Editor's note: A note on the Nightmare Plantation Web site says that the Sept. 27 opening was delayed a week "In order to keep our participants as safe as possible ..." The attraction will open Oct. 4. The story has been updated.
Cheryl Carswell and Phillip Stockard are determined to make all of your nightmares come true.
Have you had that dream where everything is upside down? At Nightmare Plantation, you can relive it.
Everything one can think of to fear is there, from ferocious animals to clowns.
The haunted attraction at 1110 Dodge Lane in Grovetown opens Thursday, Oct. 4, for its third year, and has a few new surprises in store. Mainly, animatronics will be added to the spooky mix.
A guest might be able to anticipate an actor’s moves, but “if you see a 16-foot bat coming out of the ceiling, you’re not going to expect that,” Carswell said.
Carswell did not want to reveal too many details – she wants you to come see for yourself – but she did say some of the buildings, like the Rules House, have been completely redone.
If you’re lucky, maybe one of the real spirits said to haunt the plantation will make their appearance.
Carswell, who has owned the plantation for 30 years, said she has experienced a lot of things that could make her plantation the perfect haunt.
For one thing, there was a supposed suicide in the barn, where much of the haunted attraction takes place.
There is one room in the center of the barn that was once used as an office. Her son used to chop wood nearby and would often tell her he felt a presence in that room. She said even while setting up for Nightmare Plantation, many people won’t go into that room.
“Actors would tell me they would see creatures and things in the rafters,” she said.
And it’s right in the center of the haunted attraction.
“It’s the perfect place for a Halloween haunt,” Carswell said.
She said she and her family have, at different times, seen an apparition of a woman around the property, especially under a 140-year-old live oak.
A team from Roswell Georgia Paranormal Investigations spent the evening on the plantation Saturday night gathering information. They spent time in the main house (which is Carswell’s home and not open to visitors), the slave quarters and at the live oak.
She said she won’t know the outcome of the investigation for a few weeks, until after the team has had time to review the data collected. But she said there have been a lot of deaths on the plantation, including her own children – her son died of a brain tumor and her daughter of cancer.
“There’s a lot of reason why there would be spirits hanging around,” she said.
Live people are much scarier than dead ones, and many of this year’s volunteers know that firsthand. Soldiers from Fort Gordon will volunteer at the haunted attraction and will serve as actors, parking attendants, crowd control and troubleshooters.
“It connects them with the community,” Carswell said. “We need to support Fort Gordon. We need to let them know they’re welcome here.”
All of the net profits will be donated to Channeled Paths, a nonprofit owned by Carswell and Stockard that provides free counseling to at-risk youth, and to the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project.
Nightmare Plantation will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday from Sept. 27 until Nov. 3 and on Halloween, which is on a Wednesday this year. Tickets are $20 Thursday through Saturday and $15 on Sunday. Learn more at nightmareplantation.net.