By Amanda Dyslin
---- — Broken down, abandoned cars are tipped on their sides and strewn at random around a large gravel lot. Hay bales are blocking the way of a quick escape.
And then you see the first one — an undead. A gray, soulless zombie headed your way. Then they're everywhere. Crawling out of cars and shadows.
You scream. Everyone around you screams.
And all of this happens before you enter Raven's Nightmare haunted attraction.
“Oh no, I won't go in (when it's open),” said Amy Schmidt, one of the seven Schmidt family members who have been working for weeks to create the haunt on the Affordable Towing site in Mankato.
Allen and Amy Schmidt bought all the goods from the Dark Shadows Mansion before it ended its run behind Drummers Garden Center and Floral. After careful planning and the purchase of extra goodies, Allen's vision has come to fruition.
“It's been a childhood dream to own a haunt,” said Allen, whose family also owns a photography business and a DJ and sound business.
Amy was a tiny bit hesitant at first, what with five children and numerous jobs and responsibilities already between the two of them. But she came around.
“It was a little overwhelming at first,” she said. “But I could see the dream, and I could see the potential.”
“The potential” has turned into an elaborate, engaging, horrific maze of themed rooms, which Allen said absolutely has to remain a mystery until the patron enters the haunt. So the only details that can be disclosed are of the atmosphere outside the attraction.
In addition to “Zombie Alley,” Family Fun Shows will be setting up three carnival rides on the lot, which sits on Summit Avenue. There will also be food for sale and live bands performing.
“It'll be a carnival atmosphere,” Allen said.
The Schmidts said a part of the fun of starting up this new venture has been working together as a family. The couple's five children range in age from 11 to 22, and all have taken ownership of the haunt and put in many hours of work to get it up and going.
“It teaches work ethic,” Amy said.
In addition to the family working at the haunt, the Schmidts hired numerous people, some with an acting background, to work at the attraction. The couple gave the employees some leeway in coming up with their characters. Except ...
“'Boo' is not allowed. No 'boos,'” Allen said.
If You Go What: Raven's Nightmare haunted attraction When: 7-11 p.m. Oct. 4-5; Oct. 10-12; Oct. 17-19; Oct. 24-26; and Nov. 2. The haunt will not be open Halloween or Nov. 1. Where: Behind Affordable Towing at 600 Summit Ave., Mankato Tickets: $13 each, or VIP tickets are $26, which allow users to skip to the front of the line. Only 200 VIP tickets will be allowed nightly. VIP tickets go on sale today on the website. $2 off coupons are available at Hilltop HyVee and the Shell station on 3rd Avenue Info: ravensnightmare.com or search for Raven's Nightmare on Facebook