Belfast Telegraph

Barry's Ghost train back on track after spook-tacular transformation

By Brett Campbell

A spooky amusement ride on the Antrim coast that has been terrifying visitors for decades has been stripped to its bones and given a major revamp.

The popular ghost train at Barry's Amusements in Portrush is a favourite of tourists, families, students and even newlyweds seeking memorable photos of their big day.

Owner Kristina Trufelli said that pulling off the redesign and "striking the right balance of fear" was no easy task.

"It's not the same as doing a mobile fun house because we are a fixed building," she explained.

"We have got effects from the USA in the past and they were OK, but only just."

In an effort to source a more local supplier of spooky materials, Kristina stumbled upon Dead Walk Designs Ltd and was more than impressed by the skeletons in its closet.

"I couldn't believe what they were capable of doing and I just kept thinking it's time for a change, even though it was a difficult decision," Ms Trufelli said.

She reached out to Shaun Davies and Rachel Bemrose, who founded the creative company in 2008.

"Shaun was so excited, he said he'd always wanted to do a ghost train," she said.

It wasn't long before a team of talented designers arrived from England to scope out the unique venue and start working on it.

But they also had to sit down and calculate the level of terror they were aiming to inject into the hearts of trembling ticket-holders.

"They are capable of going really gruesome, but it was important to get the level of fright just right. We want to give children and adults a bit of a scare, not traumatise them."

The business owner has been left delighted with the frightening results.

"I absolutely love what they've come up with and it was fascinating watching them build it," she said.

The interior, which has been split into three segments - including a haunted house and a frightening forest - is decorated with all sorts of petrifying props and creepy characters.

Before the train carriage slams through the exit door it whisks passengers through a mad professor's dungeon.

"It was meant to take a month, but the team stayed a little longer and they are now back in England working on the finishing touches," she added.

Three gargoyles are currently being assembled in the Dorset horror prop workshop and will be applied in a few weeks.

The design specialists also devised a clever way to preserve a 30-year-old mural by the late artist Bobby Anderson.

"I didn't want it to be lost, so they framed the main bits of it to make it look like a haunted house from the outside," she said.

The new look also comes with eerie sound effects to provide a chilling atmosphere.

"I think Shaun developed them from his home. Who knows what his poor neighbours thought he was doing when they heard the screams," Ms Trufelli said.

When she recently commisisoned artist Patricia Logue to paint a picture of Barry's, she was asked what it is most associated with.

"The ghost train, and I think that's true for most," she replied.

"It's a bit of an institution, people even come here on their wedding day, which is a huge honour."

A post on Dead Walk Designs' Facebook page says "this has to be, hands down, the most fun we have had on a project for a long time". It also says the entire team "worked their socks off" and enjoyed every minute of it.

Belfast Telegraph

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