Doral Halloween event draws thousands seeking thrills, excitement of season

Posted  November 11, 2015


DORAL, Fla. — Can I argue that there is some integrity that lies within Calvin Harris, world famous DJ, dating pop icon Taylor Swift, spinning tracks at a parking lot here in a west Miami-Dade suburb?

It’s a loaded question, but I dare say, I definitely can.

This Friday, Oct. 30, the 31-year-old artist headlined Halloween Horror Nights — an event I attended with eight friends. To be more specific, the event took place outside of Miami International Mall. It ran through the month of October with the final night being this performance. Running from Sept. 24 to Nov. 1 this was the most popular night of the festival, with tickets to the show selling out online.

Nicholas safely at home with Ralph following the festival. He has not grown and swims in one place all day.

Nicholas safely at home with Ralph following the festival. He has not grown and swims in one place all day.

Among us, Madison Roehrig, 20, conducted a week-long “American Horror Story” marathon to prepare for the event.

I’ve decided there are two types of people: those that enjoy “American Horror Story” and those that can’t so much as hear a chainsaw and a shrieking woman without having to barricade their bedroom doors and suffocate themselves in their duvet with a straw out for oxygen the entire night.

I am the latter.

Therefore being dared to “visit the largest haunted house in South Florida with more than 30 rooms of terror – more spine-chilling than ever with 10 new chambers to visit at my own risk and turn my nightmares into reality” as stated on the website, is similar to being granted immortality and then buried alive (season three of “American Horror Story”).

Of course, the majority ruled and we set off in an Uber car at promptly 7 p.m. giving us two hours before the concert to turn our nightmares into reality.

I got lucky for two reasons – a turtle by the name of Ralph (short for Ralph Lauren) and high heels (not mine).

Let us begin with the turtle. Upon arrival to the haunted house, we had to register our pre-ordered tickets in a registration line. Seemingly this defeated the purpose of buying them in advance and it delayed us 10 minutes. However, the upshot was our pre-haunted house jitters had simmered down and we walked instead of trotted to the other end of the venue.

“Wait, can we play this game?” called out one member of the semi reluctant tribe.

It was only a matter of time before someone had become distracted.

The friend, Nicole Nicholas, dressed in a white corset without wings still resembling an angel, had spotted a game where one has to shoot ping-pong balls into jars to win a prize. It was explained to us that there were specific jars higher up that meant better prizes.

Nicholas wasn’t so much interested in the game as the living mini turtle that came complete with its own habitat. Telling us the sob story of how her first pet was a turtle and it had unexpectedly died, we all decided to buy a round of ping-pong balls. As we started to realize that this was not going to end without a turtle by our sides a few of us went on a carnival ride.

Exploring the park I noticed a mix of inebriated young adults and restless young children accompanied by their parents. Another friend, Olivia Poser, dressed as fried eggs, waited in line for a turkey leg she had read about on Yelp. The stall was sold out and so she settled on fried Oreos instead while Roehrig, dressed as Poser’s bacon counterpart, got fried bacon wrapped, grilled cheese – safe to say we could not go on any more rides.

Poser and Roehrig were heavily complimented on their costumes, voting themselves costume winners of the night.

Poser and Roehrig were heavily complimented on their costumes, voting themselves costume winners of the night.

Returning to the scene of the ping-pong game we were pleasantly surprised to meet said turtle, named Ralph. Measuring in at a mere three-by-four inches, Ralph did not make the height or human requirement to enter the haunted house. This eliminated Ralph’s owner, but still the rest were set on going. This brings me to the case of the heels.

Halloween in Miami is arguably more exciting for a group of 20 year olds than the average American youth involved in post trick-or-treating candy trades. Naturally, this meant three girls in our group came prepared in stilettos to waste no time changing before heading out in South Beach. This confirmed the hour long wait to enter the haunted house was a firm “yeah, not happening.”

A loss of four group members and Ralph meant I could play the “well I don’t want to leave them” card; loyalty in spades. Now we could do exactly what I had wanted in the first place – attend the concert.

Speaking to a group of people exiting the house we got the confirmation we needed that the experience wasn’t worth the wait time. One woman had come from Hialeah, exclaiming they let everyone go in at once and only half the rooms had actors. “Not even scary just a crowded waste of time,” was the general consensus.

Roehrig nicknamed herself "Crispy" for the night. Her dolphin was crowd-surfed through fans getting much closer to Calvin Harris then we did.

Roehrig nicknamed herself “Crispy” for the night. Her dolphin was crowd-surfed through fans getting much closer to Calvin Harris then we did.

Calvin had already come on when we got to the congested parking lot. It was similar to a football tailgate especially considering we couldn’t see the stage and I left without laying eyes on the man I had come for.

Despite this, any fan would have enjoyed the music and I would skip the haunted house fiasco and travel back to Doral next year – with slightly lowered expectations that this entire experience was only $30 and still provided great value and entertainment.

Before leaving the park, we were given fliers to yet another festival, Santa’s Enchanted Forest, located on 7900 SW 40th St.

Open from Oct. 29 until Jan. 3 of next year, it’s a step-up from Halloween Horror in every sense of the word. Its space more than doubles the size of Miami International Mall and includes thrilling attractions, a 7-D virtual reality simulator, South Florida’s tallest Christmas tree, circus and animal shows and a ping-pong game where mini turtles are not the top prize – squirm over Ralph, we want to win a reindeer.

If You Go Next Year

  • Address: 1455 NW 107th Ave., Doral, Fla. 33172.
  • Parking is available at Miami International Mall free of charge.
  • Costumes are allowed and encouraged, but none that cover your face for safety reasons.
  • The purchase of a ticket allows for unlimited carnival rides, one entry through the Haunted House (adult ticket only), concerts, shows and attractions.
  • Adult tickets are $30 and children (six and under) are $15.
  • Regular tickets can be purchased at
  • Tickets for the concert day can be purchased on
  • From Coral Gables: Take Granada Boulevard and turn left onto SW 40th Street and Bird Road then use the right lane to get onto Florida State Hwy. 826 North. Keep right and turn onto NW 16th Street, in Doral, continuing down this street until your destination,
  • From South Beach: Take 9th Street, to Florida A1A South and the MacArthur Causeway. Continue down the MacArthur Causeway until you reach FL-836 West to NW 107th Avenue, in Fontainebleau. Then take the Florida 985 North and NW 107th Avenue, to exit from Florida State Hwy. 836 West. Continue on NW 107th Avenue, to your destination.