Board … if you’re brave enough.
Enter … if you dare.
The Halloween Spooky Train and Scary Trail, at the Grand Concourse Railroad in Shady Hills, offers frights and delights, in excess.
Still, it is a family friendly outing intended to delight people of all ages, and it happens as the sun sets and darkness takes over the woods.
It’s spooky fun, a wickedly good time and the perfect Halloween outing available on Fridays and Saturdays for the rest of October.
And, of course, it’s totally worth the trip.
On track for scares
First and foremost, people want to know is it really scary? And, as a family friendly outing, that is a legitimate question.
“We get a lot of parents who go, ‘Will my kids be scared?’” Spooky Train director Chris Ward said. “And when they do, the only thing I tell them is, ‘It’s your kid — so I don’t know! (laughs)
“We’ve got 5-year-olds who love it and then we have adults who are scared to death of it, so I can’t tell you — why not find out for yourself?”
The train ride takes about under 15 minutes while going through Halloween and scary movie-themed displays and a tunnel.
And, the scares? That’s in the eye of the beholder.
Volunteers of the Grand Concourse Railroad Spooky Train aren’t out to “get” anyone, like, say at Halloween Horror Nights or Howl-O-Scream at Universal Studios and Busch Gardens, respectively.
In fact, the ride is “spooky and not scary,” as it’s geared toward those that are easily startled, so there is less to scare you but plenty to see.
There is definitely plenty to see while riding the 7.5″ scale train through the woods. Children, and adults, of all ages can board the train and take a slow ride, just feet from displays of ghosts and ghouls, demons and witches, and much, much more.
“We do try to keep the train spooky, not scary,” Ward added. “We have things to look at, so we don’t want people getting scared and falling off the train. Plus, we have lots of families — mostly families, but we do have some individuals and couples, but mostly families. We’re not trying to scare anyone on the train.
“Because the trail is meant to be scary.”
Who’s afraid of the dark?
Seriously, if you are, perhaps the Scary Trail is not meant for you.
Through an approximately quarter-mile walking trail through a maze in the woods, visitors will find volunteers dressed to scare and give you nightmares.
“They’re high school kids and a few ‘pro’ actors, who make their own costumes, and we even have volunteers who do make-up,” Ward said.
“We do this all for fun. It’s all volunteers, but we do have fun with it.”
All that “fun” will find daring thrill-seekers winding their way through section after section, many of them with themes such as zombies, possessed individuals and even those from pop culture.
Visitors may get a kick, and a jump scare, when they find themselves in Hawkins, the fictional town from the hit show “Stranger Things.”
But those really getting a kick out of all it are the volunteers hiding around every corner, with some even being a family affair. A mother-daughter duo await timid children in a foggy graveyard, while a trio of friends enjoy themselves — maybe a little too much —as an “insane clown posse.”
“Scared or not,” Ward said, “people really enjoy the Trail.”
In the end, it’s all in good, old-fashioned Halloween fun.
The Grand Concourse has hosted this Halloween event ever since it opened in 2018. It also has Christmas and Easter events.
The railroad is supported by “The Concourse Council” of Florida and is also a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational railroad. The railroad donates 50% of its yearly proceeds — and the money made from Spooky Train — to local charities, and the rest is reinvested for maintenance and new equipment.
“The concourse takes care of all that,” Ward said. “We just provide the fun.”
So come aboard the Spooky Train and hold on for a good time.
Enter the trail if you have the spine to do so.
Enjoy a ride, and walk, through the woods for some Halloween … fun.
Halloween Spooky Train and Scary Trail
Where: Grand Concourse Railroad, 11919 Alric Pottberg Road, in Shady Hills
When: Friday and Saturday evenings starting at 7 p.m., through and including Oct. 29
Cost: $8 for the train or trail separately, $15 for both
Details: Take a ride on the Spooky Train for 10 minutes to 15 minutes aboard a 7.5″ scale train through the woods and “scary” Halloween decorations. Scary Trail is an approximately quarter-mile walking trail through a maze in the woods where visitors will find volunteers dressed to scare and give you nightmares. Attractions are designated spooky and scary (but not too scary for those who are easily startled). Both attractions are for all ages, with kids under 2 getting in free. There are also food and vendor booths, Halloween displays and music.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit GrandConcourseRailroad.simpletix.com or GrandConcourseRailroad.com.
Published October 11, 2023