Location: 2511 FM 66 Waxahachie TX 75167. Refer to their site for directions.
Phone: 972 938 3247
Hours: Each Friday and Saturday in October from 7:30pm-1:30am, plus Sunday, October 27 from 7:30pm-11pm.
Price: General admissions tickets are $27. Fast passes are $15. Group discount tickets (for groups of 15 or more) are available and must be purchased online from the Screams site. A military discount of $3 per ticket is available at the Screams box office. Discount coupons are available at DFW area Long John Silver’s (check the Screams site for a list of participating Long John Silver’s) and at the Waxahachie Autoplex. Tickets may be purchased online or at the box office. Parking is free.
Number of attractions-5
Walk through time: 20-25 minutes total, not including the maze.
Things to know: Screams is located on the Scarborough Faire grounds in Waxahachie, about 30 minutes south of downtown Dallas, around 3 minutes west of I-35. A large selection of food is available at concessions stands, as well as in the Full Moon Cafe. Alcohol is sold at two stands, and in the bar at the Full Moon Cafe (a full bar) after obtaining a free private membership. There are five attractions, and they are spread out, so you will be doing a lot of walking on grass and dirt paths. Wear comfortable shoes, preferably with some traction. Dress warmly on cold nights since you will be in the country and the temperature will be lower at Screams than in DFW. It’s best to arrive early since lines do become long, especially later in the season. Waits of up to an hour per attraction are not uncommon later at night, on busy nights. Either arrive at, or close to opening, or consider buying a fast pass. I always use fast passes when I review and they save a great deal of time. You may go through each attraction as many times as you want. It’s best to see the haunted attractions first, then eat and drink. Don’t come in costume, you will not be allowed in if you do, and don’t bring outside food or drink.
Additional activities: Aside from the five main attractions and concessions, Screams offers a number of activities. Scaryoke is held nightly close to the Taboo Tavern, and free music is generally available on the main stage. For a fee, carnival games, a climbing tower, and human powered rides are available. There is also a row of merchants selling Halloween related items that you will see upon entering the park.
Attractions, which I am listing in the order you should see them.
Castle of Darkness-The Castle is the largest haunted attraction at Screams and it also has the highest fright level. The walk to the Castle sets the mood with the spires illuminated by fire, as an eerie glow falls over the walls. Castle of Darkness is a multi-level haunt, with fog becoming heavier as you descend to the lowest level. Openings have been cut out of the bottom of the walls in some areas to give the actors greater access to the pathway, and of course there are plenty of hidden doors for the actors to come through. There are several interesting dungeon scenes midway through, and there is some variety here, including an animatronic dinosaur. There are more actors in the Castle than in the other attractions, which makes this the most intense experience at Screams. Although the Graveyard is closer to the park entrance, this is the attraction that you should see first, since the line forms quickly and becomes long in a hurry.
Hotel of Horror is a new attraction at Screams (formerly the Arcane Asylum) and should be your second stop of the night. It’s entrance is just up the hill from the exit of Castle of Darkness, making it convenient to see before heading to the other side of the park. Actors get started immediately after you enter and keep going until you leave. This isn’t a large house, but the action is non-stop, and the setting is a lot creepier than the old Asylum. Even though this is it’s first year, the Hotel is pretty well decorated, and it has some interesting animatronic pieces and pop out creatures. Nothing is as it seems in this place, including the vending machines. One thing I really like about the actors in the Hotel is that they fixate on the most frightened members of the group, which makes the experience more fun for everyone.
3D Pirates of Peril Point is on the other side of the park, and you’ll be able to find it easily enough since it’s wall is covered in neon paint. The wait here can be pretty long later in the evening, so seeing it after the Hotel is a good idea. This is a pirate themed funhouse, complete with uneven, rocking wooden floor beams, vibrating floors, hallways full of moving props, a vortex tunnel, and, of course, lots of 3D painted props. There are also a fair number of actors in Peril Point, and they do a great job of mixing in with life size props. The 3D glasses obscure most of your peripheral vision, which makes your group an easy target for actors moving in and out of hiding places and hidden doors. For the first time that I reviewed Peril Point, the laser and fog water illusion was working perfectly. It’s a cool looking illusion that makes it look like you’re walking through waist high water. This was my most enjoyable trip through a funhouse in a long time.
Unkel Koy’s Klown Maze is just to the right of the Peril Point exit, so stop here next. This isn’t just a wire fence maze with a few strobe lights thrown in. Koy’s has well decorated areas that are full of props and sound effects. There are plenty of clowns around to distract and mislead you (never listed to what they say) and you’ll do some running if you have a fear of clowns. This is a pretty good sized maze, which can take a while to find your way out of, but I’m happy to say that I found my way out within a couple of minutes. I won’t tell you exactly how I accomplished this, but in general, stay to the outside of mazes as much as possible. If you can get far enough outside to be able to see the sky, you’re in good shape as long as you don’t go back to the center of the maze.
Ghoulish Graveyard is the first attraction you will see upon entering the park, but it should be your last stop since it’s an open air trail with no line. This is my favorite attraction at Screams, partly because I love trails, but also because it is the best decorated attraction. The Graveyard makes use of the Scarborough buildings and creates it’s path in and around them to make the creepiest trail I’ve seen in years. I love how the trail winds through some Scarborough buildings, as well as under the cover of other buildings put up just for Screams. The Graveyard actors are great at finding hiding spots (some hide in plain sight) and, despite having a lot of ground to cover, are able to scare each group several times. Since the Graveyard is so close to the entrance/exit, you might want to go through a second time before leaving.
Review, all scores are on a 1-10 scale.
Acting has been the greatest area of improvement over the years at Screams. There are far more actors than in the old days, and the quality of acting has improved dramatically over the last few seasons. Each attraction has wonderful actors, but I think that the Graveyard actors have to singled out since they have the difficult job of scaring people who are frequently in a long, almost continuous line. Peril Point actors do a great job of blending in with their surroundings, and know how to get close to you while your vision is partially blocked by the 3D glasses. Castle actors makes good use of the many hidden doors and cut outs, while the Hotel actors do the best job of targeting frightened guests. The Maze actors do their best to keep you from finding the way out, and they get in their share of scares too. 2013 is the best year ever for the cast at Screams.
You’ll be startled quite a few times at Screams, and it does have some pretty frightening areas (mostly in the Castle of Darkness) but this is a more family friendly attraction than some haunts. All but your youngest kids can go through the attractions at Screams, have a good time, and not have nightmares for weeks after.
All attractions are well decorated, with the Graveyard and Castle having the best props. Fog in the lower level of the Castle is a nice touch, combined with it’s dungeon setting, but the laser/fog produced water illusion in Peril Point is the single best effect at Screams. I like the way the Hotel is set up. It feels like something out of an early 80′s horror movie (or a recent remake) and the style is consistent throughout the haunt, which was never true of it’s predecessor, the Arcane Asylum. Peril Point has good 3D paint and props, and the pirate theme is a nice change from the usual clowns in funhouses. The Graveyard has some of the best decorations and props I’ve seen outside of Verdun Manor at Thrillvania, and Koy’s Maze is very well decorated for a maze.
Screams is one of my favorite places to visit each year in large part because it has the best setting for a haunt park that I’ve seen, and the combination of ren faire buildings and haunted houses is unique. This is the largest haunted theme park that I’ve been to, and it can be a lot of fun to go to even without going into the attractions, which I’ve done a couple of times at the end of the season while not reviewing. I do miss the outdoor horror movies that were shown for a couple of years, but there is a great Halloween carnival atmosphere at Screams, which is enhanced by the merchants, in their well decorated shops, and by the games and rides. It’s easy to spend a full evening here, especially in cool weather, largely because the park itself is so much fun.
The general admission price has gone up a little, but at $27 for five attractions, all you can enter, Screams is still the best overall value in North Texas. The fast pass is also a comparatively good bargain when you consider that it will allow you to go through each attraction multiple times, even if you take plenty of time to eat, drink, and look around at games and shops. You can spend a lot more, for much less entertainment, at most haunted attractions. Free parking is a nice bonus.
Picture gallery: http://texashaunts.net/screams-2013-pics