As Halloween quickly approaches, there are three magic words that nicely sum up the season in a nutshell:
You. Hunt. Zombies.
When the temperature drops and Autumn approaches, there will be many sightings of the undead throughout Middle Tennessee. As the Owner and Manager of Clarksville Zombie Hunters, Eric Yow welcomes the public to hunt down these fiends at his haunted attraction.
Beginning on September 25th and running through Halloween night, there will be many themed events taking place every Friday and Saturday night, from Movies at the Hunt, to multiple Zombie attractions and even a few surprises on Halloween night.
In our interview, Mr. Yow previews the haunted attraction for 2015:
How did you get your start in the haunted-attraction industry?
– “I have friends and colleagues that run haunted attractions and decided to open a similar operation in Clarksville, with my own added flare. Now we are five attractions at one location, with which we maintain a family-friendly and all-ages theme park.”
Why choose Zombies as your main theme?
– “Clarksville Zombie Hunters is ever evolving, but at the present, we are themed around Zombies. That’s what’s ‘in’ at the moment. Next year, it may be clowns or werewolves — you never know. For now, we want to give the people what they want. If they want to shoot Zombies, we’ll give them Zombies. This year there are more than ever!”
How do you spend the majority of your time at the haunted attraction?
– “We have an amazing staff of dedicated employees who are highly skilled and trained in every element of the operation. This means that I’ve got people who can tend to all of the needs of the operation and that of the patronage. This also frees me up, so that I can do the ‘fun’ stuff. I spend my time helping to make sure that every patron is having a great time and that their needs and wants are being satisfied while at the Hunt. Often, I get on the truck/trailers and help with the hayride, which is great fun.”
What were some influences for creating the attraction?
– “Obviously major TV shows and movies like The Walking Dead and World War Z have influenced our production, because people want to see things like that in person. We have also been influenced by the rest of the Haunt industry, having gone to numerous seminars and soliciting input from people across the country about what works, what people want, and what makes for a great Park. This year will be unbelievably good. I can only imagine how great it will be in years to come.”
What are some of your favorite undead movies?
– “My favorite is World War Z and I Am Legend. So, we’re playing both of those movies at the park. We offer FREE outdoor movies, what we call Movies at the Hunt. We’ve posted our line-up so people can plan their night around great movies.”
What can first-time attendees expect of the Zombie Paintball Hayride Experience?
– “With timed ticketing online, you can expect a seamless purchasing process, which results in a bar-coded ticket. Bringing the ticket(s) to the park, you’ll go to the check-in station where we scan the ticket and give you your wristband(s). You go to the appropriate line where you’ll wait no more than approximately 30 minutes. Even within the hayride line, you can watch the movie screen. You’ll be ‘staged,’ where you’re told the storyline behind the Zombie infestation and what we need you to accomplish. You’re given your ammunition (paintballs) and given the opportunity to purchase any Reloads you may want (you can buy as many as you want; each pod holds over 100 rounds!). Then you get on the Zombie Assault Truck or Trailer and are taken through the woods on a 20 minute ‘hayride’ where ‘You. Hunt. Zombies.’ Dozens of Zombies are spread throughout the woods and you’ve got to shoot them in the face. Great music, strobe lights, glow-in-the-dark paintballs, and lots of Zombies! It’s awesome!”
Clarksville Zombie Hunters offers five different attractions. Can you give me the backstory for each one?
– “The Zombie Paintball Hayride is back from last year, with a new and improved route, more scenes, more Zombies, a Zombie Assault Truck and it makes for an incredible ride that lasts about 20 minutes.”
“The Zombie Mission is my favorite. At this $5 add-on attraction, you’re given a paintball gun with a rail-mounted flashlight and you are sent into the Zombie-infested woods on a mission. Your mission: Get to the end of the trail and sound the Zombie-raid siren. This draws the Zombies away from the population of the park, but right to you. Shoot the Zombies on the way to the raid siren and then make your way out. Will you survive?”
“The Shooting Gallery is a great place to test your skills, compete with your friends, and shoot some of our captive Zombies to get your practice in before the hayride.”
“The Escape Game: ‘The Dark Room’ is one of our most popular add-ons for this year, where about eight people are locked in a building and challenged to find their way out. It’s pitch black and the only instruction you’re given is, ‘Find the light to guide your way out.’ Each Escape Game lasts about 15 minutes.”
“The Movies at the Hunt are FREE outdoor movies with generally PG movies on Friday and PG-13 on Saturday. Big movies like Frozen, World War Z, The Goonies, Jurassic Park, etc. are being played on a 20-foot movie screen.”
What’s new for Clarksville Zombie Hunters for 2015?
– “Timed ticketing is new for this year. Last year, we were such a big hit that people came from all over to enjoy the attraction. Now that we have five Attractions at one location, we wanted to make sure that we can handle the crowds and limit wait times. So, we’re offering timed ticketing online! Buy your bar-coded ticket for a particular time block and that’s when you get on the hayride. No more waiting three hours! That gives you more time to enjoy the other attractions at the park!”
This year, you’ve added another Zombie Assault Rig to your main attraction. How many people does each vehicle hold?
– “We are most excited about the Zombie Assault Truck, but each rig gives the same experience. We have 18 guns on the Truck and 30 guns on each of 3 Zombie Assault Trailers. This helps us keep the wait times to a minimum so families can get straight in and go hunting!”
Do you have an attendance target for this year’s attraction?
– “The more the better! We have the capacity to handle huge crowds every night.”
How many trips per hour do you estimate each hayride makes?
– “It depends on the night and the attendance. We’ve worked out the logistics so that people won’t have to wait very long. They paid good money to have a great time, so we want to hurry up and give it to them!”
What would you say is your favorite horror movie?
– “World War Z, although it’s not exactly a horror movie, rather a suspense/thriller movie.”
There will be movies shown at the attraction. Are they shown during the hayrides?
– “Movies at the Hunt will start at dark (not long after 7 P.M.), so they are shown during the time that some people are doing the hayrides. However, you can watch the movie while still in line, so on the hayride you’ll only miss about 20 minutes of the movie. Because of the new timed ticketing, you could buy your hayride pass for 9 P.M. and still be done and headed home by 10 P.M., having watched the movie, enjoyed side attractions, and gotten on the hayride with minimal wait! That’s true even if you bring a big group!”
Growing up, what did Halloween mean to you?
– “I enjoyed dressing up as a kid, then going trick-or-treating. It was all about the candy!”
Will you be hosting a costume contest or any other festivities on Halloween?
– “We have a few wheels in motion about how to make Halloween night great. We would like people to go trick-or-treating, or whatever else they’re going to do, then come to us for an amazing night. We’ll watch World War Z on Halloween. We may have a costume contest and other festivities. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for details and updates.”
This attraction offers a unique experience for charity groups. Please tell me about this opportunity.
– “One of my favorite things about Clarksville Zombie Hunters is that we are able to support various charities. Each weekend, no less than four charities will be out supporting and staffing our event. Almost all of our target Zombies (in the woods getting shot at) will be these charity groups volunteering to support us. We will support them with a sizable donation. Due to these partnerships, we are working with about a dozen charities and committed to contributing at least $13,750 to these charity groups! We are also working with Clarksville Christian School to help spread the word about this great private Christian school that is growing and doing an amazing work in Clarksville.”
Will there be any Zombie photo-ops available for attendees?
– “Absolutely! Each night we have ‘make-up Zombies’ walking around the hayride lines. The Zombies are docile and won’t bite you. Take all the pictures you want! During the movies, the seating area on the hillside is a ‘Zombie-free zone’ so you don’t have to worry about being spooked by our actors. That’s especially good, since some nights we are playing kids movies and we want the families to have a great time!”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
– “We are looking forward to this year being an amazing season. We open back up September 25th with discounted hayride tickets. It’s going to be an amazing time!”