Last week, student reporter Maddie Garcia published a piece on The Red Fox Report about one of the actresses working at the Headless Horseman Haunted House attraction in Ulster, NY.
That attraction is listed as the top haunted house experience in the country by several major publications, but its almost $50 price tag and location over of the Mid-Hudson Bridge make it a bit of an investment of time and money for Marist students. For a cheaper and closer but still spooky alternative, look no further than Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion.
Located south on Route 9 in Wappinger Falls, McCurdy’s has been a seasonal attraction in the Hudson Valley area for exactly 40 years. The ghoulish experience is designed by ImaginArts Studios, the company behind intricately designed activities such as the Guinness World Records Museum in San Antonio, TX. ImaginArts works with Dutchess County Parks to get the attraction up and running every year.
Part of the fun of the McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion experience is actually finding the place, as the road there is almost as atmospheric as the actual product. The attraction is hard to spot in the pitch-black dark of night. The GPS location is not the true entrance of the park, which is a mile ahead. On top of that, the sign for the park is tiny and not very wide, obscured by plenty of intertwining branches and trees.
Once the entrance is found, you enter a long and windy road that takes you up to the apex of a dirt hill. Along the way up the hill, you pass a raggedly dressed man and an overalls-wearing woman sitting around a roaring garbage can fire. Uneducated visitors may believe that this is the beginning of the experience, but in reality these folks are really just there to help you find parking.
For $28 ($25 on Sunday), guests of all ages are taken through a three-part tour that starts in a dimly lit manor and eventually leads you to the creepy and crawly backwoods of the property. Dozens of teenage and adult creepy characters chew the scenery of intricately designed set pieces that are meant to represent each of the Seven Deadly Sins. Standout designs include a metallic silver kitchen that leads into a chilly fridge of death, and a giant Ouija board where the local witch teases visitors about the presence of a lurking demon.
Marist senior Lauren Suran estimates that she’s been to at least 10 haunted house attractions in her lifetime. When speaking in reflection on her latest visit to McCurdy’s, she praised the attraction’s unique interactivity.
“That [interactivity] isn’t very common in a lot of the haunted houses,” she notes. “There was more of a storyline and that made it very interesting to go through, even for a second time.”
The park opened on Sept. 30 and operates from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, with special 7-9 p.m. hours for Sunday guests. McCurdy’s doors are open until Halloween night, and then the annual breakdown will occur, commencing festivities until the next spooky season.