We visited Fright Dome during their 10 Years of Terror celebration in 2012. Creator Jason Egan pulled out all the stops for the massive celebration housed in the Adventuredome at Circus Circus.
Fright Dome is an epic Halloween party. Five haunted houses, twenty-five amusement park rides, a stocked bar, celebrity appearances, live music, and four scare zones all capped off with a nightly dance party led by a bunch of terrifying clowns.
Christine visits Fright Dome at Circus Circus
The weekend we visited the celebrity visiting was one of the cars used in the film version of Stephen King’s Christine. Since my name is Christine, I am a huge fan. Thanks to Christine’s owner Bill Gibson, I had the privilege of sitting in Christine. I watched with awe as the car seemingly came alive.The dashboard lit up, the radio played “We Belong Together,” fog poured from the dashboard, and my seat lurched forward toward the steering wheel. It was AMAZING.
Back to the haunted houses. All of the haunts were stunning with a fast-paced tour guide format. We were completely wowed by their zombie themed haunt, Ward of the Dead, created in conjunction with George A. Romero. The facility was experiencing a breach and the tour guide shouted guidance about how to avoid the creatures. We jumped and dodged and ducked out of the way…. well, I did. Shelly, who was behind me, couldn’t hear the guide’s instructions and found herself fighting through hoards of zombies. We both had a spectacular time and the sets and costumes were incredibly detailed.
Another highlight of our trip was riding the Adventuredome roller coaster in the darkened Fright Dome environment. You can’t see what’s coming next, which adds a delicious element of surprise.
Many haunts try to create a hip party-like atmosphere around their haunted attractions, but no one succeeds like Fright Dome. Fright Dome is the ultimate Halloween party.
Fright Dome 2014 Season
October 3 – November 1
General Admission: $34.95 – $39.95 | Fast Pass: $54.95 – $59.95 | VIP Tour: $89.95
Not appropriate for children under 12.
New For 2014
Six new haunted houses including a Texas Chainsaw Massacre themed haunted house that will incorporate scenes from the film. The new Isolation Haunted House is just for fast-pass and VIP ticket holders and must be entered alone.
What is Nyctophobia? Nyctophobia began as a haunted house and has grown into its own unique brand of immersive promenade theater. Every year it is completely different. We had the pleasure of visiting Nyctophobia in 2011 for its brick and mortar haunted house beginnings. (Read our review of Nyctophobia 2011.)
When we returned in 2012 for their invite-only event, we were thrilled to discover that Nyctophobia had become a story driven immersive theater experience. You had to enter alone and play an active part in the story. This required problem solving and following directions as a rookie investigator of a company called LI Ghosts, that was looking into the disappearance of a young girl. After an initial job interview, you were blindfolded and transported to an actual motel where a detective explained the case and directed you to the crime scene. Different motel rooms were used to create flashbacks and show you what had happened to the missing girl and a mysterious entity encountered in the restroom forcefully gave instructions on how to avoid a similar fate. A highlight was trying to steal a key from around then neck of a sleeping man. When he awoke, he chased you into the parking lot where the detective screamed for you to jump into a van to be whisked back to safety. There’s nothing like running for your life amongst complete strangers.
For 2013, Nyctophobia became a 4 person team experience. Each team drove to a starting location and then with the aide of clues and a map made their way to four nearby locations. Each location provided a piece of the story and your team had to put the clues together to figure out what happened. The various locations included a ghost photographer by the side of the road, a car abandoned near train tracks, a campsite in the woods, and a corpse dumped near a lake. A highlight was running through the woods trying not to attract the attention of blind zombie-like monsters. We encountered a little confusion trying to finding locations and debating clues with teammates, but overall we had a great time.
Nyctophobia continues to be one of the most unique haunted attractions in New York. Creator, Eric Striffler isn’t afraid to take risks and the ever-changing format is exciting and full of imagination. The interactive element combined with the fact that the actors can touch you makes for an unnerving and spine chilling experience. We can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2014.
Mount Cranmore just became your worst nightmare. After years of producing the traditional walk through haunt, The Ghoullog, creator Lance Davis debuts an extreme, personalized haunt on the top of the mountain. The Cult is an hour-long haunted attraction. You must walk through alone. You will encounter violent and sexual situations. You will be touched. It’s 18+ and requires you to sign a waiver.
Is it Scary?
Creator Lance Davis says, “The Cult is the ultimate in terror. It’s not for everyone, just for the die hard. It’s for those who want the true experience of ‘real life terror’ to test your fears.”
The Raven and Black Cat says: I was one breath away from giving up my safety card and going home. I’ve never been so uncomfortable in a haunt. Well done.
2012 Walk Through
This is the experience as I can remember:
It’s the end of September, but it feels like the dead of winter as I wait to be let into The Cult. I’ve been to extreme haunts before, but I’ve never been to one at the top of a mountain. The bone chilling weather is slowly stealing my confidence and I’m getting nervous about what I’m about to experience. A military man approaches the gate and brings us to a debriefing area. We give him our personal items and are told to sit. The man asks if we have any problems with the following: darkness, heights, claustrophobia, eels, rats, bugs, needles, being fully submerged in water… what the hell am I getting myself into?
We’re given a red card on a lanyard. If we decide the experience is too much, we can give up our “safety pass” and the experience will be over. One by one we’re asked to walk towards the chair lift and follow the path. I board the chairlift and attempt to prepare myself for the long, cold ride. The anticipation is killer. It feels like the chair is moving at 2mph, did I mention I’m freezing?! It’s 24 degrees out and all I can think about is how awful it will be to ride back down the lift after being fully submerged in water. They won’t really do that, right?
I finally reach the top and stumble off the lift. I gaze to the right- at the end of a dirt path there is a dimly lit cabin. I realize someone is calling my name and hurry towards the front porch. I’m blinded by a flashlight shining in my face. A man asks if I’ve ever done anything like this before, and I say, “Yes.” Immediately I’m reprimanded for replying. I’m only allowed to answer if the haunter says, ‘speak.’ Good to know. He shoves me into a booth and faces me towards the wall. Headphones are placed on my head. “Don’t. Fucking. Move.” I can tell that there are others in the booths next to me because every few minutes he’ll scream at someone else to stop moving or drag someone inside.
After what seems like eternity, the headphones are yanked off my skull and I’m being pushed into the cabin. A doctor is in the entryway. He asks, “How much do you weigh?” When I tell him he asks, “Are you lying?” I shake my head as he grabs a vial. He opens my mouth and shoots liquid into it. Instantly, a bag is over my head and I’m swept off my feet. I’m being carried completely perpendicular to the ground. The attacker carries me outside and slams me up against a wall. My legs are spread uncomfortably wide, and a man tells me not to move. I freeze, listening for any signs of my torturer. Suddenly, he presses his entire body into mine – so hard that all the breath is squeezed from my lungs. My heart begins to pound. I’m finally released and placed on a chair. Construction ear muffs are thrust on my head. I hear the sloshing of water. Suddenly I’m being sprayed and my gloves are soaked. I wait. When it seems my attacker has disappeared, I experience a terrifyingly loud thud as someone smacks the earmuffs.
The earmuffs and bag are removed and I’m being forced back inside. A girl says, “follow the string.” I’m shoved forward to follow it through a tunnel and into a different medical office. Straight ahead a television plays static. To my right is a table with medical instruments, urine and blood samples. The doctor asks me to take a seat. A camera is pointed towards my chair- I’m being filmed. He pours something into a Dixie cup and says, “Drink.” It’s warm, salty and utterly disgusting. My gaze wanders towards the urine samples as I gag. I hear the snapping of latex gloves; he opens my mouth and uses his fingers to poke and prod at my gums. Soggy cotton balls are shoved into each side of my mouth. A plastic bag is placed over my head. The light of the camera combined with the fog from my breath makes it impossible to see what he’s doing. I feel my sleeve being lifted and a slight pinch on my arm. Blood is smeared across the plastic bag and my arm is bandaged. The doctor whispers, “Whatever he says, whatever he does – Don’t tell him where I put it!” He asks me to pick a number, I choose two. He removes the bag and shoves me through the second door in the hallway.
I wait in the small, dark space hoping my eyes will adjust to the darkness. I feel someone approach me from behind. They begin to gently caress me, getting closer, smelling my hair, my neck. I’m shoved out another door and into an S&M chamber. Death metal is blasting. Another victim is handcuffed to a pole in the corner with a bag over his head. My captor is a shirtless man wearing an S&M dog mask, with a collar and a leash. I’m thrown onto a dirty bed and my attacker crawls on top of me. He tells me there’s two ways to survive, “Give up your card or fuck the devil.” He asks, “Where did they hide it?” My silence causes him to search my body. He gives up and pulls a bag over my head. I feel him bind my wrists, the cuffs are looped through a ring over the bed. He whispers, “Are you afraid of bugs?” I shake my head no, hoping that might be a deterrent to what torture he has in store for me. “You’re going to enjoy this.” The bag is lifted off of me and my captor is holding a cage of cockroaches. He grabs one and thrusts it towards my face. I close my eyes and the hood is pulled back over my head. My shoe and sock are removed. I’m immediately aware of the cockroach crawling up and down my leg. Fuuuuuck. I’m freaking out, and trying to keep it together. I begin to breathe when he finally removes the bug. My hood is pulled up, and he asks for my card again. I shake my head no and the hood is immediately pulled back on. This time the cockroach is placed under the hood! It’s crawling on my neck. I lose it. Expletives are erupting from my mouth. My torturer reminds me that speaking is not permitted and rips a band aid off his nipple and places it on my mouth to emphasize the point. I switch tactics. Remaining as still as I can actually seems to work! He removes the cockroach and starts to untie me. I’m lifted off the bed and pushed up against a wall. The hood is removed and I see a tunnel. Inside is my boot and sock. I crawl in put them on and enter into a kitchen scene.
A 50’s style housewife is setting up for a tea party. Children’s drawings decorate the walls. She keeps trying to have a conversation with me but I can’t speak, so the scene seems pointless. She announces that it’s time for tea, so we pretend to sip tea out of demitasse cups. She asks if I’d like milk and cookies. I nod and she brings out a plate of cookies covered in fake cockroaches. It’s a completely lame attempt after the real cockroaches in the last room. Suddenly a man appears with a syringe of milk. He throws a bag over my head, lifts my sleeve and I feel a pinch as I’m given my ‘shot’ of milk.
I’m ushered into a dark room. The hood is removed and a flashlight shines on a handwritten note. It says,
“1. Find the Bowl
2. Get the Key
3. Unlock the Door”
I love this! I confirm that I understand and the light goes out. I drop to my hands and knees and start searching for a key. The floor is covered in dirt. I run into a person who yells, “wrong way!” I turn and place my hand on something small, hairy and mouse-like. Finally, I find the bowl. It’s filled with fake worms. As soon as I get my fingers on the key, someone yanks it out of my hand and shoves me through the door.
A girl opens 2 trap doors and leads me into an underground coffin. As I crawl inside, I glimpse fake spiders. The doors are slammed shut and I’m left in the dark to ponder if there are any real spiders inside with me. Just in case, I hold my head above the ground. I’m not sure why I think that will help me, but if feels like the right thing to do. A few minutes later there’s a loud banging from underneath the coffin floor. I feel the coffin rolling and I emerge in a different room. A girl pulls me out and tells me to get on the floor and crawl over to a chair. There’s a table with a telephone and a few objects under a sheet. They ask for my pass, and when I refuse they say, “Then we’ll have to mark you.” The sheet is rolled back to reveal a machete, a blowtorch and a branding iron. The girl lights the blowtorch and begins to heat up the iron. The guy grabs my neck and asks if I’m sure I want to go through with it. I nod. As the iron approaches, a bag is pulled over my head and what feels like a staple gun is pushed up against my neck. The guy whispers, “If you ever tell anyone what happened here, we’ll find you and kill you.” I’m pushed into the freezing air. The hood is ripped off my head and the man shouts, “Get off my mountain! GO!” I stumble back toward the chairlift to ride back down to safety…and the bar.
What We Loved
The Cult skillfully builds anticipation before the haunt begins. Having a list of possible scenarios that I had to agree to (both on the waiver and verbally) really had my imagination going. I spent almost the entire chair lift ride imagining how terrible it will be if I had to ride back down after being fully submerged in water…with eels. I love it when I’m given a task in a haunt. Having to find the key was challenging and interrupting me before I completed all the tasks made the startle scare more effective. I don’t think I’ve ever had to ingest anything for a haunt. Even though I saw the urine samples on the table, it never occurred to me that the Dixie cup would be filled with a warm, salty, DISGUSTING beverage. It was both shocking and disturbing. The cockroaches were TERRIFYING. I’m not even really afraid of bugs, but I definitely don’t want them crawling on me. I loved that I was given battle wounds; the staple gun was dipped in ink, leaving a black mark on my neck, and the ‘injection site’ was covered with a ‘bloody’ bandage.
What Could Be Better
I liked the idea of the hidden medical implant and keeping it a secret, but certain scenes – particularly the 1950’s housewife scene – muddled the plot. Be clear about why we’re going through the experience, it grounds all the craziness in reality. In the beginning, there should be music/static in the headphones to block out outside noises. I could hear what was happening with other victims and as a result knew what to expect. I loved the idea of ‘marking us’ with a branding iron, and the blowtorch was definitely intimidating, but as soon as the staple gun touched my neck it was clear I wasn’t being burned. Use ice to make the gun so cold that it feels hot on the skin. I think there was a missed startle scare opportunity: after you take the chair lift back down you have to walk through a dark field back to the haunt area and it would be the perfect moment for one final scare after victims think the experience is over.
The setting is terrifying, the actors are committed and the scares are uniquely disturbing. If you’re looking for an extreme haunted experience, The Cult is everything you’ve been waiting for.
The Cult 2012 Season
September 28 – October 28
General Admission: $30.00
No one under 18 permitted and you must walk through alone.
Cranmore Mountain Resort chose not to bring back The Cult for the 2013 season. Ask The Ghoullog Creators to bring back The Cult in 2014!
The Haunted Mansion was the first haunted house I ever attended. (Leave it to Disney to create a haunted attraction where a 4 year-old can make it through unscathed) The Mansion’s 999 ghouls have been haunting guests since 1971, but that doesn’t mean the scares are old as dirt. Disney continues to update technology, while paying homage to everyone’s favorite unearthly characters. A recent update includes an interactive queue that allows guests to play ghastly tunes, help a ‘posthumous poetess’ complete a rhyme, and decode a ‘cryptogram’. Despite its mild scare factor, The Haunted Mansion remains a favorite of adults and children alike, providing spooktacular entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.
Is it Scary?
Disney says: “The Haunted Mansion contains some mildly frightening subject matter. But there is no gore, the ghostly residents are friendly and the experience is appropriate for all ages.”
The Raven and Black Cat Says: Disney’s Haunted Mansion is the perfect introduction to the Haunt world, particularly for timid guests that want to experience something spooky without startle scares and gore.
What We Loved
There are many spooky moments that make The Haunted Mansion a classic. The stretching portrait chamber never fails to frighten a few unsuspecting children. I always look forward to the transparent ghastly dancers in the Grand Ballroom. I love all the singing ghosts in the graveyard; there are so many ghosts you always seem to catch something you haven’t seen before. The new animation of the hitchhiking ghosts is really fun.
What Could Be Better
In terms of a family friendly haunt experience, The Haunted Mansion is ‘practically perfect in every way.’ However, I wish that Disney World’s Haunted Mansion had a Nightmare Before Christmas theme during Christmas time. It’s unfair that only the west coast gets to experience such a treat.
The Haunted Mansion is an eerie ride that the whole family can enjoy. Since it’s open year round, it’s a great way to experience some spooky Halloween fun at any time of the year.
There’s something about driving down an unlit road through acres of woods that really gets you in the Halloween spirit. Haunted Acres is the first water park haunt I’ve ever been to and I’m not quite sure what to expect, but the rural setting provides a blanket of darkness to swallow any hints of jovial summer festivities and provides a sinister tone for a spook walk. The haunt is made up of 5 separate attractions encircling the central bonfire and the Toxic Tavern, where guests are encouraged to hang out and sip on adult beverages or hot cocoa. If you’re feeling extra brave, buy a ticket for the zombie zip line – a zombie themed adventure ride!
There are five haunted attractions to choose from. Cell Block 13: a prison filled with flesh eating inmates, Maze From Hell: a maze cloaked in darkness, 3-D Nuclear Accident House: a sabotaged nuclear plant where a breed of mutant lunatics wait to torture you, Quarter Mile Nightmare Walk: Haunted Acres signature walk-through haunt filled with handmade sets, interesting effects and familiar horror legends, and make your exit through Graveyard of the Damned: an abandoned graveyard filled with real hand cut gravestones, a ‘human floor’ and the creepiest crypt keeper I’ve ever encountered.
Is It Scary?
Haunted Acres says: “Haunted Acres continues to maintain its reputation as the scariest, most terrifying, blood letting attraction in New England!”
The Raven and Black Cat says: Haunted Acres is a nostalgic Halloween experience perfect for those looking to avoid the overproduced store bought haunts packed with gore.
What We Loved
It’s fun to navigate through the confusing design of Cell Block 13. The false and hidden doors keep you on your toes and allow for some fun startle scares. The Maze from Hell has an equally confusing design, but uses pyrotechnics to startle unsuspecting victims. The Graveyard of the Damned‘s mausoleum and vampire section is incredibly detailed and is really enhanced by the fresh graves and real hand carved headstones. The star attraction is the Nightmare Walk, filled with unique handmade sets, which explore an array of themes from witches to hillbillies, a bloody princess trapped in a castle, even pirates…it’s a fun, nostalgic haunt where everyone will find something to love and something to startle them. My favorite moment had to be crossing an amazing drawbridge – it’s covered in a thick blanket of fog, a slew of Alice in Wonderland-esque wrong way signs, and a blinding strobe light that sets you up for a brilliant startle scare.
What Could Be Better
Haunted Acres has mastered the art of the startle scare – actors are trained to get in and get out, avoiding that awkward moment when they have nothing else to say or do. That being said, with five haunts to explore you need more variation. Hire a few actors that can improvise and utilize at least one in each haunt. Use actors as living set pieces to breathe life into scenes. The success of the handcrafted Nightmare Walk proves that you don’t need high tech effects or expensive sets to be spooky, but when animatronics are dated and poorly timed or the handmade sets are sloppy it starts to take away from the experience. Retire old animatronics or mask them in strobe and fog as a distraction for startle scares.
The Maze isn’t truly dark, so try using disorientating effects like extremely bright lights followed by darkness, strobe, fog, unsure footing and unpleasant wall surfaces to make it more challenging and fun. Most of the attractions are missing a final scare – everyone loves a big finish that sends them running out the door. With such a fun Halloween party atmosphere, it’s a shame that so much time is spent waiting in line. You will have happier guests and more business at the Toxic Tavern if you utilize a timed ticketing system.
Here’s A Tip
Haunted Acres is a great haunt for a group to attend. Plan on going on Date Night (Thursdays) when tickets are two for $40 or upgrade to VIP and enjoy a complimentary beverage. The lines will be shorter and you’ll get all the scares without some of the teenage crowd.
If your ideal Halloween experience is telling ghost stories by the campfire, you’ll enjoy Haunted Acres. It’s the perfect wooded traditional walk through haunt without all the blood, guts and gore and you don’t have to worry about the actors touching you.
Haunted Acres 2012 Season
October 5 – October 31
Adult Combo: $27.00 | Child (12 and under) Combo: $19.00
Adult VIP: $39.00 | Child VIP: $27.00
VIP: Skip the lines and get a complimentary non-alcoholic beverage
Thursday Date Night Adult Combo: 2 for $40
*Haunted Acres also accepts competitors coupons, so put those $5 off Spooky World coupons to good use.
Hauntsmith Randy Bates has been scaring area residents for over 20 years with his top ranking haunted attraction, The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride. Located just outside of Philadelphia, the Bates Motel, has drawn national attention with several features on the Travel Channel and in USA Today. So, when I arrived at Arasapha Farm in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, I had some understandably large expectations, but I learned very quickly that Mr. Bates does not disappoint.
Visiting the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is like experiencing the pivotal scene from every horror movie on your Netflix queue back to back. Not only do they have a haunted house inside a full size replica of Hitchcock’s famous “Psycho” mansion, but Arasapha Farm is also home to an equally elaborate haunted corn maze, and one of the most incredible haunted hayrides in the country.
What makes the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride unique isn’t the incredible Hollywood-quality sets and special effects, but a solid understanding of how sensory details complete an environment and create tension and distraction for an audience. For example, no horror movie is complete (or scary!) without a soundtrack and Bates Motel incorporates detailed customized music and realistic sound effects to set the tone for each section of every attraction.
Is It Scary?
According to their Official Website : “America’s Most Horrifying Motel.”
The Raven & Black Cat says: Imagine being surrounded by a series of horror movie sets and special effects in the middle of the woods. Then add monsters that can touch you.
What We Loved
A common problem with hayrides is that once the zombies and crazed killers reach the side of the wagon, they have nowhere to go. This is not the case at the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride! When these monsters reach the wagon they launch themselves into it! Realizing that the usual rules don’t apply creates the ultimate feeling of unease and adrenaline. We also loved the hayride’s mine shaft section. The sound effects and downward movement created a chilling claustrophobic feeling of being trapped. Other highlights include the man-eating crows and gators in the corn maze and the Bates Motel’s greenhouse and room of taxidermy.
What Could Be Better
The set design and special effects are so complex and detailed. It would be incredible to see the same time and attention applied to the acting. A complex character (with a back story) that reacts to their environment and moves with intention is more real and infinitely scarier.
The Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride is perfect Halloween entertainment that will scare most and captivate all. Even the most fearless will enjoy visiting the dark and imaginative world of Randy Bates.
A pedophile priest has asked me to sign a waiver and a fire-breathing clown has bitten my ear. ‘S’ & I are waiting to enter “Gates of Hell,” the R-rated Freakling Bros. attraction and we can already tell that this is going to be one hell of a good time.
Freakling Bros.’ Trilogy of Terror looks like a small carnival in a shopping center parking lot. You’d never guess that a semi-circle of trailer haunts would house such brilliant and horrifying immersive theatre. “Circus of Horrors” and “Castle Vampyre” are thematically detailed, interactive and full of creative startle scares. They are excellent one-of-a kind haunted houses, but the R-rated “Gates of Hell” is where Freakling Bros. really shows off. The excess and shock value of Vegas is channeled into an extreme haunt that can not only touch you, but lift you right off your feet. “Gates of Hell” utilizes intense physical contact, professional wrestlers and the legal amount of electricity that can be used for entertainment purposes. It is deliciously intense and well worth a trip across the country.
Is It Scary?
According to their Official Facebook Page: “We have the most intense haunts in town!”
The Raven & Black Cat says: Freakling Bros. Trilogy of Terror is the most intense and terrifying haunt in Las Vegas.
What We Loved
Freakling Bros. has mastered the art of theatrical illusion and they pair it with over the top interactive concepts that are terrifying and fun all at once. We loved struggling to escape the room filled with large rubber balls, surviving the firing squad, and swinging on a rope over a very convincing bottomless pit. The detail is impeccable. Each room contains an unsuspecting surprise and they take great care to make you feel very safe right before they pull the rug out from under you. Inside “Gates of Hell,” I watched a camouflaged attacker appear out of nowhere, grab ‘S’ by the foot, then knock her down and drag her away down a long hallway. Easily one of the most frightening visuals I have ever experienced inside a haunted house.
What Could be Better
When we visited there was a flirty (ear biting) fire-breathing clown entertaining guests waiting in line. (Scorch The Clown) The spacing in between groups is near perfection, but it means that lines can be a bit lengthy. A timed ticketing system would cut wait time significantly and open up potential for additional entertainment like creepy games and performances.
Freakling Bros. has been terrifying Las Vegas for more than 30 years. The ‘Trilogy of Terror’ is a must-see for horror enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies, and anyone who’s never before been scared by a haunted house.
Freakling Bros. 2012 Season
September 28 – October 31
Circus of Horrors: $12.00 | Castle Vampyre: $12.00 | Gates of Hell : $15.00
Freak Pass (All 3): $30.00 | All Night Pass (Unlimited Trips Through All 3): $40.00
Add On: T-Shirt VIP Line Pass (Good All Season): $10.00
Circus of Horrors &Castle Vampyre: No one under 7 years old admitted.
Gates of Hell : Must be at least 17 years of age unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Horror legend Eli Roth can create blockbuster films on a shoestring budget, so we were excited to see what kind of mayhem he would conjure up with $10 million and a prime location on the Las Vegas strip. Eli Roth’s Goretorium is Sin City’s first year round haunt and with the tag line, ‘You’re F#@ked’ it promises all the gore and terror that Eli Roth fans have come to know and love.
In typical Vegas fashion, upon entering you’re invited to sip on some liquid courage at Bloody Mary’s bar. The namesake drink is apparently all the rage (we didn’t get to try one) and comes in a gloriously bloody cup. Once you’ve had your fill of beverages, you’re led into the lobby of the haunt. You learn the history of the Delmont hotel, an iconic but unsavory family-owned establishment with rumors of missing guests, torture, cannibalism and worse. There’s a fun photo-op (what attraction would be complete without one?) and then you begin the tour of the hotel, where you’ll encounter buckets of blood, guts and gore. The haunt exits into the Babydoll Lounge, a club with soul-sucking views of the strip, libations and of course, a wall of creepy, creepy dolls. Shudder. Make sure you check out the bathrooms –they’re amazing! No Vegas attraction is complete without a Wedding Chap-Hell and gift shop; Goretorium has a plethora of bloody merchandise in case you don’t want to come home with a generic Vegas souvenir like fuzzy dice or the clap.
Is It Scary?
Eli Roth Says: “We are creating the most intense live terror experience a person can have, incorporating the latest technology with old-fashioned scares. This will be the premiere haunted experience in the world, filled with all kinds of surprises. I’ve spent years planning this, and all my nightmares are finally coming true. No matter which haunted houses you’ve been through, you have never been through anything quite like the ‘Goretorium’.”
The Raven & Black Cat says: Goretorium will splash you in the face with an unhealthy dose of gore.
What We Loved
We love the elevator bit in the beginning. The actors do a great job making it feel like a show and the effect is really fun. The body part infinity tunnel is a great use of an effect that is often florescent and cheesy; Goretorium manages to make it equally gross and disorienting. We’re always amused by interactive elements, so the dry cleaning scene is one of our favorite parts. The partially burned bodies in toxic acid are the perfect excuse for a black light. The wax figures in the wedding chapel are super creepy, and the zombie reception guests do a great job of creating living, breathing scenery; you really feel like you’re walking into a zombie feast. The incredibly detailed, original sets combined with gruesome effects (dismemberment, burning flesh, and squirting blood) help Goretorium live up to its name.
What Could Be Better
The set and effects designers are top notch. Everything is so gross and so detailed that you want to stop and study it; unfortunately the lighting is so poor that there are times you can barely tell where you’re supposed to go let alone see the sets in front of you. The lighting should guide you from room to room, showing you where to look to set you up for the scares. Speaking of which…where are the scares?
Yes, Goretorium is jam packed with gore, but blood and guts don’t make you jump or scream. While we applaud the use of actors as living scenery (one of our favorite things) there needs to be more startle scares to keep us on our toes. I appreciate that Sin City can get away with an R Rated haunt in terms of gore, sexual innuendo and language (one of our favorite moments was when an actor yelled, “Hey, Blondie! Do the drapes match the curtains and can I have a taste?”) Unfortunately, I’m not sure if that’s enough to live up to the tag line, ‘You’re F#@ked.’ If you’re going to be an adult only, R Rated haunt then you should provide an option to be touched.
It seems like Goretorium is marketed towards Eli Roth’s hardcore horror fans, but designed for the touristy Vegas crowd. The sets are amazing, there’s tons of gore and it’s not so scary that the more timid haunted house crowd won’t make it through. As a bonus, Eli Roth promises to change it up seasonally, so we’re definitely looking forward to checking out Goretorium in the future.
Eli Roth’s Goretorium Runs
Standard Admission: $29.95 | Death Row VIP Pass: $50.00
Chap-Hell Weddings: $666 and up (Includes VIP admission)
Carbon County Prison in Jim Thorpe, PA was modeled after Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary and was operational from 1871 until 1995. It may look like a miniature version of Eastern State, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in capital punishment. (There were never any executions held at Eastern State Penitentiary.) Not only were inmates executed at Carbon County Prison, but the gallows were located in the middle of the cell block for all to see. The site holds a place in history for the 1877 hangings of the ‘Molly Maguires,’ a group of Irish coal miners sentenced to death after a sensational and corrupt trial. After the prison closed its doors in 1995, it was reopened as the the Old Jail Museum.
We arrived in the adorable/creepy Victorian town of Jim Thorpe on a chilly Saturday evening to attend one of the Old Jail Museum’s seasonal ghost tours held on select Saturdays in October. Tours begin every 20 min and the line is entirely outdoors, so don’t forget your mittens. The guided ghost tour is an opportunity to experience the building at night with dim lighting. Various ghost sightings and other unexplained events are recounted along the tour. The most famous is a ghostly hand print left behind by one of the Molly Maguires as proof of his innocence. The wall has been scrubbed, painted, and partially replaced and the eerie hand print remains.
Is It Scary?
According to the Official Facebook Page: “Hear Tales of Strange Happenings & Hunt Ghosts!”
The Raven & Black Cat says: No one is going to jump out and scare you, but the history and energy of the building is truly chilling.
What We Loved
The story of the mysterious hand print is very creepy, but the most horrifying parts of the tour are the gallows at the end of the cell block and the dark basement dungeon used for solitary confinement. It’s terrifying to think about the fact that it was still being used as a prison as recently as 1995.
What Could Be Better
The ghost tours are only held on select Saturdays in October and most likely staffed with local volunteers. The guides sharing the mysterious happenings ranged from high school students reading awkwardly from note cards to spirited amateur actors. Overall, we felt that the ghost tours would benefit from a less is more approach. The building is so incredibly scary that it can get into the Halloween spirit just by dimming the lights. Adding store bought Halloween decor to an actual prison dungeon comes off looking silly. A few flameless candles would be simple, elegant, and downright scary.
Real life horror leaves something behind. You can feel it as soon as you set foot in the Old Jail Museum. If you find yourself in the Jim Thorpe area, the Old Jail Museum is a must see.
For 2012, Tim and Angela Dunn have teamed up with haunt veteran Steve Kopelman (The Nest and Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House) to create 70,000 scream inducing square feet of haunted house goodness. FrightKingdom admission includes 5 different walk-through attractions:
Apocalypse Z is a terrifying journey through a government quarantined, zombie infestation. Try to avoid contamination as you encounter infected prisoners and militants. Bloodmare Manor introduces you to the Victorian haunts of the Bloodmare family. This more traditional haunt features fun startle scares and creepy décor. Carnival Of Corpses is the circus themed 3D attraction starring a cast of demonic clowns and sideshow freaks. Grim features a twisting, turning maze of absolute darkness. As you feel your way through the dark, you encounter shocking pyrotechnics, shifting floors and hidden ghouls. The last haunt leads you through VampireCastle where a throng of blood thirsty immortals invite you to be their guest of honor…for dinner.
Is It Scary?
Fright Kingdom proclaims: “We’re not Spooky, We’re Scary!”
The Raven and Black Cat says: Everyone’s definition of spooky or scary is different, but with five varying themes Fright Kingdom provides an opportunity for everyone to be scared. Whether it’s zombies, vampires, clowns or complete darkness, Fright Kingdom will expose and embody your deepest fears.
What We Loved
Long lines are practically impossible to avoid when it comes to haunted attractions, but Fright Kingdom does their best to entertain you while you wait. You’re free to roam the ‘Monster Midway’ – play gore inspired games, have your fortune read, and peruse autographed slasher movie posters while you wait for your party’s turn to enter the haunt. Between attractions, themed queues are packed with animatronics, creepy artifacts and detailed sets. Our favorite was a delightfully disorienting circus tent maze filled with maniacal clowns.
We love how the infirmary section of Apocalypse Z smells of sickness and decomposing flesh. The startle scares in BloodmareManor are really fun, especially the haunted staircase.
Thank you for using plastic 3D glasses in Carnival of Corpses! We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had those stupid paper glasses blown off our face by an air cannon.
Many haunted houses have a “pitch black” attraction or section that is meant to deprive you of your eyesight, but most fail to deliver a heart-stopping sensory deprivation experience that will leave you disoriented and blindly grasping the air. By virtually avoiding all spillover lighting, Grim successfully utilizes the universal fear of the unknown and forces participants to reach out and discover who and what is lurking within the labyrinth
What Could Be Better
The problem with traditional walk-through haunted houses is that sometimes traffic gets backed up, and groups get stuck in a room. Once the startle scare has been achieved, it can become awkward if the actor doesn’t know what to say or how to react when their victims linger rather than run. Creating a specific character for each actor, with an action and potential dialogue will help solve this problem. Building upon that, create a story for the entire haunt and think of the event having an arc. Vary the type of scares…loud, soft, slow, fast to keep guests on their toes.
Animatronics have many uses in a haunt, but when they’re outdated they can be silly and take you out of the moment. Hide older models in a mask of heavy fog or strobe and use them as a distraction for an actor to sneak in for a startle scare.
In a region where Halloween often brings sleet or snow, it’s nice to have a haunted option that’s entirely indoors. An indoor location also means the haunt owners can rework during the winter and maybe even offer off-season events – pretty, pretty, please? Fright Kingdom is more than a fun, traditional haunted house – it’s a whole nights worth of Halloween entertainment, and with it’s ‘Spooky’ competition offering lower quality haunts, outside for twice the price, it’s a fun affordable way to celebrate the Halloween spirit.
Fright Kingdom 2012 Season
September 28 – October 31
General Admission: $17.00 – $24.00
VIP Fast Pass: $22.00 – $29.00
“New England FearFest recommends parental discretion for children under the age of 12. Although we will not refuse the entry of children, we ask each parent to make the judgment call, as you know your child best. If you think that you, or your children, just aren’t up for all the thrills and chills of New England FearFest, you should consider our “Hardly Haunted” Matinee Performance.”