SCHAGHTICOKE – Located in upper Rensselaer County is Spooky Island, a haunted, mysterious place located inside Schaghticoke Fairgrounds. This brand-new attraction in the Town of Schaghticoke will have visitors spooked and enchanted by its creepiness and horror, with scary creatures lurking around the grounds during October.
Spooky Island officially opened to visitors September 29. Additional operation hours were added in addition to the opening weekend. The attraction runs Thursday through Sunday, 4-11:30 p.m. through October 29.
Who was it created by?
Spooky Island was created by Schenectady resident Michael “Mikey” Guerra and Orlando, FL residents Claudia Verbaas (Art Director) and Dominic Zaworski (Creative Director). At a young age, Guerra went to Orlando, FL where he developed an interest in horror and filmmaking with a desire to bring his creepy nightmares to life.
Upon returning to his hometown, Guerra worked in the theme park industry in Orlando and helped create haunted houses in Central Florida. It was in Florida where he met and worked alongside Verbaas and Zaworski alongside other creative projects, including Spooky Island which the creators all call it their passion project.
“(Spooky Island), it’s a great movie quality stuff and the on-driven storytelling is what we like to call it.” Guerra said. “We’re very proud.”
Why was Spooky Island Created?
Verbaas and Zaworski have worked alongside Guerra and Tracy Christopher, media liaison for Spooky Island and event manager of the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds since January on bringing the project to its current site. Verbaas, Zaworski, and Guerra, who work in the theme park industry and had done some film projects together in Orlando, wanted to bring this new experience to New York State.
“When he (Dom) and I were visiting New York a few years ago, we thought that this is something that this area needs and then we’ve been working ever since figuring out how to do that.” Verbaas said. “We’re very lucky and happy to have this be what it is now, but it’s definitely been a long road to get here.”
It’s been a dream of the creators to bring Spooky Island to life and the idea to bring people together to experience an evening of horror and haunted houses with friends and family while creating lasting memories is something that they wanted to achieve for years, she added.
Dom added, “We felt like there was nothing like this in the area because there’s a lot of haunted attractions that you can go to but we wanted to be different. So we wanted to bring that.” Everyone can come to this , everyone can enjoy it but also you can come and get scared if you want.”
Visitors who attend Spooky Island can check out the haunted houses and dig deeper into its story lines or walk through its haunted streets and get scared by other Capital Region scare actors who are involved in the hauntings.
“We want everyone to start getting curious and realizing as you’re walking through the house that it’s telling you a story or walking through the streets that there’s something going on. That’s not just, oh, we’re scaring. These are actors and we’re trying to bring something to life.” Zaworski said.
Why Schaghticoke, NY?!
“Schaghticoke is considered to be a small town, so it’s like helping get the name out because you’d be surprised that some people in New York have never heard of this place but now they’re like, wait, where is it? And now they’re gonna start booking tickets to come here and bring business to this community.” Zaworski said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. Even though we’re not from this community, they’ve embraced us so well that we wanna try and give back as much as we can.”
Zaworski and Verbaas have solicited the assistance of local businesses to vendor at the vendor hall by selling oddities, crystals, candles, and other Halloween oddities. In addition, the creators had reached out to Schaghticoke businesses and area towns to purchase items needed for their displays such as pumpkins, corn stock, and items from area farms and antique shops.
“What’s cool about this location, as you’re driving to the Schaghticoke fairgrounds, the first thing you see is all the lights from the carnivals and stuff like that but you can also see the tips of the tents. So as people are coming in, it starts to get that curiosity, which I think is already happening as we’ve been building a lot.” Zaworski said.
Why Schaghticoke Fairgrounds?!
Verbaas and Zaworski formed a good relationship with Christopher who was a great asset for them to speak to about doing Spooky Island. The duo shopped it around to some different areas and after a while, felt that with the space and timing of the event that Schaghticoke Fairgrounds was the perfect place for them, Verbaas said.
“We really think that by starting this (Spooky Island) up, the community around here has been amazing at adopting it and embracing it so I’m definitely glad that we decided to do this where we did.” Claudia added.
What Will Spooky Island Include?
Visitors who purchase tickets to attend Spooky Island can anticipate seeing carnival rides and games, food vendors, craft vendors at the visitors hall, and live entertainment on the fairgrounds stage. In addition, there will also be two haunted houses, Tunnel of Blood and Spook-E-State and three scare zones, Tribe of Terror, The Upstate Ripper, and Disciples of Darkness. At the Disciples of Darkness Zone, visitors can take selfies with the town’s oldest ambulance that is now used as a prop for their fictional doctor, Dr. Damon’s sketchy looking surgery car, along with a hearse.
Visitors can also take selfies with various spooky decor on display throughout the island destinations and can tag their photos online on social media using the hashtag, #spookyislandny .
In addition to the craft vendors, visitors can also purchase Spooky Island souvenirs ranging from t-shirts, beanie hats, and hoodies.
Not too often, apart from the annual fair events, benefit tractor pulls, and other non-fair events, does Schaghticoke Fairgrounds have another festival on its grounds. Spooky Island will be the first festival post-Schaghticoke Fair to occur.
“When we were creating this event, we thought of what we would want. If we were to do something like this, what would we want to be there and everything that we thought of as benefits that we saw in other events.” Verbaas said. “We’ve been to a million haunts and we’ve pretty much taken notes from everything and thought of everything that we think would make a perfect night out.”
The Story of Spooky Island
“The story of Spooky Island goes that this tribe is basically in a place in time that doesn’t really exist. It’s not anything that you could really pinpoint intentionally. The tribe created these portals to other scary situations to put you in to harvest your fear. So they thought of all these things that are going on over here and brought all these creatures to Spooky Island to scare us.” Verbaas said.
How to Obtain Tickets/ Parental Advisory
Due to frightening moments throughout the event, some of the haunted houses and scare zones are not recommended for children aged 12 and under, parental discretion advised. It is also not recommended to those who have health impairments that could be affected by strobe lights and disorienting smells inside the haunted houses and scare zones.
Parking for Spooky Island is free and is located in the field in front of the fairgrounds’ grandstand. Extra parking is also available for all vendors, scare actors, and participants and is free for visitors. Tickets for Spooky Island can be either purchased online at www.spookyislandny.com .Ticket prices are $39.45 including a $4.45 fee via eventbrite.
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