An unhinged array
of Year-Round Events
Hi. We're a new
beer and wine bar.
Other things we have:
Signature Mystery Mixes (21+)
No-Booze Brews (Mocktails)
Strange Table Games
A Fog Cannon (You Can Fire It)
Dress Up a Dead Guy
Playable Cassette Tapes
But there's a catch.
We're also a...laboratory
A facility for the development of novel methods for the
efficient elicitation of
You'll be fine. I just need to run a few quick tests. It's very professional and not at all sketchy. The relevant authorities definitely know that we're doing this.
You'll be fine.
I even decorated for the holidays.
See? All in good fun.
i just need to Peel you Open a Little.
I'll have hot chocolate and cookies ready.
Okay fine. No more marketing spin.
We're half horror-themed beer and wine garden, half experimental haunted house attraction. (Hence, "Fear Garden.")
It's all about trying weird new ways to mix fear with fun.
In 2022, we walked you through a story.
In 2024, we're taking a giant leap. We just signed an annual lease - this thing is about to be permanent and year-round, Gainesville.
You only have yourselves to blame. This project - The Gainesville Fear Garden - stripped us (my wife and I) completely naked. The whole concept is bizarre - a haunted house that's not a haunted house and that's also a research lab and also a speakeasy that's a safe space for people who, like us, are made mostly of morbid curiosity and existential dread - and the only way to execute this this was to show you exactly who we are at our cores. And...you came. You came and it worked and we love you and now let's make this forever.
We'll still be event-based (we'll only be open on select nights throughout the year in little concentrated bursts), but we'll be hosting a whole bunch of distinct events. (All new, all different.) Most will center around a holiday (Haunted Arbor Day is happening) and last two or three weeks.
Want to see what all of this freedom does to us?
622 SE 2nd St., Gainesville, FL 32601
Right across from the RTS bus station
In the old Depot Park Fun and Games building
Depot Park / Cade Museum area
How do the reservation times work?
When you buy tickets (by clicking the white “Tickets” icon that keeps intruding as you scroll down this page), you’ll select a specific date and a time. That's your entrance time - after we scan your ticket, we’ll show you into a holding zone. (Sometimes that'll be our drinks lounge, sometimes it'll be somewhere else.) Relax and enjoy the place. (Drinks available for courage.) When your time comes (About 15-20 minutes after you're checked in; varies from event-to-event and based on how much pre-game prep we need you to do), we’ll call you back for the main event.
Are you actually doing scientific research?
Yes. I'm a psychologist - former faculty in the psychology department at the University of Florida - and I honestly can’t help it. The urge to slide little snapshots of us – of people thinking and feeling and behaving – under a microscope, is, apparently, in my blood. It finds its way into everything I do. And what I’m doing now is running a haunted house.
But also no. When you buy a ticket, you're consenting to let me tinker with your mind however I see fit to satisfy my own depraved impulses. But that's not the same thing as consenting to participate as a research subject - that bit requires a separate moment of informed consent. When you arrive, we'll ask whether you agree to let my team and I analyze your data and publish the results in academic journals. If you say yes, you’ll be contributing to genuine social science. (We have some ideas about how observing people during voluntary negative arousing experiences might lead to insights about how to better treat anxiety disorders.) Totally your call.
Is this one of those "extreme" torture haunts?
Super extra no. It's just offbeat. "Offbeat" = unconventional, disorienting, disquieting, dorky, tense, confusing, surreal, and goofy. (It's not even really a haunted house. At least not in the traditional sense.) We know of haunted houses with forty-page waivers that boast completion rates (the percentage of guests who actually finish the experience) in the single digits. We are decidedly not one of those. The point of our thing - from start to finish - is fun.
Example of an offbeat thing: We might ask you to wear headphones and goggles. We did that last year, and we'll probably do it again for some events in the future. (Headphones and goggles are always sanitized / wrapped in fresh disposable covers. The goggles don't accommodate eyeglasses, but we'll give you a special pouch to put around your neck to protect your specs. Don't worry, you won't miss anything - the goggles are coated in opaque black paint, anyway. See? "Very professional and not at all sketchy.")
Will I be touched?
Is this an escape room?
No. No part of the things we get up to here require you to interact with the other folks in your group. (You should, though - chatting with strangers confers a bunch of mental benefits.)
How big are the groups? Will I be alone? Will I be with my friends, family, or whoever I came with when it all goes down? Will I / we be grouped with strangers?
All of the above. It varies from event to event - sometimes we'll run people in groups of 2-8 (e.g., The Haunt Lab), sometimes we'll take lots of people in at once (e.g., The Solstice Seance has a cap of 30 people per seating), and it's possible that we'll do some wacky thing in the future where you have to fly solo for a few minutes. (No current plans for that last option yet, but don't get complacent.)
But we'll always keep you together with your buddies if we can. (It's supposed to be a shared experience.)
If you bring a big group, we may have to split you up into chunks. Our Dark Story Tent, for instance, genuinely can't accommodate more than 8 people. at once If you bring more than 7 friends, you'll need to split up between two or more timeslots. But you won't be split up for long - the timeslots for that event are only 10 minutes apart.
(And, again, you won't need to interact with anyone else in your group. Don't worry, introverts. We've got you.)
How long do these experiments take?
Typically about 40 minutes from check-in to finale. Takes less time if you die before the end, but then we have to pause the event so that we can offer your body to the things we grow in the garden. (That pause takes eight minutes. We’ve been running drills.) Then stay and play as long as you like.
The Solstice Seance - 20 for pre-game, 20 for main event.
Bloodlines: Deluxe Edition - 20 for pre-game, 20 for main event.
Where should I park?
Is there an age limit?
Standard R-rated movie rules: under 17 not allowed entry without an accompanying 21+ adult. 21+ adults may bring children, but we very, very, VERY much recommend a minimum age of 13. There's some gory shit afoot. Kids under 13 must be supervised at all times.
Can I skip the scary stuff and
just go to the spooky lounge?
*Yes!* (New This Year)
We have a separate set of tickets designed for folks who'd rather not participate in our experiments. No judgement.
But be advised: you won't be totally off the hook. Instead of being scared, we're going to ask you to do some scaring. You can buy tickets for bar-only access via the tickets link that's following you obnoxiously as you scroll the site.
*The beer and wine bar will sometimes - sporadically throughout the year - open up to the general public and playact as a regular retail establishment. (Walk in, order liquid, chill in spooky space.) Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or just check back here now and then if you want to know when that happens.
Yes! All of our pathways meet ADA guidelines for width and slope, so standard mobility devices = go. But two caveats.
1. Sometimes, we ask our subjects to wear blindfolds - not being a wheelchair (or other mobility assistance device) user myself, I'm not sure what it would be like to try navigating tight corners totally sightless. We have staff that can push chairs through those parts / the whole thing, if you're cool with that.
2. Audio - and therefore hearing - is often central to our events. We're not really sure how to solve that problem for folks with hearing impairments. (We're actively seeking a partnership with ASL groups - there's nothing stopping signers from joining in. Stay tuned.)
Don't hesitate to reach out if you have more accessibility questions. (Email at the bottom of this page.) We want this thing to be as inclusive as possible. All are welcome here.
Service animals: totally cool, but if you want to bring them, they'll have to be comfortable with navigating tight corners, being in dark spaces, big loud noises, random strobe effects, strong fog scents, and, potentially, people freaking out around them. If you've got a companion like that (one that can handle a wicked overstimulating haunted house environment), rock and roll.
Can I come alone?
Yes please!!! In fact, we're planning a secret singles night. (I want to try matching people into groups using some recent data from the study of recreational fear.) Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or just check back here now and then if you want to know when that happens.
Rain or shine?
Yep. Once you cross our threshold, everything's covered. (We're not saying you won't encounter water. Just that the water won't be rain.)
What if I don’t want to wear the blindfold?
We get it. Sightless (even when its only mostly sightless) can be REALLY scary. But here's the thing - if you forego the googles, you're going to have a VERY different experience. It'll be more like a behind-the-scenes watch-your-friends-freak-out tour. Possibly fun, but not the thing we designed. Try it. Trust us. You can take them off anytime you want to bail on the experience. But you can do this. You are strong. Facing fear in a safe, voluntary setting is good for us homo sapiens. Trust us.
What if I don’t want to wear the headphones?
It would be weird and you would likely be confused the whole time. But sure, if you want we can roll with that.
What will security be like?
At least one hired security officer on site at all times. Two during peak hours.
What am I allowed to bring?
Standard theme park rules. (We copied and pasted the text below from Universal's website shhhhhh.)
All bags, backpacks, purses, packages and items are subject to inspection . Suitcases and bags with wheels are prohibited. We recommend that you leave unnecessary articles in your car and secure valuables in your trunk.
Trained Service Animals are welcome, but animals who do not meet the definition of a Service Animal will not be permitted. Service Animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the Service Animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.
Any type of explosive, weapon, item that can be used as a weapon or has the appearance of a weapon
Illegal items or substances
Clothing likely to create a danger, incite a disturbance or displaying offensive language or content
Clothing or accessories that represent someone as emergency personnel or that may create a false impression of employment
Power driven devices such as Segways (unless utilized as an ADA mobility device), Hoverboards, Drones or any other radio frequency controlled device
Any other items personnel deem to be inappropriate, disruptive or harmful
What about refunds?
Negative, unfortunately. (We’re a literal mom-and-pop operation, and we have to know how much revenue we’ve got in order to keep the thing operating day-to-day.) So, “all ticket sales are final.” (Unless WE cancel the event, in which case you’d obviously get a full refund.)
But get this:
YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR RESERVATION
DATE / TIME AS OFTEN AS YOU WANT!
(As long as it's fewer than 6 hours from your entry time.)
It's all self-service - your confirmation email will contain instructions.
Do I have to sign a waiver?
Oh yeah. We’ll supply you with a copy when you arrive, and, before you can enter the property, you’ll need to print, sign (in blood), and date in our ledger to indicate your consent to participate.
Will this be lame?
Dunno. We're still only in our second year. In 2022 we exploded out of the gate like total rubes, and we learned A LOT. (I went to Transworld. 10/10 recommend.) 2023 was bigger, weirder, and scarier. This is us leveling up because this is our dream and we WILL NOT STOP until The Gainesville Fear Garden is a top-shelf, extra extra strange haunted attraction that fills your openness-to-experience bucket to the brim. This we solemnly swear.
Give us a shot?