn’t until 2010 that the park decided to go all out.

“It’s evolved over the years and become bigger and bigger and bigger,” he said. “We have more actors this year than we ever have before (219 compared with 150 a couple of years ago). We’re really excited about what’s happening with it, and it’s become a mainstay in people’s October fall plans.”

Scarywood is a 365-day-a-year operation, according to Carter. After one Scarywood season ends, the team has a recap meeting in which they talk about what went well and what could have gone better. Then the special effects team, led by Chris Russell, gets to work on conceptualizing new haunts and scares.

“Silverwood is so beloved because of the rides and the family atmosphere,” Carter said. “Scarywood is beloved in the opposite way. … It’s become more of a date night for people because we don’t recommend it for anyone under the age of 13. So they leave the kids at home – they come out and have a good time together.

“It’s been so successful that we continue to broaden and increase, and it’s only going up from here. The next 10 years will probably be even bigger and better than they were the last 10. We’re always pushing the limits. We’re excited for what we have to offer. I think it tells us that people enjoy being scared. And whether that’s them being scared or watching their friends be scared, they’re sure to be entertained.”

Here’s a look at the haunts, rides, scare zones and shows guests can look forward to at Scarywood 2019:

Haunts

New this year, Dr. Delirium’s 3D Rockhouse, located by Aftershock, invites guests to grab a pair of 3D glasses before stepping inside the “funhouse of (their) nightmares” complete with new scares and 3D illusions.

Dr. Delirium’s 3D Rockhouse, a level-four attraction, is replacing 3Dementia.

“It’s in the same vein, but it has more jump scares in it, and it’s a rock ’n’ roll theme attraction,” Carter said, noting that there also will be new illusions.

Fan favorite Blood Bayou, located on Main Street, is back this year, a place where cannibals come to find their next meal. Blood Bayou is a level-four attraction; guests will experience extreme gore and disturbing images of cannibalism.

In the Valley of the Queens, treasures have been stolen, unleashing the Pharaoh’s Curse (between Log Flume and Tremors) on all who enter this walkthrough haunt. This is a level-five attraction; guests will experience low visibility, extreme disorientation and abrupt scares.

Sgt. Buzz and his troupe of zombie hunters tried their best, but they were forced to abandon the Zombiewood Express when it was overtaken by zombies and crashed. Now the group is wandering around Planet Zombie, between Corkscrew and Super Roundup, fighting the undead on foot.

Before guests enter Planet Zombie, they will be prepped with video content. Then they will be sent into the haunt where Sgt. Buzz and the zombie hunters will try to protect them before they can become infected.

Planet Zombie is a level-five attraction; guests will experience profane language, high-decibel gunfire and explosions and scenes of violence.

Total Darkness, located in Pavilion 1, is exactly what is sounds like. This year, the pitch black maze has been updated with new twists and turns. This is a level-three attraction; guests will experience zero visibility and claustrophobic situations.

“Routinely that one is one of the scariest attractions because people hate being in the dark and being confined,” Carter said. “There’s not a lot to it – people are just afraid of it. A lot of people won’t go in it because of the claustrophobic sensation they get.

“All you can use is your hands, so something on the wall, it might be a latex glove filled with some sort of goo, but when you touch it and you don’t know what it is, it will freak you out.”

Rides

The Corkscrew, originally opening at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1975, has been a Silverwood staple since 1990. As the name suggests, riders can expect not one, but two trips upside down on this roller coaster.

Ram and bump other cars, or just spin around the track while driving Krazy Kars.

Ride down Roaring Creek on Log Flume in the dark of night, weather permitting.

After riders are secured in their seats, Panic Plunge begins its slow ascent. When they least expect it, riders are then released toward the ground. At the last moment, the ride slows down and brings riders to a gentle landing.

Spin to your heart’s content on Tilt-A-Whirl and Scrambler, or take things up a notch on SpinCycle, a 104-foot-tall ride that seats 24 people, legs dangling, facing outward. The ride rotates 360 degrees at 13 revolutions per minute and swings like a giant pendulum, eventually taking riders upside down.

Feel the G-Forces on Super Round-Up, which overcomes the power of gravity.

Scarywood’s Timber Terror is just like Silverwood’s, only during Scarywood the roller coaster takes riders through its hills, twists and turns as they face backward.

One of the top-rated wood coasters in the country, Tremors takes riders slowly up the first hill, eventually reaching 100 feet in the air, before dropping them down 103 feet into the first of four tunnels. A series of twists, turns, drops and tunnels follows.

Rides operated on any given day are subject to change.

Scare Zones

In Clown Town, a demented group of prankster clowns has transformed the Country Carnival into a nightmare for all who enter.

“We always hear Clown Town is the scariest place because people are so scared of clowns with the ‘It’ movies that are out and a couple years ago the scary clowns walking around,” Carter said. “Clowns are very popular in the worst way. We have more clowns this year than we’ve ever had.”

As guests enter Crime Scene, they might be so distracted by the smell of gasoline and the screams that they don’t see the man they call Leatherface until it’s too late to run.

All eyes are on guests as they wander through the Crypts. Do the dead really rest in peace?

Broken dolls stare at guests as they walk through the Dollhouse. Try not to make eye contact.

The only way to make it through the Scarywood Nest is to go through the a web-engulfed spider infestation.

The only rule of the Quarantine Zone is “don’t get bit.”

Be careful walking near Scarecrow Corner as there might be something stalking you.

Show

In the horror magic show Dillusion: An Eternal Encore, magicians Nick and Amanda Norton take guests “into the gates of hell.” Showtimes will be listed on the Theatre of Illusions marquee.

“Last year was the first year doing it, and it was, as far as surveys go, our most enjoyed thing we had to offer,” Carter said. “People really rated it really high, so we’re bringing that back and making it better. There will be four showings a night. Get there early because it will pack out, and we’ll shut the doors when it’s full.”

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