As both a theater lover and a haunted house enthusiast, I was ecstatic to learn about The Haunted Road; a socially distanced, Halloween event in East Orlando. After having the amazing opportunity to visit this attraction, I have to tell you that this is a unique, creative experience is unlike anything you’ve seen before and definitely worth a visit! Let’s take a look at this awesome, spooky celebration and what you can expect when you attend.
I will NOT be giving away any spoilers, however there are some pictures from the show.
What is The Haunted Road?
The Haunted Road is a contactless, drive-thru experience in Central Florida. Designed to promote safety and security during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Haunted Road combines theatrical storylines, special effects, talented actors, jump scares, and general creepiness to provide a safe and quality Halloween event.
To avoid overcrowding, Haunted Road tickets are sold online with specified arrival time slots. It’s requested that you not arrive more than 5 minutes before your slot begins to maintain a smooth traffic flow. Once you pull into the attraction, you’ll have to roll down your window so a masked staff member can scan your emailed admission QR codes. This is the only time you’ll be expected to engage in direct contact with an employee, unless you choose to purchase merchandise at the end of your show.
After checking in, you’ll be asked to pull forward and wait in line for your turn to enter the experience.
How It Works
The story is told is several separate scenes. As cars arrive, they are organized into groups and travel through the scenes together. You will pull into a show area, watch the action, and then proceed to the next scene with the same group of cars. It only takes a few moments to drive between sets, and all cars are required to maintain a speed of 5 mph or lower. The overall experience takes approximately 40-50 minutes.
All dialogue and audio is heard through your car’s radio. Each scene uses a different radio frequency. As you’re driving from one piece of the story to another, keep a look out for diamond-shaped signs like the one below. They will indicate to which station you should tune your radio.
Personally, I LOVE that all the audio is controlled from your car stereo. As a partially deaf individual, I work very hard to protect my “good ear.” I carry two forms of hearing protection with me at most times, and it’s a huge hassle for both myself and my loved ones. Being able to simply turn down my stereo was a HUGE plus for me. I enjoyed the experience without the added anxiety for my hearing health.
Once you arrive in a new scene, you’ll need to turn off your headlights and put your car into “Park.” It’s important to actually park your car, rather than simply put your foot on the brake. This is because, while much of the story and primary action is performed by main characters in the “onstage” area, many of the scenes include additional “scaractors” looking for a good jump scare. They won’t approach your vehicle while it’s in motion, but they will get very close to your car during a scene. I don’t jump easily, but a few of these performers were able to give me a good startle. You don’t want to risk causing an accident!
As you move from scene to scene, you’ll be driving along a very windy, dirt road. It’s well marked and easy to navigate, but be aware that your car might need a good washing afterwards.
When you’ve finished the last scene, you’ll hear a “thank you” message. Unless you’ve purchased the “Beyond The Road” experience, you can simply leave. There’s no building or central area to visit. If you do want to purchase merchandise, however, there is a tent available close to the exit of the property.
The Haunted Road follows Rapunzel as she’s forced to leave her tower and search for her lost prince. Along the way she’ll meet several familiar fairy tale creatures – each with their own Halloween twists, of course. One of the things I really appreciate about The Haunted Road is that the storyline is fairly easy to follow. You understand Rapunzel’s journey and the major events that occur along the way. The use of fairy tale creatures fleshes out the story even more as many of us already understand these characters and their motivations. While this storytelling style does make it difficult to follow some of the finer points, this is a much more well-developed plot than you normally find at a Halloween event.
The attention to detail in casting and costuming decisions helped give the storyline and experience a more fluid feel and polished look. From scene to scene, recurring characters’ costumes (and wigs if applicable) are almost, if not completely, identical. Additionally, the casting department did a great job of hiring actors with similar heights and body builds to play the same role. It meant that important characters were immediately recognizable and the plot could continue without confusion.
I think it’s important to recognize that this is not a traditional haunted house experience. This is drive-thru theater with a Halloween flair. Having said this, there are some jump scares, and it is fascinating to see how the actors are able achieve them. I’m sure it isn’t easy to startle someone when they’re inside a car with the windows rolled up and watching a show – BUT THEY’RE ABLE DO IT! I was very impressed with the strategies and techniques the actors used to successfully startle guests.
Even with those jump scares, however, this still doesn’t feel like a haunted house – AND THAT’S OKAY. This is a completely different type of Halloween attraction, designed for the current world situation and inventing its own rules and standards. I do wonder if drive-thru events like this will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. They offer a unique take on spooky attractions, with the opportunity to tell more detailed and complex stories than what would be possible in a haunted house. I’d be interested to see this performance style continue to develop.
I LOVED my trip down The Haunted Road! The sets, beautiful costumes, plot, and performance talent combined to create a very unique and memorable Halloween experience. I always enjoy dark fairy tales, and these themes seemed particularly appropriate for an Orlando audience. Many haunted attractions have challenges telling a complete story, but this new style is certainly more equipped to include a full plot instead of just a general setting.
While other haunts are certainly taking plenty of pandemic precautions, we all have varying risk factors, family considerations, and other anxieties concerning COVID-19. It’s nice to have another fun, quality alternative for those uncomfortable visiting a walk-thru haunted house.
I very much enjoyed this incredibly creative and safe way to experience the spooky season. I highly recommend The Haunted Road, and I can’t wait to return in November for their 18+ nights (with extra gore)!
Important Things To Know
- You will not be able to get out of your car during the experience. There are no facilities available.
- There are no bathrooms on property for guests.
- No food or drinks are available for purchase.
- You must have your headlights on to drive between scenes and turn them off once you’ve parked.
- Masks are required for everyone in your party anytime your windows are rolled down.