The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park’s 24th annual “Boo at the Zoo” has attractions that will bring out your wildest fears.
Unlike an ordinary haunted house, “Boo at the Zoo” does much more than create one menacing mansion. Instead, the zoo hosts a collection of spooky scenes that are connected by a dark, woods-lined pathway — ideal for lurking creatures.
To begin their excursion, guests are welcomed with loud music as they purchase their tickets. But when they take their first steps down the shadowy pathway, comfort is lost and all that remains is unnerving anticipation and the hidden creatures ready to scare.
Zoo visitors are forced to remain calm while they are stalked by zombies, chased by a headless horseman on stilts and deceived by seemingly empty woods.
But the journey reaches its highest point of intensity inside the confined walls of several haunted rooms. While entering a clown “funhouse,” the guests are provided with a pair of 3D glasses that cause swirling colors and shapes to blur their vision and make them essentially blind to approaching dangers.
The zoo has collected some fan-favorite scenes over the past 24 years that are now included in the event every year.
“With 24 years of props being bought and built and everything, we like to bring back some of the same things,” said Rachel Davenport, the zoo’s public relations coordinator.
One of these attractions, “The Dot Room,” has walls lined with a black fabric with neon polka dots. Volunteers dress themselves in the same dotted fabric, allowing them to be camouflaged against the walls as a means to scare approaching guests.
And while you’re being chased by the undead, it’s nice to know your screams are going toward a good cause. The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park uses the profits from “Boo at the Zoo” to pay for common zoo expenses, such as the animals’ diets, enrichment items, the park’s maintenance and much more.
“It’s one of our largest fundraisers,” Davenport said.
Transforming a family-fun zoo into a hauntingly long and scream-inducing journey unfit for anyone under 10 is no simple task. Each year, volunteers — including many Binghamton University students — assist the zoo in the challenge.
“We have a lot of SUNY kids that come in that help us,” Davenport said. “Whether it’s the sororities or fraternities, or just different community groups [that] love to come in.
The volunteers for “Boo at the Zoo” also like to mix things up from one year to the next, so be ready for some unexpected changes and surprises from the woods.
“They’re always getting very creative,” Davenport said. “Year after year they change up their costumes so it’s really cool to watch.”
The event’s last runs will take place on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Go embrace the Halloween spirit, raise money and experience the zoo in a new, spooky light.