Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps phobias for Halloween scares

October 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps phobias for Halloween scares

Dana Young stands next to the optical illusion of a skull and a mirror to double the effect, in a haunt at Nightmare at Beaver Lake. By Greg Farrar

Some people flinch at spiders. Others cower from needles. Clowns send others into a panic.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps into the most common phobias — and some not-so-common fears — to scare the estimated 10,000 people expected to embark on a fear-fueled trek through a dense Sammamish Plateau forest.

“It’s death. It’s needles. It’s the dark. It’s spiders. It’s clowns,” said Norm Bottenberg, a Rotary Club of Sammamish past president and Nightmare at Beaver Lake volunteer.

The setup — not just a mere haunted house, but a forested trail and 8,000 square feet inside buildings and pavilions — is the largest Halloween haunt in the Puget Sound region and, perhaps, in the West.

“It’s a long, dark walk into the woods — with monsters,” Dana Young, Scare Productions secretary and a lead Nightmare at Beaver Lake organizer, added during a stroll through the uncompleted sets.

Scare Productions and the Rotary Club of Sammamish partner to produce the annual haunt. The community organization uses funds from admission fees for scholarships, polio eradication and other causes.

The path through the haunt meanders past a cemetery — home to hundreds of dead and, maybe, some undead denizens, too.

Nightmare at Beaver Lake includes a set based on the 1984 horror film “Children of the Corn” — a downtown street scene from fictional Gatlin, Neb.

If you go

Nightmare at Beaver Lake

  • Oct. 20-23, 26-31
  • The family scare runs from 7-7:45 p.m. nightly. The full scare runs from 8-10 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 8-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • Tickets: $8 per person for a family scare, $12 for a full scare Sunday through Thursday, $15 for a full scare Friday and Saturday
  • Bring a can of food to donate and receive a $1 discount on tickets.
  • The event includes free parking and a free parking shuttle service from the parking area to the haunt.
  • C.J. Graham — Jason Voorhees in “Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI” — signs autographs and meets fans Oct. 28-29.

Elsewhere, attendees pass through a vortex on the way to the Nightmare at Beaver Lake finale. Oversized storyboards arranged in the forest outline common phobias. (Fact: the term for a fear of needles is trypanophobia.)

The cast includes the usual vampires, werewolves and witches, plus some surprises designed to tap into attendees’ longstanding phobias.

Organizers said the material is akin to something from a slasher film — albeit a flick rated R.

“It’s not sex, but it is blood,” Young said.

Organizers envision a jaunt through the haunt as a roller coaster, Young said. So, some light moments come after scary scenes to allow attendees to readjust and prepare for the next fright.

“The idea of the haunt is to scare them on, not scare them back,” she added.

Organizers, however, hand out a Piss Your Pants Award to the actor responsible for causing a Nightmare at Beaver Lake attendee to lose bladder control. The incident occurs at least once per Halloween season.

“They almost always go, ‘Oh my God! I just peed myself!’” Young said.

The longtime Nightmare at Beaver Lake participant and Sammamish resident did not rule out other mishaps.

“There’s the hope every year that it will cause somebody to vomit,” Young added.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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One Response to “Nightmare at Beaver Lake taps phobias for Halloween scares”

  1. Anonymous on June 13th, 2012 7:54 am

    not as good as the heartstopper three haunts

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