Forest of Fright - A Philo Haunt Tradition: By Noah Wullkotte
We interview Vicki Bader, owner-designer-builder of Forest of Fright in Philo, OH. For 5 years this large haunted trail has been scaring people far and wide. Learn about the history of this frightening haunt as well as its future.
Who are some of the people who have been instrumental in the success of Forest of Fright throughout the years?
Bradley Thompson/Builder-Right hand man
Tim Turner/ Actor-Builder
Bob Bader/ Owner-Designer-Builder
Kelly Nestor/ Make-up Artist-Manager
Chrissy Turner/Actor-Vinyl Banner Designer
Jimmy Tracy/ Actor-Builder
Too many to mention. We have an outstanding cast and crew!
What's the history of Forest of Fright?
This started out as a 2 person project, my husband and I. We wanted to create something unique. Iíve always loved going to haunted houses and thought an outdoor attraction would put an interesting twist on the traditional haunt. We came up with our own characters. Krazikari was supposed to be just an actor in the haunt, but turned into our storyline.
What types of rooms/scenes have been added to Forest of Fright over the years?
In 2008 we added the uniquely designed fog shack, 2009 we added the Hellavator and a demented doll house. 2010 we are also adding a big new attraction to the haunt. That is something to look forward to.
Where do you find the majority of your actors and what do you look for?
We started out in 2006 with family and a few friends. Now that we have grown we are not only using family/friends, but we also have high school kids joining us as well. We use the parents of organizations. We look for their passion in haunting and their reliability.
What is the typical demographic that visits Forest of Fright?
We get patrons from as far north as Cleveland and as far west as Columbus. Weíve even had people from West Virginia & New York. Most generally we get patrons from the surrounding counties. We have had very young children to retired adults go through the Forest of Fright.
What is the typical attendance you receive and has it increased over the years?
Since we first opened in 2006, we have seen a big increase in attendance during the Halloween season.
How would you describe your haunt? High Startle, theatrical, lots of high tech props or a mixture
Itís a mixture. We have high startle areas. We have few high tech props, and we use our imagination in designing our own props and scares.
What is your favorite haunt outside of Forest of Fright and why?
There are a few. We really love Dream Reapers in Chicago. Their makeup is very creative and their actors are fantastic. They also have a very detailed haunt. We also love The Dent Schoolhouse. Their actors are phenomenal!
They have great customer service, make-up artists and their costumes are uniquely fitted to the history of their haunt.
How do you market Forest of Fright during the off season?
We have a Facebook, MySpace page and a website. We also have a hearse that we take to parades during the summer. We dress up in costume and pass out flyers.
How do you market Forest of Fright during the haunt season?
Newspaper, Radio, website, MySpace & Facebook. We also have coupons at local business, flyers and posters.
Is there a scene that is used every year that people really look forward to?
They love the Hellavator. They also look forward to finding their way out of the maze, the demented doll room and the fog shack! They also love the queue line scares and entertainment.
What is your life like outside of Forest of Fright?
Thatís a funny question. Is there life outside the haunt? We are always working or thinking about the haunt. Haunting is 24/7 365 days a week.
Where do you see Forest of Fright 10 years from now?
In 10 years we would like to be the top outdoor haunted attraction in Ohio and surrounding states.
How rainy does it have to be in order to close the trail?
This is a hard one to answer. Since we are an outdoor haunt we have to really watch the trails when it rains for safety reasons. If itís a downpour then we will close.
How has the weather affected Forest of Fright?
YES, since we are an outdoor haunt, weather is a big issue. We rely on Mother Nature to keep us dry during October. But that hasnít happened. 2009 was a bad year for us. It rained so much we had to close 4 nights out of the month.
If you weren't involved in the haunt industry what would you be doing to occupy the free time?
I have a Mustang GT. I would be doing the car shows that I used to do before I got involved in the haunt industry. I would be spending a lot more time with my family. But most of all I would be relaxing!
For more information on Forest of Fright, please visit www.forestoffright.org.