Courtesy of Haunted Forest of Maple Valley
The bottom line
The Haunted Forest of Maple Valley is a fun twist on a traditional haunted house. Instead of entering a big building, you walk a mile-long, dimly lit trail through a forest. Along the way, you encounter monsters and other characters, plus themed attractions such as a spooky bridal shop, a twisted fairy tale, a maze and more. A daytime walk along the same trail is the unscary option.
Located in Maple Valley's Royal Arch Park, the Haunted Forest offers both the main attraction (Friday and Saturday nights) and a daylight Family Walk (Saturdays). The evening walk is a much scarier experience and it's not recommended for kids under the age of 10.
The Haunted Forest is put on by Haunted, a nonprofit which exists for the "soul" purpose of giving back to the community, with money raised going to benefit local youth organizations. Many volunteers, ages 12 and older, make the Haunted Forest happen — and provide the frights.
Family walk: more light, less fright
The family walk is just as advertised: more light and less fright. We walked along a trail that winds through a forest. In daylight, this wasn’t creepy at all and the characters we encountered were all nice, reassuring us often that they wouldn’t jump out at the kids and scare them.
There are multiple houses and scenes, such as a zombie kitchen, a fun house with scary clowns and a train station. At the fun house, two characters warned our kids that there were creepy clown dolls inside and offered to walk the kids through. The props I saw that might scare some kids were bloody doll parts, bloody handprints and fake intestines and brains in the zombie area. In the daylight, everything is clearly fake.
If your kids are scared of clowns, just skip the fun house. It’s easy to pass by what your child doesn’t want to see, which is a nice perk compared with haunted houses indoors where the only way out is through. The two 11-year-old boys we took weren’t scared at all and we saw plenty of elementary-age kids enjoying the walk with their parents. Friends told me that their kids enjoyed the Family Walk up through about age 7 or 8.
Haunted Forest: the real deal
After attending the friendly, daytime family walk, the evening Haunted Forest experience was totally different. Its tagline on the website is "All hell breaks loose." It was foggy the night we attended, adding to the eeriness of wandering through the old-growth forest. The trail was minimally lit with tiki lights and bulbs, making it spooky even before the monsters came out!
I found the sets well done and they looked completely different in the dark due to glowing paint and lighting effects. The characters interacted with us often, adding to the story. The actors aren’t allowed to touch patrons, but they followed us, made scary noises and jumped out at us plenty.
The themes and sets for the Haunted Forest are different each year. We experienced twisted fairy tales, train depot and fun house sets that were especially amazing and fun to look at while bracing for the next scare. My husband and I took about 45 minutes to walk through, but our teens got through in half that time, which is more typical.
Before and after the walk, visitors can enjoy an area near the entrance which had rock music playing and picnic tables for hanging out. There is also a Snack Shack that sells hot dogs and other food and drinks. Forest Fairy Bakery sells pastries and another booth offered essentials such as rain ponchos, glow sticks and hand warmers.
My 15-year-old really enjoyed the Haunted Forest but said she wasn’t scared at all, while my college-age daughter was screaming the whole time: Proof that it really depends on the kid. But both said that they had fun and would go back. My recommendation is that this is a fun outing for teens and tweens who can handle a few scares. The family walk is great for kids under age 10 or sensitive older kids.
If you go...
When: The Family Walk takes place Saturdays, Oct. 12, 19 and 26, 5–6 p.m. The Haunted Forest "All Hell Breaks Loose" experience is offered Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 11–26, 7–11 p.m.
Cost: Purchase tickets at the entrance or online. The Family Walk is $5 per person; ages 2 and younger free; Haunted Forest $15 per person or $10 with military ID. Special "RIP" pass for $25 gets you to the front of the line.
Parking: Free, with attendants to direct you.
Warnings: Like other haunted house attractions, this is not recommended for those with strobe light sensitivity, medical conditions, etc.; check the full list of cautions on the website.
Food and drink: The Snack Shack near the entrance sells hot dogs, drinks and other snacks. The Forest Fairy Bakery offers pastries, such as Spider Bread and Halloween cookies. You can also purchase glow sticks, rain ponchos, hand warmers and other items. Cash and cards accepted.
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