Trail of Terror
Pricing: $25-40 ($10 parking)
Full Contact Option: No
As I was rounding out my central Connecticut options, one location remained untouched. I’d heard good things, but the main problem was that it sold out extremely quickly. Last year, the entire month was unavailable by the time I looked into it, and this year filled up all but two days. Without hesitation, I knew that I had to book the nearest date, or it would be another year before I could try again.
And I’m glad that I did. Haunts nestled in the woods always have a certain special charm that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Even the path leading up to the gates was part of the experience, and that wasn’t even decorated. Once beyond the security screening, the queue to validate your ticket and ultimately enter the attraction is decorated in an equal amount of props, sets, vehicles, animatronics, and ambience. Glowing neon lights shine and illuminate at odd angles to give just enough of a glimpse to pique your interest, but still shroud them in mystery.
The line is somewhat lengthy, there’s no denying that, but the atmosphere in this early section is geared to get you excited for what is to come. Once you move on to the trail itself, there’s an almost overwhelming array of stairways, underpasses, and tunnels to navigate, all saturated in theme-specific details unique to each section of the path.
It’s hard to take it all in, but I remember haunted schoolhouses, classic Universal Monsters, toxic contaminated laboratories, and one section dedicated to the Terrifier movie series, where each room advances key moments in the plot. Then just when you think you’ve made it to the end and have reached the midway, you get in another queue and begin the second half, which is equally as involved.
It goes on and on, so do plan to spend a solid hour walking, with a bit of verticality up and down some stairs. It’s a massive complex, and takes time to complete, not that I’m complaining. The longer the better. The crazy thing is that the admission is only $25, right in the middle, which is impressive for such a sprawling and detailed attraction. You’d wager that $40 would be more in the ballpark, but there’s a key point to this. The Trail is a charity event, and all of the actors are volunteers. They’ve raised millions for local charities, so all the work that went into this is for good causes, and also doesn’t have to break your bank.
At the end, there are some areas to take photos and get some refreshments. It’s not the type of midway where you would hang out for too long, but you don’t get dumped out into the parking lot with nothing left to do by leave. The downsides would be the wait to get in, and in turn the natural cattlecar effect that ends up happening as you progress. There is the halfway point that attempts to reset the spacing, but there's only so many people that can remain at the midpoint queue as more pile in from the initial segement. A higher admission might help, but I'm not complaining. There was so much to look at, I seldom care as much about the actors havign time to reset their scares.
Trail of Terror is a must, but make sure you get tickets early. They’re online-only and will need to be snagged within the first week of October or so if you want a chance of snagging one.
There's a strict 'no weapons' rule, which makes sense, but apparently that includes small things like keychain knives, so keep that in mind. We had to to a return trip to the car, lose out place in line, and burn delay our start by fifteen minutes or so.
Everything from the initial queue, to the two segments, to the mid-way point are flawlessly decorated without missing a beat. There's a mix of rundown decay, to proper horror facades and indoor set pieces. There's never a moment where there isn't something to look at. Additionally, the animatronics and props never look cheap, each with a professional level of detail.
$25 is a bargain for an hour's worth of haunted travel and visual bounty. Plenty of places have been much high for much less, so it's a factor of the charity angle that allows this to be one of the best values of all the haunted attractions.
The cattlecar effect prevents many of the surprises, and the usual no-contact rule also lessens the stakes. Still, the atmosphere is the main draw for this location.