Boasting larger, more fright-filled theme rooms and next door to an old building long rumored to have its own ghosts, Kathy Sacher-Wilson’s Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town has found a home that feels fright-right. Now in its 12th year, Ghost Town haunts the sprawling space behind Idyllwild’s iconic Town Hall.
There are many clever new touches at the Town Hall site, with a physical layout and walk-through theme room progression designed by Tish Rylov and assembled by local contractor Jake Teel. Several in particular stand out for their added creep factor. Rylov designed the walk-through with one open-ended room, the vampire saloon, directly abutting the outdoor Town Hall stage. As visitors enter the saloon, to the right on the raised stage will be eerily lit frenzied female vampire dancers (think Robert Rodriquez’ 1996 chiller “From Dusk till Dawn”). Whether the lusty lovelies are real or imagined is for visitors to determine.
In the séance room visitors may experience goose bumps when the medium’s predictions become too personal. And just as visitors thought they were clear of fear, as they finally exit the Ghost Town’s malevolent maze, they must zigzag through a pen of hostile (well, we’ll just leave the “what” a mystery at this time.)
“We won’t have guides this year,” said Rylov. “That can be distracting. But there may be fake guests whose presence and identity the visitors will never know for certain, and there could be surprises.” Rylov explained that crowd movement through the maze will be radio controlled and monitored by the Ghost Town doorman.
Rylov is experienced in haunt habitat and makeup designs. She has worked at Knott’s Scary Farm and Lake Elsinore’s Field of Screams and has honed her craft at both locations. She is an expert in fright makeup and body painting – Google Tish Rylov’s “Other Skin” to sample her portfolio.
Rylov lived in Idyllwild as a teenager and attended Hemet High. She was an actor in one of the earliest Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Towns. “I was on an operating table having my leg chopped off,” she remembered. Sacher-Wilson has always had the same mission with this increasingly popular holiday attraction – to provide a venue for local teens and young people to volunteer and work as part of a crew. “My focus is to get local youth and young adults out of the house, away from computer screens and video games and outdoors where they can breathe some good healthy mountain air,” she said. “I also want to introduce them to the spirit of volunteerism.”
This year, with the perfect location, all new construction, and Rylov assisting in managing the crew of actors and volunteers, Idyllwild Haunted Ghost Town should be especially eerie.
Sacher-Wilson stressed that all money raised will help fund sports scholarships at Town Hall Recreation as part of the agreement with the county to host the site.
In addition to the Ghost Town experience, there will be a zombie run on Saturday, Oct. 24 and haunted hayrides each weekend the Ghost Town is open (through Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31.) For more information, visit the website www.idyllwildghosttown.com. The formal opening is at 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 9.
Tickets are $15 for ghost town and hayride, and $10 for each separately.