Trail of Terror Review: Thrills and Chili Dogs

With the Halloween season in full swing, theres no better place to go than the Trail of Terror. (Creative Commons/VSP)

Halloween season is here, so it’s time to get those skeletons out of the closet and fork over your hard-earned cash to visit some of Connecticut’s haunted attractions. This year, I took a ride down to Wallingford to check out the Trail of Terror.

This haunted walk runs on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. (10 p.m. on Sundays). Tickets are $20 for individuals and the website offers discounts for clubs and groups. As well, if you’re the type to plan in advance, you can purchase a timed ticket and just walk in the door. This is advisable, since tickets apparently go pretty fast.

Of course, this seems to have been everyone’s plan. When my group arrived, the so-called “Timed Ticket Speed Pass” line was about a 40-minute wait. Still, they got us through pretty quickly. The trail itself is set in classic, New England-style spooky woods, and there are actors and props to keep you entertained in line. I myself had a very lovely conversation with Uncle Fester (who was actually able to do the lightbulb trick!).

There was also a food stand available for those waiting. They had really cheap chili dogs (like, $3) for some reason. I mean, why would you eat a chili dog right before going through a haunted house? It just sounds like a recipe for disaster—and vomit everywhere.

Then again, food might not be a bad idea. If you’re not an endurance walker, folks, be careful about going on this walk: it’s pretty flipping long. It’s pretty much an hour of slow-walking (and scares), so be sure to eat before you go. While they do have a rest stop in the middle where you can buy soda, water and snacks (it’s that long!) keep your blood sugar up before descending into the madness.

Speaking of madness: the Trail of Terror is wicked cool. I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but if it’s variety you’re looking for, the trail has it; there’s everything from haunted house classics (vampires, mad monks, hillbillies, etc.) to more modern-day offerings. If you’re a fan of horror games and movies, you’re definitely in for a treat.

And the special effects are awesome. While there are staples like a fog machine and weird mirrors, there are also physical effects such as slides, sloped hallways, skewed perspective corridors and other fun features that throw you off balance.

The scarers, of course, are always right around the corner to make you jump. They’re everywhere, and often in the least expected places—behind doors, under beds, you name it. Be careful about mentioning your name, because if they find out, they’ll call out to you, which adds to the thrills.

The makeup, set up and costumes were all executed excellently. The costumes (and blood effects) looked real, as did the scenery. There are certain props that definitely appeared to be handmade, which added to the genuine, heartfelt atmosphere of the whole thing.

My only criticism of the whole shebang was the lack of quiet moments. Every step had a scarer, which took away some of the tension. I think a stretch of trail entirely in the dark, with nothing jumping out at you, would be scarier than any zombie popping out of a box.

Besides that, this haunted attraction is top-notch. It’s homey, scary and full of soul. And when you’re done, there’s a 24-hour diner just down the road for late-night waffles. Win!

One more note: This trail is made up entirely of volunteer scarers. The ticket proceeds go to charities located within the town of Wallingford, including the Red Cross, the Wallingford Emergency Shelter and the community revitalization efforts. So if a night of scares isn’t enough to convince you, maybe giving to a good cause will.

Overall, 4.7 out of 5 killer clowns. Stop by this October, and make sure to reserve your ticket in advance—they run out fast!

Also, skip the chili dogs. Happy Halloween everybody!


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.