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Frightmare on 78 is all about the scare

By Staff | Oct 11, 2019

Mike Greenwell’s Haunted Hike might be different this year.

For one, Greenwell’s is now called Gator Mike’s and the 28-year-old hike is now a walk on a decommissioned go-cart track.

It has a new name, too.

But don’t let that deter you. Frightmare on 78 is still all about the scare.

“We can make it better than the woods. You don’t need the trees. You don’t need the bushes,” said general manager Jeff Peterson. “It’s all about how you design the pop scares and stuff like that.”

Frightmare on 78 is open Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, 30-31, and Nov. 1-2.

The seven-minute walk will take people through nine scenes.

Experience Area 51, a morgue, a popular horror movie, zombies, clowns, a pitch-black maze, popular Netflix TV show, a spinning tunnel and a junkyard.

Peterson, who has worked on the hike for the past 19 years, said 8,000 to 9,000 people came out last year and this year he’s hoping to see 8,500 to 9,000 guests.

“If I hit that mark, we made it very successful,” he said. “Just for the simple fact we’re moving it from the woods after 28 years and moving it to a different scene, renaming it, new ownership. The interest has got to be out there. You know, what have they built? So I feel like it’s going to draw people.”

Peterson saud rain can really affect attendance.

“Our actors are under cover to the point where we can actually operate this in a light rain,” he said. “If it’s down pouring, we’ll probably call it, but rain can really hurt you on numbers.”

Tickets are $15 and fast passes are an extra $5.

It had to be moved from the woods because the owner of the lot next door is clearing the trees away.

However, there are advantages of it not being out there.

“If it rains, the guests are walking through mud and it becomes a swampy mess,” Peterson said. “You don’t have the snakes. You don’t have the real spider webs that you could walk throughYou don’t have animals walking into scenes.”

“We just want to make sure that our guests are safe and by going this route we have a solid path for them to walk on.”

Gator Mike’s also built Frightmare to be handicap accessible.

For those who’ve never been to the former Mike Greenwell’s Haunted Hike, Peterson doesn’t think they’re missing anything.

“We are the same designers. We have a lot of the same props. We have a lot of similarities on the way we design things and the same scare tactics,” he said.

Guests should be on the look out for pop scares, air blasting, fog machines and lights.

“If they’re a naturist and wanted to walk through the woods, then yeah, they might have missed out,” Peterson said. “But as far as the scare, you’re not going to miss out. You’re going to get that same scare, same thrill, and adrenaline rush of someone coming after you. You’re going to get that and that’s the same as the hike.”

Most of the costumed actors and volunteers are from Mariner High School’s basketball teams.

For the first time, there will also be a selfie stick at the walk’s entrance so guests can take a picture home with them.

They’ve done themes in the past, but Peterson said it can be difficult to stick to one theme throughout.

“You can only have so many electric chairs, torture chambers, lobotomies, that kind of stuff,” he said.

But with Frightmare on 78, they can feed off of anything.

Peterson said his favorite part is thinking about what is going to scare somebody.

“Putting myself in that situation and watching horror movies, seeing what that scare is, I’ve realized that it’s all about sound effects and noises,” he said. “Making you feel that you’re actually in that moment. So, I like to put somebody in that movie or in that scene and make them feel like they’re actually there.”

His favorite scene this year is the zombie maze.

“My mind runs wild in there,” he said. “If I was an actor, there are so many different things to do. You’re not just doing the same scare over and over.

“You can change it out. You can be in the corner, you know, with your back facing them and turn around and scare them. You can stick your arm through the chain-link fence. There are so many possibilities to scare somebody in there.”

With all of the changes to Gator Mike’s this year, Peterson is glad the haunted walk hasn’t gone away.

“If we don’t do it, there’s only one other one in town,” he said. “People look for something like this to do. It’s not that expensive. You go to the movies and spend more than coming to something like this. So, it’s something different for them to do in Cape Coral.

“I think it would be a big loss if we didn’t do it.”