Blood dripping down the walls, decaying bodies, demon dolls and spooky mermaids are all creepy features at this year’s “Haunted Fort” at Fort Casey State Park.
The spooky fort opened on Friday and will be open 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday Oct. 27.
Visitors should anticipate the fright of their lives as they tour the dimly-lit, stone-walled passageways of the fort and visit 13 haunted rooms.
There will also be children’s games, bouncy house, food and drinks for purchase, a trick-or-treat street and the popular “haunted switchboard” room.
The Haunted Fort is recommended for ages 10 and older. For younger visitors, there are carnival-style games such as ring toss and ping-pong toss.
Fort Casey is bringing out the big guns this year, partnering with Whidbey Playhouse to provide actors and props to add another level of horror to the experience.
“We’re excited to bring more drama and theater (to the event),” Whidbey Playhouse President Allenda Jenkins said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the expressions on people’s faces and hearing the responses, such as screams. But good screams.”
The first Haunted Fort was four years ago, according to Sharon Young-Hale, park program specialist and coordinator for the annual attraction. Young-Hale said she came up with the idea of the event as a fundraiser, and the first year proved to be an overwhelming success.
“I thought let’s try it and see what happens,” she said. “It was very well received and we were amazed by the number of people who came out here … People were very excited to have the opportunity to come into Fort Casey for a haunted event.”
A new tradition was born, bringing in an average of $10,000 each year for the park.
“The money that we receive will directly go for restoration projects for the Admiralty Head Lighthouse,” she said.
Tickets are $8 per person, $30 for a family up to six — and a Discover Pass is required for the event.
Young-Hale said the Haunted Fort has received visitors from on and off the island, and even from other countries. In past years, the Haunted Fort averaged about 2,000 people for the two nights. She expects that the turnout may be higher this year, possibly as high as 4,000.
“I think it is an awesome opportunity for them to see our historical fort in a whole different way,” she said. “All of the batteries — turning them into a haunted space. It’s fun, it’s creepy and I think that it’s a great opportunity for them to see that.”
It takes a community effort and a large number of volunteers to get the scares rolling, Young-Hale said.
Local groups lent a hand, including the Island County Amateur Radio Club, Island County Waste Wise, Citizen’s Patrol and Island County Sheriff’s department, and Coupeville Lions.
“This is an event that we could not do without our volunteers and our (Admiralty Head Lighthouse) Keepers group. It truly is,” she said. “There’s hundreds of hours that are put in by our volunteers to pull off this event.”
Volunteers are working hard to make sure everyone will find something to be thrilled or chilled about at the Haunted Fort, such as giant cobwebs on the ceilings, dangling spiders, candles at a veiled skeleton’s altar and splattered blood around a “surgery room.”
There’s even a “haunted playroom,” with menacing-looking dolls, dismembered toys and creepy furniture.
Young-Hale said her favorite part of the event is the “creativity of the props and what the actors produce.”
“What I look forward to is seeing the smiles on the children’s faces and watching the community turn out,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to see the park in a whole different venue than what they normally do.”
Come see the fort all dressed up for Halloween … if you dare. Keep calm, trick-or-treat, and carry on.