EAST HAVEN, Conn. — When you walk through the Haunted Isle, be afraid.
For its ninth year, the Halloween attraction at the Shoreline Trolley Museum is back to give visitors a fright, promising new scares and more screams.
Ian and Patty Robertson, who have run the Haunted Isle for the last five years, call themselves Halloween lunatics. They used to run a haunted house in their backyard and were even married on Halloween. Now, every year they bring new elements to the Isle.
They have recreated scenes from movies such as “Halloween,” and used themes that included pirate ships, hospitals and clowns to make nightmarish experiences for visitors who walk through. The attraction uses flashing strobe lights, loud noises, fog machines, small places, dark places and costumed actors that jump out at visitors to create a thrilling experience.
“If they want to mess with your mind, they will,” museum CEO John Proto said. “They took fright to the next level. They’ve been very innovative with things.”
To experience the Haunted Isle, visitors take a short trolley ride to the end of the line where the trolleys are stored, then walk up to the gates of a castle where they enter the Haunted Isle. Then, it’s a 45-minute trail walk through the woods where visitors subject themselves to the scariest scenes the Robertsons can dream up.
This year, 22 different scenes have been built and more than 100 volunteers, some as young as 5, work every Friday and Saturday night until Oct. 31. Many have been dressing up in costume to scare people at the Isle for years. One 6-year-old plays a clown named Cupcake, which Ian Robertson said is the scariest character of them all.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and in some ways I dread opening the first night but I love it when I hear those first screams of people going through,” Ian Robertson said.
And on the last night, he’ll put on a zombie costume and join the act, because “I can’t let them have all the fun,” he said.
Things people wouldn’t expect are included throughout the trail, but Proto said a visitor should expect anything. The Haunted Isle is now one of the biggest haunted attractions in Connecticut.
“It just gets bigger and bigger every year, and crazier,” Ian Robertson said, adding, that the opening weekend this year was the busiest it has ever been. Volunteers are preparing all year round for a new season and as early as March, they will start cleaning up the area and start building new sets.
“It’s an amazing place to have a haunted attraction,” Patty Robertson said, “and so much fun.” This year a variety of local food trucks will be serving meals and beverages on site.
The attraction originally began 20 years ago as a haunted trolley ride, but then museum volunteers decided to expand it, Proto said, adding, the Robertsons have ramped the attraction up to a new level.
“They’ve added so much and really pushed the limit,” he said.
The Shore Line Trolley Museum has a collection of nearly a hundred vintage vehicles as well as artifacts and documents from the trolley era. The museum, its collection of street railway vehicles and the existing mile and a half long segment of the Branford Electric Railway are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Proto said.
The railway is the oldest continuously operating suburban trolley line in the U.S., Proto said. The Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. For more information on events, call 203-467-6927.
Information from: New Haven Register, http://www.nhregister.com