A Visit to Potter’s House of Horrors is Scream-Inducing

As a general rule, I avoid watching horror movies. The original It movie gave me nightmares for weeks.

That’s why I was initially hesitant to visit Potter’s House of Horrors since I was afraid I might run out screaming. I am happy to report that I survived, and actually had a fun time. And yes, there may have been some delicious squealing.

From now until November 2, 2019, a garden centre has been transformed into Potter’s House of Horrors (12530 72nd Avenue, Surrey). It depends on traffic and location, but on a Friday night after rush hour, it took us about 30 minutes to get there from South Granville, Vancouver.

Photo Credit: Tara Lee

Since 2003, Potter’s House of Horrors has grown from a modest haunted house to a massive undertaking that involves fancy lighting, tons of props, and a huge “Scare Crew.” The line-ups and houses are indoors, so even on a soggy night, it’s a good outing.

I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance on-line, and even considering purchasing the more expensive speedpass tickets if you don’t want to wait too long in line (the speedpass puts you in a fast track line that is much, much shorter). The days before Hallowe’en will be the busiest, so time your visit strategically.

We could feel the nervous anticipation in the line-up as we waited our turn to enter one of the houses. There are two on offer this year: Devil’s Descent and new this year, Death Valley Motor Inn where your stay may bring more than a few goose bumps. You’ll need a separate ticket for each house and have to line up twice if you plan on visiting both houses.

For those coming with children, Potter’s offers a Family Hour, which is a less scary version of the regular haunted house experience. As well, they feature Li’l Haunters, two mini-kiddie haunted houses called Mystic Village and Spooky Castle (recommended for 12 and under). There’s also an Escape from Incineration room for those who like solving puzzles.

While we were waiting in line, I asked the attendant how scary I should expect Devil’s Descent to be. He assured me it was super scary and pointed to a “chicken counter” that increases every time someone has to leave a house without finishing it. Eep. Would that be me?

The premise of Devil’s Descent is falling into a dark underworld of mine shafts, tunnels, and possessed machinery. The house has a labyrinthian quality as you follow the twists and turns of narrow passageways in the semi and sometimes total darkness. Don’t worry though. You won’t get lost since you will be directed in the right direction if you ever get confused. I walked fairly slowly through it, gripping the hand of my husband, since I was in dread of what would happen next.

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Potter’s has invested months of planning and countless hours in setting up this horror experience. And it clearly shows. The sets are impressive with tons of ghoulish skeletons and macabre bodies and creatures chained, hanging from the ceilings, and sometimes writhing in agony.

There’s a sensory, often tactile quality to this horror experience. One of my least favourite things is accidentally walking through a spider web, and Potter’s House of Horrors cleverly replicates that experience. There’s something about touch that blurs the boundary between the safe and the scary.

As you move from room to room, you’ll be forced to walk through portieres (doorway curtains) and at certain points in Devil’s Descent you’ll have your hands outstretched in the dark, feeling walls (which are sometimes closing in on you…). Plenty of sound effects and strobe lighting complete the scary effect.

The best part of the whole experience is the “Scare Crew,” the dressed up live actors who will do their best to terrorize you throughout the haunted house. Expect them to jump out from dark corners, unfreeze unexpectedly, howl at you menacingly, and chase you into the next room. The actors definitely get in monstrous character. I screamed pretty much every time one appeared (it’s part of the enjoyment), and judging by the echoing shouts coming from other parts of the house, other people were too.

Overall, a visit to Potter’s House of Horrors is great fun. Even for someone like me who shies away from horror films, it was worth the visit since it offers a playful and elaborate Hallowe’en experience. Potter’s is also supporting the Surrey Food Bank and is accepting non-perishable food donations.

Tickets and further info can be found on-line.

Note: The attraction is not recommended for those who are pregnant, have heart conditions, or are in ill health.

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