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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


REVIEW: Old Tucson’s ‘Nightfall Resurrected’

Amy Bailey
Old Tucson has hosted “Nightfall” for over 20 years bringing all the scares, frights, shows and action to people of all ages.

Nightfall Resurrected really did come back from the dead compared to last year. This year’s Nightfall had me trembling in fear with clowns, werewolves and so many of the undead. 

The second Nightfall since American Heritage Railways took over Old Tucson in 2022 brought even more scares than before. 

Entertainment manager John Muszynski said that management took over Old Tucson just before Nightfall started last year and put it together fairly quickly when it would normally take months to put together. 

“We learned a lot. We listened to everybody’s complaints and made sure we took care of anything [anyone] complained about and upped it even more,” Muszynski said.

Some complaints were that the experience wasn’t scary enough, and several wanted the actors to chase them. Another thing some wanted was the option of buying turkey legs. They added both of those, although the turkey leg was slightly salty in my opinion.

The actors do chase you now and it is terrifying. Some will come behind you and say nothing until you turn around before chasing you, while some will make eye contact with you and chase you down. 

For people who didn’t want to get scared, Nightfall used to offer “scare me not” sticks. You could hold these glowing sticks to let the actors know not to bother you, but when the light was off you became a target for spooks. 

Instead of using the glowing sticks this year, Nightfall had safe zones for people who didn’t want to be scared, which was a saving grace for me. You could either walk through the main entrance or go straight to the safe zone in front. 

There were activities like skee-ball, face painting and even fortune telling and tarot readings. There was also the usual carousel and train ride. 

There were different houses with various scare levels. One of the low scare level houses was “Mr. Mystery’s Cave of Curiosity.” I didn’t know what to expect there, and to soothe me, the attendant at the attraction told me that it was for toddlers. It was a small museum of creepy items. 

He said the highest scare level was “The Wolves Den.” I saw this one but couldn’t bring myself to go inside. Muszynski said the werewolves took in prisoners to torture them. All of the prisoners were attendees of Nightfall. Outside of the den were the two-story tall guards and the butcher giants yielding machetes.

Tyler Kucinich (middle left) and Jacob Tucker (middle right) pose with two Nightfall actors after the Trial of Mama Merryman show at Old Tucson on Saturday, Oct. 29. (Desarae Tucker)

“You choose to go into the scares, the haunts and the mazes. Those are your choice to go in,” Muszynski said.

Nightfall Resurrected attendee Lucy Colmenero went to Nightfall last year and said she noticed how the park has changed. 

“It seems scarier this year than last year. It was a cowboy theme last year,” Colmenero said.

Another house with a scare level of nine out of 10 was the “City of Vampires.” After being convinced to go in I was paranoid the whole time. I made sure to stand in the middle of my group because every time I turned my head there was a jump scare. The actors even tried to touch you throughout the haunt. 

At the end, there was a scare actor waiting at the exit. He was on the side of the door, not blocking the exit but just close enough to touch you. He took a couple of steps towards me because I was the most scared and I bolted through the door, leaving my whole group. Everyone, even the actor, started to laugh. 

There were over 150 actors and scare actors that brought the storyline together. They brought the character Jebediah Hyde back. According to Katarina Russo, who plays Rosa Flora, the idea was that he was resurrected and looking for his lost daughter Lilith while also trying to resurrect his late wife Mary Hyde. 

There were characters going around trying to convince the guests to join “The Resistance” or to join Hyde’s team. The Resistance was against what Hyde was doing and believed the dead should stay dead. 

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of resistance members who haven’t really come forward with the idea of being powerful and put their lives behind them to follow under Hyde’s army,” Russo said in character. “Hyde just wants to bring everyone back to life, I don’t really see a problem with that.” 

I really enjoyed the shows that they had put on. A couple of the shows, “The Mentalist Show” and “The Trial of Mama Merryman”, brought in Nightfall guests to participate in the shows.

“We are an immersive experience, meaning you come into a story that has already started and you become a part of that story. Everything in the park is connected to that storyline, every scare and every show is helping to move that story along,” Muszynski said.

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