Zombie apocalypse scenario could happen in Hudson with successful Kickstarter campaign

by Tim Troglen | reporter Published:

Hudson -- Imagine walking along a dark corridor in an abandoned factory as silhouettes of idle machinery form shadows appear to move. Disembodied moans mix with ambient industrial sounds as shuffling hoards of flesh-eating undead hunt their next meal.

Unreal?

Not if two local men have their way.

If Thomas Song and Troy Acker can raise enough money, the undead will not only walk the streets of Northeast Ohio later this year -- they will also attack.

OK, maybe not real zombies, but the best actors in make-up the two friends can afford to hire.

Song and Acker have launched a Kickstarter campaign, which runs through July 7, to try to raise enough pledge money to bring their "Survive the Dead" zombie experience to a local venue. The "real-life zombie simulation" will allow people to pit their survival skills against an army of undead who can only be killed by a well-placed safety dart shot. However, the darts and guns that shoot them are placed along the course and must be found before the participant becomes a sinewy lunch.

"This attraction is the first of its kind," Song, a 2001 Stow High School graduate, said.

"But we need about $55,000 to do this for a month," Song said. "We are actually going to pay our zombies, as compared to some of the other places who have volunteers -- which is kind of scary."

Acker, a 2001 Hudson High School graduate and former Hudson paramedic, said he "cooked up the idea about six months ago."

"Growing up, I was always a fan of horror movies,"Acker said. "And in recent years, it seems like the zombie genre has really taken off, and it's taken me with it."

Acker and Song want to create "something unique that [players] have not done before," Acker said.

"The media is inundated right now with zombie movies and zombie television shows," Acker said. "And I think when everybody's home watching these things, they are thinking, 'What would I do?'"

Acker wants to give people the chance to find out, he said.

"On this project we want them to decide where they want to go, what they want to do or if they want to run," Acker said. "And when they are scared, I want the players to have to wrestle with their fear, almost having to overcome it and force themselves to work as a team."

Acker described his goal for players as a "high-level of immersion" in the experience.

"We have scouted out some locations but unfortunately we have a pretty tight budget here," Acker said. "Our primary focus has been getting the Kickstarter page started."

The advanced sale ticket for the event is $35, but groups discounts are available, Song said.

"It will be a 30-minute block where we just drop you off," Song said. "We want it to really feel like your time has arrived."

While there are "zombie paint ball" games around, Song said players lose the experience of actual fear because the actors portraying zombies and players are wearing masks.

"Our goal is to really make it more of an experience," Song said. "Like you are actually going to feel scared and actually feel like you would if you were in the zombie apocalypse versus just running around going crazy with paint balls."

The friends have looked at venues in Stow, Cleveland and Akron as possible locations, Song said. However, unless they can raise the estimated $55,000, they cannot plan too far into the future.

"We have no problem doing it in Hudson or wherever as long as we find a good spot," Song said. "This could easily open up in Hudson."

Acker designed a course he would want to play, Acker said.

"I love haunted houses," Acker said. "But I've always wanted to make my own decisions and instead of just getting startled by a person jumping out in front of me, I wanted to learn how to push past that and act under fear and stress and stuff like that -- that's what kind of fascinates me with this whole concept."

Blocks of time for younger children can be purchased, as well as group time and rates, Acker said.

"For groups, we can tailor the experience to the age level,"Acker said. "We don't want the children running out of her crying and screaming. We want them to have fun. But, as for the young adults, and the adults, I will guarantee a scary experience."

However none of the experience will happen unless the project is funded "on the front end," Acker said.

"To even get this project off the ground it's going to be very costly," Acker said. " The profit margin for event like this is very low because of the amount of staff are going to require. We are encouraging people to act now if you're interested in this so we can get this off the ground."

Email: ttroglen@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9435

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