As young as six years old, Jeremy Cruse remembers being fascinated by Halloween. He now owns and operates the largest haunted house in Calhoun County, The Terrortorium Haunted House & Amusements on West Choccolocco Street in Oxford.
Cruse opened his first Terrortorium in 2005 in the old train station in downtown Oxford where he spooked the town for two seasons. In 2007, Cruse moved his operation to an old house a few blocks away, but after the 2008 season, he was ready to find a permanent location for the attraction. “I’d had enough of setting up all the stuff and taking it down,” Cruse explains, “way too much trouble.”
In 2009, Cruse bought an amusement ride which is now housed inside of The Terrortorium building. The Haunted Castle dark ride originated on the Miracle Strip in Panama City, Florida and holds special meaning for Cruse who spent many summers vacationing at the Miracle Strip Amusement Park.
In 2010, the gothic-style doors of The Terrortorium opened to the public at it’s current location. “It’s continued to grow each year,” Cruse says. A ferris wheel now towers over the haunted building, and the Haunted Castle ride winds through dark corners and doorways inside. Of course, the main attraction remains the haunted hallways and rooms that comprise the walk through the haunted house.
The Terrortorium has expanded to employ more than 20 spooky creatures waiting to surprise you at every turn. Although Cruse admits that he doesn’t like to be scared himself, he enjoys being in on the fun. He plays the role of “Master of Scarymonies” who welcomes you into The Terrortorium at the entrance.
Growing up in Sherwood Forest in Oxford, Cruse recalls decorating for Halloween with his mom every year. “Halloween is always a big deal in Sherwood Forest and it still is. Tons and tons of trick-or-treaters,” he says.
When he was in elementary school, Cruse says the youth group at his family’s church decided to host a haunted forest in his parent’s backyard. “We did it for a couple of years and it was in my backyard! I just thought it was the best thing ever,” Cruse says.
Years later, Cruse and his high school buddies recreated the haunted forest. He was in 10th grade and his parents had gone on vacation. “When my parents got back home the haunted forest was already open,” Cruse laughs.
Cruse named his backyard Scarewood Forest, a play on the name of his neighborhood, and he opened it every fall while he was in high school.
Cruse says he loves to build and decorate The Terrortorium and, naturally, has plans to add even more to his haunted adventure, “I eventually want to add on. There’s an area where there can be two floors in the existing building.” All of the decorations you see inside of The Terrortorium, Cruse created. From woodwork to welding, he says, “This is my passion. I don’t hunt, I don’t golf, I fish a little, but this is what I enjoy.”
Thanks to constant updates and improvements, the 2017 haunted amusements at The Terrortorium will offer new frighteningly exciting experiences.
In addition to Halloween, Cruse uses his amusement ride for the Christmas season as well. “I transform everything,” he says. “That is a major undertaking, to switch all this out, because I only have about 3 and a half weeks.” The day after Halloween, Cruse gets back to work removing all of the spooky decor and replacing it with Christmas lights and other holiday decorations. “When you get off the ride, the kids can visit with Santa Claus and, of course, ride the ferris wheel,” he says. The Christmas ride opens the day after Thanksgiving.
His passion for doing what he loves is what makes Jeremy Cruse and The Terrortorium Haunted House & Amusements Completely Calhoun County.