The black heart of terror is beating a strong tattoo in Boca Raton this October as the Enigma Haunt opens its doors to welcome guests and victims alike for a fourth horror-filled Halloween season.
“We like to attack the senses,” said Ivonne Perez, the director of public relations for the haunt.
The assault to your senses comes on all fronts: from sensory deprivation to in-your-face actors and in-your-nose smells, everything in Enigma is designed to overwhelm and overcome even the bravest soul.
This year two new portals to evil have opened in the over 17,000 square feet that comprise Enigma.
The maze is one part sensory deprivation and two parts pure depravity as you attempt to navigate the haunt with only your sense of touch. It can take up to 45 minutes to get through, longer still if you are not wary of those three red glowing eyes in the darkness, just behind you. Or perhaps just up ahead.
The thick darkness eventually releases its hold on you and you find yourself heading a up a flight of stairs. It is here that the terrifying apparition Amara—a fearsome creature borne from Egyptian myth and legend—has torn apart time and space to create the Realms of Terror.
From ancient Egypt to a clown-fueled apocalypse, the realms offer something for every genre fan.
Of particular note was the Gory Hole, where the meat just can’t be beat.
It is here that one can come face to face with another of the haunt’s more fearsome residents, Jedidiah Slaughter, the Gory Hole’s butcher. His deep booming voice and homicidal nature is more than enough to get your party moving.
“Fresh meat, move along now! Fear makes you all taste better,” shouts the Butcher as he chases you from his realm to the next.
The interesting thing about these realms is that there is a clear entrance and exit to them. You move seamlessly from one dimension to the next.
This is definitely a haunt worth visiting.
And now for the particulars:
Enigma is family owned and operated and was opened by Billy and Karen Groeneveld four years ago. Enigma actually got its start 16 years ago as a small home haunt whose evil and malignancy swelled to proportions far too large for Billy and Karen to keep under wraps.
“The haunt kept getting bigger each year,” said Billy. “It was out of control. I was drilling into bannisters in the house, we had actors and there was a lot of set-up and tear-down for just a weekend. We talked about it and decided to make a go of it.”
The haunt, clearly a labor of love for the Groenevelds, features 60 actors and over six haunted stations. The makeups for each actor take about 15 minutes and are created using state-of-the-art applications said Makeup Coordinator Milene Miranda.
Miranda works for the haunt throughout the year, but also works on commercials, beauty make-ups and independent films. She is responsible for the make-up design, all the prosthetics for the actors and she crafted many of the masks that actors wear this year.
“We sit in a round table and we’ll discuss with the owners [Billy and Karen Groeneveld] what changes are being made and what the characters should look like and I go from there,” said Miranda. The discussions and work on the haunts for next year begin in March and continue until September when the haunts and their designs are finalized.
Many of the actors have been with the haunt since it opened. They are lawyers, paramedics, firefighters, nurses and teachers by day, and horrifying weekend monsters in the month of October.
“Halloween is my favorite holiday, my family is all into it. We used to have the neighborhood haunted house. I used to run after kids with chainsaws,” said Actor Coordinator Dave Gricius. “It takes you out of your element and puts you in a zone you never knew you had.”
As Actor Coordinator, Gricius was also involved in the process of creating the haunts and the characters within.
Some parents reading this may be concerned about safety while reading this.
With greatness comes responsibility, and the Groenevelds take theirs seriously. Everything in the haunt is fire treated and the safety features are state of the art.
“At the first hint of trouble, all the lights come on and our actors will guide patrons to safety,” said Billy.
The Groenevelds have also promoted Paul Lucas, a paramedic by day, to Safety Operations Coordinator this year.
“Safety is very important,” said Lucas. “My job is to maintain and guarantee that safety is maintained.”
Lucas and his crew helped to design each and every haunt in such a way that people going through, though faced with the illusion of danger, will be perfectly safe.
It is also mandated by the Groenevelds that all actors and employees take a minimum of two safety training courses each year. They also provide all the actors with a closed loop walkie talkie system so that all actors and safety staff are in constant communication at all times.
In short, one would be hard pressed to find a more terrifying, or safer, haunt. Definitely worth a trip to Boca Raton.Between Enigma and Fright Nights at the Fairgrounds, it is an exciting time to be a haunted house enthusiast living in South Florida.
Enigma Haunt is located at 21069 S. Military Trail in Boca Raton.
Admission is $20 for either haunt or $30 for both. We can recommend spending an extra $15 though and upgrading to the RIP package for $45.
A portion of all ticket sales goes to aid the Wounded Warriors Project.