Finding a place to take the peewees for a wholesome Halloween scare can be a daunting chore in this town. But the folks over at Miami's Metrozoo neatly fit the bill with Dr. Wilde's Screamatorium, the zoo's first full-scale family friendly fright emporium, featuring 7,000 square feet of graveyards and ghouls.
This haunted house was created by a special event design outfit called Flore de Lisa which has crafted props and effects for Universal Studios in the past.
We recently rounded up a posse of kindergarten and first graders to check out the heart-shuddering surprises and devilish diversions waiting inside.
The grim reaper greeted us at the door with a denuded femur in hand. Before entering, the tykes were each given a glow stick to keep the monsters and zombies at bay.
Silas Llanes, an adventuresome seven-year-old Carver Elementary School student waved his glowing wand at a killer clown that appeared from behind an eerily lit fish tank to terrorize the tykes. Llanes zapped the clown with his best Harry Potter banishing curse, prompting 23-year-old Kenneth Rossi to lift his mask and calm the lad down.
"Those babies are scary," sniffed five-year-old Bella Rodriguez while
cringing in front of a diabolical baby nursery with animated deformed
fetuses inside. When actress Lorraine Balbuena approached her holding a
hideous puppet that looked like the infernal infant from 1974s cult-classic It's Alive!, the whimpering waif disappeared into her mother's arms.
Balbuena quickly soothed the little girl's fears. "Hey, this witch is
chewing mint gum. Can I have some?" Rodriguez, a kindergartner at
Oliver Hoover Elementary chirped.
The Screamatorium also features a section spooling classic horror films
like Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein. Another area includes a
butcher dicing body parts and a cemetery where a corpse flies out of a
casket unexpectedly, eliciting squeals out of young and old alike.
This Friday Metrozoo is hosting a "Spooky Zoo Night" featuring ghoulish
carousel rides, "Thriller" dance lessons at the Aviary Plaza and scary
story telling sessions around a fire pit from 7 to 11 p.m.
During the day on Friday and Saturday, families and kids under 12 are
invited to enjoy trick-or-treating in costumes, make Halloween crafts
and watch the animals gobble up their Halloween goodies.
The jaguars will be tearing into a paper maché skeleton with meat
treats hidden inside the bones. The chimpanzees will gorge on giant
spiders made out of coconuts and the warthogs will fatten up on trick
or treat bags with mealworms and other edible snacks.
Although a sign warns that the Screamatorium may not be suitable for
younger children, when we visited, the staff went out of its way to
show the kids that they were just a bunch of kooky adults playing make
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believe and easily relieved most fears. If you're looking for a place
to get the kids into the Halloween spirit while enjoying some chills
yourself, then this is a great place to start. Prices vary so be sure to
check Metrozoo's website for the cost.