Descent Into Dreadland
By Noah Wullkotte
Buford Haunted School was one of Ohio’s classic haunts that many people have never heard of. It didn’t have a big budget, but it was very unique in how it was designed and the actors were some of the most intense around. Today we interview Randy Roquet, one of the people who was instrumental in bringing Buford Haunted School to life. We will be discussing Buford Haunted School and his new haunt Dreadland Haunted Woods which promises to be unlike any haunted trail in Ohio.
* Tell us a little about the history of Buford Haunted School and how you were involved with the haunt? I went and asked the clay township park and the owners of the building if I could lease it. They then replied that they would like to do a haunted house if I would help them with it. I agreed to do so for no money. It was first started with a core group of 5 people then got bigger each year.
* Why did Buford Haunted School close down? We did not have enough fire exits and didn’t have enough money to keep the building up to code.
* What was your favorite room or scene at Buford Haunted School and why? The spinning cage room with a chainsaw maniac was my favorite room. It was a huge success and we were the only place to have that kind of madness.
* Buford Haunted School was a very intense haunt where actors were very interractive with some touching customers. How did people react to that? We had a huge amount of people that were freaked out about that. Some even decided not to go through because of it. Others would just pee in their pants or fall to the ground.
* Why do you think so many people enjoyed Buford Haunted School over the years? It was all real with no fake props. The actors were very intense. You have to remember that a house is only as scary as its actors are. We also changed it every year so it was fresh every time.
* How did you guys come up with ideas like the moving cage room with the chainsaw maniacs? Me and the terror team decided to do this in an effort to spice up our ending. It was unlike anything anyone else was doing at the time. It’s funny you bring this up because it’s still in the same spot it was last used. I went through it earlier this year and it was sad in a way, but cool because of all the great memories. The crew we had were awesome from decoration and design to the layout. If something was not working, we would pull it out the next night. Our ideas mainly came from a select core of five people with me being one of them.
* Buford Haunted School had some of the most intense actors around. What do you look for when trying to find a quality actor? I ask them what they do for Halloween. If they tell me that they drink and party then we pass on them. If they say they try to scare people and go to haunted places not haunted houses, then that’s a winner.
* What are some of your favorite memories at Buford Haunted School? One of the highlights was being rated better than The Dent Schoolhouse and Kings Island. We didn’t have a budget anywhere close to what these two attractions had. The people you meet are forever and I had the best group in the industry. Most of them are following me with my new adventure DREADLAND HAUNTED WOODS which is a big deal.
* Did you ever experience any paranormal activity while working at Buford Haunted School and are there any stories you could tell? I didn’t experience any paranormal activity, but others did. Many claimed that they heard voices or noises when they were all alone.
* Tell us a little about Dreadland Haunted Woods and how it differs from Buford Haunted School? DREADLAND is a game changer. It’s alot like Burford in the aspect of touching and being intense and fresh. This is not a cookie cutter haunted woods or haunted trail. There are things going on at Dreadland that people haven’t even dreamed of when they thought of scaring people. The difference is that there are no rules. I’m the keeper, so I answer to all of it. It’s going to be extremely scary. A lot of my ideas had to be shut down at Burford Haunted School because of being indoors and because of liability.
* What kind of scenes can people expect to see at Dreadland Haunted Woods? People can expect scenes that are somewhat offensive and intense. For example, there will not be any clowns, movie characters or chainsaws because these are scares that everybody uses. Our goal at Dreadland Haunted Woods is to be the game changer. Look for people to get legs cut off, live insects to be put on you as you go through challenges, tight spaces and getting scared from all angles.
* What makes Dreadland Haunted Woods stand out from other haunted woods in Ohio? We don’t have one single chainsaw and we don’t incorporate animatronics into the haunt. We will never use animatronics. We are all real from our props to our actors. Nothing is fake and you will see this when you go through this year. Dreadland Haunted Woods is a real sense of fear and trust me when I say that it’s worth the drive.
* If you could describe Dreadland Haunted Woods in one word, what would that be? GAME CHANGER
* You mention that Dreadland Haunted Woods features graphic and offensive scenes and isn’t appropriate for those under 16 years old. Can you explain? We have a few religious scenes and gore scenes that may not be suitable for all audiences. It’s offensive, but if younger people think they can handle it then bring it.
* What was your reason for creating a haunt in Sardinia, Ohio? I live in Sardinia and the location has no rules or regulations on this type of business. It was a perfect fit.
* Sardinia, Ohio is a small village with less than 1,000 people. How do you plan on marketing your haunt this season so people show up to your haunt? We will have a billboard up on State Route 32 and a Facebook and Twitter page. We will also be participating in some local parades and have flyers at every Halloween store in the tri-state. Hopefully word of mouth will bring people in.
* What qualities do you look for in a great haunt? I look for new and fresh scenes, loud music, intense actors and most of all actors grabbing me like they do at Haunted Hoochie in Pataskala, Ohio. I love that place. I told them at transworld this year that I was a huge fan and loved their work. I’m hoping to someday be in the same league as they are.
* One last thing we are doing without giving to much away is a challenge room. I will be running this room by myself to insure that everyone who chooses this option gets their money’s worth. If you complete the challenge there is a prize. It’s a room where rules are in place and people have to do things with a time limit. It’s just a little something to scare the people who are hard to scare. This will be the room that people will wish they had not chosen to enter.
For more information on Dreadland Haunted Woods, please visit www.dreadlandhauntedwoods.com.