“Spooky, scary skeletons…all at Spookywoods.” Wait, that’s not how the song really goes? Oh well, I’m still going with it since it fits with my choice of haunt this week: Kersey Valley Spookywoods in Archdale, North Carolina!
For 38 years, Spookywoods has been serving entertainment and frights to haunt goers across the nation, as well as always ranking as a top North Carolina haunt. From my personal experience, this haunted attraction has always delivered nothing, but the absolute best when it comes to “wowing” guests. I love how the owner, Tony Wohlgemuth, and his creative team are dedicated to recreating entirely new concepts each haunt season. They’re not afraid to constantly change things up and go with their own insane yet unique ideas. To say that I was super excited to see what creative chaos Spookywoods had in store for this fall was an understatement.
Kersey Valley Spookywoods is hands down one of the easiest haunts to find on my tour. It’s directly adjacent to I-40; follow the signs and there is no way that you will miss it. Make sure to bring $10 cash with you for parking. Select parking is also available for $20. We arrived around 30 minutes before opening and were directed to pull into an expansive grass lot that provided easy access to the haunt entrance. Having pre purchased tickets online, we were able to walk directly into the midway arena. I do highly recommend arriving early and purchasing tickets online instead of on site due to the expected crowds and longer wait times. Saturday night General Admission is $40, VIP is $55 and Immediate Access is $75.
The midway at Spookywoods is designed to resemble a fog filled, archetypal western ghost town. As soon as you enter the main gates, you’re hit with the smell of candy apples and cinnamon wafting through the air and the latest Thriller dance remix pulsating in your ears. There’s a gift shop with all of their latest haunt merchandise. There are also stands where you can purchase their famous glazed nuts and apple cider donuts. If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you check out their chocolate shop called Fudge Packers. Yes, that’s seriously the name. Intimidated by a long wait time? Don’t stress Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees will be dying to keep you company in the cue line. Make sure you snap a selfie with these horror villains while you can. If you’re waiting to get a photo op once you’ve been through the haunt, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be lurking around. Being an iconic slasher is a full time job and they have a long list of victims.
Spookywoods’ is a multi-themed attraction type trail. Throughout your 40 minute scare-filled adventure you will encounter dozens of frightening scenes and sinister characters. Let’s rip the duct tape right off their soon to be terror laced grip on you and dive right in….
Fox Family Home: For their sudden introduction to this haunted attraction’s trail, customers are quickly ushered in a single file line into what predominately appears to be the antiquely decorated, possessed medium museum of Helena Fox. It screams “fortune teller gone wrong” with its surrounding morbid memoirs which include: a ominous glowing crystal ball, an adult sized gothic adorned coffin and dozens of missing children posters plastered throughout the hallways. This is a quick sequence of events, but a forbidden taste of what is yet to come for our trail goers.
Town Graveyard: Here you have a misty, dim lit cemetery crosswalk. As victims wander through a fog filled path, they will see elaborate tombstones and grave markers hovering on all sides. Don’t get too distracted because I can guarantee you those aren’t the only surprises you’ll find creeping out from the shadows. The robed, vintage costume favorites from Halloweens of the past really come out to play in this area…a putrid pumpkin hybrid man and a shrouded, skull masked reaper. There was an evident Fear Street movies vibe and it worked.
Stalking Spirits: The trail format of Spookywoods’ corn maze is noticeably different this year. The pathway seemed slimmer and the entrance cornstalks were shorter than in previous seasons. I questioned the reasoning for this as we navigated through the new zig zagged pattern and soon realized there was a genius method to this new madness. The further customers travel the pathway, it becomes tighter and the cornstalks get larger. Soon, you are smothered in dark, dry landscape as a gigantic flame thrower explodes into the starry sky. That’s when the scarecrows come out of the corners to find their nighttime trespassers. There’s a red spotlight projected out over the field, which gives the effect that the corn is bleeding onto trailblazers. It’s a mind altering experience. The extensive personal attention from actors in this scene is outstanding. This attraction does a superb job at lulling you into a false sense of security and then trapping you into its unknown creepy corn territory.
From this point, visitors will the encounter the main portion of the Spookywoods’ maze. It lies inside of a vine infested mansion masking itself as an apothecary. You’ll see dozens of themes. It’s a non stop scare roller coaster all the way through until you exit the vortex tunnel and swirling green fog pathway at the end. Did I mention this haunted attraction even has MOVING LAVA WALLS?! The best way to describe this for readers is this trail is a haunted hallway of horrors combined with bone riddled crypts and western ghost town gunslinger feels. You’re probably asking yourself how does any of this go together? Trust me. Spookywoods finds a way to flawless execute this endeavor.
Personal favorites of mine were the Baba Yaga Coven with their foul looking, ragged and undead witches chanting inside of an abandoned cathedral, which they’ve now transformed into a skull filled, occult altar lined tomb. As well as the Funeral Home. The focus on attention in this segment was impeccable. Stained glass windows, small life like corpses laying in child sized caskets with unhinged morticians and unwilling cadavers crawling everywhere. It gave me more goosebumps than an actual hometown funeral parlor.
The cast of Spookywoods are committed to putting on a spectacular show. The makeup and costumes were all high quality and attention grabbing. I personally liked the “old school, vintage monster tropes with a new twist” approach, the creative team went with. It was familiar, but also inventive with their own flavor. There were a few moments when I wish the scare actors had been louder in their line deliveries, so I could hear what they were saying, but those cheerleader lungs of teenage scream queen patrons can be hard to compete with. A group of middle school girls were in front of us and tended to drown out several of the cast members’ dialogue. However, this team was giving it all they had, so I’m not even mad at it. It was a chilly night in the Carolinas, but the Spookywoods actors were pulling out all of the stops to entertain customers. From lunging down on calibrated lifts to bouncing off the wall with bungee cords to ziplining upside down at unsuspecting victims, these cast members were grabbing scares from all angles. This collection of characters made haunting look like so much fun that I briefly debated on throwing a costume on and coming out actor retirement to join them. Awesome job.
Spookywoods’ set design is nothing short of pristine. The fact that each year this haunted attraction features an all new, recreated maze is mind blowing enough by itself, but combine that with how detailed and decorated each scene is and it’s out of this world. The creative team members are imaginative innovators in the haunt industry. Their effort towards high quality entertainment is evident. If you love special effects, modern animatronics and immersive gothic sets, this is your kind of haunt.
All in all, whether you are there for the gruesomely visual sights or the overall send you running frights, Spookywoods has both. This haunted attraction is an ever changing, unique horror experience each season you attend. They’re easily one of the best in North Carolina as well as the South in general. It’s become an annual tradition for this Scurryface rep, even before I was officially a writer. I can’t imagine a haunt season without Spookywoods on my tour list. You guys should do yourself a favor and check them out as well. Definitely a must see.