Here’s Your Chance to Kill Zombies
Everyone makes haunted houses for Halloween, so the owners of Stronghold Airsoft in Abington decided to take a different approach to the scary season, and turn their 25,000-square-foot facility into an interactive zombie apocalypse scenario where survivors shoot their way through an intense course in order to survive.
The guns aren’t real, and neither are the zombies, but Patrick Tarmey, who created the Abington Zombie Apocalypse event, which runs through October 30, insists it’s about the most realistic thing there is without actually experiencing a run-in with the undead. “It’s such an intense environment. So many things are happening all at once. You have sound going, there are lights, and all the zombies are coming after you,” he said.
Tarmey runs Stronghold Airsoft, an indoor space complete with a layout filled with partitions, cars, and small-scale building structures. For the first-time ever, he has turned the site into a post-apocalyptic site, filling it with more than 40 zombie actors, and placing airsoft guns into the hands of attendees to fight the undead. All of the guns are calibrated to ensure the safety of actors and guests, he said.
“It’s like a real-life ‘Call of Duty,’ but with zombies,” said Tarmey, but the zombies won’t actually take bites from participants, and the guns don’t shoot actual projectiles—they just make loud noises and the actors play along to enhance the experience. “The gun dry-fires and makes loud noises, and all the zombies are actors, so they act the same way as if you were to shoot someone. They die a very dramatic zombie death.”
When Stronghold Airsoft isn’t a place for hunting the undead, it serves as the largest airsoft facility in the state, where customers take part in strategic team games that involve firing non-metallic BB-sized bullets at each other while wearing protective gear. The games are often overseen by referees, and resemble typical paintball gun battles.
But Tarmey said for this particular project this Halloween season he wanted to separate his daily business from the zombie experience, so he created an additional website to expand his audience. “I think zombies are a big trend right now. Obviously ‘The Walking Dead’ [show] is a huge phenomenon,” he said. “My approach to business is to always think ‘what can I do that’s entertaining, combined with something extreme, and top it off with something that’s unique?’ Zombies are a great thing, but we can’t have people just walk though and get scared. You have to do something different. We are letting people have this feeling that they can shoot what’s coming at them, and let them interact with the environment and let their minds go.”
If all goes according to plan, Tarmey will continue the trend each season, and will expand the adventure, spilling into the outdoors, once he acquires the space surrounding the facility.