One zombie’s terrifying behind-the-scenes account of a night at ValleySCARE

Image courtesy of Valleyfair

By Aubrey Schield

I’ve always enjoyed going to haunted houses and other Halloween attractions around this spooky time of year. Call me crazy, but there’s something about being scared half to death that I find exhilarating. While I enjoy being the one screaming her head off, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be on the other side of the terror working as a monster at one of these frightful attractions.

Lucky for me, my dream was realized last weekend when my colleague, Lisa, and I got to experience ValleySCARE behind the scenes as monsters… more specifically, as hungry-for-human-flesh, undead zombies.

Valleyfair, Shakopee’s summertime amusement park, transforms into a ghoulish, nighttime Halloween extravaganza during the weekends leading up to the end of October, and this year marks the attraction's 10th anniversary. This year ValleySCARE has six indoor mazes (each with its own horrifying theme), outdoor scare zones and special performances. Plus, the park's rides are fully functional in case you're looking for a different kind of scare.

When we arrived at the park, the 125-acre site was littered with festive decorations and actors milling about in varying levels of costume and makeup. Shortly after arriving, we were whisked off to have our makeup done at the Mortuary (as workers cleverly call the studio). Inside the Mortuary we were greeted by prosthetic masks of wrinkled, decrepit faces and horned devil-like creatures—all of which were made by ValleySCARE’s talented makeup artists onsite. Around 300 people rotate each day through the chairs of a handful of artists, who have about 20 minutes per monster. That’s impressive when you consider the fact that they are creating different faces for every single person.

Lisa and I took turns having our makeup done, and after a few minutes in the chair, we had turned into a couple of unrecognizable zombies, her face looking like it had been chewed away to reveal parts of the jaw and mine covered in “blood” and a deadlike pallor.

The sun was just about to start its descent in the sky when we gathered with the hundreds of other monsters for the rally, a boisterous dance party emceed by a large man dressed in drag. (One of my favorite parts of the evening was seeing the group of zombies, vampires, spooky clowns and more dance in tandem to V.I.C.’s “Wobble.”)

Shortly before the park opened at 7 p.m., we boarded the train that winds through the center of the park and rode to the front gates to scare the first few guests before heading to Zombie High, our ’90s-high-school-themed, zombie-infiltrated maze. Lisa and I stationed ourselves in the driver’s ed classroom, which featured a rusted out, banged up car with working headlights.

I’m not trying to brag, but we scared the living daylights out of people. We came up with different scenarios to act out as unsuspecting guests walked through the room. While I’d love to share the scare tactics we were given from veteran actors, I won’t ruin the surprise for anyone interested in a frightful night at ValleySCARE.

After only 20 minutes, our voices were shot (I don’t know how people scare from 7 to midnight!), we switched up our location and moved into Zombie High’s Skeleton Key room. This feature is available with purchase of Fright Lane passes and gives guests an even scarier interactive experience. And that’s all I’m going to say about that—again, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

And just in case you missed it, our Facebook and Twitter are chock full of live updates, photos and video from the night.


1 Valley Fair Drive, Shakopee

Tickets starting at $35.

Open Fridays and Saturdays (plus Thursday, October 20) from 7 p.m. to midnight

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