WoodsCrest Haunted Manor promises fright and delight
October 18, 2006
BRECKENRIDGE – Be afraid. Be very afraid.That’s the word on this year’s “WoodsCrest Haunted Manor,” an annual Halloween tradition that, this year, is making the transition from highly-publicized private party to a public extravaganza that anyone can attend.Brett Woods started his haunted manor attraction five years ago as a Halloween/birthday party for his wife Tracey. Woods created the tale of a haunted Victorian manor in Breckenridge – and proceeded to construct it in his 1,500 square-foot basement.”It started out with the usual store-bought props and actors,” said Woods. “But the next year, I found out what was really out there on the internet – and it became an obsession.”That first year, Woods invited around 150 guests. Eventually the party grew so large, it had to be moved to a 3,000 square-foot tent. Last year, the town of Breckenridge decided to put up their own haunted house in the Riverwalk Center. While it was successful, locals lucky enough to attend the annual party at the Woods’ house realized that a partnership with the resident haunted house-meister would be a coup for the town’s schedule of Halloween activities.
As a result, Woods is partnering with Breckenridge to create the WoodsCrest Haunted Manor, a Victorian mansion set up in the Riverwalk Center and open to the public for five nights of mayhem. Breckenridge recreation department spokesman Nathan Love ran the haunted house at Riverwalk last year and is enthusiastic about bringing Brett Woods and his WoodsCrest Manor on board for this year’s festivities. “Our biggest goal was to get the teens involved in a Halloween activity, and give the haunted house experience to Summit County,” said Love. “Except for last year, there hasn’t been a haunted house open to the public up here for a long time.” However, Love warns that you should leave the young children at home.”We’re not recommending that kids under 13 attend,” he said. “It can be scary. We have props that fly and things that spin.”Woods said that, in past years, the manor has taken up to a month to build. But this year, thanks to help from son Derek, his friend Jeff Goldstein and other local volunteers, construction is taking only a couple of weeks. Volunteers from the Breckenridge Recreation Center youth council, as well as from Activities Run By Youth (ARBY), will also be running the haunted house and playing the roles of the not-so-welcoming hosts.
The town of Breckenridge is taking on some of the financial burden as well. Every year, Woods puts around $10,000 into his haunted creations. While this year is no exception, special events funding from the town – a total of $3,000 – will be added to help with advertising and other additions. All proceeds will go directly back into the Breckenridge Recreation Center and ARBY.So just how scary will this be?WoodsCrest Manor promises to be filled with advanced tricks of the trade such as animated props, skeletons, monsters, body parts, strobe lights, air blasts, fog machines, and yes, some violence – all of which will soon have you convinced that this is not your kid brother’s elementary school haunted house. One hair-raising feature every year is the “Vortex Tunnel,” which spins unsuspecting guests around, who are then caught off-guard by the 3D maze, filled with pneumatic props that pop out and fly through the air. The twists and turns along the way will be enhanced this year by 3D glasses provided for everyone.”There are definitely a lot more props than last year,” Woods said. “This year, we have hydraulic props with motors and lots more visual effects. And we’ll also be using the stage of the Riverwalk Center.”
Woods is proud of the fact that this isn’t just your fabric-‘n-plywood haunted house filled with bowls of fake “eyeballs” made of ketchup and grapes. “A lot of what we create is really specialized,” he said. “Fortunately, the ‘haunted community’ out there is really tight, and I belong to chat lines.”In recent years, haunted house fans and fabricators worldwide have created an elaborate support system of chat rooms and websites about their favorite hobby, and are always quick to offer advice to community projects such as the WoodsCrest Manor. There are even national awards given to the best haunted houses; WoodsCrest Manor has won six.As one of the top haunted house creations nationwide – and the ultimate of haunted houses in the High Country – Woods warns that WoodsCrest Manor is gonna get you, no matter how prepared you think you might be.”Everybody loves to be scared,” said Woods. “There are always people who want to go through the manor to prove how tough they are – but they’ll be scared. Even the most jaded – I’ll get them at least once.”And after the final screams have died away, when does Woods start thinking about next Halloween?”The night after,” he admitted. “My wife says to put it away until after Christmas, but it’s hard to do. I give her until March, and then I start on the next one.”