Fright Night at Kennywood promises big scares and bigger laughs

Imagine walking into Kennywood and battling your way through packs of line cutters for an hour just to get to the metal detector.  You get held up for another 10 minutes after the metal detector goes off because you wore the wrong belt. A crowd pushing, smoke-filled tunnel later, and you’re in.

Kennywood doesn’t look the way it usually does.  There’s a giant cloaked man of roughly seven feet pacing the tunnel entrance, and the sound of chainsaws emanates through the air.  An eerie purple light illuminates the brand new coaster at the front of the park.

Welcome to Phantom Fright Nights, Kennywood’s month-long Halloween celebration.

I didn’t initially plan to attend an event entitled “Fright Night.”  While I love gorey, slapstick horror, I don’t actually enjoy being scared in real life.  My friends had to plead with me for several days to go.

I am so glad that I did.

The night didn’t start off as well as it could have. Crowds were excessively long.  The newest roller coaster, the Sky Rocket, nearly ended in disaster.  After almost an hour’s wait, the ride stalled just as we climbed into the carts.

Luckily, in half an hour, we were shooting up the first hill at 50 mph.  Several beautiful coaster inversions later, the night looked promising.

I was not disappointed.

Potato Patch fries were extra warm in the brisk night air, and people looked on with envy as I ate them.

Delving further into the park, some of the actors dressed as creepy creatures began popping up.

Clowns, witches and hooded heads roamed the park.  They chased the screaming teenyboppers, shocked the tough-looking guys and posed for pictures with the rest.

I couldn’t help laughing at the people who became truly terrified. Ride waits were long but worth it.  Somehow, they just seemed eerier in the pitch-black night with people lurking at every corner to give a cheap scare.

After a large chunk of time, my friends wanted to hit up some of the haunted houses.  I became instantly frightened.  I had never been through a haunted house, and I was skeptical.

First was Noah’s Ark.

I was shaking and jabbering on before entering.  A small group of friends in their 20s was waiting in line behind us. A very tall, solid, 22-year-old male in the group began panicking and telling us he was horrified. As a harmless female of only 5 feet, this provided me a with a great deal of laughter. The entire way through Noah’s Ark, the tall male proceeded to scream profanities at decorations and beg his sister to hold his hand.

I left laughing. It was mildly scary, but I made it. Little did I know my friends were still ready to tackle another haunted house. They chose the Villa of the Vampire.

I took a deep breath, held my friend’s hand and walked in.

I regretted it immediately.

Vampires lurked around every corner, constantly jumping out and shrieking in my face.  They were behind walls, curtains, in alcoves, preparing to terrorize me.  I tried hard not to look afraid, but I failed. The more afraid I was, the worse the vampires became in their efforts to bother me.

At one point, a shirtless vampire began following me and screaming that he wanted blood.

In a nervous fit of hysterical giggles, I exclaimed, “I’m happy to meet you!”

He fell back after that.

Others screamed at me, “Get out of here!”  All I could scream back was “I’m going, I’m going!”

My friends tried to ease the tension by yelling things like, “Where is Edward?!  You’re not him!  These aren’t sparkly vampires!”

I was just too distracted.

I finally made it through and took a huge breath when I was back outside.  My forehead was plastered with sweat, my heart raced and my hands were shaking.

I had almost cried and broken down.

It was all worth it.

The lines were a little lengthy, the park actors a little cheesy and the tickets a little pricey.

Still, I am definitely going back next year and hopefully with better comebacks for the vampires.

Fright Nights will be open until Oct. 29.  Tickets at the park are $26.99 and $23 at Giant Eagle.

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