Wallingford’s Trail of Terror opens Oct. 1

reporter photo

WALLINGFORD — Once the snow from the winter melts away, Wayne Barneschi, founder of the Trail of Terror, is back at 6 North Plains Highway preparing for the upcoming season. 

Despite being short staffed, Barneschi said they are working hard to open the haunted attraction for its 28th season. 

“It’s been tough, but we’re doing it,” he said. “Working around the clock, which is normal.” 

This year’s theme is “Reawakening,” according to the website

“The 28th year of terror marks the ‘Reawakening’ of the Aduro Family and their recipe of life,” the website says. “Lost in fire, buried by time, what horrors will over 100 years of mad science show? ‘The Recipe’ — a sickly green embalming fluid of miraculously diabolical results, while it reanimates the dead it throws the living into their own nightmares, manifesting them into reality.”

Barneschi said the theme also relates to society coming out of the pandemic.

“We’re coming back from COVID and hopefully everything will be reawakened,” Barneschi said.

Planning for this year actually began in mid-October of last year.

“It never ends, it just never ends,” Barneschi said. “We’re doing some planning for next year already just because things that we couldn’t do this year because we didn’t have enough people ... so we will do it next year.”

When it comes to assigning roles for the actors, Barneschi said the veterans get their assignments first and then the gaps are filled with newcomers. However, Barneschi said he is open to suggestions from everyone about characters.

“We want them to make their own scene, make their own character and make it their own,” Barneschi said.

Scene ownership is how the Trail of Terror started.

“We started with a bunch of us who liked to scare people from our home haunts and each one of us built a scene and then from there we just grew,” Barneschi said.

Jonathan Gerolami, a veteran volunteer, helps out year round. He has been building the cemetery scene, adding more to the cemetery wall and making repairs.

“I just enjoy the whole entire atmosphere,” Gerolami said. “I was always a Halloween person. To me, it’s the whole atmosphere, the fun fall feeling. Just giving customers a good scare.”

Barneschi said each year they change about 70% of the display, with volunteers coming from all over the state and Massachusetts. Each night, there are around 160 volunteers working as actors. About 40 volunteers work as makeup artists, front line workers and security.

“Once the actors come, they fill in everything,” Barneschi said. “That’s what really brings it to life … Being in the woods helps too. The leaves change … We try to make it as old school and as random as you possibly can. It’s always been built as if nobody knows what to expect when they come in.”

Once the attraction opens on Oct. 1, Barneschi expects from 1,500 to 2,000 people each night. The Trail of Terror is open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 to 11 p.m. On Sundays, it is open from 7 to 10 p.m.

Tickets are $25 while VIP premium pass tickets, which includes a minimum wait time, are $40. All proceeds are donated to local charities, including homeless shelters, drug and alcohol programs, animal welfare organizations, volunteer fire departments, youth programs and veteran groups.

Barneschi said his core volunteers are the key.

“Our main group is pretty amazing, it’s very small,” Barneschi said. “They work their butts off.”


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