Sometimes you have to travel outside of the theme park grid in Central Florida to find hidden gems. One of these is the new experience called The Beast of Blackwood from Make Real (under the umbrella group of Dangerously Creative). If you like Escape Rooms and Haunt Experiences, this is the experience is for you! We were invited to their Media Event and have nothing but great things to say.
The story takes you back to 1986 in a fictional location called Blackwood State Park. Supposedly, there are rumors going around about a Beast that lives inside the woods. “No one else knows exactly where the Beast came from. Legend has it - a group of scientists created it, trying to create a new type of human being- part man, part….something else.” This so called “Beast” interests a group of kids to go into the woods and investigate the legend…as part of a camping trip. “They say the Beast comes out on nights just like this…preying on any poor souls lost inside the park.” As you can guess, they go missing.
Now, it’s your turn to venture into Blackwood State Park to find them!
So What Can You Expect From This Experience?
The best way I can describe the experience is how Alexis Santos, the owner of Make Real, described it to me. Santos has designed many types of Escape Rooms but wanted to venture “outside the walls” of the normal concept and create a truly immersive experience. This is exactly what they achieve with The Beast of Blackwood. You aren’t boxed in and this is not your stereotypical escape game. You are in nature with all the elements, trying to solve a puzzle and find the missing kids.
Will you encounter the Beast and unravel the mystery? You will have to find out.
In addition, this experience ventures outside Escape Rooms by having live actors. This is where the Escape Room fuses with a Haunt Experience. No, these are not scareactors jumping out in the woods. These are “campers” that are part of the story you experience. They interact with each other and your group throughout the whole experience. They guide you around the woods, but keep an eye on where they go and which of them to trust. Listen to their conversations and interact with them. In talking with the show director, Sam Fraser, he stated that the actors play upon each groups dynamics. So, in essence, even though the story remains the same, you could get a slightly different experience with the actors interaction with the group. And they definitely know how to improvise! I cannot stress how much these actors make the experience - they are the stars of the show! FYI- There are other “actors” in the forest as well, but I’ll keep that a secret!
As far as technology and design, The Beast of Blackwood uses the eerie forest as much of the backdrop. That setting in itself sets the stage for the creepy vibe. But there are plenty of “props” and “sets” scattered around, and they are all part of the experience (as well as being true to the ’80s). You will also see and hear various things throughout your adventure as well, using the technology they installed in the forest - it’s minimal, but works! It’s also interesting to note that the flashlights used have their own tech. As Santos described it to me, they interact with environment and the actors, assisting with the flow of the story.
The entirety of the experience lasts about an hour. Approximately 45 minutes of that experience is entirely in the woods and pitch black. The actors/group carry the flashlights through the forest, but that is the only source of light besides some thematic sets. If you’re not a fan of being in nature, being in dark conditions, or getting a little dirty, this is not the experience for you. However, if you want an immersive experience in a real life environment, go on the adventure! As the event states, wear long pants and closed toed shoes (particularly boots if you have them). They also encourage you to wear your best ’80s attire!
For the preview I attended, we unfortunately had a very rainy and lightning filled evening in the woods. Although I loved the extra level of theming/thrill the weather created, the walkways became very muddy and wet. The owners are looking at purchasing rain gear/shoe coverings for inclement weather.
I’m a huge fan of intimate and immersive experiences, so this was right up my alley. I strongly suggest the event for anyone who wants to step outside the corporate haunt events like Halloween Horror Nights and experience something more personal. They have a great team and the event is very different than most I have experienced. It’s creatively executed and the story is intriguing - it’s creepy, fun, and campy. For this alone, they deserve five stars. Keep in mind - this is not a “jump in your face” scary experience, but it plays with your mind instead.
They did a great job and look forward to more from this group (yes, they want to do more themed events throughout the year if this is successful ?). Grab a group of friends and go have fun!
For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit Make Real. The tickets also include free s’mores before trekking into the forest. As a bonus to our fans, enter Promo Code parkpass to SAVE $5.00 on each ticket! Reservations are selling fast, so make sure to book today!
The experience kicks off on Friday, September 8th and runs currently through the end of October. They accept group sizes from 1-2 people up to 8. The location is a secret, but it’s about 30 minutes from the attractions area.
You can also follow their Facebook Page for the latest news and updates.