A long time ago on a dusty space of farmland far, far beyond the beaten path there was a horror house by the name of SPOOKY WORLD. This place was THE premiere haunted destination and was one of the only big haunts in operation at the time, so it was pretty much the horror equivalent to Disneyland.
*Before we continue let’s get one thing straight – this is not that uninspired, indoor zombie walkthrough that operated under the same name through the late 90’s and early 00’s – this is the original SPOOKY WORLD located way out in creepy Berlin, Massachusetts on an old farm. Yes, the one with the bone-chilling hayride and free cider & donuts!
First off, I’d like to mention just how crucial the commute was to the whole essence of Spooky World. Because it was located in isolated western Mass, many people had a lengthy ride to deal with. Being the time of year it was and how backwoodsy that region of the state is – the ride itself was dark, soggy and quite menacing. This beautifully set the tone for the blood, guts and latex one would soon be facing that night.
During it’s first few years of production that began in 1991, Spooky World drew enormous crowds because of their much talked about haunted hayride and impressive lineup of celebrity appearances. The 30+ minute hayride crept through the woods and would stop at a series of mini “horror shows”. These ranged from watching a gruesome surgery being performed which concluded with a guy’s face popping out of the patients stomach, to Leatherface chasing innocent victims in a mass of fog and lighting effects. Even our pal Toxie was the leading man in a scene which saw him slithering around an elaborate toxic-waste dump straight out of the real Tromaville.
The now abandoned original location on 100 River Rd, Berlin, MA.
The set designs were well done for the budget they must have been restricted to. One minute you’d witness some impressive, real-time gore effects. Then right around the corner would be a bunch of 99-cent store foam graves. Nothing was perfect by any means, but the performers were enthusiastic and the atmosphere was pure magic. If you haven’t experienced New England in October, it’s pretty much the fucking ultimate. It’s cold, it’s damp and there’s an eeriness in the air that certifies it as the best place if you want to be fully immersed in Halloween-mode. The actors took full advantage of this and it paid off during these mini-performances.
At the end of the hayride, workers passed around trays with free apple cider, donuts and cookies for all surviving victims. Then your group would walk over to the ‘haunted barns’ to do some wandering. Outside was more like a carnival than a spook-house. Visitors donned in warm clothing sat at picnic tables and ate pizza, hot dogs, pretzels and other country fair-type food. The air was crisp and smelled like a mixture of dead leaves, bonfires, hay and fried dough (something I want bottled up and sold in TNUC’s Food Court). One barn was full of animatronic beasts and ghouls, while the other held a massive assortment of classic horror movie nostalgia, props and merchandise for purchasing.
Then of course there were the FREE autograph meet-and-greets. This was back when someone like Alice Cooper, Elvira, Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) or Linda Blair would sign your stuff without charging a fee for it. The only “celebrity” I met at Spooky World was world-renowned ukulele player Tiny Tim. I didn’t have a clue why I was waiting in line to meet a man named Tiny Tim or what he was even doing there, but I said hello and shook his hand. I’m still confused as to why he was there.
The following video is a rip of the entire official Spooky World VHS released in 1994 which gives a guided tour of the venue’s haunted grounds. It’s narrated by Jason Voorhees himself (Kane Hodder) and produced by splatter effects legend, Tom Savini. Prominent icons of the horror community such as these were behind the magic of Spooky World – which gives you a good idea of how special this place was!
And who could forget the Spooky World mascot? A grinning grim reaper figure that no New Englander could escape in the early 1990’s. He started appearing on highway billboards and in convenience stores flyers every September to promote the hayride. For many youngsters not only was he the 1st sign that the annual event was coming but also that October, Halloween and everything-HORROR was right around the corner. I started collecting Spooky World stuff recently in hopes of eventually having a monstrous contribution to display in TNUC’s backyard tree house hangout..
In 1998 a building inspector issued several citations to the establishment which would eventually shut the place down. After a short silence, the name Spooky World started appearing again with promotions announcing a new location. Corporate slugs had taken the name but it’s original creators had nothing to do with the sudden reincarnation. The original hayride had been replaced. This “new” Spooky World had its moments, but certainly didn’t have the charm that the old farmhouse way out in Deliverance-country did.
If you’re a native east coaster reading this, hopefully your memories of this iconic horror theme park are of the original Berlin location. Spooky World was truly one of a kind and sadly we’ll never see it regain the strength it had in 1991. Unless of course Uncle TNUC resurrects it’s unholy spirit and reopens the place on a newly found Native American burial ground. Kids, start sending those applications in!
Spooky world is alive and well. We are not a zombie walk-through though.
The official Spooky World name and logo is associated with two haunted attractions; Nightmare New England and Terror in Rhode Island. We’ve gone through many changes over the years with many owners and locations. Berlin and Foxboro have special places in my heart, but I’m really proud of the show we put on now. We’re in Lichfield NH, so the commute is back but we’re so worth it. I can honestly say I am truly proud to be part of the Spooky World family.
Thanks Choppy. I edited the post to make it sound less like an attack on “current” Spooky World! I mainly was just referring to how it changed from the original Berlin location. There was something truly obscure about that place! I had no idea it was going strong in Lichfield, NH. Sounds fun. Thanks for commenting!
You should not have bowed to them the current place is a turd!
Sorry but the one in NH is so lame and predictable. The one in Berlin and Foxboro was more scary and actually worth the money. Now its just to kid friendly, I want to be scared not laughing at how pathetic it is. Ive only been to the one in NH once because i felt for the gas, and price its not worth it at all. All your houses are pretty much the same.
Love places like this, heading up north this week to get my full Fall/October/Halloween experience, will definitely bring the TNUC spirit with me!
Though nothing can replace the feeling you get from the power of nostalgia when it comes to places like this!
Hey there, one of my fondest, childhood memories is of the Ghoul Mobile that would make its way to the Brockton Fair to promote Spooky World. It housed a four piece, animatronic skeleton band. I’ve been trying to track down some video or photos of this but have had no luck at all! Sure do miss the old Spooky World. Those were great times.
Berlin and foxboro was the absolute highlight for SW. This is a great article. I worked at both locations and it was just magic. The years at Bayside Expo and Canobee Lake park where juts awfull. However to say the current. ” spooky world” is alive and well is just a stupid thing to say. The place lacks total creativity and relies on all on store bought crappy products from ghost Rider and distortions. The new people in charge of spooky world clearly do not care about the art of scarring rather they shove as many morons through the door as they can. It is shocking to see the same shitty CFX masks and bad make up jobs that SW would never allowed in the past. They don’t even build their own props rather they just cruet staple the strode bought garbage up. The over priced haunt is not worth even looking at. My advice is stay away from this sham masquerading as ” spooky world”
Thanks for the comments Superbeast! Can you elaborate about working at Spooky World? I’m very curious. It’s truly a shame if the current version is using crappy products and uninspired junk for the haunt. The Berlin location had serious charm. It had character. The next time I’m in Mass I plan on driving out to the old location just to take some photos and feel the air!
hurry up.. that location is slated for condos
You sound like a jaded past employee or competitor…You know the lingo and vendors so I’m guessing competition. I can say with absolute certainty that if someone worked at Spookyworld for two seasons back in the early 90’s, they have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they are talking about when referring to the current day production of Spookyworld Presents Nightmare New England.
True haunt fans know to never listen to former employees or competitor haunts. Come down this year and see whats new…Dont be a follower to past jaded employees and definitely dont listen to the competition BS talk. Judge for yourself. Come visit on opening weekend! Sept 25, 26 and 27th. The hayride is back with a vengeance… and better than ever!
The issue is the man with the original Spooky World is no longer affiliated with the new Spooky World. He sold it. None of the creative team went with the new owners,
I wanted to see if the new Spooky World was keeping up with the tradition of the original owner so I went this past season. I went through a completely unlit apparent haunted house. They handed us glow sticks (probably because it was too dark) There were no visible props because it was too dark to see anything. So dark I felt like it was unsafe. I think I saw 2 maybe 3 actors in that haunt and they were not visible. Went through another haunt which was just a maze, The original park had 10 – 15 actors in every haunt. Sometimes more. The ticket price was almost 100% more than the original park. I think I paid 39.99. No more celebrity guests. The highlight of the visit was in 3 spots on the hayride trail. One was the plane crash set. Explosions, fire well done. The other was lasers aiming up to the trees which was a really cool effect. Finally the last was the elaborate maze of what looked like tree houses above the hayride trail. You are not going to see the 12,000 people in this park like in the Berlin/Foxboro original Spooky World. There were around 200 people the night I visited. My advise to the new owners, Use creative lighting in the haunts. Use props. Invest in more actors, Hire someone who knows how to set up haunts. Train the actors to not just go up behind patrons and scream in their ear. The property has potential if the institution of Spooky World has not been completely ruined. Lots of land. Parking was plentiful. Food was quite good. The Ticket price does not warrant a return visit. I must have gone to the real Spooky World 15 times in the years the original creator/owner ran the show. It is nice that the new owner (Dave not the original owner Dave) tries to protect his investment by responding to all the accurate criticism. It is simply no way close to the atmosphere and value that the original Spooky World offered to it’s patrons.
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Loved that place…Nothing like it anywhere…Would love to see it reopen
For anybody interested in where items from the Foxboro location ended up after the auction, several items wound up integrated into the haunt I ran in NJ for 13 years. The skeleton arch that was in the garden area still resides next to Hollowgraves Haunted Manor today and even survived Hurricane Sandy when the haunt was located in Seaside Heights back in 2012. I also have a huge night time zombie painting from Spooky World on a wall within my house. I’m not sure of the artist but I know the same painting can be seen on the back of a Spooky World soundtrack CD.
Wow John, very cool that you own some of those items. I’d love to see photos. I’m going to email you today!
Uncletnuc, I sure do admire your enthusiasm for the original spooky world. As someone who was fortunate to live on the Berlin property (for awhile) and wake up each morning and go to work for America’s Horror theme park (or at least the original horror theme park) I can tell you that your enthusiasm is not unfounded, as it really was a very special time and place.
Thanks Mr. Apparition! I’d love to hear more about your job at Spooky World and any fond memories you have. Question, you wouldn’t happen who the current property owner is, would you? I need to contact them.
Hello once again, I would be happy to tell, I have many of them to share. As a matter of fact, I do know who the current owner is, or at least who it was, as the property, well I’d much rather discuss that topic in private. So by all means feel free to email me. Being the moderator of this site, I assume you will be able to see my email address? However, I am heading into my busy season, so it may take me a day or two to reply, although I certainly will reply.
spooky world was awesome in berlin mass like all of you said the magic was in massachusettes ive not been to there new location with nightmare new England hopefully spooky world will have its own location to bring back its magic
do they even have celebrities come to there facility anymore under new owner of spooky world?
It was just twenty years ago come this Tuesday when the first headline appeared in the Telegram & Gazette newspaper. The caption read, “Showdown at Spooky World” it was the 16th of October, 1998. Throughout the days that remained in that month, another fifteen headlines, complete with accompanying stories would be printed in five separate newspapers which were all linked to the New England region. While most of those headlines were concise, a few clever ones would emerge from time to time, such as; “Town, park in halloween fright fight” or “Haunted house a ghost town.” Though whether serious or satirical those headlines and their stories would outline the plight of “America’s Horror Theme Park.” Who’s subsequent outcome makes this Tuesday the 20 year anniversary for what was the beginning of the end for the one time utopia of Halloween!
What transpired during the days of October 1998, could only be described as surreal, town officials, sometimes discrete, sometimes with flanking fanfare would descend onto the grounds in a way that always seemed intrusive if not even a bit meddlesome. These bureaucrats had placed restrictions on the park that would require five out of its seven attractions to remain closed throughout the season, creating a feeling among the staff and guests alike that was a mix of confusion, dismay and disgruntlement. While the overall aura that seemed to loom across the grounds made it feel as if the property itself knew its eventual fate. The parks attempt to compromise was quickly curtailed by officials, leaving the park with limited options, one of which was to open what it could, while adding additional stage shows and actors to its Monster midway, or offer full refunds prior to entry, to anyone who had a pre-paid ticket and changed their minds.
The only other option available was to head into court in the hopes that the injunction could be lifted by a magistrate! The proprietor of the park put out a request to the staff and cast members, asking all to attend the hearing in a show of solidarity and support. Unfortunately those proceedings didn’t go as hoped, so on October 31st 1998 it would all come to an end. The roars of the chainsaws, the screams of the frightened and the smells of fried dough would waft no more through the crisp autumn night air over the grounds of what once was the old dairy farm that grew into the ultimate destination for hoards of Halloween fiends and fans. The place that once featured some of the most well recognized celebrities that were related to the horror genre, has sat dormant over these past twenty years, succumbing to time and neglect, as nature has reclaimed the hayride trail that I walked a thousand times. Today the hallowed grounds can be occasionally seen on a YouTube video posted by a trespassing urban explorer who will never know it or could begin to imagine its wonderment as I once had!
The effect that the “Original Spooky World in Berlin Mass.” had on the haunted attraction industry can’t be denied, in so many ways it became the benchmark for haunts to follow. While it was once said that Spooky World Berlin was the poster child for carny hokum, I hope it will be remembered for more than that! Though not without its flaws, Spooky World Berlin seemed to be the embodiment of Halloween, and because of that, as well as for the yearly delight it regularly brought to the masses, I felt it was only right to acknowledge its last night in Berlin, which was twenty years ago this October 31st. Like every night prior, I followed that last wagon, dismissing my actors along the way as soon as the ride was out of sight, never knowing that it would be the very last ride on that trail for every one of us! So to all of you haunters, both indoors and out, who keep the haunting traditions alive, I say to you, Happy Halloween and I hope your season is one that is safe and successful and may your haunt be remembered decades from now, as fondly as I remember this one!
UncleTNUC.I started going to the TRUE ‘SPOOKYWORLD” in Berlin Mass,when it first opened for the very first year.I sooo miss the whole atmosphere that the original SPOOKYWORLD portrayed.I miss seeing all the horror memorabilia and all the things for sale(masks and other things),and mostly seeing the actual Horror stars.I still have in my collection from the original SPOOKYWORLD.Many autographed pic’s,autographed,and even “JASON” hockey mask from Kane Hodder .I have not missed a year of going to “SPOOKYWORLD” since it’s original in Berlin Mass.and continue to this year in Litchfield NH.But I must truthfully say the NEW one in N.H.can’t compare to the original.The original in Berlin,was always well worth the money,but the NEW one is soooo overly priced for the value.I just truly wish the NEW one would have guest stars and the horror memorabilia,but I never see that happening.I have left many comments to the same on the SPOOKYWORLD New England web site every year.I have brought many many friends to the original SPOOKYWORLD and even my eventual wife of 23 years.We are loyal to the SPOOKYWORLD name,and have not missed a year even to this year of 2018.
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Hi “Is there anybody there?” 😉 – probably not. But just in case there is: I’m not sure if the same attraction (in reading some of the comments I think perhaps it likely came after) but I thought this stuff on ebay might be connected in some way? https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Spooky-World-original-memorabilia-in-mint-condition-rare/174317716404?hash=item28962543b4:g:5KoAAOSw3ate52WB
Yes, that’s the place! I own several Spooky World artifacts similar to this stuff!
Would be interested to see what you have.LOVED that place in Berlin MA. The one now in NH is nothing like the OLD original SPOOKY WORLD.
When Sppoky world went bankrupt, it actually owned nothing, so they beat all the vendors & contractors. My business lost $15,000.
dusty what type of business you own?
I am a local and I approve. 😈💜
Thanks! I’m also in Massachusetts. Are you in Berlin?
Not anymore but I have family still the and surrounding towns. I’m in gardner now.
Nothing will never come close to the old spooky world it’s to bad it only lasted 7 years in Berlin mass the most amazing place makes you feel right at home the atmosphere was just a amazing feeling thank you David for creating something so amazing
My mother ran thd original spooky world with david, even when they had to well first get sued hard changed the name to one of their too haunted houses and did like an aka spooky world lol so they could still reopen and still be called by their name lol. then they left and moved it to gillette stadium, it wasn’t the same because nothing compares to berlin but still the spooky world i spent every day of my life going to or wirking in the office year round in berlin always and haunted bad by a girl named esther who died of small pox. when they made the decision to end the park and follow their other passions they sold the name and i still have never gone i cant not even now at 33 it would probably ruin it for me. nothing will compare. spooky world and horror and everything that is a related topic have always abd will akways be life🖤 i miss it every day
Thanks for sharing that! So cool that this little article I did years ago has reached some former employees of Spooky World. Never imagined that. I had no idea about the place being supposedly haunted. Very interesting!