The Terror of Tallahassee haunted house gets bigger and better each year

by Grace Norberg, FSView (Oct 28, 2010)

Why drive four hours to Orlando or Tampa to experience haunted houses when there’s one practically in your own backyard? Located on Gaines Street near campus, The Terror of Tallahassee haunted house has been open since 2003 and is now an established local Halloween favorite.

“This year we added even more space, and developed the Sunland Asylum even more,” Director Kurt Kuerstiner said. “It seems like we’re just getting a better and better core of people who are even more excited and energetic about scaring the tar out of our customers.”

Totaling over 20,000 square feet, it prides itself on being the largest haunted house in North Florida. This year, the haunted house will take about 30 to 45 minutes to walk through, including indoor and outdoor spaces. Compared to the five-to-eight-minute terrors experienced at most haunted houses, this is a scream marathon. Unlike other haunted houses, Terror visitors are guided through in small groups—there is no safety in numbers here. The 30 to 45 actors present in the building on any given night make this a huge house of horrors, ensuring that even the bravest soul can’t escape without panting or their heart pounding.

“It’s very exhilarating to be able to experience a near-death experience without actually being at risk of death,” Kuerstiner said.

Unexpected frights wait just around every corner, and no one knows what to expect. The haunted house also has a unique piece of technology that was created specifically for it called the Spine Tingler, a low-frequency resonating sound system that projects sound waves so low humans cannot hear them.

“Your body senses this, and in much the same way that animals will flee a building before the earthquake strikes because they can feel these sensations, your body also detects something amiss,” Kuerstiner said. “It tingles the nerves.”

It may seem that all this haunted house is good for is scaring the living daylights out of people, but, in fact, The Terror of Tallahassee helps not-for-profit organizations raise money by letting them sell tickets or hiring members to work at the haunted house.

Only non-partisan organizations are affiliated with the haunted house, such as FSU honor societies, service organizations like Golden Key, and not-for-profits like Meow or Never, a feral cat catch-and-release organization.

“Halloween itself is kind of this fun get-together where people have agreed, ‘OK, we’re going to deal with topics that people normally avoid, like death, insanity and violence, and these are not things that, in real life, anybody likes or promotes,” Kuerstiner said. “But in this setting, we can stage those fears and not feel like by going to this haunted house you’re supporting death, or anything like that.”

The haunted house will be open Halloween weekend and the following weekend from 8-11:30 p.m. but will stay open later if there is a line. Tickets are $13, or $25 for VIP, which allows patrons to skip the line. A season pass is $35 and allows the holder to visit as many times as he or she wants this year.

“I’ve been to Terror of Tallahassee three years in a row now, and I’m always really impressed with their presentation,” FSU senior Caitlin Lehr said. “It was one of the longest and most elaborate houses I’ve ever been to and I was thoroughly terrified the entire time.”

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rev 10.31.10