Di­a­mond Hill haunted trail has new name, but still scares ga­lore

Pawtucket Times - - BLACKSTONE VALLEY - BY JOSEPH B. NADEAU jnadeau@woonsock­et­call.com

CUM­BER­LAND – Di­a­mond Hill Park’s an­nual Hal­loween show is un­der new man­age­ment, in a way, but don’t ex­pect any se­ri­ous changes from the past when it opens Satur­day night.

That’s be­cause the new 13th World haunted trail on the for­mer ski hill’s wooded grounds will be run by the same duo, Richard Val­liant of Woonsocket and Zeke Fortier of Belling­ham, who have cre­ated the trail for town over the past 15 years.

Town Recre­ation Di­rec­tor Michael Craw­ley was in charge of the for­mer Haunted Hill ex­hi­bi­tion for the last nine years and said this week he has no wor­ries that Val­liant and Fortier’s now pri­vately op­er­ated venture won’t do just as well.

“I went through the trail the other night and it is just in­cred­i­ble, they do a great job,” Craw­ley said.

As has been the case in past years, 13th World is made up of a se­ries of mazes and hor­ror movi­ethemed live per­for­mance venues where the World’s cast of char­ac­ters will give those pay­ing the ticket fee just what they are look­ing for— a big scare.

Yes, you will still be able to find Freddy Krueger, Ja­son, and scary clowns on the grounds and also few lo­cal spe­cial­ties like a set­ting from “The Purge,” the most re­cent edi­tion hav­ing been filmed in Woonsocket, and lo­cal cre­ations like the Hill­billy Hous­ing Au­thor­ity with buzzing saws and other sim­u­lated fright­en­ing threats.

Craw­ley said the move to lease out Di­a­mond Hill to 13th World was made to re­duce the bur­den of run­ning the three-month-long setup, op­er­a­tion, and clos­ing of the sea­sonal event through his of­fice and the town’s ac­counts.

While the for­mer Haunted Hill would bring in over $40,000 for the town’s recre­ational depart­ment pro­grams on av­er­age with a good weather sea­son, the need to com­ply with town ac­count­ing rules and pur­chas­ing also made that process a vastly more com­pli­cated one than if it is run by a pri­vate com­pany, ac­cord­ing to Craw­ley.

Un­der the town’s pur­chas­ing rules, Craw­ley said he would have had to get bids from three busi­nesses for the pur­chase of some­thing like bales of hay or light equip­ment whereas as a pri­vate op­er­a­tion can sim­ply go out to a store and buy a needed part or ef­fect when some­thing breaks or has to be re­placed.

It also means a lot less work for his depart­ment, he noted. “It is re­ally some­thing that is too dif­fi­cult for one per­son to do all that pur­chas­ing,” Craw­ley said of the added work he took on in ad­di­tion to his reg­u­lar day-to-day recre­ation du­ties. The town did ben­e­fit from the trail pro­ceeds and he noted some of the fund­ing when to im­prove­ments such as the new play­ground at the town’s Monastery prop­erty, a $47,000 pur­chase and also the train ride for kids that is set up for town events like Win­ter Won­der­land.

13th World is pay­ing $15,000 to the town for use of the park but will bear all the costs of setup, op­er­a­tion, and breakdown dur­ing the run of the event from Septem­ber 30 through Oct. 28, un­der the new ar­range­ment, Craw­ley noted.

Tick­ets for Fri­day and Sun­day nights are $17 but a $2 sav­ings coupon is avail­able at a num­ber of town lo­ca­tions. Ad­mis­sion on Satur­day nights, the busiest night, is $20.

The town will still be gain­ing fund­ing for its pro­grams and won’t have to shoul­der the event li­a­bil­ity cover­age that it has car­ried in the past as an­other ex­pense. 13th World has ob­tained its own cover­age as part of the prop­erty lease agree­ment.

The good thing about the change is that Vail­lant and Fortier won’t have a start up learn­ing curve since they have been putting the trail to­gether for the past 15 years, Craw­ley noted.

“It is a great event and they do a great job,” Craw­ley said.

Val­liant said on Thurs­day that ev­ery­thing is just about set for tonight’s open­ing night and noted vis­i­tors will find plenty of things to be scared of when they head out onto trail in the dark of the night.

“13th World brings you into our world which is pretty scary,” he said.

The trail up the hill and through the woods is set up with 13 base sta­tions of hor­ror, each with its own set of char­ac­ters or unique set­ting.

Some are based on the tra­di­tional hor­ror movie con­cepts and a few oth­ers are just out of the minds of Vail­lant and Fortier and their cast of show mem­bers. The trail fol­low­ers might run into Hell Raiser or Sa­mura of Lord of the Rings, or that Hill­billy camp­ground thing where they will prob­a­bly want to get through as fast as pos­si­ble.

“Every part of trail here is fun in an in­tense way and of course peo­ple come here be­cause they want to be scared,” he said. “That is what we do,” he added. The trail is set up as fun for mid teens and older and Vail­lant said 10-years-old is a good cut off for fam­i­lies to con­sider.

The trail has a wide range of spe­cial ef­fects to help out be­sides the live cos­tumed char­ac­ters. Spe­cial light­ing and even laser show beams cre­ate the eerie mood as do the sound ef­fects, and fog gen­er­a­tors. “There is a lit­tle bit of ev­ery­thing on the trail,” Vail­lant said.

Since 13th World is now on its own in run­ning the fright trail, Vail­lant said its staffers have worked es­pe­cially hard to make this year a big draw for the Hal­loween sea­son. “This should be our best year by far, shoul­der to shoul­der,” he said.

13th World opens to vis­i­tors at dusk and the last tick­ets are sold at 10 p.m. on Fri­day and Satur­day and 9 p.m. on Sun­days. The dis­count coupons can be found at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in the area in­clud­ing Spirit Hal­loween at Park Square, Woonsocket, Aero Tram­po­line Park at Wal­nut Hill and also at Bruns­wick Bowl in Woonsocket.

Michelle Somers of Manville, her mother Linda Somers, and Michelle’s twin sons, Jordin and Jharis Mc­Go­nigle, 8, were found check out the trail high­lights on Thurs­day and gave a thumbs up to the up­com­ing Hal­loween ac­tiv­ity.

“I think it is awe­some. I went through it years ago and loved it,” Somers said. Her friends have gone through the trail in more re­cent years and said it has be­come even bet­ter,” she noted.

Photo by Joseph B. Nadeau

Jharis and Jordin Mc­Go­nigle hang out at Di­a­mond Hill Park where the town has tra­di­tion­ally held its Haunted Hill Hal­loween ex­hi­bi­tion. This year the haunted trail is back un­der a new name, though it is still run by lo­cal scare-spe­cial­ists Richard Val­liant, of Woonsocket, and Zeke Fortier, of Belling­ham. The trail, now dubbed 13th World, opens tonight.

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