ENCINITAS — A new historical fright fest is coming to the city with help from local favorites.
The San Dieguito Heritage Museum and Ovation Theatre, an award-winning studio and production company, will kickoff the duo’s first-ever Haunted Ghost Town production at Heritage Ranch the last two weekends in October.
Local actors tell the story of a bride, an evil son, and murderous mother-in-law — with local history featured among the spooky scenes. Walking through the Teten House, visitors will be led through this interactive play.
The story is inspired by the legend of Brigadoon, “a town that rises from the mist every year,” said Scott Gregory, who leads the Ovation Theatre with his wife, Pamela.
“In this case people want to try to find peace, redemption, or keep the people away so that they don’t find out what they did to cause the town to disappear,” Gregory said.
Festivities begin with a family-friendly (and less scary) events starting at 5:30 p.m. and the “horrifyingly frightening tours” being at 6:30 p.m.
At a time when the Ovation Theatre was practicing safe distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, the Heritage Museum allowed the performers to rehearse in the outdoor areas of the ranch at 450 Quail Gardens Drive.
Barb Grice, executive director of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, said the board wanted an event to reconnect with the public after COVID-19 — and they had the right place.
“This property kind of lends itself to being a haunted ghost town, with the old houses and the old buildings.” Grice said, and the spooky goal was created.
But the board needed a little help in execution.
During one practice, Kerry Witkin, a Heritage Museum board member and Ovation performer, suggested the organizations team up for a haunted house.
“It was 7:30 at night,” said Gregory, the co-executive and music director for Ovation Theatre, “I was looking around, and thought ‘Yeah, that’s super creepy, that would be fun.”
Gregory, who wrote the script for the augural Haunted Ghost Town, said that the company’s actors are currently getting lessons on how to cause a fright.
Keeping actors (most of which are students) safety in mind, the director explained that visitors will not be face-to-face with characters as may be found in haunted houses.
“I call this more of a haunt, not a scare,” Gregory said. “We have some scary moments, people jump out from behind things and that kind of stuff, but this is more of a fright kind of idea…. Because it’s really hard to get up close to people and make it work when it’s outdoors because there’s no place to hide necessarily.”
Grice also hopes to bring some new volunteers into the museum. As local school history tours are starting back up at San Dieguito Heritage Museum, Grice is excited to continue engaging with the public and making memories.
Volunteers are crucial to both the flow and character of the museum, Grice said. She recalled when a current teenage volunteer told her she was introduced to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum during a third-grade field trip. According to Grice, the young girl said the museum had made a strong impression on the class, inspiring her to volunteer.
“I just think that’s probably one of the coolest things is to know that you do make an impression up on these kids when they’re young,” Grice said. “Who knows who you might touch.”
The Haunted Ghost Town will run the weekends of Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 28-30. Tickets for adults are $20 and $10 for children. Proceeds will be split between the organizations and put back into their work.
Other Haunting Events:
Sinister Trails – Starting Sept. 30 until Halloween, residents can experience at the Wayne’s World Pumpkin Patch at 3615 Manchester Ave. in Encinitas. Tickets are $20 for the Haunt Pass and between $30 and $85 for the Groovy Palooza Festival held in tandem with the haunted trails on Oct. 22.
The Scream Zone – Thrill-seekers can venture into the “goriest, scariest, and screaming-est fright fests to be found in the dark corners of Southern California” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Tickets are $24.99, but selling out fast.
Carlsbad Strawberry Company’s corn mazes – The strawberry fields on 1050 Cannon Road welcome the return of a regular corn maze from now until Nov. 6. On Fridays and Saturdays in October, residents can visit the haunted corn maze for $25 per person.