Nightmare Alley presents Northern Virginia’s first haunted drive-thru

WTOP's Jason Fraley highlights Nightmare Alley (Part 1)

Trick-or-treating may look a little different this Halloween due to the pandemic.

However, you can still get your fright fix at Nightmare Alley, Northern Virginia’s first haunted drive-thru, presented by Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.

“In an ordinary world, this would have been a haunted trail attraction that was primarily outdoors,” Workhouse Director of Performing Arts Joseph Wallen told WTOP. “We have a large wooded area on our property, so we would set up scenes and actors and special effects, music, sound effects, all that good stuff in the woods.”

Instead, you’ll remain in your car for socially distanced scares.

“You buy your ticket in advance, print out your confirmation or have it available to scan off of a phone,” Wallen said. “Our parking captain will point you to a staging area. … You’ll be dispatched out onto the trail one vehicle at a time. They’re being pulsed out about every 45 seconds. … There’s a decent amount of separation between vehicles.”

Once onto the paved trail, you’ll park your car intermittently at designated locations.

“There are 13 distinct scenes where your vehicle will stop,” Wallen said. “Anywhere from one to four to five actors and technicians will be out helping try to scare you while you’re in your car. … Then when it’s time for you to move on to the next scene, they’ll have you move on to the next scene. … It’s sort of a drive and stop kind of scenario.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley highlights Nightmare Alley (Part 2)

What types of ghouls, ghosts and monsters might we see?

“One of the first scenes you’ll be visiting is two mysterious figures that are conjuring up nightmares,” Wallen said. “We tapped into typical things that people are afraid of … spiders, snakes, witches, clowns, a couple of swamp creatures, all kinds of things.”

How does the fear factor compare to typical walking trails?

“We did have a couple of folks say, ‘I don’t know how scary this is going to be because if I’m in my car, nobody can really touch me or sneak up on me,” Wallen said. “But on the other hand, you can’t run away either. You’re trapped in the car.”

It runs Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sundays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Vehicles must be no taller than 6-foot-4 and windows must remain closed.

Tickets cost $60 per car, so split the price with passengers in your vehicle.

There’s a 25% discount for military, first responders and teachers on Oct. 25.

Food trucks will be available in the parking area, so bring a face mask.

Listen to our full conversation.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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