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Facing fears through the Dark Path Haunt

Facing fears through the Dark Path Haunt

October 19
16:24 2016

Imagine trying to escape your worst nightmare through a dark, thickly-wooded area, the twists and turns leading to anything or anyone.

This is what Dark Path Haunt is all about.

Based in Denton, the Dark Path Haunt welcomes its third year as an outdoor, actor-based attraction. Although the haunted path is only open from 8 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, those that run the Path see no shortage of folks ready to brave the monster-infested pathways.

“We don’t really spend a lot of money on advertising, it’s really mostly word-of-mouth,” co-director Melanie Hancock said. “Last year we actually had to close the ticket booth early because there were so many people here.”

The path, although nettled very discreetly down a mulch road off of Old Alton Street, packs a well-known history that everyone seems to want a taste of and are familiar with.

Dark Path Haunt is directly across the street from the legendary Goatman’s Bridge. The urban legend states that Old Alton Bridge, as well as the surrounding forest, were locations of some the most horrific murders, suicides, strange disappearances, séances, ghost sightings and paranormal investigations since 1938.

While some would call it myth, the Dark Path Haunt team says differently.

“It truly is haunted,” a costumed actor, who couldn’t revel his identity, said. “We’ve had several employees that have experienced things in there [the forest].”

The idea is to form a team, or support group, of friends that can take the journey down the path with you.

After you have paid and received the admission ticket, management requires a waiver to be signed in case any harm is caused to the public, the employees or the equipment.

After that, the teams are free to enter the Dark Path.

“It’s a very small area so we can’t take that many people,” Hancock said. “But having Goatman’s Bridge across the street and Denton itself as a nice area for college students, we get a lot of people out here.”

It starts with a regularly dressed man known as the Gatekeeper, holding a large flashlight and leading you into the forest. There are many turns and the path is just barely lit, to the point of almost complete darkness. Benches line the entrance for other waiting groups.

One can never be sure if it’s a ploy or not, so there is constant looking around and checking behind you for any lurking monsters waiting to jump out and scare you.

As the Gatekeeper waits for a que from the actors, the only light comes from a small table that held the lanterns, one for each group.

“I was so scared and I was afraid that my asthma would act up,” advertising senior Paige Redwine said. “They say that you can’t use phones on the path but that wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was to get out of there.”

The lantern casted only a small amount of light ahead of it. Similar to that of headlights on a car, there was no way of knowing what was ahead until it was too late.

Contrary to natural instinct, people are instructed not to run. This proves to be quite difficult, as some of the monsters jumped out at you and would even chase you. Others made noises from the shadows that engulfed them, but were never seen.

All that can be done is to keep moving forward. If the path becomes too much for anyone, there are plenty of marked exits throughout the path that will lead back to the entrance point.

Many of the props and costumes that are used have homemade elements. Because the attraction is so small, the families of those who manage the attraction come together, kids and all to craft the what people see every year. They find genuine enjoyment in making them as spooky as they can.

Every year they try to change up the path and elements used for the attraction, but the main path remains the same.

“It’s a lot of fun just seeing the people coming out and loving it,” Hancock said. “It makes it all worth it.”

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Cierra Edmondson

Cierra Edmondson

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