Photo by Lianna Matt
You only have two more weekends to go to ValleySCARE, but you’re in good company. The last three weekends of this Halloween haunt are the busiest of the year, according to marketing director Matt McCormack. Don’t worry, though; between the six haunted houses (they call them mazes), three scare zones, fast pass, other Halloween experiences and the rides, the lines aren’t more than you would expect for an amusement park with a 40-plus-year legacy and more than 50 roller coasters and attractions.
ValleySCARE have been hosted at Valleyfair in Shakopee for more than a decade, and every year they bring new attractions. This year, you can wander through a cemetery and the stages of death at the completely new Undertakers maze or check out the revamped Zombie High: In the Dark—unfortunately for you, you get to fight against your worst undead adolescent memories with only a flashlight to guide the way. As you wander around the park, you might stumble into the new Midway MaSCAREade scare zone based on the French Revolution or find yourself drawn to the reverberating sounds of the new music show, Blood Drum.
The planning for the next ValleySCARE happens almost as soon as the current one ends, and just as much care goes into the creation of the 200-or-so monsters that roam the park each night. You won’t find most of these workers during the park’s regular season, but once the nights get longer and the leaves start changing, they’ll flock back to their favorite haunted amusement park. Some returning workers float around to a different attraction each season, and many stay at the same spot and recruit other prospective monsters into their group.
Photos by Lianna Matt
A typical monster night begins with a costume change and a 20-minute session with a makeup artist in the trailer nicknamed “the mortuary.” There may not be guests around here, but that doesn’t have any effect on the Halloween spirit. It’s everywhere, filling corners and crevices in the form of jars of eyeballs, spiderwebs and dark creatures sitting on the shelves—just for fun.
In 2017 I got to have a special behind-the-scenes tour of ValleySCARE (media perks). After visiting the mortuary, I was able to walk around the amusement park without all of the fog, the darkness, and the screaming, and all of the details that the staff put into the event began to pop out. If you pay attention to the music at the Mad Mouse roller coaster, you can hear periodic campy advertisements for high quality meats from Mr. Cleaver’s Bloodshed, one of the park’s most infamous mazes. As you walk through the cemetery, you can read the staff members’ names on every gravestone. Seeing the Chateau maze’s Gothic accents and furniture pieces in the light was a treat; you would be amazed at how many skeletons are embedded into the interior walls.
The Chateau has been one of the mainstays for ValleySCARE, and it is the only maze that isn’t torn down after the season is done. Even though it may be tweaked from year to year, one aspect has remained the same: the butler who mans the door. Employee Todd Reutter (right) created the role in 2006, and over the years, he has ushered in thousands of guests to the vampire lair.
Whether you come for the new attractions or the old favorites, get ready to emit at least one embarrassing squeak or shrill shriek at ValleySCARE. Or just play with the Peanuts at the daytime, family-friendly Great Pumpkin Festival. That’s cool, too.
The Great Pumpkin Festival is full of fall fun with a Pirate Party, Trick or Treat Street, Pig Pen’s People Washer, Sally’s Spooky Sing-a-Long, a family-friendly Spooktacular musical, the Great Pumpkin Parade, and more.
Photos of the Great Pumpkin Festival and Chateau Butler courtesy Valleyfair