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Photo TR: Dark Horizon Opening Night

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On Thursday night TPR was invited to attend the grand opening of the first ever Dark Horizon event, the East Coast companion to the long-established Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary in Southern California. The organizers behind that West Coast event had tested the market previously with last year's "Terror at the Inn" at the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites - Waterpark not far from the Walt Disney World Resort. This year Dark Horizon is a full event featuring three unique haunted houses, two entertainment stages with various performers, five bars (including a hidden bar inside of one of the houses) and a 4-D theater experience--all bolstered by a horde of scare actors roaming the grounds.


The first of three houses (and arguably the most unique) is Ghostship. Captain Killigrew (when said out loud sounds like Kill-e-crew) and her scruvy-ridden crew will scare you from all angles as you huddle through the wooden corridors of the ghost ship's haunted underbelly. The ghastly fiends take pleasure in delivering a good scare and keeping new souls hostage in the brig. And you never know where a secret token may lead when inside... And the finale of this house is unlike any I've experienced at a haunt event before.


Next up is Murder Island, a house in the Glades section of Dark Horizon. This Everglades-area swampland is host to the Southern fiend, Bloody Ed Watson whose sugar plantation exploits are ripped from history and presented live before your eyes. The longest and most drawn out of the three houses, Murder Island sends you through the fog of the swamp to the sugar plantations of yore, for a grizzly, gory romp through Southern history in its darkest state.


The last of this year's haunted houses is arguably the most inventive, Vodou (not a typo). The Village is home to Mambo Cecile, the Vodouan guide to the spirit underworld of Vilokan. What starts as a traditional journey into the realm of voodoo (as you've seen other local haunts offer over the years), this experience descends into a maddening, ethereal world where creatures lurk in the shadows and creep from dark corners. The cavernous terrain of this unique house makes for convenient scare opportunities and one room in particular uses lasers to pull you away from expectations, leaving you susceptible to some fantastic scares.


Entertainment is just as much a part of Dark Horizon, as Monster DJ spins techno tracks that give the event a bumping energy. The Siren Stage is host to aerial silk performers while the Sacred Circle Stage summons fire dancers to bring the heat. And Panic: A 4-D Experience leverages the Holiday Inn's existing 4-D motion theater for a trippy, startling fever dream roam through a unique haunted experience.


Sliders push the limit of scares across the grounds as themed performers walk in and out of the many bars at the event. Each of these bars has unique signature beverages and themes that match their neighboring haunted house or attraction. Of the four drinks we sampled that night, all were well mixed and quite boozy... And drink buckets could be purchased for those that wanted more "bang for their buck."


Dark Horizon is completely different from Halloween Horror Nights or Howl-O-Scream. The feel may be a bit more low-tech but the themes are inventive, each of the houses tackles scares in a unique way and this event has managed to provide experiences that I've never had in haunted houses before... Though I don't want to spoil them, because that's half of the fun of going through these for yourself. Admission starts at $20 per person for the Happy Haunting Hour access (you must enter before 8:00 PM to get this deal) and increases beyond that, with pricing also varying by the day of the week. But for between $20 - $40 per person, this event provides an evening filled with great scares, a fun set of bars, neat entertainment and plenty to do during your time onsite.


If you're looking for something different than the existing horror offerings in Orlando, or if you're simply looking for a fun night out Dark Horizon is well worth your time. I can't wait to see how this event evolves in the coming years! Come out to experience it for yourself on select dates between now and November 2nd, 2019! Visit https://www.darkhorizonorlando.com for more details!


Our evening started near the entrance of Dark Horizon... The gates were not yet open but the fun was about to begin.


We were each given a token that could be used to enter the hidden Looter's Lair bar... If we could find it.


We started our night sampling two of the event's signature drinks, one a basil gimlet and the other a blackberry margarita. Both were boozy but quite smooth!


Mambo Cecile and her Vodou gang come out to the VIP party to unleash their terror on our crowd.


One of the two of us have nice teeth.


Captain Killigrew brought several of her misfit crew mates in to interact with event guests.


Need drinks on the go? Dark Horizon has got you covered.


Mambo Cecile, Captain Killigrew and Bloody Ed Watson met us at the gates of Dark Horizon...


The gates are open!


And behind them, you find hundreds of fiends!


Look at me, making friends already!


First up, Ghost Ship!


I won't tell you the how, but we found Looter's Lair inside of Ghostship and the experience of being in a bar inside of a haunted house was pretty neat. The space was intimate but the scareactors continued to peek in from the corners of the bar, and when we were done, we rejoined the rest of the house for more scary fun.


All three of the Dark Horizon houses feature changes in elevation throughout.


Going up to the top of the ship...


Captain Killigrew is at the helm!


I've been told I need to walk the plank...


As it turns out, the plank is actually an inflatable slide leading to the exit of the house. Never before have I gone down an inflatable slide as a part of a haunt experience... But I can't say I didn't enjoy it!


Each themed section of the event has its own food booth, in case you're in the mood for a bite.


Scare actors everywhere...


Murder Island was up next...


Set in the swamplands of the Florida Everglades, Bloody Ed Watson has set up a terror trail like none other.


I really appreciate that the creators of this event took the time to come up with a house concept tied to the state in which the event was hosted, rather than simply copying concepts from their West Coast event.


I also appreciate how much of these houses are actually outside. Another different experience compared to other Central Florida haunts.


Mobile entertainment and scare actors can be found in every corner of the event... They even roam in and out of the haunted houses that they belong to.


I wanna be... Your sledgehammer.


While admittedly a terrible photo, this was the best I could do to capture the weird creature that lunged at me from inside of Murder Island.


Last but not least, was Vodou... Time to head in!


Gonna get outta here before I take a lickin'.


Otherworldly creatures from the Vodouan spirit underworld of Vilokan creep in the corners of this unique house.


Blink and you miss it bungee lungers fly at you at key moments throughout the house.


Arguably my favorite room of any of the three houses... You can't anticipate where a scare will pop up...


Case in point.


Theming is rich and layered inside of this house.


The full Dark Horizon event map for those who are interested.


After going through each of the houses once, we took some time to experience the shows of Dark Horizon. The first two were aerial silk acts on the Siren Stage.


Always impressive.


Time for one more!


I loved roaming the event grounds to find more characters abound.


At the Sacred Circle Stage we found a fire dancing performance...


This one brought the heat.


Mesmerizing to see in person.


Quite fun to watch!


The variety of these entertainment offerings is a nice plus on top of the three solid houses.


There were five different excuses to drink at this event... And each of them were uniquely themed with their own signature drinks.


Back for another visit to Murder Island.


One of my better photos of the night...


Another bar for those interested in the drinking side of the event.


I made a new friend!


Inside of the hotel you'll find Panic House, a 4-D film experience that is quite fun... Also interesting, they're playing Corkscrew Hill 4D from Busch Gardens Williamsburg (complete with the original attraction sign in the poster).


We had a really fun night at Dark Horizon! If you're looking for a fun set of houses, some unique entertainment and some great drink options this event is well worth your time! You have until November 2nd, 2019 to come check it out for yourself!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Great report, looks like a really well put together event. I don't think I'm going to have a chance to make it this year but hopefully it sticks around in the future so I can make a trip.


One question, the website mentioned there is no on-site parking and that you have to park remotely and use the complimentary shuttle, or use a ride share. Just curious if there were there any issues with that?

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^While I didn't experience it firsthand, I do know that the parking is offsite with guests being shuttled in. Since we didn't end up doing that for our visit (they had us parking elsewhere), I don't really have experience to speak to how it all worked unfortunately.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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We went on opening night also and parked off site. Parking was an additional $20, but they had a couple of buses running. It was no more than 5 minutes between buses and probably about a 5 minute ride. All things considered, this was a great time, and a perfect addition to Orlando's Halloween events!

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