MARY ESTHER, Fla. (WKRG) — The far West corner of Santa Rosa Mall in Okaloosa County is now a Halloween hot spot. The Wentz brothers’ Festival of Fears is in full swing for the rest of October.
The four Wentz brothers created the first haunted house inside the mall in 2021.
“Last year was our first year doing it out commercially as a business. We wanted to get out there and make a name for ourselves,” said co-owner Andrew Wentz. “So we did the one and what we found out is people wanted more.”
After the great feedback, they expanded the space and built three haunted houses for 2022.
- Protocol-Z – A military versus Zombie haunted house, the longest of the three attractions.
- Shriek Show – Clowns jokingly and knowingly guide you through a scare fest maze, featuring a whirlwind spinning tunnel.
- Lazarus Toys – Forgotten toys come to life with an old toy maker pulling the strings around the haunting tale of growing up. (In partnership with Lazarus Creative Company in Pensacola.)
WKRG News 5’s Kimber Collins took the brave step into all three houses Friday, Oct. 14. The houses are full of jump-scares and great actors.
The brothers said they spent their childhood and teenage years perfecting haunted houses before transforming the passion into a business.
“It actually started with our parents, so our parents threw us a Halloween party when Alex and I were in 5th and 3rd grade respectively,” said Wentz. “So we invited all our friends over, our parents bought us this big blow-up haunted house and we scared our friends through it. We thought, wow, this is really cool.”
“So each year after that we used a little bit more of our parent’s house, the kitchen, one year we added on the garage,” said Wentz. “The next year until in 2020 we built up all of their downstairs, the backyard, the front yard, the garage, and just tons of space. We were open for three nights in 2020 at our parent’s house and we had over 1500 people come through.”
Festival of Fears:
- Located at 300 Mary Esther Blvd, Mary Esther, FL
- Tickets start at $20 for 1 Haunted house. $35 for 2, and $45 for 3 online. Prices are increased at the door.
“We started Sept. 9 and for Halloween weekend we’re going Thursday all the way through Monday,” said Wentz. “Sunday and Monday night is supposed to be our all-out scary night. It’s going to be the scariest nights that we’ve had all season. We’ve got a trunk or treat for the kids Sunday afternoon. We’ve got Family Day on Saturday.”
The event is likely to move locations next year in order to expand even further. Find more information about the events on the Festival of Fears website.