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Haunting For Fun

The Classic Creature Crypt in Wyoming, PA shows that you don't have to have alot of money to create a haunt thats memorable
By Rick Whitlow


Wyoming, Pennsylvania was a town that didn't necessarily fit the traditional "American Halloween" image. With not an abundance of trick-or-treaters, and alot of the haunts in the area being over-priced, Dave Tryzenski set out to change that. Creating a spooky and fun environment for children and parents alike, he has brought more joy into this community. Each year he spends several hundreds of dollars creating a haunt in his yard. I know what you may be thinking, "A yard haunt? What's so different about this than any other yard that decorates?" The difference, is Dave goes all out to create an actual walkthrough haunt in his yard. The haunt takes about 15 minutes and is guided. He has been putting on these shows for 4 years. The first 2 years, were mainly a seance show, while in 2001, he opted for a more family-friendly approach after the horrible attacks, using a "Scooby Boo" theme, (That's right "Scooby BOO") which was a huge hit with the guests. This year he has taken the a more nostalgic turn, with "The Classic Creature Crypt" which features many well-known Universal Monsters.
With the combination of building, acting and writing the script, this project is truly a family affair. Dave does most of the design and artwork, his cousin, Scott, is the technician for this show, creating many of the effects you see inside, including the bottomless pit and the Jacob's Ladder effect used inside, while his wife, Kathy, provides moral and emotional support and
assists in building, as well as keeping them fed on the cold fall nights.
The attraction is housed inside a 30' x 20' tent, using OSB boards to create the walls and rooms of the interior. To cap it off, in the front is a castle facade complete with a graveyard in the front. The "castle" consists of 6 main rooms, with a secret 12' x 4' central corridor which is used for both controlling the effects, as well as changing costumes, seeing as how Dave and Scott both pull double duty each show.
The tour consists of spooky scares mixed with lighthearted jokes that the whole family can enjoy. They try to tailor the level of fright to each individual group. "We want you to feel "braved the worst" and had fun instead of being terrified. Our monsters move or don't move depending on how scary we decide the event should be. The mummy might fall forward, Frankenstein sits up. The Dracula drop picture can crash down, slide slowly, or stay closed, and the Wolfman had several "attack points" and postures. The most common was him showing up from inside the cage. I told the kids in the entry that he escaped and was roaming the castle, but that he was trained and that if they saw him all
they had to do was yell "STAY" and he would! Some kids remembered this and loved having the ability to "freeze" the wolfman in his scary tracks! (laughs)" Explains Dave.
Starting out at the cemetary, you meet your tour guide, The Bride Of Frankenstein (Kathy) who takes you on your journey. You are escorted into the magic room, where you are bedazzled and given a brief intro by "Creeper" (Dave). He explains that the Wolfman has broken his chain and has escaped. In order to fill the void, one person in the group must take his place. A
"lottery" of sorts is held, with each member of the group picking a ball out of a bag. All the balls are silver (Because werewolves hate silver - one of the bad puns in the tour) with one ball being black. The unlucky person who picks the black ball must take the Wolfman's place in the castle and also lead the group. In order to determine who has the black ball, Creeper uses his psychic abilities and announces, without ever seeing the black ball, who has picked it. As the tour progresses, you are led through the Mummy room, where the heiroglyphics hide more than just meets the eye. As the lights dim down, the Mummy's curse is written on the walls, "Death to all who enter.", once you pass the Mummy room, you find yourself in the middle of Dr. Frankenstein's lab.
There is something on a slab, covered in a sheet. What could it be? When the guests are asked to remove the sheet, many are hesitant because they believe a live person is underneath. When the "veil" is lifted, Frankenstein's Monster is revealed.The next stop on the journey, is Dracula's Tower, in which the castle walls and damp air provide an eerie atmosphere, and the portraits on the wall, may seem a little "too lifelike", as Dracula himself comes through the portrait. After your meeting with "The Count", you find yourself in a room with no monster in it, just a cage-like cell containing a skull and some of "wolfies" last midnight snack. The person who picked the black ball in the first room is then
asked to approach the cage to take their rightfull place as the castle's werewolf. Just as they are about to step inside, the Wolfman pops in from behind the group, frightening and/or entertaining unsuspecting guests. The last room features a "candy suprise" and a static ghost prop. From there, you are safely returned back to reality.

Last night we had our best/worst reactions to something I thought would be cool and funny, but apparently REALLY scared kids. We have three sets of sound in the haunt.

A general background (strange moans, groans and music), a thunderstorm (for our thunder and lightning machine lighting effects) and a CD with particular sound effects cues (wolfman howl, Igor saying "It's Alive!", etc). Well, one cue that we always have is a way to let Kathy know outside that inside we have reset everything and are ready to admit the next group. This year I
chose a track of a little girl I found on a Halloween CD screaming and saying 'Stop it! You're scaring me!' Well, it apparently set the mood well for teens and adults, but was too "realistic" for smaller children. We lost several potential patrons (or had them in tears) BEFORE they even came in the door! I'm a very poor judge of what is scary to kids. We had four year olds who loved the event and ten year olds that were petrified."
While many people have said that Dave should charge admission, he is content with entertaining the kids in the nieghborhood as well as their parents. However, they do take donations for a charitable cause which Dave feels very strongly about, "Make-A-Wish". With such a love for the season, and a worthy cause to collect donations, it is a truly special show they put on each season.

"We had a blast and got everyone through that came in the front door, and afterward they all said they enjoyed it. Several wanted to go again, and some wanted to go back in to check things out with a bit more light (which we accommodated). So hopefully, we

accomplished our goal of making Halloween fun. Total visitors was under 200 this year, and our donations only totaled around $125, but I still feel it was our best show ever."
With so many haunters looking to make money in this seasonal industry, I commend those who spend their time and their money offering these shows out of a love for Halloween, not to make profit. There are several other haunters out there who labor hard to make these shows and displays memorable for their guests. Some of them include: The monster Maze, Terror
Syndicate, 1031 Productions as well as several others. It's these types of people who really appreciate the holiday and the fun it can bring.

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