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'Naked and scared': Haunted house welcomes nude thrill-seekers

Sep. 24, 2013 at 2:08 PM ET

A new attraction at Pennsylvania's "Shocktoberfest" invites thrill-seekers to enter a haunted house while naked.
TODAY
A new attraction at Pennsylvania's "Shocktoberfest" invites thrill-seekers to enter a haunted house while naked.

A new attraction at a Pennsylvania "scream" park aims to scare the pants off thrill-seekers before they even enter it.

Shocktoberfest, a “haunted scream park” in Sinking Spring, Pa., has added an attraction called the “Naked and Scared Challenge.’’ For $20 per person, participants can experience the haunted house while being completely naked.

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done anywhere in the world,’’ Shocktoberfest president and owner Patrick Konopelski told TODAY.com. “The whole idea is to create this vulnerability and get their defenses down. It can be hard to scare groups, and you usually have to get louder, more chaotic, and more tense, but now if they’re not wearing clothing, it can be more intimate. You can scare with a whisper rather than a scream because people will only huddle so close to one another.”

Konopelski, who has run Shocktoberfest for 22 years, got the idea when he saw his four teenagers watching the Discovery Channel show “Naked and Afraid,” which puts one man and one woman together to survive for 21 days with no food, no water, and no clothes.

“The people on the show were genuinely scared, and I thought, ‘I have to do something to try to emulate that,’’’ Konopelski said. “Of course, I ran it by my wife and she hated the idea, but I kept going with it as most husbands do.”

Would Willie, Natalie, Al and Mel B walk through a haunted house together naked? Watch them weigh in during TODAY's Take:

Video: The TODAY anchors weigh in on a unique kind of Haunted House in TODAY's Take.

The attraction will be open every night except Sundays from Sept. 27 to Nov. 3. Participants will remove their clothes in a designated area after showing identification, because minors are not allowed, and can retrieve their attire at the end of the attraction — which takes about 25 minutes to travel through.

Since the unique haunted house was announced, Konopelski said he has heard some complaints decrying the idea.

“It’s usually people for whom it doesn’t work within their moral guidelines, or people that don’t fully understand it,’’ he said, of the detractors. “In their mind, they have created what it might be, but it’s nothing more than consenting adults choosing to experience a haunted house without clothes on. It has nothing to do with sex, and nothing to do with inappropriate behavior. It’s about trying to scare people on a different level.”

After signing a waiver, participants will be taken inside in the specific groups they have come to the attraction with, and will not be mixed together with other groups.

“Usually it’s a conga line, where you are constantly taking group after group into the haunted house, but you can’t do that in this setting,’’ he said.

While the lighting is dimmer than an average house, it will still be bright enough that everyone in each group will see each other going the full monty.

“We use low-voltage lighting and your eyes do adjust to it,’’ Konopelski said. “The lights flicker, and we utilize things like strobe lights, but if you go with six people, you’re going to be a little closer to those six people than before you went in.”

In the age of ubiquitous camera phones, the attraction also has to guard against the potential that nude photos or video could be taken, though Konopelski doesn't anticipate that will be a problem.

“We’ve been doing Shocktoberfest for over 20 years, and the safety of all of our customers and our actors has always been a primary concern,’’ Konopelski said. “We have security throughout the haunt. If (customers) are going through naked (with cell phones), it’s going to be pretty easy to catch. We’re not doing body cavity searches or anything, but we don’t expect that going on. People have to sign a waiver agreeing to the rules, but there’s always the chance of someone doing something like that. We feel like we have everything controlled enough through security.” 

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