While you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Easter and counting down to the end of the school year, the folks at the Gateway are planning their largest theatrical event: the Haunted Playhouse.
Months of planning go into the annual event, which turns 11 this year. The team behind the event spends hours discussing the theme, storyline and other ideas to make the production unique and better than the year before. There are new additions every year and this year, one of those novelties is the addition of special events. There will be different events like zombie night, couples night, glowstick night and more. These events add another layer to the haunt, giving a new experience to people who may want to come more than once.
“Now we’re giving them an enhanced experience,” said Michael Baker, director of this year’s haunt.
Each year, the Gateway team tries to get more people to brave the haunt, and this year is no different. There are a lot of regulars, who will be there when the production opens and will come back more than once.
This year’s theme takes a psychological idea and expands it into a 4D experience, the organizers said. Visitors will encounter a decades-old colony from the 1960s, which has perished and is now being reborn. The actors are members of this “colony” and patrons will be guided through this dark community.
One of the points that sets Gateway apart from some other haunted houses is the caliber of the production. People audition to be on the haunt cast and are usually seasoned actors. This will come into play even more in a scenario that has a real-world approach. “The colony” is an example of a community — or cult — that “drank the Kool-Aid,” as Gateway executive director Paul Allan puts it.
“You almost trust these people,” he added, noting that the storyline is one that seems very real when being experienced.
And when at a Gateway haunted house, you’re not just watching out for someone to jump at you — there are smells, sounds and more that alter your sense of place.
“We completely invade all the senses,” Baker said.
The intricacy of the haunt comes naturally to the organizers, since they come from a theatrical background. They’re used to looking out for little details and have a full team, all working toward the same goal.
“Not So Scary” for kids
In addition to the Haunted Playhouse, Gateway will host a daytime trip for kids through the haunt, designed to be not at all scary. The set for the haunt is adjusted so it will be suitable for kids aged 3 and older. There will also be a bounce house, face painting and other activities. The kids’ event is Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. beginning Oct. 5.
Special Event Schedule
Slasher Savings ($20 tickets) - Oct. 10, Oct. 17
Couples Night - Oct. 16
Zombie Apocalypse - Oct. 23
Clown Invasion - Oct. 24
Hollywood Horrors - Oct. 29
Glowstick Night (Blackout) - Oct. 30