Devil's Playground: Unity business constructs pathway for scare seekers
UNITY — After the scare-hungry visit Devil’s Playground, they often leave with wet pants and a wide grin. The haunted walk through the woods of Unity is a scare-fest in every sense, and owners Bruce Clough and Bruce Adams don’t hold anything back.
Now in its fourth year of operation, Devil’s Playground at 897 2nd New Hampshire Turnpike in Unity, just across the street from the town common, is gearing up for another busy Halloween season. And this year, with the addition of a brand new haunted maze, there are even more ways for brave customers to test their limits.
“It’s kind of like a fungus,” Clough said. “It grows every year. The length of the path stays the same, but we keep adding stuff.”
It works like this: customers generally separate into groups of six to eight people and embark through the dizzying passages of Devil’s Playground’s night-time adventure. From start to finish, groups are guided along 3,000 feet of walkways through the maze and into the woods.
The occasional root and uneven ground far from detract from the experience though. Coupled with the low-hanging spider webs and scares from all sides, just walking the route is a physical experience sure to get the blood flowing.
“It’s a haunt. If you’re a little bit queasy or if you’re afraid of the dark, you definitely want to stay home,” Clough said.
For just about everyone else, the buckets of fake blood and, sometimes, not as fake bones surrounding the pathway are a highlight of the attraction. And the owners don’t pull any punches either — from animatronic babies, clowns and even a bear, there’s a little something to get under anyone’s skin.
Unlike other similar attractions, with a rotating cast of volunteers and scare-stations that change from week to week, every walk through is new and exciting. And while Devil’s Playground isn’t the largest attraction of its kind in New England, its reputation precedes it — every year, for instance, the Dartmouth College Women’s Soccer Team visits.
“Every weekend we make a few minor changes,” Adams said. “We have people who come every weekend, so we’ll move an actor. They’ll say, ‘I know what’s coming next’ but we move that person.”
Above all else, there’s a sense that Clough and Adams genuinely enjoy the work they do. After all, they’ve learned a lot about people in a short time through operating the attraction. The two have amassed an encyclopedic number of stories about guests who ran right out of their shoes, those who wet their pants and wore it as a badge-of-honor and even the most masculine men using their girlfriends as shields.
“We don’t do a lot of jumping out and screaming in peoples’ ears,” Clough said. “We just step out of the dark and we don’t say anything… it freaks people out.”
The haunted house and maze portion of the attraction opened on Wednesday, but Friday was the first day that the full pathway was open. The house and maze are open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m. until Oct. 26, and the full haunted house, maze and walk are open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 10 p.m. until Oct. 28 and on Oct. 31. Tickets for the house and maze cost $5 for adults and $2.50 for children under 12. Tickets for the full attraction cost $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.