TERRORTORIUM

OXFORD, ALABAMA

ARTICLE BY: RAYMOND & KENDRA

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The Terrortorium and Amusements is a haunted attraction you won’t want to miss. Conveniently located just off I-20, between Atlanta and Birmingham, this hidden gem of Oxford, Alabama, is owned and operated by Jeremy Cruse, who has been creating Halloween attractions such as Terror at Main Street and Terror at the Old Oxford Train Depot since 1996. Founded in the early 1850’s, Oxford is one of two principal cities of the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan statistical area. It is the largest city in Calhoun County by population. Oxford, nicknamed “Crossroads to the Future,” is a prosperous city with a population of 22,069 (census 2020) that more than doubled in population between 1990 (9,362) and 2010 (21,348). Nestled within Oxford’s historic district, located at 25 West Choccolocco Street, is a treasure that even many of the locals still aren’t aware of: The Terrortorium and Amusements. In 2010, Jeremy made a lifelong childhood dream come true when he opened the Terrortorium and Amusements. He had always dreamed of having his own Ferris Wheel, and in bringing that dream to reality, he has now brought happiness and enjoyment to countless guests. He has created a wholesome, fun attraction for the entire family, from those who want the extreme thrill of a first-rate haunted house to the child-friendly amusements of the Ferris Wheel. Jeremy doesn’t want his attraction to be seen as promoting “evil” during the Halloween season. He says he has been blessed with the Terrortorium and Amusements and his amazing crew, who have been loyal to keeping his attractions full of attendants and actors at a time when staffing is a universal difficulty for most. You’re missing out if you don’t put this attraction on your must-visit list.

When you first arrive at the Terrortorium and Amusements, you will see the “Big Eli” Ferris Wheel that towers and stands watch over a building you won’t see from the street. It already seems mysterious and magical that the immense size of such an attraction could be hidden behind the small historical buildings. You will quickly notice the other amusements as you approach, such as the Bullet that spins you upside-down as high as the Ferris Wheel, for the thrill seeker in you. Before getting close enough to make out more of the scenery, you will be greeted with a familiar smell of every amusement park: the smell of funnel cakes at the concession stand, a wonderful aroma that will hasten the pace of even the feeblest guests. Once you break past the last line of cars, you will instantaneously be standing in the center of the midway. At first, everything will be overwhelming.

We watched as other guests arrived, having the same experience, all stopping as they stepped in, pivoting in circles, trying to digest all of the enchanting décor flooding their senses. Arriving shortly before nightfall, we were lucky to witness the transition from a daytime amusement park to an eerie Halloween attraction. As the sun set, green lights began illuminating skeletons while a flood of red lights poured through the eyes of the giant skull attached to the Ferris Wheel. A glowing misty cauldron caught our eye. This is where they mix the delicious “Witches Brew,” a fruity and refreshing must-try drink.

After spending at least a solid half hour taking photos, we were the first of the season to ride the best attraction, not only at the Terrortorium, but in the state, in Raymond’s opinion: The Haunted Castle Ride. This ride is the very definition of nostalgia! That is the word that everyone who has ever mentioned the ride has used to describe it, harking back to the earliest days of the great Halloween scare houses. The Haunted Castle Ride first opened in the spring of 1965 at the Miracle Strip amusement park at Panama City Beach. There’s no doubt anyone taking their first date there could be well past their 40th anniversary by now. Sadly, on September 5, 2004, Miracle Strip closed its gates for the last time. Five years later, almost to the day, September 9, 2009, Jeremy bought the Haunted Castle Ride just one year before opening the Terrortorium and Amusements in Oxford.

As we first approached the line to the Haunted Castle, we and our fellow riders were met by the park’s owner, Jeremy, who was dressed in a tattered suit and ghoulish makeup. He serves as the MC for the Haunted Castle Ride and Terrortorium Haunted House, still finding time to greet and interact with every guest entering these attractions. His passion for the Terrortorium is evident through the devotion he puts into his acting. The queue line area is reminiscent of your favorite Halloween party, with the best playlist of Halloween music you will hear anywhere. There are green and red LED lights flashing everywhere, and an amazing disco ball with a huge spider on it in the center of the room. It’s one of the most enjoyable pre-ride waiting areas we have ever seen.

We were ushered in to take a seat in a small metal antique car that only seats two, which countless people have ridden before us. After a short safety briefing warning us to keep all extremities inside if we want to keep them, the car immediately crashed through two large wooden doors. Those who have ridden these antique amusement rides will immediately recognize the whirring sound of the motors pulling the little car along. As the ride circles aimlessly from one corridor to the next, you will notice that they have kept this ride’s décor true to its roots. You won’t see a single live-scare actor in here, but that’s exactly how these original amusement haunts were designed. As you ride along, in awe of being transported to the scare rides of earlier times, a few of the more intense scenes may make you hesitate, at least for a moment. While this ride is by no means short, it will be over far too soon for those who can appreciate it the most. As we climbed out of the ride car, and while walking back towards the park, neither of us could contain our excitement for the next attraction: the Terrortorium Haunted House.

This was not our first visit to the Terrortorium, and we were eager to find out which portions had been updated or changed. We circle around the queue line, already having only two groups ahead of us. As we get to the front, Jeremy enters through a coffin-shaped door and invites us closer before retreating through the same door he entered. WHACK!

The small window violently opens and he grins through the window, giving you the Jack Nicholson “Here’s Johnny!” smile.

In the first room, you’ll receive an introduction to what is about to unfold. We were stunned at the incredible attention to detail for each element in the room. With its bold innuendo and eerie foreshadowing, this opening scene fed us the first hints of a storyline that continued throughout the haunt.

As we were released from the first room, the tension built up as we slowly navigated our way through the tight, disorienting corridors that wind their way through the haunt. The Terrortorium staff does a great job of adding many new rooms and elements from year to year.

The scenes were impressive. Each room’s actors, setting, and design were well-integrated and coordinated. The actor’s timing was impeccable. There were parts where the “old haunt” false sense of security came into play – areas one could easily conclude were safe, only to be startled when a character seemingly appears from nowhere. This isn’t a haunt you’ll want to let your guard down in. One of this year’s additions is so unique that it seems to defy the laws of gravity—that alone was worth our visit.

It was refreshing to see no unnecessary, or ill placed, ear-piercing screams. There also was not an over-saturation of some of the more common characters we seem to see at a lot of other haunts. There were a few rooms that we remembered, ones that have weathered the test of time and seem to work in ways that makes us look forward to seeing them every year. The Terrortorium Haunted House has a unique and original take on what a haunted house should be, and we enjoy that.

For the first time ever, we rode the Terror Tour stagecoach, as well. They had two, and we rode them both. The first was a classic, enclosed stagecoach, covered with very comfortable seats, which took us on a leisurely tour through historic downtown Oxford, almost to the mall. It went farther than either of us thought it would. Spooky music played for the duration of the ride, and we loved the eerie vibe and the entire experience. When we got back, we decided to ride the other stagecoach. The driver described it as an open-faced coach. Let me tell you, Kendra thought it was terrifying. Getting on it was a trip. Kendra had to climb onto the tire to get to the seat. She immediately noticed it rocked from side to side. After quickly buckling her seatbelt, Kendra screamed and clenched the seat handles as the coach took off, shifting wildly from side to side. During the ride, the coach kept shifting more to the left. She panicked and screamed, “Stop leaning!” thinking Raymond was intentionally making it lean. Because who wants to fall over while moving? Not her! She survived the ride, but she’s not sure she would ride it again. It made her a nervous wreck, even worse than the haunted house itself.

We were excited and honored to be able to write an article on the Terrortorium and Amusements. This is an attraction we look forward to visiting every year. The haunted house here is proudly rated as Kendra’s number 1 favorite conventional (no touch) haunt. She says it has everything she wants to see in a haunt and none of the things she doesn’t want to see. The Haunted Castle Ride is Raymond’s number 1 favorite. He is touched by the history and nostalgia of the ride. We are happy to live in Calhoun County and have the Terrortorium and Amusements as one of our local home Halloween attractions. We would both like to thank Jeremy Cruse for being such an amazing host. We will definitely see you next year, and many years to come.

The attraction is also open (without the haunted house) every Friday and Saturday in December for Santa’s Wonderland Lights and Amusements, and for the 4th of July.

The Terrortorium is open to the public now through Halloween night (schedule below).

Now through October 23rd Thurs: 7-10pm Fri-Sat: 7-11pm October 24th-31st All weeknights: 7-10pm All weekends: 7-11pm

Admission cost: Terrortorium: $15 Haunted Castle Ride: $7 Stagecoach, Ferris Wheel, The Bullet, and Spaceball 2000 Gyro: $5 each Combo discounts are available.

Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, contact (256) 239-3483.

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