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Wednesday, October 14,2009

Match made in Halloween

Couple offers three rings of hellish fun

by Megan Peters
Jamie Brown normally stalks the dark lair of the Phantasmagoria Terror Dome. Her husband creeps out participants within the domes haunted houses, inviting them to write on his chalkboard. With the second scratch of the chalk, the board collapses and a demonic figure pops through the hole, as Jerry Brown cackles to your right. Gotcha.


The Browns got into spooking after they were married, operating a haunted house in their backyard. Jamie Brown blames her husband for getting into the professional haunting business, claiming his "imagination got too big."

Five years ago, the couple graduated from their back yard to opening Phantasmagoria in a dome attached to Fun Tyme Adventure Park in Okemos. "When I tell people what we do, they're like, ‘No! You're so normal," she said flaunting her crimson, devil-esque costume in the dim light ing.

Playing the part of frightener doesn’t make one immune to fear. Jamie Brown said she can't share the room with the puppets at night, even though it is her favorite scare this year. "I was working late one night, and I just kept thinking, ‘Don't turn around, don't turn around," she said of setting up the Purgatory house before it opened the first weekend of this month. "I started freaking myself out." The three haunts within the dome of terror each bear inviting names: “Quarantine,” “3-Dementia” and “Purgatory.”

Before entering 3-Dementia, brave souls are given a pair of 3-D glasses to dizzy the mind with textured neon walls and blasts of light. A durable looking flashlight is offered at Quarantine, which might just remain bright through the maze. At Purgatory, only Samara, the creepy girl character from 2002 horror film “The Ring,” can guide (or more like skulk) you. "[The girl who plays her] is one of those actors that's very shy,” Jamie Brown said. “One night a girl got sick, and we threw her in there and she got some kind of alterego.”

The actors can be shocking. One minute you are waiting in a line inside of a cage, the next minute an actor is suspended from the cage, staring at you with bloodshot eyes.

Sincere advice is offered within the mazes, where fiends jump out on stilts or wielding chainsaws: "You don't want to go in there.” If it gets too intense, an escort will lead you out.

"I just say, ‘Have fun," said Michelle Britten, a ticket collector outside of Purgatory. "Kids can walk through here without having any problem; it's the adults that run out."

Phantasmagoria Terror Dome

Oct. 31 Hours: 7 p.m. – midnight Fridays & Saturdays 7 p.m. – 10
p.m. Sundays 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Oct. 22 & 29 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Oct. 28
Fun Tyme Adventure Park 3384 James Phillips Drive, Okemos $10 per haunt
or $15 for all three (517) 882-FEAR www.lansinghuantedhouse.com


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