Signs announcing the arrival of the have been building suspense all spring at the former site of the , and the new haunted attraction opened this weekend with visitors waiting 45 minutes for a chance to take a look.
The attraction at 10th Street and Boardwalk is actually like a live version of a video shooter game. It tells the story of brothers Connor and Cletus, whose Ocean City shore shack has been taken over by a zombie apocalypse. Upon entering Zombie House, guests pay $10 per person and wait to be taken through the house by a tour guide.
Connor leads the group of at most eight people through the foyer of the house. A television plays the news announcing a zombie attack while a door bangs against the wall. While being led into the first hallway of the home, guests can see a bloody hand sticking out of a wall air vent. Guests then learn that Cletus was last seen killing the crawler, and then he disappeared.
Guests get guns which are used to score points by hitting targets that register a score. In the house, guests can see zombies clawing at windows, popping out of cans and more. Crawlers are under the floorboards which make the ground shake.
In the living room and dining room, guests can see that the zombies have torn apart the house. The living room is the only place where points are scored.
It takes 8 to 10 minutes to complete the course and scores are listed at the end.
The Zombie House uses three miles of wire to control animatronic figures and other features from a main switchboard and computer.
For three years, owner Mike Kroll put together the concept and looked for places to call home. When the Ocean City location became available, he knew it was the perfect place.
“There was something about Ocean City that we really liked," Kroll said. "The course is a scalable, so we bring it down for little kids. It can be very intense where we have teenagers screaming in the back, or we can make it very mild where kids feel like the hero.”
Kroll currently works for Spirit Halloween as a visual merchandise manager who relocated from Chicago to South Jersey. With an urge to work in attractions, Kroll knew this dream was something he could make a reality.
With movies like "28 Days Later," "Zombieland" and "Dawn of the Dead" being currently popular, Kroll saw it as the perfect move.
What brings guests returning every time is the score. Each time a new score can be added. Currently the high score is 38 points, and eventually a Hall of Fame will be created.
Others that help run the show are operations manager Thomas Waters, Blake Lewis and Nicholas Catucci.
“I hope we can inform as many people as we can on how to properly dispose of a zombie in a zombie apocalypse,” says Catucci of Franklinville, NJ. “I really like when I first introduce the characters to the guests and teach them zombie-handling techniques.
Guests entering the house will receive no refund if they choose to leave out of fear. The owners say the Zombie House is a "100 percent" safe attraction and in case of emergency the house lights go up, all the special effects shut off, and all live actors are trained with a specific exit route.
Ideally the attraction will change every year by adding and subtracting features. A future gift shop and photo opportunity will open up in the back at the former site of Cora’s Palm Reading.
“I got punched in the eye with a gun on the first night. I had scared a guest,” explains Waters. “We really put on a good show.“
The box office will open around 2 or 3 p.m. every day, and shows will run every 10 minutes. Shows begin at 5:30 p.m. and run until midnight. At maximum, the location can hold 49 people.
Right now the website is under construction, but Zombie House can be found on Facebook, where they will update nightly Zombie Slaying records.