Halloween mini-tour 2020 - COVID-style
With the risk of COVID-19 increasing, I felt it prudent to limit my haunt visits this season. Yet another sadness caused by the virus. So, with only one planned trip, I wanted to return to my favorite haunt in the area: Sweet Dreams Scare House. I make it pretty clear here that I’m a fan of this attraction, but for transparency’s sake I need to clarify that I am in no way related to the haunt or its owners/management, nor do I have financial interest in it. I just dig what they do.
“But wait,” you say. “You have two attractions listed in the headline.” Yes. You are observant and correct. Since The Swamp at Carolina Fashions in Mauldin is a walk-thru with no actors I thought it would be pretty safe. It’s also free so it was a no-brainer. The Swamp is an attraction built by the staff at the enormous warehouse as an incentive to shop there for your Halloween needs. The entrance is inside the store and you need to be led there by a tour guide, who gives you the story of the haunt but does not enter with you.
Apparently, the building that now houses Carolina Fashions was originally burned down by a disgruntled employee, and after a rebuild. Spirits are said to have been seen there and sightings have been the cause of several employee resignations. The Swamp is located in the area that was initially burned.
Reviewing haunted attractions is a slippery slope for me, as I never want to give away too many surprises, so I’ll keep this general. The Swamp is entirely populated by sets, props, and animatronics. But even though there are no actors, don’t think you’re safe from a pop scare. This haunt relies on atmosphere, and it has plenty of it! There are wonderfully spooky things to see around every turn. It’s about a ten minute trip in total, and there were no others present during my visit, so I took my time and stretched it to fifteen.
If you want a family friendly but genuinely creepy haunt to set the mood for Halloween, you should add The Swamp to your list for early October 2021. Or whatever incarnation it may be. Details will be on its Facebook page.
On Halloween eve I drove to Easley for my annual Sweet Dreams Scare House visit. This year, there is a large, wide midway (but I wonder if I can call it that since it’s before you enter) containing several tableaux to look at, interact with, and take photos in. As well as providing the need for social distancing, it also serves as a wonderful mood-setting stroll before you reach the entrance.
Once in, you are greeted by Sy Kosis to explain the rules of the attraction. I could write and entire post about him, but I’ll say that he’s a fantastic character and worth the price of admission alone.
Sy Kosis photo courtesy Sweet Dreams Scare House
The trail itself is series of sets, covered and uncovered, and arranged thematically. Some of them contain actors, others don’t, that is part of the beauty of this attraction – that you’re never quite sure what’s in store.
The trail is a twenty to thirty minute walk, so you definitely get your money’s worth. In the middle is a set for a witch doctor but is intentionally unoccupied. This was the station of late actor Ryan Black, and the set remains as a monument and loving tribute to his memory, while a pre-recorded video of his performance plays on a flat screen TV nearby. It is incredibly touching, and it also primes your emotions for scares that follow.
Ryan Black's Witch Doctor costume retired. Photo courtesy Sweet Dreams Scare House.
Halloween season is over, but Sweet Dreams Scare House occasionally opens for other holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and tailors its horrors to reflect them, so watch their site for info!
All photos not noted are by the Author.