The Circle of Screams
America’s only haunted drive-in theater is here
There’s a spooky new attraction creeping its way into The 570 that is sure to give even the most accomplished scare-seekers goose bumps from severed head to bloody toe. The Circle Entertainment Complex on the Scranton-Carbondale highway in Dickson City is celebrating the grand opening of its newest attraction, Circle of Screams, on Friday, Sept. 21 at 6 p.m. The haunt is open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Halloween night through Nov. 4.
The Circle Drive-in Theater, built in 1945, is one of the longest running drive-in movie theaters in America, and operates from the spring to September each year, showing family- friendly feature films. It also hosts the Circle Flea Fair, the largest flea market and farmers’ market in northeastern Pennsylvania with hundreds of vendors every Sunday from March to November. Expanding its horizons, the Circle can now add another feature to its resume; America’s only haunted drive-in theater.
The idea started when drive-in owner Mike Delfino saw an advertisement for Field of Screams in Lancaster, voted America’s number one haunted attraction. Owner of the Circle Drive-in since 1963, the 91 year old wanted to see the haunted production with his own eyes. “Fabulous is not the word for it,” Delfino said. “We thought that we would duplicate it for this area which really warrants an attraction like this. It’s something that the area can use and I think people will really enjoy what we have done.” Soon after, the team behind Field of Screams was hired as consultants, visited the area and got things started. From there, the pieces just started to fall into place.
Manager of the Drive-in, Dave Castelli, was more than willing to help Delfino make his ideas and vision come to fruition. “What Mike wants to do is turn this back into a destination,” Castelli said. “A great guy who happens to be 91 said to me, ‘I have some great ideas; Will you help me get them off the ground?’ Of course, I will. I’m honored to do it. This is Mike’s idea; his brain child. This isn’t just another haunt. It is the only haunted drive-in theater in the United States of America.”
The “Four Terrifying Events” that make up Circle of Screams are the Hayride of Torture, Carnival of Fear 3D, Maze of Torment, plus a horror movie shown on the Circle’s giant screen.
The Circle of Screams will feature a steady rotation of horror films displayed on the largest outdoor operating screen in Pennsylvania. The haunt’s opening night will feature the Twisted Pictures’ produced Saw, with plans to showcase more cult classic films that younger adults may not be familiar with in the upcoming weeks.
During the Hayride of Torture, attendees will travel on a half-mile dirt road by a tractor-pulled wagon deep into the dark woods where they will encounter several scenarios that are sure to get the blood pumping. From mad men with tempers and chainsaws, and paths lined with eerie scarecrows, to medical experiments gone awry, car wreck craziness and an electric chair demonstration that walks the fine line between pain and pleasure, the hayride doesn’t leave much room for you to catch your breath.
Further into the woods is the Maze of Torment. The fence maze is filled with fog, a disorienting strobe light and scares around every corner. Visitors will fight their inner fears and navigate through the maze while avoiding monsters and creeps looking to knock their socks off. After successfully completing the maze, guests will traverse their way through the pitch black woods upon a Troll Path filled with even more scary encounters with demented crazies and horror-filled scenarios on their way toward safety and sanity.
Just when you think you might have had enough, there is one more attraction to further twist reality, and your mind. The Carnival of Fear 3D is an optical and aural assault on the body. The funhouse atmosphere is overflowing with images of giant killer teeth that seem to be waiting for their next victim, killer clowns looking for new blood and deafening screams from people in peril and pain. The Carnival is just dark enough to make you unsure of your footing and surroundings, and just bright enough to see the frightening sights and appreciate the pure artistry of the attraction. Your eyes and brain will both need plenty of time to adjust after your visit inside the carnival halls.
Delfino has called the Circle Drive-in his home for almost five decades, and is by no means ready to wrap up his work days and sit back and relax. There are plenty more ideas like the Circle of Screams he may want to develop floating around inside his head.
“It keeps me young,” Delfino said. “You have to have something to do. If you do something you love like I do, you’ll never work a day in your life; and I really love what I do.”
— tom graham
Circle of Screams is located at 1911 Scranton Carbondale Highway (Business Rte. 6), Dickson City. It is open from Sept. 21 through Nov. 4, every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Halloween night. The ticket booth opens at 6 p.m. and closes at 11 p.m. General admission is $25 per person regardless of age. The attraction is not recommended for children under 10. Purchase tickets on location at the ticket booth with credit cards or cash. The Circle of Screams is open rain or shine. Visit www.circleofscreams.com for more details.