Scary suc­cess

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

A troupe of killer clowns, can­ni­bal hill­bil­lies and things that go bump in the night moved onto Palmer­ston North’s rail­way land for Hal­loween, and couldn’t wait to meet the lo­cals.

And the lo­cals couldn’t wait to meet them, with ‘‘thou­sands’’ turn­ing up for the five-night Hal­loween sea­son that ended on Mon­day night.

Hamish Wil­liams and his team had un­leashed their ‘‘night­mare on Main St’’ - an at­trac­tion called The Haunted Barn be­hind black poly­thene draped walls.

In­side a cor­ral made from lock-to­gether se­cu­rity fenc­ing and sur­rounded by spooky props, lurked a ter­ri­fy­ing troupe of 15 cos­tumed ‘‘scare ac­tors’’, who pro­vided spec­tral pres­ences, acted as guides and op­er­ated spe­cial ef­fects strobe light­ing, at­mo­spheric sounds and smoke ma­chines. It proved ‘a grave­yard smash’. ‘‘Num­bers have been huge, and peo­ple have been ex­traor­di­nar­ily happy, with rave re­views. It’s been fan­tas­tic. It far ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions,’’ Wil­liams said, rapt that his guests had such a great time.

It also drew plenty of peo­ple from out­side the re­gion.

‘‘On Mon­day I know of at least 10 groups from Welling­ton who came up es­pe­cially for the at­trac­tion.’’

The only hic­cup had been the length of time spent in the wait line on the first night. Once that was sorted, peo­ple were able to pro­ceed through the Barn smoothly in small groups at one­minute in­ter­vals.

The Haunted Barn in­stal­la­tion was a se­quel to the spooky Amaz­ing Maze ‘n Maize at­trac­tion Wil­liams used to op­er­ate out of the for­mer Wood­lands Lodge on SH1 near San­son.

The lodge building was de­stroyed by fire in 2009, and with­out its cafe un­der­writ­ing the sea­sonal en­ter­prise, run­ning the scare-fest be­came un­ten­able, so the Night­mares en­tre­pre­neur closed it down five years ago.

‘‘Peo­ple re­ally missed the maze. We had so many en­quiries about bring­ing it back, but find­ing a lo­ca­tion and meet­ing com­pli­ances had al­ways been the prob­lem,’’ Wil­liams said.

Not even bad weather de­terred peo­ple from the fright-filled fun.

‘‘Rain and wind just added to the hor­ror theme,’’ Wil­liams said.

‘‘And yes, we’ll def­i­nitely be do­ing it again.’’

‘‘Peo­ple re­ally missed the maze. We had so many en­quiries about bring­ing it back.’’ Hamish Wil­liams

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

‘‘Killer’’ clown (Kata Granich), zom­bie (Atchara Light­bourne) and mu­tated rab­bit (Kamie Kithen) pre­pare to scare.

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