We Explored The Haunted River
At the haunted river, you become a member of the village. Everything is set up to make you feel fully submerged in the experience. Before entering, you are given a red lantern. This is your only source of light to lead you on your journey into the dark abyss.
The legend of the Haunted River tells of a fight between Native Americans and early white settlers. It culminates with their battles that ended in doom for all in the end. They tell of a “Wanetequah, or “The Soul Taker,” who is believed to have claimed the lives of those who crossed the river, due to what the Chief foretold. And since then, nobody who has crossed the river has ever been seen again (alive).
James and Teresa Stoker are the creators of The Haunted River and the masterminds behind it all. Stoker explained that his wife is a bit of a history buff and created the characters and their profiles. They used the true history of the Native Americans and the white settlers in this area. However, they added their own twist with the legend of the Wanetaqua.
“She came up with the legend based on the history of the natives in the area, but it didn’t actually happen,” said Stoker. “It’s all fictional.” However, there did use to be Native American tribes in this area. But, you don’t have to worry about actually getting dragged in the river by Wanetaqua (unless you’re not careful, of course).
The village was created around the spooky legend and the characters that are a part of it. Stoker’s goal is that the scenery will provide the perfect setting and ambiance. And that the characters and actors are the ones who will truly make the village come to life.
“It’s the actors that are going to make it great… We’ve built and facilitated the environment and now it’s up to the actors to make it live and put on a show,” said Stoker.
Our Haunted Journey
After hearing about this legend, my group and I were ecstatic to see this river for ourselves. From the second we stepped through the entrance, it was obvious that this experience was going to be the fright of our lives.
After receiving your red lantern, your journey begins on a low-hanging bridge that brings you to the island across the river. We passed over more than six bridges (we lost count) and traveled through a dense forest. We also made our way through the town square with a saloon, mechanic shop, a cornfield, and countless other startling places. One of my favorite scenes, however, was a treehouse with the ghost of a little girl singing hauntingly on her swing set
Each character we saw is a member of the village who used to be alive but now re-lives their old daily activities at night. There were a variety of terrifying characters so we were constantly left scared and surprised.
A strange woman held her baby “Precious” and followed us around her yard calling my husband “pretty boy.” There was also a little demon girl in the town square that screamed at us while looking for her mom. Black kittens randomly appeared, scurrying past our feet, which left us wondering if they were a sign of danger looming around the corner. No matter where we went, we were always on our toes (or running to save ourselves).
It truly felt like we were a part of the village and that we would be lost to the lurking creatures at any second. We did, luckily, make it out alive. But even by the end of it, our hearts were still pounding and our breaths heavy.
A Trip Back In Time
Not only was the actual attraction incredible, but the entrance and area before you entered was an experience in itself! As you enter, you find yourself in a large, open space surrounded by haystacks and several wooden houses. It’s truly as if you traveled back in time to a village in the 1800s.
Stoker said that all the buildings are made out of reclaimed lumber, which could be 20 to 50 years old. Also, 90% of the props you will see are antiques, ranging between 80-90 years old. From the entrance, all the way to the end of the journey, every building and item truly did feel antique.
Walking through this area, eerie music plays loudly and purple smoke fills the air to create a spooky vibe. There are also several fire pits to keep you warm, as well as separate buildings for your tickets, concessions, s’more kits to roast on the fire, and delicious hot chocolate to drink while you wait.
We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got through the line, despite the busy atmosphere and how many people were there.
Stoker said their main goal was to create a Halloween experience that people can come and enjoy. Their hope is that people will feel intrigued and want to find out for themselves what happened across the river.
Other Eerie Features
“It’s a go-at-your-own-pace type of attraction, but we want you to keep moving. Let the group behind you pass you. Our advice to people is the quieter you are, it’ll be a better experience as you hear the natural sounds take place,” Stoker explained. “It’s just going to make the experience better because you’re a part of a village.”
As someone who explored the attraction myself, I can say that I definitely agree. It is truly a haunting experience you will want to take full advantage of and soak it all in.
He also explained that they are going to add to the attraction every year. Next year, they plan to add an old red barn, a jailhouse, and a church. They also hope to have automation and pneumatics to add even more to the attraction.
Everything they had to offer this Halloween season was more than we could’ve imagined. Every person in our group was spooked to the bone and left the river in awe of how incredible and truly scary the attraction was. We made it out, but will you? I guess you’ll have to find out for yourself.
Watch our experience as we navigate through The Haunted River.