As we approach the peak of hurricane and summer storm season, it might be possible to find evidence of Mother Nature’s might just by looking out the window.
But she also prowls A petrified forest, a haunted maze found in Altamonte Springs, this year, and Mother Nature isn’t happy. Now in its 15th season, the attraction offers visitors “Nature’s Fury” with three spooky new trails.
“Mother Nature made three stones to maintain harmony in the world,” said Zach Brown, who leads the behind-the-scenes tours, detailing the concept behind the mazes. “As long as they are not disturbed, there will be harmony. The three stones were found and it caused total chaos.
“Wretched Waters” takes place under the sea after a diver disturbs one of the stones. Some kind of shipwreck scene sets the stage, and then the rest of the maze appears to be underwater with “murderous and enraged” horrors.
In “Extinction’s Revenge”, a greedy archaeologist has awakened ancient beasts by pulling a stone out of the ground. Be on the lookout for mummies and snakes.
“Invasion from Beyond” tells the story of aliens versus humans as stone floating among the stars has been disturbed.
With just over two weeks to go until the haunt’s September 30 opening night, the exterior facades and mazes have mostly taken shape, but crews are still busy putting on peachy touches.
While Mother Nature might be upset about visiting guests, she would likely smile at the efforts of the A Petrified Forest team, who recycle many items year after year.
Inside the lair’s costume shop, wardrobe manager Danielle Christopher and her assistant work to make strands of kelp from plastic tablecloths and a dive belt with painted ice packs .
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The same idea applies to the walls of the maze, formed mainly from fences, pallets, mesh and moss, and fixed pieces used in the paths.
“Very few things are bought or purchased. It’s mostly built here,” said production manager Colleen Meister, and Brown added, “We have a prop graveyard out back. When we try to fill out a set, that’s where we go shopping… We made a storybook house and there’s still a nine-foot shoe there.
Visitors can access all three mazes with a single ticket, but there are other options available for scare-averse guests. A behind-the-scenes tour sheds light on the operations of the lair with character encounters, as well as the chance to scare guests. Additionally, there is a Blood Moon Night on October 9, which allows visitors to pass through each maze multiple times, a Special Needs Night on October 12, and two “Total Eclipse” events on October 19 and 26.
As A Petrified Forest prepares to open its 15th season, some longtime staff members of the lair reflect on the scope of the experience after starting in a backyard in 2007.
“One time we had less than 10 people doing all the haunting,” Meister said. “Now we have more than 10 managers and hundreds of employees. It takes my breath away.
A Petrified Forest is open select evenings from September 30 to October 30. 29 at 1360 E. Altamonte Drive in Altamonte Springs. Tickets start at $32 for the trails and $18 for the behind-the-scenes tour. Parking is available in designated off-site parking lots with a free shuttle. For more information, visit apetrifiedforest.com.