Tag: haunted house reviews


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Nyctophobia
Anywhere
Long Island, NY

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.)

NYCTOPHOBIA 2012

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.

Nyctophobia 2012

Nyctophobia 2012

Nyctophobia 2012

Nyctophobia 2012

Nyctophobia 2012

Nyctophobia 2012

NYCTOPHOBIA 2013

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 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Nyctophobia 2013

Final Thoughts

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. 

 

Nyctophobia’s 2014 Season

October 10 – October 26

Tickets Go On Sale: Friday, October 1, 2014 @ 7:00pm

 

Age Requirements

No one under 16 permitted. You must enter in pairs, but you will be separated.

 

Additional Information


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Haunted Acres
446 Raymond Road
Candia, NH

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.

Final Thoughts

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 

Ticket Information

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. 
 

Age Requirements

No age requirements are specified.

Additional Information


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Fright Kingdom
12 Simon Street
Nashua, NH

            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. Fright Kingdom 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 Vampire Castle 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 saysEveryone’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 Bloodmare Manor 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.

 

 

Final Thoughts

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

 

Ticket Information

General Admission: $17.00 – $24.00

VIP Fast Pass: $22.00 – $29.00

 

Age Requirements

“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.”

 

Additional Information

Fright Kingdom 2012

Fright Kingdom 2012

Fright Kingdom 2012

Fright Kingdom 2012

Fright Kingdom 2012

Fright Kingdom 2012


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The Darkness
1525 South 8th Street
St. Louis, MO

Touted as “America’s Best Haunted House,” The Darkness has been on our list of must see attractions for quite some time. This juggernaut of the haunt industry first entered the scene in 1994 and has since dominated the genre by expanding into manufacturing and distribution of their haunt sets and props. They’re also responsible for the Transworld’s Halloween and Attractions Show and produce and distribute HauntWorld magazine.  This self-proclaimed “King of Scream” is located in downtown St. Louis, and includes three attractions. Darkness Haunted House is a massive two-story traditional walkthrough haunt filled with Hollywood style props and sets, state of the art animatronics and professional lighting design.  In Terror Visions 3D you’ll experience a slew of maniacal clowns, including an Ice Scream Truck and a surprising Jack in the box. The haunts exits into The Monster Museum and gift shop, which is filled with replicas monsters from numerous feature films such as the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Alien and Predator. 

Is It Scary

According to their Official Website: “The Darkness  is not like any other haunted house you’ve ever experienced. Because of its national reputation, the creative team behind this St. Louis haunted house believe they must go above and beyond what any other haunt across the nation can do. The Darkness continues to set the standard across the World for what a premiere haunted attraction should be modeled after.”

The Raven and Black Cat says: “Visiting The Darkness is like walking into a museum of mayhem and horror. No phobia is overlooked in this massive walk-though haunt, filled with Hollywood quality sets, detailed costumes and realistic props. The Darkness is a scenic designers dream come true and the faint of heart’s worst nightmare.” 

What We Loved

There are so many awe-inspiring, innovative elements to The Darkness that there’s a lot to love. From the moment you step into queue, you’re surrounded by waterfalls, an alligator infested moat, a giant cobra – it feels like a twisted version of a Disney ride in the most horrifically delightful way. Every set piece and prop is realistic and no detail is overlooked. The lighting is impeccable and effectively draws your attention to the focus of each room. Every possible theme is explored and chock full of Hollywood quality sets and effects. My favorite animatronic is the Outbreak inspired caged monkeys. They’re truly disturbing, and a nice change from the typical zombie outbreak. I found the hallways of broken pipes particularly fun and surprising with its foggy mist and air cannons. The Darkness has many creative effects, and has mastered the art of unsure footing – one room tilts from side to side as you walk over the floor, a drawbridge drops from under your feet and as you climb into the ‘Ice Scream Truck’, the vehicle rumbles and bumps along with the video footage to create an incredibly terrifying ride.

What Could Be Better

This is a really long haunt. By the time you’re halfway through, you’ve almost forgotten what happened in the first few rooms. As a haunted house enthusiast and connoisseur, I can appreciate the amount of money that has been spent to develop the effects, animatronics and sets. It’s not surprising that they’re the dominating manufacturing in the horror world, but it’s just a little gratuitous. The event is so over produced that you find yourself studying the sets instead of experiencing the haunt as it was intended. There are surprisingly few actors in the haunt – many rooms solely rely on animatronics and all of the actors choose a startle scare method. Despite the effectiveness of the startle scares, after the first 15 minutes the scares were too predictable and in need of variation.

The Darkness creative team has spent so much time and money building the framework for a haunted masterpiece – it would be incredible if the characters and script were developed with the same attention to detail. Create variations in volume and tone of voice. Use actors as living set pieces to breathe life into the scenery. I don’t understand why haunts are still enthralled with 3D attractions, but if you’re going to have a 3D section that is that long (way too long in my biased opinion) you need to invest in plastic glasses that don’t fall off your face and fit over your four-eyed fans glasses. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in state of the art scenic design then The Darkness is the perfect haunt for you. If you can’t get enough of those special effects, there’s more where that came from – be sure to check out their other haunts: The Haunting of Lemp and Creepyworld.

The Darkness 2012 Season

October 12 – November 3

Ticket Information

General Admission:  $23.00   |  Speedpass Admission: $30.00

Children 10 & Under: $20.00

Age Requirement

No age requirements are specified.

Additional Information

 

The Darkness, 2012

The Darkness, 2012

The Darkness, 2012

The Darkness, 2012

Terror Visions 3D, 2012

Terror Visions 3D, 2012


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Dear Readers,

S & I visited 40 Haunted Houses in 8 different states in 2012. We had the opportunity to meet many haunt owners and get a special behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the country’s top haunted attractions.

What started as a joke of a challenge became an incredible journey into the haunt industry and how America celebrates Halloween. 

In the coming weeks, we will be working hard to add all of our 2012 reviews to the site.

Check out the map of our 2012 haunted house tour below.   Click on the markers for haunt information, when we visited, and links to posted reviews.

We met some amazing people and visited some brilliant and innovative haunted attractions. We can’t wait to share our adventure with you.

Enjoy,

C

http://batchgeo.com/map/19d751018645cc212f22b765c0a467dd

View 2012 Haunted House Tour in a full screen map


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Visiting Blackout Haunted House Tonight.

 

Half  Excited.   Half  Terrified.

 

You Never Know What They Have In Store For You…


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Then She Fell
2 Kingsland Avenue
Brooklyn, NY

History

Then She Fell is an extended version of last year’s Steampunk Haunted House, Through The Looking Glass.  

Our Visit

Last Friday, I traveled to what was once the outpatient wing of Greenpoint Hospital in Williamsburg, Brooklyn for a sneak-preview of Third Rail Projects’ Then She Fell presented by Arts@Renaissance. Entering through a small courtyard garden, I found myself in a room with 14 other people. Separated in small groups and sometimes completely alone, we were led through a labyrinth of detailed rooms. Sterile medical facilities provide stark contrast to the pockets of whimsical madness that wait just around the corner. You discover you are a guest at a spectacular portrayal of the mad tea party alongside the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit, White Queen, and Red Queen.  A moment later, you are observing the Red Queen in a medical setting. The movement-based storytelling that was so magical a moment before, now seems like a compulsive outburst of the mentally deranged.

This trip to Wonderland explores the dark psychological elements of Lewis Carroll’s famous tale in an immersive non-linear multi-sensory theatrical adventure. 

 

Is It Scary?

Then She Fell is a haunting whimsical journey through the lore of Alice.  Sheer perfection for those looking for an elegant blood-free way to celebrate Halloween. 

Here’s A Tip

Take the opportunity to talk with other audience members after the performance. Everyone has a different experience and not everyone visits the same rooms.  

What We Loved

The Mad Tea Party and the Mad Hatter herself are both stand outs in this intricate and detailed masterpiece. Other highlights are an eerie bedtime story told by the White Queen, exploring the detailed sets, and sampling the fine elixirs and tasty morsels that rounded out this complete sensory experience. 

What Could Be Better

I found myself wanting the characters to be a bit more forceful with their instruction. I was sometimes unsure of what they wanted me to do and would have loved the use of verbal direction with a playful or funny tone rather than relying so heavily on delicate gestures. 

Final Thoughts

Then She Fell is a truly unique Wonderland experience that will have Steampunk Haunted House fans swooning.  

Then She Fell Runs

October 3rd – November 18th 

Ticket Information

$65 – $85

*  All Performances are currently sold out. Join their Mailing List to be notified if additional tickets become available.

Age Requirements

No one under 18 will be admitted. 

Additional Information

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

Photographer: Adam Jason Photography

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ0FKKfxygM?fs=1&feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1&w=640&h=360]


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Our 2012 Haunted House Tour Begins Tomorrow!!

 

SATURDAY ITINERARY

Our First Stop is Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. We Begin with a Daytime Tour of the Historic Prison and Return at Sunset for Terror Behind The Walls.  

Then we’re off to Spring City, PA for Pennherst Asylum, which is housed in the remains of the abandoned Pennherst State School and Hospital. It’s going to be a historically creepy day. 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to Live Chat and Receive Photo Updates about these two Amazingly Disturbing Historic Locations.