Infected: An Immersive Horror Audio-Drama describes itself as a “Haunt in Headphones.” I’ve never participated in any type of “audio performance” before, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. By the end of the show, however, I was amazed at how the aforementioned headphones, live actors, changing scenery, and outdoor elements combined to create a unique, riveting story. It was an awesome evening and fantastic experience!
Let’s talk about what you can expect at this one-of-a-kind haunt. Don’t worry. I’m not going to give away any spoilers!
Ticketing and Arrival
Infected does not offer onsite ticket sales, so you’ll need to reserve your spot online. Instead of single tickets, Infected sells “time slots” for each performance. Up to 5 people can attend the show, but they must be part of the same party. As social distancing within the audience may not always be possible, you will not be paired with strangers or outside individuals during your experience.
It’s recommended you arrive at least five minutes prior to your anticipated time slot to allow for the check in and screening process. A staff member will take your temperature, and you’ll wait for your group’s turn to begin the show. Once it’s time, your group will proceed into the theater for a short “pre-show.” This is the only part of the experience that takes place indoors.
Once inside, you’ll enter an apparent “briefing room.” You’ll first watch a safety video to explain the rules and procedures you’re to follow inside the haunt. After the safety video has ended, you’ll be able to grab your headphones (exactly like the kind you’d use at a silent disco) and provided flashlight. The flashlight is solely to help you navigate the various terrain you’ll encounter during your journey. There will be other lights throughout the scenery to illuminate the actors.
Once you put on your headphones, you’ll spend a few minutes listening to a “pre-show” telling you about the world and the dire situation in which you’ve found yourself. Around the room, you can read various papers and fliers giving further clues and insights into the story.
Learning about the world and its details is a big part of the experience, so I won’t give too much away. I’ll just say that Infected transports you to an apocalyptic situation where you must avoid contracting a deadly virus while trying to escape the quarantine zone.
…Yep, you read that right. Would you believe that Phoenix Tears’ Megan Markham wrote this script in 2019?! Well, it’s true! And the parallels to real life only make this show that much more immersive, creepy, and awesome!
After listening to the ~15 minute pre-show, you’ll head outside (Don’t worry. You’ll know when it’s time to move!) to meet the main characters leading you through this story. You’ll follow these characters on a preplanned route through the surrounding area, so be prepared to walk a little bit. From the very beginning, the cast talks directly to you, making you feel like you’re not just watching the plot unfold – you’re part of it!
As the story plays out, you’ll “escape” through Downtown Ocoee. During your journey, you’ll navigate several scenes with different paths, including grass, gravel, and concrete. Your route through the city is perfectly planned to include a variety of backdrops that really add to the experience and make the story feel real. The combination of physically traveling through an area, hearing the appropriate sound effects, and watching a cast member react to the situation is incredibly immersive. There were a few times when the audio convinced me that a threat was actually around a corner. I kept looking around, waiting for something to overtake us. It’s terrifying!
As a partially deaf individual (I can’t hear out of my left ear), I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the show in its entirety. I worried that, without stereo hearing, I might miss much of the intended effect. This wasn’t the case, however. I still felt surrounded by danger and unsettled by the sound effects. My hearing loss didn’t affect my ability to connect with the actors, and I still felt completely immersed in the world.
As the story comes to a dramatic close, you’ll return to the check in area in front of Dragonfly Studios. You can then return your headphones, take a few selfies, and find your car. But this is a show that sticks with you. The storyline, imagery, and experience are not something you easily forget!
Of course, while the world of Infected is fictional, we’re living through a very REAL pandemic! Phoenix Tears has taken the following precautions to keep both its audience and cast members healthy:
- All patrons must subject to a temperature check before entering the studio.
- Cast members must also pass a temperature check before being allowed to work.
- Cast and audience members are required to wear masks.
- Headphones and flashlights are throughly disinfected (by a person wearing gloves) between each show.
- Each show will include an audience of no more than 5 people, all from the same party.
- A tech will walk six feet behind each group with sanitizing wipes.
- Actors and staff will remain at least six feet away from the audience.
- Phoenix Tears has a comprehensive plan to notify affected individuals if a cast or previous audience member is diagnosed with COVID-19.
This was an incredibly unique experience, and I loved every minute! It was terrifyingly creepy and extremely unsettling – everything I look for in a Halloween event. I highly recommend adding Infected to your “must-do” haunt list this year! The show only runs for select nights between October 3-31. Don’t miss it!