Carly O’Neill
Features Editor

Located in Sinking Spring, near Reading, Pa., Shocktoberfest began in 1991 as a simple haunted hayride called Maniac Mountain. In 1997 after The Toxic Asylum Haunted House was added, the company changed its name to Shocktoberfest, to convey to thrill seekers that it was more than just a hayride. 

28 years later, Shocktoberfest has grown into 13 boundary testing attractions all centered around a “Jurassic World” theme, but with brain hungry zombies instead of dinosaurs. 

Zombie World takes visitors on a tour through the park where they get to feel the aftermath of these creations. I suggest starting your walking dead experience off with the Zombie Safari Haunted Hayride, with an optional paintball version, where you’ll get to see the high-tech security the park uses to keep the zombies from ripping people’s faces off. This attraction starts off with an introduction given by your tour guide throughout the ride. The Jurassic World theme is continuously incorporated, as you are shown a video of a zombie trainer attempting to tame the zombies, just like Chris Pratt’s character, Owen, when he was responsible for controlling the raptors. 

It wouldn’t be zombie world without the stereotypical bad guy trying to capture a zombie to sell to the government. Sound familiar? A security guard re-enacts Vic Hoskins character, played by Vincent D’Onofrio in Jurassic World, and rigs the hayride to allow riders to try to capture a zombie by temporarily turning off the security systems. 

This year’s “Jurassic World” approach at Shocktoberfest is one in a series of changing themes over the years.

In 2001, Shocktoberfest shelled out $100,000 on the Biochemical Plant scene during the hayride, consisting of a two-story high mother worm animatronic and her eight babies. At the time this was the turning point for Shocktoberfest, as they set a new bar for haunted hayrides. 

In 2004 the park unveiled “Prison of the Dead,” a 50,000 sq. ft. prison that the attraction discloses was supposedly once home to a state psychiatric hospital, a state penitentiary, and a chemical processing plant. This was proved to simply be a marketing tactic, but Graffius Burial Vault Company, a funeral service and cemetery, is only a short distance away.

Hungry zombies await behind the glass adding to the overall undead experience here at Zombie World. Carly O’Neill/The Snapper

This year’s version of the Halloween attraction begins with contenders boarding an actual inmate bus that transports them to the Prison of the Dead, where the cells are now filled with not so tame zombies. The attraction delivers on its promising popularity, as you follow closely behind your group to not get lost in the darkness. From torturous prison guards creeping around every turn, to nearly crawling through tunnels to try and escape the prison, this attraction will certainly leave you with goosebumps if you manage to make it out. 

The Unknown 2.0 attraction is internationally recognized for its abnormal scare options. For those looking to go the extreme route, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm strip down to your underwear and attempt the “Almost Naked and Scared Challenge” for a new sense of vulnerability. Otherwise, go through fully clothed but beware, for the doctor has many experiments planned for you and your group. 

You start off your journey in a holding room where the doctor and his assistant test your group to see if you’ll make for acceptable subjects in his experiments. The twist is you’re watching this introduction video through 3D lenses as bursts of air and sounds of electric shocks overtake your senses. 

You then venture into the unknown while darkness and outlines of electric animatronic zombies linger throughout the attraction. 

Still thirsty for more? Well you’re in luck because the festival offers ten more attractions including zombie laser tag, a zombie night run, escape rooms, and a “zombie experience” where you’ll be transformed into a creature of the night with professional scary makeup.

If you’re looking for something truly out of the ordinary, try out Shocktoberfest’s new “Torture Chamber.” This spa-like experience offers a 15 or 30-minute full body massage, but instead of traditional essential oils and hot rocks, you will be exposed to warm blood and bones, as well as intense environmental conditions and unsettling music. 

There are also music festivals, monster bashes, and brew fests held throughout the holiday season, including the festivals own “Ghouls Gone Wild! Drag Show.”

Shocktoberfest is about to wrap up its attractions, but not without a final Big Bang. Don’t miss their blackout and hooded hayride experience this upcoming weekend from Friday, November 8 to Saturday, November 9th. Prepare to have your sight and senses stripped from you as the comforting lights go permanently out.