While Trail of Fear is now Oklahoma's largest haunted attraction, Hauntworld.com reveals that the original format was a small, roadside hay maze operated by a father and son in 1998. Today, a three-story pyramid looms above the theme park's frightful environs and prowling actors. Creators Bob Wright Sr. and Bob Wright Jr. supervise a staff of more than 100—a vast increase from their first crew of approximately 15 people and a few rusty table fans—as they guide visitors through four nightmarish worlds. Though the majority of these helpers return to the job each season with fiendish devotion, their strategies for harvesting screams evolve every year to surprise even the most loyal fans.
The Voodoo Bayou has proven to be Trail of Fear's most intense experience, where ghastly creatures dart from their swampland dens to spook trespassers and ask directions to the nearest zombie hoedown. Elsewhere, a maniacal ringmaster oversees the disorienting maze and murderous clowns of Cirque de Morte, and malformed test subjects rise from The Experiment's excavation and lab sites. Laughter and gasps join the chorus of screams at the Crispy Family Carnival, where performers inject dark humor into their classic sideshow acts, which can be viewed at the Thunderbird Trail of Fear.
On the Halloween Midway, Boo House BBQ supplies fuel for brave souls in the form of burgers and brisket. Fairground games embrace macabre twists; past activities include a severed-head toss and live-zombie target practice. For younger children, Pumpkin Junction entertains with scary stories and magic tricks on select nights. A portion of Trail of Fear's proceeds go to benefit a specific charity every year, contributing thousands of dollars to community causes.
Named after a Cheyenne chief, Roman Nose State Park is one Oklahoma’s oldest state parks. In the heart of the preserve sits a 22-room lodge, an elegant—yet rustic—hotel that dates back to 1956. Though the lodge retains its streamlined, mid-century aesthetic, a recent renovation provided the guest rooms with modern touches, including flat-screen TVs and iHome docking stations. Artistic photographs of Roman Nose’s own picturesque waterfalls and canyons decorate the walls. Retreat to the on-site restaurant’s outdoor patio to heckle slow-moving squirrels while you eat.
There is no shortage of outdoor recreation within the state park. Guests can play a round on the 18-hole golf course, hike miles of multi-purpose trails, or cast a line into nearby Watonga Lake to fish for trout. When the weather’s warm, take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The lodge also offers bicycle, canoe, kayak, and horse rentals.
Designed by esteemed fairway artist P.B. Dye, Crimson Creek Golf Club's 18-hole course summons golfers with 6,992 yards of well-groomed greenery. Constantly primped by a cavalry of lawnmowers and displaced hairstylists, the course sports a high-quality grass to help putts smoothly hold their line. A segment of the scenic course runs in a wide horseshoe pattern around the north end of Lake El Reno, which—along with a series of ponds that come into play throughout the round—compensates for the layout's scarce population of trees by gobbling up errant shots. Before taking to the first tee, golfers can take a few practice cuts at the club's driving range, check out the pro shop to load up on balls, or visit the Hook-N-Slice Restaurant for a bite to eat or a fork to use as a makeshift divot tool.
At TG Farms Pumpkin Patch, autumn’s shifting breezes not only herald a fresh crop of gourds, but also the start of the farm’s annual festivities. From morning until nightfall, families traipse through the patch in search of a pumpkin that will transform into their dream jack-o’-lantern or a car for their children to take to college, and navigate the twists and turns of a massive corn maze. On a calm pond, ducks await generous handfuls of feed, and a petting zoo lets wee ones commune with calves and goats. Back under a roof, the gift shop hosts decorative gourds, straw bales, and other fall decor.
Although autumn is the season when activity reaches a fever pitch, TG Farms is open to outdoor enthusiasts year-round. In spring, visitors learn how crops grow in the fields and flowers bloom in greenhouses. When the sun strengthens into summer, farmers peddle homegrown tomatoes and juicy watermelon. And in winter, when the last leaves have frozen over, families can pick out a fresh-cut Christmas tree or collect a jar of fresh snowman tears.
There on the wall inside Conan's Academy, next to four World Kickboxing Championship belts, hangs a photograph of founder Scott ?Conan? Mincey donning a mustache and shaking hands with one of his numerous mentors, Chuck Norris. In fact, during his 34-year career, Scott has worked with a constellation of martial-arts stars and, since 1996, has brought that experience to his self-titled academy.
Scott teaches recreational and competitive fighting styles to a diverse student base which includes men, women, teens, and children. His classes blend equal doses of self-defense techniques with workouts designed to build lean muscle strength, speed, and endurance. Students can throw jabs in the pursuit of a leaner self, or train for all manners of blood-sporting competition in the gym's boxing ring, octagonal cage, or shark tank.
Ever a resilient warrior, Marybeth Davis chose to see the destruction of her New Orleans home by Hurricane Katrina as a direct challenge. Not only did she grit her teeth and rebuild, the mother of four also started her own boot camp. In her capacity as a certified personal trainer, she pulls from her years of experience in championship martial artistry to lead classes for fitness seekers of all abilities. Having overcome weight issues and injuries, Marybeth employs empathy to scale each of her high-intensity workouts to accommodate all fitness levels, from beginners to professional athletes. The coach also strives to create a motivational and non-intimidating community amongst her students, discouraging screaming, insults, or unprovoked outbreaks of water balloon fights.