Frightful Fun: Nightmare case haunts West Texas with scary attractions

In the calm of the night, you can hear the screams of the people who dared to enter Nightmare on 19th Street.

During October, Nightmare on 19th Street opens their doors to scare the Lubbock community. What everyone doesn’t see is the hard work that goes into making the attraction successful.

Nightmare is more than just a haunted attraction. It’s a family. Every one who is part of Nightmare plays an important role. The teams make sure that the attraction runs smoothly.

Located at 602 East 19th Street in Lubbock, Nightmare on 19th Street is known as West Texas’ only Halloween theme park and features four themed attractions, including its newest attraction, Dead Doll Island. The park also features Blood Moon Manor, The Wastelands, and Clowntown.

Open on Fridays and Saturdays, from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., the park offers wristband entrance for a fee of $25, as well as on Halloween night from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The fee, which can be paid with a credit or debit card, pays for your entrance into all four attractions.

The build crew is what keeps Nightmare functioning, running properly and safe for the patrons. The crew consists of Ana Chavira, Michael Morrell, John Vega, Wes Nessman, John Adams, Lynn Day, Stephen Kelley and Bobby Beach.

IMG_0063All are volunteers who like to be a part of the changes that are made to Nightmare. They all get to come up with ideas and discuss how they think a scene or the attraction should look according to the theme.

“Usually, to change an attraction it can take anywhere from a few weeks depending on what exactly we are doing,” and Chavira

Building season starts as soon as the haunt season is over on Nov.1 and goes until Sept. 28 the following year. They are constantly working on the attractions, solving issues, and adding attractions throughout the haunt season to make sure they are prepared for a new season of haunting.

The hardest part for Chavira was moving the big pirate ship that was in the Lost City outside to the front of the new attraction, Dead Doll Island.

In addition to the build team, there is the makeup and costume team that keeps the actors looking their scary best.

The makeup team consists of Ro Sergio, Renee Raven, Lan Holms, Sara Ward, Vanessa Duran and Jessie Whitecloud.

“We get new supplies every season,” said Sergio. “We try to brainstorm what the characters will look like, especially when we get a new attraction. I try to work with the actor to come up with a look for their characters.”

The newest costume coordinator is Zana Flores, who has made changes to the costume trailer and keeps it running smoothly. She also hopes to help actors who want to create their own characters.

The biggest part of Nightmare is the actor IMG_0050coordinators and the actors. There are four coordinators, Stephen Kelley for Bloodmoon Manor, Matt Aguilar for Wastelands, Robin Burkett for Dead Doll Island and Drew Blood for Clowntown.

The actor coordinators take care of the actors in their attraction, and they make sure that the attraction is running smoothly for the season. Each coordinator walks through their attraction to do their safety check each night.

Not only do they make sure everything is running properly, they walk through the attraction during the night to make sure the actors have water and cough drops, and that they are doing OK.

“They main thing I try to do to get ready for the season is helping the actors get ready, help them be the best they can or improve their acting skills,” said Kelley.

Kelley also makes sure that the Manor looks and runs smoothly for opening nights. If he has the time, he works on improving his own character.

Nightmare’s undead beating heart are the actors who participate each season. There are anywhere from 70 to 150 actors a night. They have a big part in making Nightmare what it is today.

The actors all prepare differently, depending on the attraction they are in or their character. There can be victims, murders or something your wildest dreams couldn’t imagine.

Every actor takes the time to come up with their character, the backstory, how they look, how they act and talk. It’s the actors chance to be someone else when they step foot on the ground at Nightmare.

One character is Dr. PARTson, also known as The Collector, played by Dylan Avant. The Collector is a very prim and proper man from the front. But inside, he harbors something much darker and more twisted, a real psychopath who knows what he wants.

“I usually prepare for the season by imagining my scene and different scenarios of different patrons and ask myself questions,” said Avant. “What would I say? How would I act? How would they react? What could I use in my scene to make it become more lively? Would it fit my scene? It usually doesn’t take until I put on the makeup and costume.”

IMG_0042-2.jpgFor Avant, the character has always been there, but his identity has always shifted and changed. After finding his outfit and voice, all it took was connecting that with a proper personality and motives.

Another actor is Zoei Huntsman, also known as Bloody Mary. In order for Huntsman to prepare for Bloody Mary, she must rest her voice and stretch so that she can yell, sing, and be flexible for her act.

Huntsman’s character was actually not her idea. She got the opportunity to try out the room that is now known as the Bloody Mary room for one night, and it stuck,. She told the makeup artists what the setting of the room was, and from that, they tossed around ideas until the idea of Bloody Mary came up. Ever since, that has been Huntsman. Bloody Mary is full of hatred toward her victims. Huntsman says she based her character’s personality off of the true historical character of Bloody Mary.

“Often, on my way to Nightmare, and right before we open, I practice singing my chants,” said Hutsman. “As soon as I get into costume, I’m not Zoei any more; I’m the infamous Bloody Mary, ready to rip heads off.”

For Huntsman to get fully into character, she must suit up in her raggedy, ripped, bloody dress and tights, her leather corset, and well padded shoes (since she jumps, runs, and is acrobatic in her act). Then she gives herself the trademark bloody and black tears and makeup to make her face look empty, dead, and hollow.

“As soon as my makeup and costume is on, I’m Bloody Mary,” explained Hutsman. “I hardly get out of character, and I’m ready to hear the blood curdling screams that is music to my ears. True, evil, crazy person in history.”

Sally Boudreaux prepares all year for her character as a hippy clown named Grooves. Grooves loves being a clown and loves to entertain the crowds.

There are so many more characters that make Nightmare scary. Nightmare isn’t just a haunted attraction. It’s a family that works together. It is the Undead Army, and they are always there for each other.

So if a scare is what you look for on Halloween, check out Nightmare on 19th street on Halloween night and prepare to scream your lungs off.

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