Screams is the world's largest Halloween Theme Park. It is located in Waxahachie half an hour south of Dallas Texas. It is held on dedicated permanent fairgrounds land and is to a large extent held in permanent buildings on the fairground property every October. I should say that these fairgrounds are also used for the world famous Scarborough Faire which in the spring. The property is 165 acres, however, the fairground village and most of the theme park is located on 35 acres. The village features several dozen buildings.
We have visited the Screams Theme Park before, however, I was there by myself last Friday for two reasons, I love this kind of stuff, and I was checking out the park. The reason I was checking it out is because a group of us are planning to visit the Park this coming Saturday and it is good to know beforehand what attractions we want to see, how much time we should spend there, and whether we need a fast pass or not. In this review I am reporting what I will report to the rest of the group.
The Screams theme park features five major haunted attractions that are free with the admission price, a number of smaller haunted attractions, as well as some haunted attractions that you have to pay extra for. In addition to haunted attractions they have Karaoke, a haunted Climbing Tower, rides for children, games of skill, face painting, temporary tattoos, Wax Hands, rune readings, the hot seat, and Psychics. They also have a large range of artisans and shops, roaming costumed characters, and they show classical horror movies.
They are open on Fridays and Saturdays between 7.30PM and 1.30AM, however, they stop serving alcoholic beverages at 11.30PM on Friday and 12.30AM on Saturday. The admission fee is $21.99 for adults (free admission for children six and under); however, they sell the last ticket at midnight. They have a fast pass which allows you to bypass the lines. The fast pass is $15.00. I suggest that you get the fast pass if you are hoping to try all attractions in one evening.
I should add that some of the large haunted attractions (Castle of Darkness, The Arcane Asylum) may not be for young children. Small children may also object to the ghoulish ambiance of the park. Otherwise the park is family friendly and it offers a lot of fun activities for children. I should say that if you are a real haunted house connoisseur most of the attractions in the park may appear somewhat lame.
It is important to note that you are not allowed to dress up in a costume. This is for safety reasons. They have plenty of actors that walk around the fair grounds to create a good Halloween ambiance. Another thing to note is that the actors are not allowed to touch you and you are not allowed to touch them.
This is the web site for screams
Castle of Darkness (5 stars)
The castle of darkness is called the Yorkshire Tower in the spring. It is a building which is probably the size of a few medium sized residential houses and it has a dungeon, towers and a draw bridge. During October it is turned into a large haunted house. Forty eight dressed up actors, and animatronics including a nearly elephant sized monster, makes this attraction quite an experience. You walk through endless spooky hallways and through rooms adorned with scary faces, dolls, mummies, monsters, skeletons and corpses. Every now and then an actor comes out of a wall or jumps at you from behind in an attempt to scare you. This is set to scary sounds, strobe lights or dim lighting. The Castle of Darkness is very well done and is one of the highlights of the park.
Ghoulish Graveyard (5 stars)
The Ghoulish Graveyard is also quite well done and it has been expanded compared to previous years. However, it is not as scary as the Castle of Darkness except at one point. The Ghoulish Graveyard consists of an area which is perhaps 2-3 acres in size and it has hundreds of tomb stones just like any cemetery has. There is a path going through the cemetery on which you will be walking. There are also various fences, large scary trees, abandoned cars, tool sheds, and various other smaller buildings along the path. Unlike your typical cemetery there are monsters lurking behind the tomb stones and trees and they will come out and try to scare you when you walk by. There are also various scary sights and sounds in the various buildings along the path. Most of the items in the small buildings are human sized dolls and coffins and open up. Some of the dolls move and some of them don't.
I am going to mention the part that actually got my jumping in the graveyard. Since this is a possible spoiler for future visitors I will issue a spoiler alert.
------------------- Possible Spoiler -------------------
Towards the end of the path when you think that you are basically done, a smallish woman/girl dressed up as the girl in the exorcist, or possible a similarly looking zombie, comes out charging at you from behind while loudly growling. The first thing you see when you turn around is the scary white demon face rushing towards you. She was not wearing a mask; she just had a lot of skillfully put on make up. Because of this her face moved when she was growling and the effect was quite impressive. When she got close to me she stopped and I told her tha-tha-tha-that was a good one.
3D Pirates of Peril Point (4 stars, 5 stars if you are a kid)
The 3D Pirates attraction was visually quite impressive but perhaps not as scary as some other attractions. You put on 3D glasses and you walk through hallways and rooms which have been painted so that 3D shapes will take form if you have your glasses on. There are scary faces and monsters that all look quite impressive in 3D. Every now and then an ugly pirate will jump at you or quickly scuttle by your legs and disappear into the wall. You also walk through a black hole or a rotating tunnel which creates a quite astounding visual illusion. You need to walk slowly in here because the floor will move a little bit as you walk across it.
The Arcane Asylum (4 stars)
The Arcane Asylum was the haunted attraction that reminded me the most of a typical haunted house (for Halloween). It featured a lot of human sized wax dolls, many of them moving, as well as actors that jumped out at you. At one point you walked by a mummified woman who was playing an organ. It looked like a doll but then she stood up and walked right up to you. Most of the actors in the Arcane Asylum seemed to be 13 or 14 year old girls which made it somewhat less scary. Next I have to issue a spoiler warning again.
------------------- Possible Spoiler -------------------
At the end of the walk through the Arcane Asylum there was a chainsaw actor who jumped at you and tried to scare you with his pretend chainsaw (it was loud). In my case he was a little inattentive and I saw him before he saw me which sort of dampened the effect.
Death Trap Maze (3 stars)
The Death Trap Maze; or the house of Saw, as it was also called, is a labyrinth that you have to find your way out of. The ambiance is scary with dark corridors lit by strobe lights and a labyrinth consisting of prison cells. Various actors looking like the fellow from the Saw movies tried to scare you. It was not entirely easy to find the way out.
The Mythical Monster Museum (2-3 stars)
To see the Mythical Monster Museum and take the Infestation tour you have to pay seven dollars. I should say that the seven dollars covers both attractions. The monster museum featured a lot of different kinds of scary masks, dolls, and monsters that were displayed on bill boards. A woman with an accent, which I think sounded Romanian, but I did not ask, guided you through the museum. They allowed seven people in at a time. The museum was interesting; however, considering that you had to pay extra for it I am not sure if it was worth it.
The Infestation (4-stars)
The Infestation tour was about giant insects. An exterminator pretended to spray enzymes on you and told that you had to walk through the egg laying mechanism of a giant insect and that would stop more eggs from being laid. The tour took you through a garden which featured various giant insects that jumped at you or above you. Most insects were animatronics contraptions but there were also a few actors. One of them had a huge insect costume on and a head with large orange glowing eyes. He followed you around. One guy asked me why I was there by myself and I said that we were coming as a group next Saturday and he told me "and then you are going to be the macho man right". Well that was not exactly it.
Laser Maze (not mentioned on web site, 2-3 stars)
The laser maze was also a pay attraction. It cost four dollars. The laser maze was a labyrinth that was totally dark except for some laser lights that come on and off. The purpose of this attraction was that you were supposed to find your way out of the maze. When I walked in I was completely alone in the entire maze and that was not a good thing. When there are several people in a maze there is always someone who is going to find the opening but I could not find it on my own. It was impossible. As mentioned it was completely dark but I still started to get a feeling for how the maze looked like and I still could not find my way out. After a while I took out my cell phone and used it to light my way through the hallways, which is cheating, but I decided I had enough. Then the attendant came inside wondering why I was taking so long. He showed me the opening. It was a small almost invisible opening at the end of one of the hallways. I had been there but I had not noticed it. This attraction is not for those who don't like walking in complete darkness and I don't recommend it either if you are alone in the maze. It makes it too tedious to find your way out if you are alone.
There was also a smaller but still notable haunted attraction called the pumpkin patch. It was a pumpkin path with a scarecrow that turned out to be alive as well as zombie like creatures that jumped out at you and growled. I assumed this was for children but it was actually too scary for small children.
However, they had various games, a haunted climbing tower, a hot seat, they showed classical horror movies, and they had a theater where you did Karaoke as well as other minor attractions, many which were good for children. In addition there was face painting, you could make Wax Hands, and the park featured stands where you got removable tattoos, psychics, and various artisans and stores that sold things like costumes, scary masks, Jewelery, and much more. There are also food stands that sell things like roasted corn, sweet and roasted pecans, etc.
If you are really into things Gothic you can get married here. They offer two matrimonial packages, the zombie package (10 guests, $750), and the necromancer package (30 guests, $2,500). The packages include wedding dinner, ceremony, and tickets for all guests and attendants.
They also have a snake show which I missed. However, if I get a chance too see it I will come back here and update this review.
In the middle of the park there is a food court which is referred to as the Screams Café. It is really several booths arranged in a square with seating all around the square. In the booths you can buy fajitas, hot dogs, chili dogs, pizza, corn dogs, sandwiches, corn a cob, funnel cake, and other items that are typical for most amusement parks. I had a bowl of Chili with cheese. They also had three small pubs which sold a variety of beer, wines and drinks. They all stopped selling alcohol at 11.30PM on Friday and 12.30PM on Saturday.
The parking is free and the parking lot is huge. It consists of fourteen rows with cars on each side which makes 28 rows of cars. The rows are quite long (several hundred yards) and you better remember which row you parked in, or you are going to get more fright then you bargained for on your way back home.
Final Thoughts and Recommendation
The park is and there are many attractions and they are very well done but perhaps not extremely scary. I got through most of the park in about two and a half hour, however, I had a fast pass, I was alone, I did not try any games or rides, and I did not sit around. I should say that most of the rides and games are the same as during the Scarborough Faire festival which I've been to numerous times, and therefore I've done most of them already. However, if you come as a group and you do not get a fast pass you may not be able to do everything you want in six hours. So come as early as you can and if you don't have a lot of time you should get the fast pass. If you are a real Halloween connoisseur you may not be impressed by the park but if you just like some Halloween fun this is a great theme park that I can highly recommend. It does not change a lot from year to year so this review will be valid next year to if you don't make it this year.
Lastly I would like to say thank you to Di (SURGN911) for adding this theme park to the epinions data base.
I am submitting this review to msbunnylicious Wicked Halloween Write-Off as well as my Texas+Sweden write off.
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Best Suited For: Families
Best Time to Travel Here: Sep - Nov