Creeping through the back woods of Natchitoches with my best friend clinging to my arm was not my first choice for a Saturday night. I hate all things scary and try my best to avoid that cringe-worthy music that warns you something is about jump out at you.
For the past three Halloween seasons, Dark Woods has opened its gates along Highway LA 6 to scare thousands of patrons. Open every Friday and Saturday from Sept. 22-Oct. 31 as well as Halloween night, Dark Woods is one thing students should check off their list before graduating.
The attraction is currently held on five acres of land with the potential to expand an additional 12 acres. Next year, the owners plan to add four more buildings to the trail and build mausoleums into the graveyard.
Owner Marty Summerlin explained she and her husband Jesse were looking for something to occupy their time after retirement; the couple decided to open their own haunted house and found the woods of Natchitoches to be the perfect location. While Marty’s start in the haunting business has been more recent, Jesse’s previous career was as a home haunter, an amateur branch of the haunting business.
“This is the third year we have been open but the fourth year we have been here,” Marty said. “We spent a whole year building. We looked for almost four years to find the property.”
Dark Woods features two attractions: the Dead Fall Trail and Dark Carnival 3D.
The Dead Fall Trail is a one-third mile walk through the woods scattered with four main shacks and a dozen characters ready to jump out from the darkness.
One of the first shacks we entered featured what appeared to be a fake body cavity opened on the table. I even checked under the table as I walked in to make sure no one was hiding. Still, the body jumped up and screamed bloody murder at me. I got out of there as fast as I could.
My group and I quickly found out the best way to trap The Current Sauce staff is with a maze of white bed sheets. We spent a good eight minutes walking back and forth trying to find the exit, which we clearly saw earlier in the daylight during our tour. A woman kept jumping out at us screaming, “Don’t touch my sheets!” as we eventually made it out.
The Dark Carnival 3D requires people to sport 3D classes to experience the full effects of the cromadex paint while walking through a creepy carnival maze. This attraction was the one I was looking forward to the least.
The carnies screamed at us to hurry up the ramp to the entrance: “We aren’t getting any younger!”
Waking into the building, I was instantly hit with the infamous circus music and giggles of clown actors. My best friend once again asked for my hand to squeeze as we tried to navigate from room to room.
Puffs of air and loud sounds were triggered by motion sensors as we went around each corner. At one point, we pushed past a curtain to reveal three more identical ones. We were once again trapped in a maze, but this one was a tad easier to escape.
Around one corner, we found an actor perched above us. I felt safe walking past her since she was not within reach of me – at least until she jumped down and caused the group behind us to run into a barrel.
Dark Woods was as scary as I expected it to be, and I am not sure I would go back for a second trip because I like to sleep at night. Even so, I appreciate the effort put into creating the attractions and the actors’ work. Everyone stayed in character and made it a full experience.
For more information on hours and ticket pricing, visit darkwoodshaunt.com or call 318-289-9019.