This just in: Long Island is overrun with zombies. They've overwhelmed Massapequa, are escaping from a warehouse in Deer Park and have infiltrated the woods of Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. Translation: Zombies are a hot, hot, haunted house theme this year. Of Long Island's more than 30 haunted houses, nine have a zombie theme.
Zombies with a past
"With the popularity of 'The Walking Dead' it made sense to do a zombie-themed haunt," says Joe Persampiere, co-owner of HauntedProps.com, which designed the inaugural haunt at StrikeForce Sports in Deer Park. "But, you can't just have zombies running around. You have to have a back story."
Persampiere and partner Frank Gallo use 7,000 square feet and thousands of dollars worth of props to create a clandestine scientific testing facility that went awry, leaving the soldiers as zombies and the scientists as the captives.
It wasn't the back story, but rather the dozen or so live zombies that frightened Bernadette Zayas, 42, who was still clutching the arm of her husband in the parking lot after taking a walk-through. "I'm still tense," says Zayas, who came from Williston Park for the experience. Persampiere and Gallo designed it that way, with quick escapes routes so zombies can converge on the unsuspecting throughout the haunt.
The North Patchogue Fire Department also plays on 'The Walking Dead' TV series theme, requiring visitors to help clear out an infested house. Visitors even are given laser tag guns to "shoot" the zombies.
"We wanted to do more than just have zombies jumping out at people," says John Kirshey, the department's president.
"I ran out of ammunition," Reyes says. "Even though I know they're not real and the gun's not real, it felt better having a way to protect myself." You can't ask much more from a haunted house than that.
Where the zombies are:
WHEN | WHERE 6-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Clark Botanic Garden, 193 I.U. Willets Rd., Albertson
INFO 516-869-6311, clarkbotanic.org
ADMISSION $5 (15 and younger must be accompanied by a paying adult)
The "Zombie Invasion" at Clark Botanic Garden is concentrated in the woods.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday, 7-10 p.m. Sunday at 215 South Country Rd., Bellport. Continues through Nov. 3
INFO 631-286-1133, hauntedplayhouseofhorrors.com
An airborne mystery has turned Bellport into Hellport as the secrets of a 100-year-old estate begin to escape into the night. Not recommended for preteens.
INFO 631-242-1197, lihauntedhouses.com
Thirty-three rooms of an abandoned warehouse are infested by hungry zombies. Recommended for ages 8 and older.
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m.-midnight tonight-tomorrow 6-10 p.m. Sunday at 10 Brooklyn Ave., Massapequa. Continues through Oct. 31
INFO 516-799-4747, darknessrising.org
ADMISSION $15 (younger than 12 must be accompanied by a paying adult)
See if you can make your way in -- then out -- of this 9,000-square-foot labyrinth of labs, virus areas and zombie hordes.
Invasion of the Zombie Apocalypse
WHEN | WHERE 7-11 p.m. tonight-tomorrow and 7-10 p.m. Sunday, 33 Davidson Ave., North Patchogue
INFO 631-475-1788, ext. 138, npfdhauntedhouse.com
After a debriefing, you get a laser tag gun to shoot zombies. Your task: Make it through a house without getting killed or eaten (not necessarily in that order). Not recommended for kids under 8 or anyone with a heart condition.