Ready for a ride on the dark side?
Want to walk through the gates of hell — and return?
Curious about the end of times?
No, we’re not previewing Wednesday’s final presidential debate; this is all about the Apocalypse Experience, a 35- to 45-minute horror-filled tour through a make-believe town in Parker County called Judge Mint. The show relies heavily on Bible scripture from Matthew 24:6 in which Jesus warns that the end times will be heralded by “wars and rumors of wars,” among other calamities. From Revelation, producer Tammy Lane borrowed the Four horsemen: Death, Famine, War and Conquest.
Tours will be conducted Saturday and Sunday and Oct. 28-30 at the recently constructed movie set-type town near Peaster, north of Weatherford.
For years Tammy Lane Productions has staged Easter and Christmas extravaganzas at Capernaum First Century Village, but Apocalypse Experience is designed to take guests on a far darker tour — just in time for Halloween. Lane and her building foreman, Saul Pena, led a crew of carpenters for months and spent more than $200,000 in adding Judge Mint to the village.
“The difference between this and any other event at Capernaum is that the Apocalypse Experience is really scary,” Tammy Lane said.
The tour begins in pre-apocalypse Judge Mint, where a picturesque church house, storefronts and homes surround a quaint gazebo. Ma and Paw Slavely welcome guests from their front porch. Down the street, a spiritual adviser runs the Dragon Fire Witch Shop. In the church house, sermons don’t necessarily follow the Bible. It’s a town ripe for devilry.
In post-apocalyptic Judge Mint, guests are thrust into the tumult of open warfare and the chaos of natural disasters. They’re also introduced to the oppression of the New World Authority, a paramilitary group that rises to fill the vacuum when governments fail. It’s kind of like when Left Behind meets The Purge, Parker County style.
“We have some cool special effects,” Lane said. “This will be intense.”
‘It’s not an easy tour’
Pena said there are 30 big speakers at strategic points throughout the attraction, controlled from a sound board in one of Judge Mint’s larger buildings. The system is designed to amp up the horror factor as the tranquil town descends into madness.
In its most terrifying moments, the tour passes through the devil’s domain, where guests must stand before the one whose fondest desire is the fall of mankind.
“It’s a challenge, and I’m up for it,” said Charles “Skeeta” Jenkins, who portrays Satan.
Jenkins is a professional actor who has appeared in previous Capernaum productions.
“They were looking for someone who is solid in his faith and can deal with whatever comes along with the role,” Jenkins said.
Because Jenkins and several dozen fellow actors are dedicated to doing whatever comes with their roles, Apocalypse Experience tickets come with caveats. The action is loud and aggressive, and includes sounds of gunfire. The actors are directed not to touch guests physically, but encouraged to touch everyone psychologically and emotionally.
Lane warned that Apocalypse Experience should not be attempted by pregnant women, or anyone subject to panic attacks or seizures, or who has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s closed to anyone younger than 12, requires adult accompaniment for anyone younger than 17, and is not recommended for those who have such physical or medical conditions as respiratory or heart issues.
“It’s not an easy tour,” Lane said. “You have to be in fairly good physical condition.”
‘Ours has a message’
The terrain over which guests must walk will not accommodate wheelchairs, and will be difficult for anyone using a walker, crutches or cane.
Take, for instance, the building that will remind some folks of the old Casa Magnetica at Six Flags Over Texas. Significantly tilted in the aftermath of an “earthquake,” the almost 900-square-foot house tends to unbalance anyone who walks through it — and everyone has to walk through it.
“The crooked house was the hardest to make,” said Pena, who estimated his crew used about 35,000 linear feet of lumber and more than 32,000 square feet of wooden sheathing in Judge Mint’s construction.
“You’re looking at about a 12- to 15-degree slant on the slab,” he said. “We started with forms, then elevated one side about 28 inches, then poured the concrete.”
For the rest of the structure, Pena had to step back a few times to keep the proper perspective.
“I’m not used to building things that way,” he said.
In addition to the disorienting crooked house, guests will encounter a surprise ride — the first time Lane has included such a thing in one of her productions. She’s trying to attract people who have never been to Capernaum.
Lane said her target audience is “millennials who like the thrill of the haunted house, but want to try something that’s going to be more powerful than they even know.”
Jenkins agreed. Though his previous roles have helped tell heavenly stories, “There’s hell, too, and people need to realize we have a choice to make. It’s a free-will choice. You choose which life you want to live.”
Lane pointed out that this show does not include a church service. There will be counselors available should guests wish to talk about what they’ve experienced.
“We think our Apocalypse Experience will be as scary as any of the other haunted houses,” she said. “But ours has a message.”
If you go
Capernaum First Century Village is about an hour west of Fort Worth, in Parker County.
From Fort Worth, take Interstate 20 toward Weatherford and exit at the Rick Williamson Memorial Highway (exit 405). Go north on the highway until you reach Farm Road 920, where you’ll take a left. Stay on 920, and just north of Peaster, look for the giant statue of Jesus and angels on the right, and turn onto East Dry Creek Road.
Tours are conducted from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Oct. 28-30. Only 500 tickets will be sold per night. General admission tickets are $20, with discounts for groups, available at the gate or www.apocalypseexperience.com. Call 800-489-1950.
Haunted houses and more
Cutting Edge 1701 E. Lancaster Ave. (at Interstates 30 and 35), Fort Worth. 817-348-8444. 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. $29.95, $49.95 Speed Pass; $24.95 age 10 and younger, $44.95 kid’s Speed Pass. World's Largest Haunted House. Service fee and credit cards accepted online; cash only at the door. $10 parking. Abandoned meatpacking plant houses 250,000-square-foot, multistory, multithemed haunt. cuttingedgehauntedhouse.com
Fright Fest Six Flags Over Texas, Arlington. 817-530-6000. Fri-Sun. Fright Pass, unlimited admittance to the five haunted attractions only: $20. GA at the park with Fright Fest: $64.99, under 48 inches $49.99, 2 and younger free. Roller coasters and haunted-house scares. www.frightfest.sixflags.com
Hangman's House of Horrors 4400 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth. 817-336-4264. 7:30 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. Tour includes four attractions. Plus, 19-acre property features live bands, food trucks, photos, festival activities, novelties and more. www.hangmans.com
The Strangling Brothers Haunted Circus: “The Scariest Haunt on Earth,” 2602 E. Mayfield Road, Arlington. 646-321-2107. 7:30 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 7:30-10:30 p.m. Sunday. $32.48; $54.13 VIP Fast Pass, includes taxes. Free on-site parking. Abandoned circus maze and 32 rings of terror featured in the hourlong haunted circus. Not for those scared of clowns. www.stranglingbrotherstexas.com
Moxley Manor 510 Harwood Road, Bedford. 8 p.m.-midnight Friday, 7:30 p.m.-midnight Saturday, 8-10 p.m. weekdays. Rain or shine; indoor attraction. $23; $30 Fast Pass. Credit cards accepted. Free paved parking. www.moxleymanor.com
Dia de los Muertos Oct. 29, Rose Marine Theater, 1440 N. Main St., Fort Worth. Free outdoor event to honor Day of the Dead with folkloric music, dance, pan de muerto, ofrendas and a drum procession from Marine Park to the Rose Marine Plaza. Art and food vendors, face painting. Artes de la Rosa will sell candles and T-shirts. www.artesdelarosa.org
The Boneyard 3560 W. Camp Wisdom Road, Dallas. 817-451-2663. 7 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday through Oct. 31, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. all other nights. $28. More than half a mile; includes more than 50 movie-quality sets, some with animatronics. www.theboneyard.org
Dark Hour Haunted House 701 Taylor Drive, Plano. 469-298-0556. 7 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday $28; $50 Fast Pass; $35 Back Stage Tour; $75 VIP. Three shows: Dominion of the Dead, Coven Manor and Voodoo Vengeance. www.darkhourhauntedhouse.com
Dan's Haunted House 501 E. Swisher Road, Lake Dallas. 972-821-9154. 8-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $20. Journey into Japanese culture and folklore. “Ancient Fear Rising” theme with samurai, spirits, ghosts and demons. Anyone named “Dan” or variation (Danny, Daniel, Danielle) gets in free with ID. www.danshauntedhouse.com
The Dark Path Haunt 2695 Old Alton Road, Denton. 8 p.m.-midnight Friday-Sunday. $20, cash only. Final Fight Laser Tag zombie. 6-acre outdoor haunt with a path that takes you through the frightening forest area behind the Swisher Courts facility along Lake Dallas. www.thedarkpathhaunt.com
Texas Scaregrounds 7829 E. Farm Road 917, Alvarado. 7:30 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. $20. Bring a canned food item for a local food bank and get $1 off. Panic’s Playground, with games, face painting and more, has no cover charge. The Doors Haunted House is a new walk-through haunted attraction. The Dark Carnival is a walk-through carnival in the spirit of freak shows of the past. www.chaoscrewpresents.com
Tayman Graveyard Haunted Theme Park 4721 Cecillia St., Midlothian. 8 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 8-11p.m. Sunday. $25. Check website for theme nights. Revamped from the Addamsville Terror Complex, park features an abandoned gold mine with tunnels and mazelike features. www.taymangraveyard.com