It’s rumored the piece of property in Winter Garden has a curse that can’t be broken. Sam Haine’s land has been in the family for generations — and in 1939 his great-nephew and his wife, Sebastian and Anita Corcoran, inherited the dilapidated house and barn and discovered the severity of the curse.
You are invited to take a stroll through “Old Man” Corcoran’s farmland and relive the nightmare that befell the couple and all their friends on that terrifying night in 1939. Everyone who attended the Corcorans’ Halloween party ended up dead — and only Anita was unaccounted for. Some folks say her spirit roams the halls of the abandoned farmhouse.
Most people don’t think about Halloween 11 months beforehand, and they certainly don’t start building elaborate, scary sets in April — but perhaps they don’t love Halloween as much as Jeremy Kent does.
The Winter Garden resident has created another frightening haunted house at his home in the Horizon West community of Summerlake. This year’s maze features a house, corn field and barn — all laid out in his garage.
The space is only 400 square feet, but as you walk through about a dozen scenes in the dark and twisted maze, Kent said, “You can see it, smell it, all of a sudden your imagination kicks in, and you forget you’re in a two-car garage.”
He has spent almost a year visualizing, drawing, budgeting and building this year’s haunted house and creating the sounds and smells, planning the different textured floors, purchasing professional-grade animatronics and working out the details of how many scare-actors he would need. He works with 10 different vendors to get all the necessary props.
Each year, his haunted houses continue the theme from the previous year. He has scared thousands of people with a morgue, farmhouse basement, church, old cabin and insane asylum.
“I go further down that rabbit hole and make it a little darker,” Kent said. “We had kids who were coming out to ‘The Morgue’ and all the former houses, and they still come out and they work for me; they’re old enough to be scare-actors.
“They get community service hours,” he said. “They love it, and they get a thrill out of it.”
The walk-through takes less than three minutes but wait times vary depending on the time and day. Kent also offers a “Sip N’ Scream” campfire for attendees waiting in the queue. He does not charge an admission fee, but just before folks enter the house, they are given the chance to make a donation toward the experience. The money typically goes toward purchases for the haunted house: firewood, fog, scents, batteries and electricity.
When Halloween is over, Kent spends the next month breaking everything down. He sells, donates or throws away most of the haunted house contents but does keep some of the special or expensive pieces.
“I absolutely love Halloween,” Kent said. “When I was young, I still remember, this guy, I was 6 years, I remember the one house that gave away the glow stick or the house that made you go through the back through a haunted house.”
He recalled his father chasing him and his friends wearing a three-eyed mask and wielding a chainsaw.
“It was horrifying and so much fun,” Kent said.
He has fond memories of watching “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and “Tales from the Crypt” with his dad.
Kent has worked at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror ride — his favorite — at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and he’s a huge fan of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida and Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld Orlando. He recently saw the film “Smile” and is excited about the new “Halloween Ends” movie that was just released in theaters. His all-time favorite horror movie is Wes Craven’s 1996 slasher film “Scream.”
“I just love to share the Halloween season and all the traditions, no matter what they are, with family, friends and the community,” Kent said. “You can be a horror movie nut and just love that aspect of Halloween, or you can just like to carve a pumpkin with your kids. … Halloween lets everyone show their scary side in a creative way.”
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.