For those who find haunted houses too scary and pumpkin patches too boring, there’s Haunted Circus Miami, a new Halloween-season offering that occupies the sweet spot in the middle.
Scheduled to take place September 17 through October 31 at Tropical Park, Haunted Circus will offer a vibe that's more mysterious than murderous. Expect acrobats, fire-eaters, contortionists, and, for those who like a side of stress with their entertainment, a knife thrower by the name of Bill.
The legend goes that the performers are part of a traveling ghost circus that can’t rest until they solve the mystery of its missing acrobat. Guests will have the opportunity to solve the mystery by visiting various tents, each with its own challenge.
Not in the mood to play Scooby-Doo? That’s fine too. The quest is optional.
Besides the circus, which is staged every two hours and runs for about 25 minutes, activities include a maze, petting zoo, Halloween store, tarot card reading, pumpkin carving, and carefully staged photo zones.
Haunted Circus founder Kristina Drobach also happens to be the director of operations for the Museum of Illusions in Miami Beach, so she knows all about the importance of an Instagram photo op — and how to make it pop.
“There will be two photo zones with animatronics and creepy props. One will be a tree with a swing and lots of mood lighting so that the pictures come out great,” says Drobach, adding that the VIP option includes a personal photographer. "The photographer will follow you around and will be trained to know the best locations to take photos.”
"You take pictures at the Instagram museums and don’t communicate with anyone. This will be different," Drobach says. "The main thing here are the performers. When you go to Disney World, one of the coolest parts is interacting with the actors. We’re trying to create an experience through our actors and cool performances.”
Drobach got to work on the Haunted Circus six months ago because she felt there was a lack of all-ages Halloween events in Miami. (She says her plan to do a different type of Halloween event in Los Angeles last year fell through owing to the pandemic.) Drobach hopes to put on an annual Halloween event in Miami, along with a similar Christmas event that could debut this year — permits permitting.
“We’d like to come back to Tropical Park every year with something different,” Drobach says. “Santa’s Enchanted Forest used to be there before. It was cool and people loved it, but it was always the same thing. We want to come back with something different each year so that people can try something else.”
Haunted Miami. September 17 through October 31, at Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40th St., Miami; 305-392-2255; hauntedcircusmiami.com. Tickets cost $37 to $127. Friday 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to midnight.