Maestro of terror brings latest spook fest to Xtreme Action Park
Brandon Kittendorf's Xtreme Scare Park features 3 frightful attractions
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – South Florida's newest fright house comes with a championship pedigree.
Brandon Kittendorf, the mastermind behind Xtreme Scare Park at Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, unveiled his newest frightfully delightful concept to an intimate, invitation-only audience Wednesday night.
Although Xtreme Scare Park is new to South Florida, the creator of the fright fest has been scaring South Florida residents for several years.
The master of scares gave birth to Fort Lauderdale's Festival of Souls in 2013 and Miami's Terror in the Jungle at Jungle Island in 2014. South Florida was introduced to his haunts at Gulfstream Park in 2012.
Now, he's bringing more than 20,000 square feet of terror to Xtreme Scare Park.
"I wanted to create three entirely new attractions that people would enjoy," Kittendorf told Local10.com.
Go big or go home seems to be Kittendorf's idea behind Xtreme Scare Park. Why not? After all, each of his previous three incarnations was voted Florida's scariest haunted house by Hauntworld.com.
Kittendorf took a sabbatical in 2015, but he wants to get back to his winning ways this year.
"We want to continue that tradition and be No. 1 for one of the best scares out there," he said.
Kittendorf has found a venue large enough to accommodate his appetite for horror at Xtreme Action Park, which opened in July 2015 at 5300 Powerline Road. In addition to housing its temporary tenant, the indoor entertainment center is also home to indoor go-karts, a rope course, dozens of arcade games and other amusements.
The author of this story was escorted through the three attractions by two brave souls -- Derrick Samford and Carla X -- who embraced the scares coming from actors hidden in dark corners or sneaking up from behind.
After signing liability waivers, guests are directed to walk through a seemingly deserted parking lot, past a line of trailers and up a stairwell into a narrow hallway that leads to the first attraction, "Asylum of the Damned."
Guests maneuver through a series of rooms where deranged and psychotic patients have taken over the asylum. Scariness ensues all the way through to the reception area, where an undead nurse bids visitors a ghastly farewell. She makes Nurse Ratched seem lovely.
After leaving the asylum, guests are ushered through another hall, where "Nightmares: The Awakening" -- Kittendorf's favorite -- awaits them. This attraction has plenty of creepy clowns (a topical subject, it seems) to rival that of Pennywise from Stephen King's "It."
From there, it's downstairs and into the "Catacombs: Ancient Evil Unleashed." The narrative involves someone who has unearthed an ancient artifact that unleashes buried evil secrets. The last attraction has a distinctly tribal feel. Some of the characters to confront the guests are reminiscent of the troglodytes from the 2015 Kurt Russell movie "Bone Tomahawk."
All three attractions feature a combination of hired actors (Kittendorf's tight-knit band of misfits) and animatronics. The performers should receive high praise for their commitment to their craft, often staying in character during the photography session.
Anyone who grew up going to haunted houses knows to hang back and let the person in front receive the brunt of the surprises, easing the path for those who follow as the actors reset for the next group. This author quickly reverted to his childhood ways, saying hello to the lingering ghouls and acknowledging their presence to avoid being targeted.
If there is any criticism of the attractions, it is that there are some rooms without any real scares (just sight gags), and "Catacombs" lacks that one impressive, concluding scare deserving of all haunted finales.
Still, Xtreme Scare Park satisfies any horror buff's passion for a good fright.
The McBroom family traveled from Royal Palm Beach to attend Wednesday night's private preview, just as they have all of Kittendorf's creations. It was scary, they all agreed.
Xtreme Scare Park, which had its grand opening Thursday night, runs every Thursday through Sunday from now until Nov. 6. General admission is $32.50 and includes access to all three attractions.
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