Kersey Valley has become a must-visit attraction for many thrill seekers each autumn. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
ARCHDALE – While Kersey Valley’s Spooky Woods has grown to become more technical with special effects, owner Tony Wohlgemuth said he understands the grassroots nature of the themed venue.
Now the Archdale business has gained considerable national attention.
“This particular year, it got picked up a lot,” Wohlgemuth said of listings among the best haunted attractions nationally. “It puts Archdale on the map with a lot of big cities.”
The scene is a fictional town called Kersey Valley. The oldest attraction at Kersey Valley is Spooky Woods, which revolves around Halloween – and the month-plus leading up to that date.
“As we get closer to fall, it gets busier and busier,” office manager Sydney Jones said.
Spooky Woods has landed among national Halloween-themed listings. Hauntworld Magazine listed Spooky Woods as one of the top 13 haunted houses and horror attractions nationally for 2022. That put Archdale on the same list with attractions from Baton Rouge, La., Cincinnati, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, and Seattle.
Kersey Valley has a marketing budget of about $200,000 and can accommodate crowds of Crowds of up to 800 visitors per hour. That means, on some nights, about 4,000 people might venture through the amusement.
The venue is located along the Randolph-Guilford county line. It was annexed into the City of Archdale, with building permits for the site issued through Randolph County.
Kersey Valley is located on a 60-acre farm, with multiple buildings serving as part of the attraction.
“It takes over almost the entire farm,” Wohlgemuth said.
It’s a far cry from the simpler set-up from a few decades ago. Digital lasers and custom-built speakers are used to assist in creating the scene.
“For the thunderstorm, it’s really going to shake your soul,” Wohlgemuth said. “It goes right through you… We keep re-inventing ourselves and finding new ways to innovate.”
Wohlgemuth, 52, is a Southern Guilford High School graduate. He was 15 years old when the idea for Spooky Woods came to fruition. Tickets cost $2 for the first version of the haunted attraction in 1985.
“It was a bunch of teenagers,” he said. “I literally grew up in the business.”
What excites Wohlgemuth is seeing how visits to Spooky Woods have become a tradition for families. Those trips to the farm are passed down through generations.
“They want their kids to experience it,” he said.
Spooky Woods is recommended only for ages 12 and older. It’s a walk-through activity lasting 40 minutes to an hour.
“It’s pretty scary,” Jones said.
The season’s opening comes Saturday night, with the following weekend open just Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Then it’s Friday through Sunday until the first weekend in November. The hours are 7 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday and 7-10 p.m. Sunday. Plus, it’s open on Halloween.
Ticket prices range from $30 (Fridays and Sundays) to $40 (Saturdays). They can be purchased online or at the gate.
After two years of planning during the pandemic, the 2021 Christmas theme at Kersey Valley was deemed successful, Wohlgemuth said. Another version of that is slated in a few months.
Kersey Valley also includes ziplining, laser tag, axe throwing, and other activities.
For now, there’s the build-up to Halloween and the chance to continue to make a mark in terms of haunted attractions.
“Being around this long and doing what we do and having that kind of reputation feels pretty good,” Jones said.