If being scared half to death is your idea of a good time, you'll want to visit Spooky Nights at Shelby Farms this October.
"There's a reason why our haunted trail is for kids 12 and older," says Rebecca Dailey, Shelby Farms' communications coordinator, as she walks near an abandoned playground at the beginning of the trail. "This is where you will see zombie children playing," she says, brushing past the lonely swing set and monkey bars. "The tour guide tells a story about how they were murdered. And then you see them murdered."
Not everything at Spooky Nights is quite so extreme. Shelby Farms has programmed a number of fun family events like guided nocturnal nature walks with performances by actors from the University of Memphis. Zombie laser tag takes place in a foggy bottom. And for those who want a little bit of a Halloween scare — but only a little bit — there's a headless horseman hayride.
But then there's the trail ...
"We wanted to do something that we thought teenagers would like," Dailey says.
There is no chicken path for the fainthearted to quickly escape the haunted trail. Once you're on the path you are headed deeper and deeper into the woods, through webs of enormous spiders, graveyards, and claustrophobic tunnels, and past skeletons, weird scenes of slaughter or sacrifice, and a terrifying abandoned clown circus. Except for a dim LED trail and a few flashlights that catch the glowing eyes of creatures real and imagined, everything is pitch-black.
"We have a few EMTs stationed around," Dailey says. "Of course, we hope we won't need them."
Spooky Nights at Shelby Farms, Friday and Saturday nights in October. $10 per person for the Haunted Trail, $10 per family for nocturnal nature hikes.