The Fun in Fear: Talon Falls Screampark

Oct 31, 2011

Every October, countless people crowd into haunted houses, hayrides, and other haunted attractions. Here in the Commonwealth, Talon Falls Scream-park is one of the Weather Channel’s Top Ten Hallow-screams for 20-11. Tens of thousands of patrons travel to far western Kentucky willing to pay and wait in line to be scared. 

The Talon Falls Screampark is a twisting, wandering maze of actors, props, and animatronics all designed with one goal in mind, to scare the daylights out of you.  Now in their 13th year of fear, owners Todd and Shell Ferren came up with the idea for a haunted  house as they sat around a campfire and realized how spooky the woods around them could be. The first year was just that, a haunted house with around twenty actors inside. It has since expanded into a full three-phase Screampark  After a one-million dollar rebuild following a fire earlier this year, the park is bigger than ever with more than 50,000 people expected to come through this year, and around 150 actors waiting to scare them. And they’re pretty good at it.

“Scaring the people and making them pee their pants is the ultimate. This is grown men. You scare them. They’ll shove their girlfriends or their wives in front of them. And you’ll look down and there’s a little wet spot.”

 “We scared this one girl so bad that she ran from us, when we finally caught her, she just hit the ground, went into the fetal position, and just cried. It was awesome.”

“We had a rather large gentleman. We scared him so badly that he decided he would run through a nearby wall. There are very few things as satisfying as making an adult lose control of their bodily functions.”

People travel from all over to come to this parks like these. They pay for their tickets, wait sometimes hours in line. Why?

“Its a thrill, its a rush, its a weird pleasure, etc…”

Those were some of the people waiting hours in line on one the park’s busiest nights of the year. They would soon be running through walls, sacrificing the women and children, and losing control of their bodily functions, all for this thrill. This chill. This rush. Again, why? Todd Ferren is the owner of Talon Falls.

“Well the reason people come out to Talon Falls I believe is because they like to go to a professional safe environment. They know that they can go and be scared, get that adrenaline rush, get it pumped up and get scared and nothing happen to them. I don’t know, something about it people love doing.”

Dr. Ian Norris is an associate professor of psychology at Murray State University. He says there are a couple of reasons that we enjoy getting scared. The rush that people feel is the activation of a fear system, commonly known as fight or flight, which is designed to help us survive. And surviving is a rewarding feeling. But when it comes to things like haunted houses, we get to enjoy the fear as well.

 “Typically we experience activation of those fight or flight systems as aversive because typically if those systems are activated, its because we’re in a dangerous or threatening situation. However, knowing that the situation we’re in is actually not threatening, that we’re not going to be put in any harm or danger allows us to experience that bodily activation very differently than we would experience it if we were in a situation that was actually threatening or dangerous.”

Ok, so understanding why we enjoy this is cool, but maybe we’re reading too much into it. We like to go to haunted houses to get scared. Why? Because its fun.