You've just ventured through the wrought-iron gates of a cemetery. A huge, wooden box tied to a pedestal rattles as if something evil is trying to get out. Ahead, a larger-than-life gargoyle named "Slayer" is poised to roar, with neon-orange horns and long, Neanderthal-like arms.
You are armed with just a glow-in-the-dark golf club and a neon-colored, glowing golf ball. That's because you're a guest at the new "Monster Mini Golf," an 18-hole, indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course in Deer Park.
Monster Mini Golf is a franchise, and co-owners John Nicolette - a dad of four himself - and Steve Gramolini opened it hoping to give Long Island another year-round option for indoor family entertainment.
"Typically during the day, we see a lot more kids. At night, we see teenagers, early 20s, the dating crowd," says manager Jason Ramirez, dressed in a white lab coat as he is a "mad scientist" working in Dr. Frankenstein's dungeon laboratory.
Monster Mini Golf is a huge but contained area. One hole merges right into the next in a mazelike progression. The holes themselves are straightforward golf - only a few had obstacles such as a loop-the-loop. But the decor is heavily themed - picture the Rain Forest Cafe at midnight with wild animals.
The walls are painted with Day-Glo, ghoulish cartoon scenes from Fairy Tales gone awry. Goldilocks has tied the three bears to their beds and is eating their porridge. Humpty Dumpty has been punctured and is bleeding egg yolk. The three little pigs are trapped in their houses, which the wolf has rigged with dynamite. Loud music choices one recent afternoon included "I Will Survive" and "Bust a Move."
But the decor didn't scare 2-year-old Lucas Rosen (Monster Mini Golf provides pint-size clubs for the littlest ones), who was golfing one recent afternoon with his older brothers, Robert, 4, and Bradley, 6.
"We went to Mystic a year ago and went to a Monster Mini Golf there. They didn't stop talking about it," says mom Sally Rosen, of South Huntington. The biggest drawback: If you come on a Saturday, there are crowds, and the golfing gets backed up, Rosen says.
MORE THAN JUST GOLF
Besides mini golf, there's an arcade with ski-ball machines, video games and air hockey - buy a "swipe card" to play games that cost between 50 cents and $2.50 each.
The Bone House is a souvenir shop selling, for instance, a T-shirt that says "Deep, Dark, Demented" ($12) or a skull-decorated messenger bag ($15.99). No food is served, but there is a soft drink machine.
Two private party rooms are decorated in vintage haunted mansion - chandeliers made from skulls, black-spiderweb tablecloths, eerie portraits, thick, red velvet curtains. Parties from $200 to $650 depending on time of day and what's included.
Monster Mini Golf, 410-C Commack Rd., Deer Park
INFO 631-940-8900, monsterminigolf.com
HOURS 3-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 3-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays, except holidays. Open on all school holidays.
COST $7 for Little Monsters, $8 for Big Monsters; $25 unlimited three-month pass, $75 annual pass
INFO 516-624-4678, bayvillescreampark.com
HOURS Sunday-Thursday 6p.m.-11p.m.; Friday and Saturday 6p.m.-2a.m.
COST $9.75 ($5 to watch child play)
Bayville Adventure Park's usual outdoor pirate-themed miniature golf course is redecorated for Halloween, with zombie pirates, hay, pumpkins and other spooky Halloween props, says Anne Finley, director of advertising and merchandising for the park. (Evening visitors can't golf: At 7 p.m. the course morphs into "Curse of the Zombie Pirates," one of the park's five Halloween attractions, priced at $14.75 each or all for $42.75).