Review by Kaylene Stefaniuk
On Halloween night, my boyfriend Mike and I arrived at Fort Edmonton Park. It was about an hour after sunset, and we had spent the drive down listening to classic Halloween tunes, so I was ready for some spooky good times. Unfortunately, DARK does not allow you to wear costumes, but it was cold, so we had to bundle up anyways.
DARK is Fort Edmonton Park’s annual Halloween event, and this year it ran from October 7-31. Each year there are three haunted attractions as well as an outdoor festival with food trucks, beverages, and live music. As a huge horror buff, I was pretty excited. Each haunt takes about 8-10 minutes to complete, which is much more manageable for my anxiety and claustrophobia than the roughly 25 minutes it takes to get through similar events such as Deadmonton.
First up was Under the Big Top, a haunted circus-themed attraction where killer clowns had taken over. This was an obvious choice given that Fort Edmonton Park recently renovated their midway. The midway games were open, and a joking juggler entertained us while we waited in line. The area could have used some actors walking the grounds or some carnival food options such as cotton candy or popcorn. Still, all in all, it was cohesive and well thought out.
The actual haunt was a lot of fun. We were at the end of the line, and a creepy clown separated us from the group and chased the two of us through a maze of mirrors. Before separating, we went through a dressing room with an actor who was singing while getting ready. She had a beautiful voice, but I wondered how she didn’t get tired of singing all night long. All the actors in this haunt were fantastic and incredibly interactive.
After leaving the midway, we passed The Raveyard, a white tent with a DJ playing live music. This was supposed to be a party, but no one entered the tent while we were passing it, and we certainly had no interest in it. Adding the bar or a food truck to this tent would have probably drawn in more visitors, as it was too cold for anyone to want to stop in just for some music. I couldn’t help feeling bad for the DJ playing to no audience.
Most people at DARK were gathered in the Hollow, which is the area where all the food trucks and firepits were. We were lucky enough to have a kind stranger give us her leftover tickets, which was really cool. We used the tickets to get some hot chocolates to help fight off the cold – we wanted some mini donuts, but the line was too long for our liking.
They did have a food truck called ‘Spaghetti Cone,’ which is exactly what it sounds like. Mike found this particularly laughable, though their option names (something along the lines of worms and blood and what not) were simply too off-putting. We obviously weren’t alone in this opinion, as they didn’t seem to have a line while we were there. Combining The Raveyard and The Hollow into one big area would have been much more successful, in my opinion.
After attempting to warm up a little, we made our way to Core Industries, a sci-fi-style attraction centring around a parasitic outbreak. This was definitely not up my alley, and I seriously considered skipping it. By this point, I was frozen, and the steam from my mask was making my mascara drip down my face. Despite this, we pushed through and waited in line to go through the hangar. There wasn’t anything wrong with Core Industries, but it definitely didn’t have the same wow factor as the other two haunts.
The third attraction—Blood Harvest—was by far my favourite. Mike and I were at the beginning of our group going into the haunt, which made it even more terrifying. The theme of Blood Harvest was that of a stereotypical slasher flick: a secluded farmhouse inhabited by serial killers. This attraction was exactly like stepping into a horror film. We started by making our way through the classic white bedsheets hanging in the yard before crawling through an abandoned school bus. You never knew when an actor in a decapitated pig’s head would jump out and scare you, and seeing the fear in Mike’s eyes each time was more entertaining than I should admit. This was by far the most intense haunt and included a pallet maze, a barn, and the farmhouse.
We ended the night off by stopping at the gift shop where they had candy and merch. It was way too overpriced, but I can never come to Fort Edmonton without getting some rock candy.
Overall, it was a fun option for us to do on Halloween. Though it had its faults, DARK had just the right amount of scares and the lack of children we look for in our Halloween activities.
Fort Edmonton Park