Some scenarios are only scary because the way they are portrayed in fictional work is way creepier than it could ever be in real life. We know a clown won’t chase us home from an amusement park because his nose was stolen and then write his initials on pudding in our fridge. So, why does a thought like that still haunt you every time you eat the mushy dessert? Why does it take you to a dark place with strange flashbacks based on a TV show you saw twenty years ago? What if that spooky fun house at the park really existed?
A refresher clip on the whole Zeebo the Clown situation.
Well, my nightmares recently went from being based on an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? to full on replacement by the real deal. At Indiana Beach amusement park in… well, Indiana, there is an up-charge attraction known as Dr. Frankenstein’s Haunted Castle. Crammed in between roller coasters, water slides, and carnival games on a tiny peninsula, the castle really sticks out in the park. At an extra fee of $3.50, few dare to enter the darkened corridor where deadly screams waft in the air. Being an adventurous couple, the dame and I had to know what was behind those faux-brick walls.
Every good walk through attraction starts with someone mumbling about curses and mysterious goings-on and this one did not disappoint. A tour guide took us through the first room, pointed at a door, and ditched us. We were the only ones who entered the castle in our group, so we didn’t encounter anyone else along the way. Screams from other visitors could occasionally be heard through walls covered in spider webs and black light paintings which added to the allure of old Frank’s humble abode. The first half of the castle was pretty much what you’d expect: dark rooms, simple puzzles to solve, robots that made buzzing sounds, and strobe lights. Once we stumbled down some stairs in complete darkness and fumbled around for a door, we came to the part that still gives me the willies: The Zeebo Room.
That’s right, the room of doors from “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark” basically exists outside of television. Actually, this scene had an extra edge of gloom because there was no bright paint on the doors. It was simply ancient wooden, warped doors lining the walls in a circular room. Once we were in, we couldn’t even tell which one we had entered. Since no one else was in sight to help lead our way, I just kept hearing the phrase in my head “Pick the right door and you’ll go free; pick the wrong door and there he’ll be.”
Horrified by the thought of a cigar smoking clown jumping out at us, we slowly opened each door. Beyond some, there was no path, only brick. Others were dark, narrow tunnels that we crawled through just to come out another door in the main room. When it came time to try the final path, I took a deep breath and braced myself for a puff of cigar smoke in my face.
Luckily, it never happened. There was no clown and we quickly scurried on toward a torture chamber full of rats, which seemed like a much better alternative at the time.
Before visiting Dr. Frankenstein’s Haunted Castle, Laughing in the Dark seemed like a generic non-existant fun house to me. Now, the episode has context; it feels real. What was once a laughable concept suddenly seems as if it could just as easily have happened to me.
Overall, Indiana Beach was one of the best parks I’ve visited. Their shore front, roller coasters, and unique attractions made for a pretty memorable experience. In fact, I’ll never forget the day I braced myself to look Zeebo in the eye, contemplating if I’d go through with taking the nose.
The real room of doors is not as colorful.
Do you think you would be brave enough to enter Dr. Frankenstein’s Haunted Castle? Does Zeebo still haunt you? Share with us below!