There is one must see in Paducah, Kentucky, during the Halloween season, but it’s sister attraction is likely to quickly become a close second.
Talon Falls Haunted Theme Park in Paducah attracts visitors from several surrounding states during the four weekends in October that it operates and its sister attraction, The dead End, which opened last year, is running a close second in Halloween fun and fear.
Both haunted houses are operated by the ScreamTeam from Todd Ferren Photography, which is made of employees at the studio and local volunteers. Last year, there were more than 100 volunteers just acting in the Talon Falls haunted house. Dozens more acted as guides, concession operators and staff for The Dead End.
Talon Falls is on the grounds of Ferren’s photography studio and winds from near the lagoon-style pool through the graveyard and haunted village past a true psycho circus and its busload of crazy clowns and usually ends in a haunted woods populated by, among other things, a chainsaw wielding maniac.
The show actually begins at the parking site, the West Kentucky Community and Technical College. There, visitors are met by costumed guides and herded onto buses to be taken to the site of either Talon Falls or The Dead End. Parking at Talon Falls is non-existent, so the only way to get there is via the bus.
The buses are provided by the local mass transit district and are the first evidence visitors see of just how much of a community production Talon Falls is. The college, the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department and the bus company all cooperate in the effort to make the haunted house a success. And, the community benefits from the success. A portion of the proceeds go to the local Crime Watch and Crime Stoppers programs and fund scholarships at the college.
In the past, the haunted theme park has been the scene of a “military experiment” and lost in time, complete with news reports broadcast at the site from a local television station news anchor. This year, the entire park will be invaded by vampires and other creatures of the night. Not surprisingly, the vampire crypt has been one of the most popular features of the park in recent years.
The haunted experience at Talon Falls lasts between 30 and 40 minutes and is almost completely outdoors. Visitors should dress for the weather, including good hiking shoes, as there are some parts of the terrain that can become slippery or muddy. The approach to the slide is often slick because of condensation from the fog machines.
And, expect the strobe lights and fog machines. I have never left Talon Falls without smelling of the acrid fake smoke created by fog machines. Visits to the park cost $15 per person, but coupons are available for $2 off an adult admission. To save even more, combine the ticket with a ticket to The Dead End.
The Dead End is Ferren’s newest haunted house and is almost completely indoors. It opened for the first time last fall. Tickets to The Dead End are $10 and a combo ticket is $25, but the coupon gives you $5 off. The Dead End operates an additional day each week, Thursdays, because it is not as elaborate and does not require as much staff as Talon Falls. Also, because it is mostly indoors, it can operate regardless of the weather.
One word of caution, the wait times for the events can be long, especially in the final week before Halloween. And, both attractions close early on weeknights, so be sure to arrive early if you plan to go to both events in the same night. Last year, we made the mistake of going on a Sunday night and by the time we had finished at Talon Falls, The Dead End was closed. We, of course, had pre-purchased our tickets and since Paducah is about an hour away, did not have a chance to go back and use our tickets to The Dead End.
Still, even with that unpleasantness last year, we will return to Talon Falls this year and hit The Dead End as well. Ferren and his crew certainly know how to put on a show!