AUSTRALIA’s first dedicated scream park is returning to Clarendon - so get your freak on because this year’s event is meant to be even bigger, better and wet-yourself-scarier.
“We’ve pumped it up big time,” said Lewis Osborne, creator of Fearaphobia - a uniquely-scary fun park and entertainment spectacular designed to scare the heck out of punters.
“Everything’s been intensified. We’re going to ‘go hard or go home’. And our prices are less than last year!”
Mr Osborne and his wife Leonie run Showtime Amusements, which provides rides, games and attractions to shows like the Hawkesbury Show. Mr Osborne represents one of six generations of Osbornes that have worked in the Australian amusements industry, so he knows a thing or two about providing thrill-seeking entertainment.
The inaugural Fearaphobia in 2016 was his first foray into dedicated scream parks, however he has been studying and immersing himself in this type of extreme entertainment in America for years.
For the uninitiated, Fearaphobia will take-over Hawkesbury Showgrounds for six nights from Thursday, October 26 through to Tuesday, October 31 - Halloween night, the final scare. There are eight major attractions or ‘haunts’, and sessions run nightly at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm.
Tickets are priced according to how many haunts you want to see, from $40 for four, up to $90 for all eight. The latter is the only option that gets you ‘buried alive’ and also acts as a ‘fast pass’ so you can go straight to the front of queues.
There is a gothic maze of medieval monks and torture chambers, a room to test the darkness-phobes where you are hooded and forced to hold on to the chain of death, and a corn field called Killing Field where you must shoot the zombies before they eat you.
Mr Osborne said Killing Field is new for this year, and is no walk in the park: “The zombies are very hard to kill, so be prepared for whatever comes at you from every direction. It’s intensely terrifying - but you may survive!”
There is also a maze filled with “the creepiest clowns you’ve ever seen in your life”, and a macabre doll’s house.
There will be an array of roaming entertainment out on the grounds, including magicians, fire dancers, stilt walkers, a circus performer walking the 40-foot Wheel Of Death (with no harness), and lots of evil clowns and zombies meandering through the crowd to scare the living daylights out of people.
Two heavy metal bands will be playing - local act Heavy Rose, and Brisbane’s Darkcell. Even the food is scary-themed, with a variety of refreshments on offer from the Creepy Food Court and the Chew and Spew Canteen.
“Try the Killer Coffee - you drink it and there’s a very big chance something will happen to you!” said Mr Osborne.
He encouraged everyone to come early: “Even if you don’t go into the eight haunted attractions, there’s plenty to do walking around the park.”
Punters are encouraged to dress-up for the event, Halloween-style. There will be prizes for the ‘best worst-dressed’.
“We’re hoping people will go out of their way to put a bit of effort into their costuming. There will be Fearaphobia t-shirts and Halloween showbags, so come as the best-looking worst, ugliest, creepiest and bloodiest thing you can think of!” Mr Osborne said.
The conditions for entry come with a warning, as the event is designed to jolt people. The website warns those of a nervous or weak disposition to stay away. The event is designed for people 15 years and over, however Mr Osborne said younger punters could attend with the supervision of their parents (who must sign a waiver).
“There’s been a lot of parents asking us if they can bring younger children. That’s fine, if you think they’re up to it - if Freddy Krueger isn’t going to give them nightmares!” he said.
“But a lot of children don’t get as frightened as adults these days. They’re just tougher. When I was younger I’d get scared when a vampire movie was on, but now there’s so much blood, guts and terror out there, children are far more comfortable with it.
“But we’re going to make them extremely uncomfortable with it. We’re going to put the fear-factor back into them!”
This year’s event will be an hour earlier to allow people coming from the city to travel home on the train.
Following success last year, Fearaphobia is once again working with Schools Industry Partnership to give kids who are so inclined some experience behind-the-scenes.
“We had 30 or 40 kids down here last year, and we’re doing the same this year. It’s terrific work experience for kids who want to do makeup, and get involved in an actor experience and we can get them into some scary roles,” said Mr Osborne.
“So if there’s anyone out there who thinks they’re pretty special at being scary, they can get in touch with me.”
- For ticket sales and event information, visit the Fearaphobia website at fearaphobia.com.au or call 1800-Halloween (1800 425 569). To enquire about work experience, email Mr Osborne on firstname.lastname@example.org.