*I was given free tickets to attend Fort Fright in order to facilitate this post – written in 2019. All opinions are my own, or those of my family. If you would like me to write about your attraction or event, visit my Work With Me page.*
For the past twelve Halloween seasons, Fort Henry has been transformed from a mild mannered Fort, to a walking nightmare.
“We heard from our visitors last year that they wanted us to return to the Fort Fright footprint of years past, and that is what will be delivered. Prepare to be scared!” – Dawn Ellis-Thornton, Manager, Fort Henry
This year’s scare experience takes visitors to the Mindset Research facility where they will witness the aftermath of a failed research project. Researchers conducted tests to see how radiation and technology would affect all living things over time. By increasing these levels dramatically, devastating outcomes were witnessed, and the project was ultimately shut down.
Test subjects are mutated and aggressive, insects are over-sized and researchers have gone missing. Beware the failed experiments, and be prepared to be scared!
If a scare isn’t what you had in mind for your kids, let me recommend taking them to Pumpkinferno at Upper Canada Village. Read about our visit, and check out my photos here: Pumpkinferno lights up Upper Canada Village every fall.
Patrick and I went to Fort Fright for the first time last year. I’m not one to enjoy overly frightening experiences, so I hadn’t ventured to the spooked out fort in the past. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the frights were laid out and executed last year, and this year.
Because we brought the girls with us this year, the scare factor was lessened for me. Also, trying to capture photos means too much pausing, worrying about the (very) low light conditions, and trying not to get too many other visitors in my photos. I did not capture as much as I would have liked to, but I spent too much time thinking about photos that I did not enjoy myself as much as I would have otherwise. But I still had a great time.
The low light is a definite challenge while trying to stay with the flow of traffic and not disrupt others’ experience.
I have shared more of my photos over in my Photo Albums. Some are not great, but practice makes perfect. I love sharing my attempts, so let me know what you think! (All my photos are available to purchase without the watermark, should something catch your eye.)
Taking my kids
My girls were nervous and excited to check out the scares at Fort Fright. We bought them Amulets in hopes they would have an enjoyable experience. For $5.65 you can get a small layer of protection in the form of a glowing amulet. It tells the scare actors not to over-frighten those under the protection of an amulet.
Rose, my 8 year old, is easily frightened. I was quite worried she would not enjoy herself at all at Fort Fright. She’s my daughter that says she can’t watch shows like Bones or Murdoch Mysteries “too close to bedtime”, which seems to be any time after 3pm, because “it gives me nightmares!”
I have to report that she was indeed quite frightened by some of the evening. The amulet saved her – she wielded it like a talisman and pointed it directly at the scare actors to ward them off. And when we left she said, “When I’m a few years older, do you think we could come and do this again?” So I think that means she wasn’t traumatized too badly.
How the amulet works
When you get to the gate to either purchase your ticket, or redeem your online tickets for physical ones, ask for your amulet. This year they are light up skull and crossbones on a long cord. You’ll pay a small fee for them, but the protection they offer really helps kids enjoy the experience so much more.
As you walk through the terrors of Fort Fright, be sure the amulet is ON. If it’s off, the scare actors cannot see you (or your child) wearing it and all bets are off.
I was impressed by the reactions the actors gave toward the kids while they were wearing the amulets. It’s as if they were repelled by the flashing lights. Many of the spooky scare-ers would run away or cower behind other fixtures, playing up the “you’re safe” feeling the amulets provide. Others would just stand silently – which is frightening in it’s own right – and watch us walk by.
This year your admission ticket gets you into three extra attractions in the lower fort. When we went last year, you could experience a Haunted Walk or a Coffin Ride, but they were attractions in their own right, and had their own cost. This year those attractions, plus an Improbable Escape, are included with your Fort Fright admission.
We did not take a coffin ride – where they close you into a coffin and then I’m not quite even sure what happens – but we did do the 10 minute Haunted Walk experience and one of the Improbable Escapes mini challenges.
10 minute Haunted Walk experience
This was not a walk in any way, shape or form. Instead, it was a 3D audio experience.
The host takes the group up into a barracks room where glowing headphones are waiting for everyone. The guide gives a little background – and how to with the headphones – and then shuts out the lights. I won’t give anything away, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It reminded me of the Ghosts of the Fort Haunted Walk Tour.
Again Rose, my youngest, found this very spooky, but Emma (who’s 11 now) loved every moment. She was my plus one for all the Haunted Walks we’ve done promotionally over the past few years.
There are three escapes available this year at Fort Fright. When it was our turn, the host suggested we do Mad Labs as it was the non-frightening one. Apparently the others were super scary. (I can’t speak to that as we didn’t go into those rooms.)
Figuring out the puzzles was fun, though some of them were beyond the girls capabilities. We were successful at solving the overall puzzle and the girls got their rewards. It was fun and fairly short – which is great because there are other things to see and do after you’ve been spooked by the Fort Fright walk!
Other note-worthy items inside the lower fort
I always love the creepy dead woman who talk to you from her coffin. She called Emma over: “Hey, school girl! Come talk to me!” and Emma did. (I was a little surprised by that – sometimes she’s standoffish – but they had a great little conversation.) Rose, of course, would have nothing to do with her.
There was a neat rotating room, and the creepy clown walkthrough was worth it as well. There were some dead carnival-type games that Emma and Rose explored, with the help of creepy clowns who could be found wandering the area.
We didn’t go into the beer tent area (not really a tent – more like beer gardens, without any greenery) but it seemed there were drinks and food available for purchase in there. There was also a chalkboard room – you can write on the walls – and a tarot card reader.
We spent about an hour and a half exploring all the facets of Fort Fright. The walk around the dry moat took about 30 minutes, though we had to keep telling the girls to slow down. We were trying to be mindful of the other visitors, and keep the amulet-wielding girls away so others can get the full scare effect!
If you’re looking for other things to do this fall in and around Kingston, I have a post just for you: Fun things to do every fall in Kingston
We had a great time. Rose had no lingering frights – not even a peep from her overnight! If you’re on the fence about Fort Fright, go ahead a take the kids. Your scare will be a little less if you go the amulet route, but everyone will have a good time!
Buy your tickets online at FortFright.com, or at the gate of Fort Henry. It was not busy the night we went (it was a Friday) but as Halloween approaches I believe the attraction gets much more popular.
Have you experienced the scares of Fort Fright? And did you take the kids? Share your experiences with me in the comments.