The Hippo


May 30, 2020








Actor John Witkowsi as JoJo Clown at Fright Before Christmas. Courtesy photo.

Fright Before Christmas 

When: Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 12, from 7 to 10 p.m. 
Where: Fright Kingdom, 12 Simon St., Nashua
Cost: General admission tickets are $13. VIP tickets are $25 and include no wait for the attractions, a free cup of cocoa, a free Coffin Ride and one free game ticket. 

Screaming of a Fright Christmas
Fright Kingdom reopens for a weekend of holiday horrors

By Angie Sykeny

 ’Tis the season for rabid reindeer and cannibalistic gingerbread men at Fright Kingdom’s Fright Before Christmas, open Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 12, from 7 to 10 p.m. The indoor scream park will be dealing out its usual scares with interactive characters, haunted houses and spooky games, but with a holiday twist. 

Since its debut three years ago, the event has become a popular and highly anticipated one for horror fans. 
“New Hampshire has become a mecca for haunted houses, but we are currently the only one doing a scary Christmas,” Fright Kingdom owner Tim Dunne said. “[Workers from] other attractions are actually a portion of our customer base [for Fright Before Christmas]. They come from haunted houses all over the eastern seaboard. We’re seeing it [develop] a cult following here.”
This year’s event will be the largest yet, utilizing about 50 percent more of the park’s area and featuring additional characters and haunts.
The inspiration behind Fright Before Christmas, Dunne said, is a character from Germanic folklore named Krampus. According to the legend, Krampus is Saint Nicholas’ evil counterpart who captures naughty children, brings them to his lair and eats them. 
“Here in America, [parents] say, ‘Santa will give you coal,’” Dunne  said, “but parents in Europe say, ‘If you’re bad, Krampus will come get you.’”
The Fright Before Christmas experience begins the moment guests step out of their cars, with creepy characters in the parking lot waiting to greet them. Inside, characters like evil elves, cannibal gingerbread men, rabid reindeer, crazed carolers and a sinister Jack Frost will be roaming the midway, mingling and taking photos with guests. 
The main haunted house in use will be Bloodmare Manor, a Victorian mansion once home to the diabolical Bloodmare family. It’s one of the main attractions during the park’s regular season as well, but at Fright Before Christmas, it’s a different experience. 
“Our creative director spent a lot of time researching the old Victorian style and how a Victorian mansion would look during Christmas, so the decorations and the actors and everything are very detailed,” Dunne said. “It’s like stepping into a different time.” 
See what it’s like to be buried alive in the Coffin Ride, a simulator where guests can experience being placed in a coffin, picked up and loaded into a hearse, lowered into a grave and covered with dirt. A nightvision camera will be recording inside the coffin so others can see the participants’ reactions. The ride is free with a VIP ticket or $10 with general admission. 
Try your hand at midway games like Casket Ball or get your picture taken in the photo booth with Krampus in the backdrop. 
“I can’t even tell you how many people make it their family Christmas card,” Dunne said. 
There will be several vendors at the park that weekend, including Oneail FX Studios with masks and prosthetics, Krampus gear and other spooky Christmas merchandise; Shadows on the Wall, selling horror memorabilia and collectibles; and Psychic Readings by Nancy. 
The highlight of Fright Before Christmas, Dunne said, is the Creepy Christmas Costume Contest. People have dressed up as horror versions of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a Salvation Army bell-ringer and, inevitably, Krampus. Judging will begin at 8 p.m. on both nights, and both winners will receive a cash prize of $100. 
Due to the unique nature of the contest, there are people who prepare for months in advance and drive long distances to participate. The costumes can get extremely elaborate, especially those created by actors or other staff members at haunted attractions. Dunne said he is “blown away” by the amount of time, money and effort people put into the costumes. 
“Most of us in the haunted house business, we all share one thing in common — we love Halloween.,” he said. “We love dressing up as characters and stepping out of reality. The creativity in the haunted house industry in New Hampshire is unbelievable.” 

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