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Senior Review Crew Member

Ted (Captn_DeathSchlager)

Photo of Ted

Why do I like Halloween? Here are a few reasons why my ghoulish tendencies come out for Halloween every year: (1) Imagination: What other holiday encourages kids to pretend they're adults and adults to pretend they're kids? (2) Creativity: Fueling our imagination while providing a chance to showcase our creativity so that our alter egos can shamelessly take center stage for a day! (3) Originality: No two Halloweens are ever the same! (4) …plus the candy is a pretty nice perk too. J

What do I look for in a haunt? These are elements that give me the heebee jeebies at a haunt: (1) Anticipation of the element of Surprise such as wondering through a dimly lit hallway (2) interactive haunts that include you in the action rather than relegate you to the mere role of spectator (3) techno-effects that excite your senses while challenging your mind to figure out how they did that.

Other Years: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014

2018 Reviews

Abandoned Haunted House Complex

by Captn_DeathSchlager (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 12, 2018 at about 6:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review

If you're reading this review you fall into one of three categories. (1) Never been to a haunted house before; (2) Been to a haunted house but not Abandoned; (3) you've toured Abandoned in that past.

For those of you in Category (1)...if you or someone in your group is under the age of 10 you may want to think twice before attending this haunt. For the first time in all my haunt going years I actually witnessed a dad and son walking back out the haunt ENTRANCE with the child in frightful tears. (...I would imagine this does happen periodically but this was the first time I was actually walking in as someone was walking out...what are the chances!?!) This haunt should not be taken lightly as you won't find a scarier haunt in Wisconsin!

For those of you in Categories (1) and (2), if you're capable of being scared (i.e. you're not 100% fearless) this haunt WILL scare you. If this haunt doesn't scare you, or at least make you jump on several occasions, it's very unlikely any haunt in Wisconsin will do that for you either. If you're a gore goer or techno-scare junky like me Abandoned will NOT disappoint you.

For those of you in Category (3), Abandoned’s scare tactics have not changed in 2018. (i.e. walk-through style in your face scares with brief encounters with ghouls) You'll be pleasantly surprised with how many new techno-scares await in Hysteria as well as a few new twists in Ambush. 2018 was my 3rd consecutive year visiting Abandoned and my most favorite edition yet!

Miscellaneous thoughts you might find helpful:

* Ever wondered how many ghouls await you at a haunt or what they all look like? If so, Abandoned gives you this chance every night at 6:45pm with "The Rising". Simply put "The Rising" will AMAZE you with how many elaborately made up monsters are onsite to scare you silly. Not to mention the spectacle of the parade is definitely worth the price of admission for it! (side note: viewing the parade is free but it's certainly worth checking out!)

* You may have read that Abandoned is comprised of 3 haunts (...named Hysteria, Ambush and Stalker) In my opinion, there are actually only 2 haunts here. The best way to describe Hysteria and Ambush is one haunt with an intermission in the middle. You can't pay for each of these haunts separately like you can Abandoned's Big Brother Haunt Burial Chamber. NOR, are you forced to get back in a long line after you complete Hysteria. While you may notice a slightly different theme between the two sections of the haunt the scare style remains the same.

* While the terrifying tours through Hysteria and Ambush are all inside the waiting area is not. Stalker's horrifying haunt includes both an outdoor creepy corn maze and demented dwellings. Definitely DO come dressed for the elements

* This haunt does NOT offer numbered tickets. To enter the haunts, non-FASTPASS haunt goers must wait in a very slow moving line that's exposed to the elements. (The wait line entertainment is the best I've experienced though!) If you'd rather have your toe nails slowly ripped off than stand in a slow moving line I definitely recommend purchasing the FASTPASS!

Signage / Visibility / Location


Construction has made this haunt less visible from I-94. The frontage road along I-94 is gone but the road directly east of Abandoned is freshly paved and will take you to the haunt entrance. Look for the bright blue flashing light that sits alongside the road at the parking lot entrance. The parking attendants will guide you in from there.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Come dressed for the elements as portions of the wait lines for Ambush, Hysteria and Stalker are outside. As you near the entrance to Ambush and Hysteria the waiting lines are covered. A courtyard with ginormous movie screen, bumpin sound system and a concession stand along with a few costumed actors help to build your anticipation while you wait to enter the haunts. Be sure to arrive early and check out the parade of Ghouls which takes place nightly at 6:45pm. If you don’t like long lines and lengthy waits be sure to purchase a FASTPASS to take advantage of the shorter VIP lines.

Actors' Performance


The actors were very skilled at providing quick and unexpected scares. Only a few actors performed on sets that provided an opportunity for a theatrical display and in these situations they did not disappoint! I particularly enjoyed the introductory performances for Hysteria and Stalker.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Brilliant use of shadows and dimly lit hallways/rooms to maximize scare and creep factor. Set designs were very effective in immersing you into the theme of the haunt. Some (but not all) of the sets were among the most elaborately designed/decorated that I've experienced. All set designs were definitely better than the average haunt. Enjoyed some of the unique concepts and special effects. Trick floors, vibrating walls, tripped out laser lights….there’s a little bit of everything to keep you on your toes.

Length


Took my group 11 minutes to complete Hysteria and 18 minutes to complete Ambush for a total time of 29 minutes. (...not including the brief intermission between Hysteria and Ambush.) Stalker took 25 minutes to complete.

Crowd Control


Waiting lines for both Ambush/Hysteria and Stalker were clearly marked off along with the separate FASTPASS lines.

Most Memorable Moment


Several great scares...I particularly enjoyed the reoccurring 'vortex' passages that connected the themes found in Hysteria.

Summary

If you’re looking for a totally terrifying experience in SE Wisconsin this Halloween look no further than Abandoned. The scares in Ambush and Hysteria come early and often thanks to an amazing arsenal of gruesome gore and visual effects that maximize scare opportunities. For those who thirst for more thrills Stalker offers even more horrific haunted mayhem. (note: Fun Factor / Fear Factor rankings are in comparison to other haunts in Wisconsin...if you don't enjoy Abandoned you likely won't enjoy the other haunts in Wisconsin.)

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Terror on Rural Street

by Captn_DeathSchlager (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at about 8 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

A thick fog began to settle in and a fine mist filled the air as I arrived at Terror on Rural Street. Ahhh, what an eerily perfect way to set the tone as I kicked off my 2018 haunting season! While some may argue that only a duck could enjoy our recent Wisconsin weather, you need not worry about the weather at this particular haunt as Terror on Rural Street comes stocked with several creature feature treats to combat Mother Nature’s unavoidable tricks. Upon arriving, this haunt greeted my tour group of 3 adults and 2 teenagers with a well-lit, paved and spacious parking lot along with a patrolling ghoul which left little doubt that we were in the right place. (No trudging through muddy dim lit fields as you approach the ticket window here.) As an added bonus we were delighted to find that Terror on Rural Street has a heated indoor waiting area with a fully stocked concession stand complete with food, snacks, beverages, beer and Jello-shots. Another nice treat offered by this haunt is the numbering tickets which allow you to wander about as you wait for your tour to begin…no need to stand in a dreadfully long line and count spiders on the wall as you wait here! If you love taking selfies with your brothers and sisters you’ll certainly enjoy the photogenic ghouls wandering about the waiting area who are just dying to photo bomb your shot. This entire haunt is indoor, including the final staging area before you actually enter the haunt….there’s no need to endure that wrath of Mother Nature as she tests your Halloween Spirit.

Here are some of my personal observations about Terror on Rural Street…

SPACIOUS ACCOMODATIONS: My tour group of 5 consisted of 3 adults and 2 teenagers (…all experienced haunt goers….), with the 2 teenagers attending Terror on Rural Street for the first time and 1 adult who has yet to miss a season of Terror on Rural Street. If you have a personal pet peeve as I do of being placed into an over sized tour group and crammed into small rooms, put your mind at ease. Terror at Rural Street’s mystic maze of mind bending sets and corridors easily accommodated our group of 5.

CINEMA QUALITY SETS: This haunt features several Cinema quality sets, many of which are pimped out with a dedicated sound system and special effects you won't find any place else. Portions of this haunt are an interactive style haunt with rooms showcasing a unique theme and a skit performed by volunteer actors. While the actors may be volunteers, the costumes and make-up were professionally done and very realistic. This was most evident in the final pre-tour staging where you receive final instructions before embarking on your tour. While it’s very easy to get distracted by the costumed actors be sure to take note of the keen attention to detail both with the facial make-up/costumes of the actors as well as the staging set as well. This same attention to details persists throughout this entire haunt.

DAZZLING SPECIAL EFFECTS: Admittedly not all of the acting performances knocked my socks off nor did every room send me off screaming to the next. But what Terror on Rural Street lacked with its actors and potential scare factor it more than made up for with its dazzling special effects and elaborate sets. Scares and surprises frequently came from unexpected flashes of brilliant light, dedicated room specific sound systems and a variety of lifelike techno effects

CREATIVE CONCEPTS: Terror on Rural Street continues its strong tradition of being a techno haunt goer’s dream come true! There has never been a year when I have been disappointed with the electrifying showcase of terrifying themes found at the Terror on Rural Street. This year was certainly no exception. If you’re leery of visiting a haunt more than once in a lifetime you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the number of new rooms/concepts found in this year’s edition. While a few of the techno-effects have been recycled for this year’s haunt most of them have been given a new creative twist. (I REALLY enjoyed this year’s version of the observation deck….the room alone is worth the price of admission!)

TOUR GROUP RATINGS: Here’s how my tour group rated Terror on Rural Street for both the Scare and Fun scale (1 to 5)

Haunt Teenager (first timer) #1: SCARE-4 / FUN-5
Haunt Teenager (first timer) #2: SCARE-4 / FUN-5
Haunt Adult #1: SCARE-4 / FUN-5
Haunt Adult #2: SCARE-3 / FUN-4
Haunt Veteran: SCARE-4 / FUN-5

Signage / Visibility / Location


Don't let a full parking lot scare you away before this haunt does! Terror on Rural Street shares it's parking lot with the Schauer Art Center and the Wisconsin Automotive Museum. Not all the cars parked in the lots may necessarily be for Terror on Rural Street.

This haunt can be found right off the main drag (Hwy 60) in downtown Hartford. Look for the flashing sign to point you to the parking lot. Great location. An abundance of well lit parking and a warm place to hang out while you wait. The courtyard between the waiting area and the entrance really set the tone nicely.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


A heated indoor waiting area with a concession stand that features beer and mixed drinks. If you’re of drinking age be sure to try the syringe style jello-shots! By the way...all proceeds from the concession stand benefit the Schauer Arts Center which is located just next door.

Actors' Performance


We had a lot of fun interacting with the performers in the waiting and staging areas. Throughout this haunt the elaborate costumes and finely detailed make-up enhanced the appearance of all performances.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


A nice variety of sets and some superb special effects. For those of you who traditionally checkout a few different haunts every year you'll appreciate the creative concepts and elaborate sets that have the look feel of a genuine movie caliber set. Compared to other haunts, the rooms here were quite spacious....a nice perk for those who don't particularly enjoy being squeezed into a room when your grouped with complete strangers.

Length


My tour lasted approximately 20 minutes.

Crowd Control


Waiting room with concession stand is fairly spacious. Plenty of room in the court yard to wait also. Patrons are free to roam about until the Reaper calls their number to be assembled for final preparations before entering the haunt.

Most Memorable Moment


This year’s Observation Deck is one of THE BEST techno-effects scenes I have EVER experienced!

Summary

A fantastic venue along with a nice variety of sets, creative ideas and exceptional special effects make Terror on Rural Street a haunt definitely worth checking out! This year’s edition of Terror on Rural Street has my vote for “Best Year Ever” for this haunt.

View all Terror on Rural Street reviews

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Dwelling Of Despair

by Captn_DeathSchlager (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at about 7 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

If you tour as many haunts as I have you’ve probably realized that while haunts come in all shapes and sizes and offer different creature features they all have one thing in common….they all want to scare the bejesus out of you. Similarly, you’re probably aware that while cars come in all shapes and sizes and offer different creature features they all have one thing in common…to get you from point A to B. Likening Haunts to Cars, I would classify the Dwelling of Despair Haunted House & accompanying Forest of Fear as the minivan of Haunts. While its initial appearance as you drive past will likely not give you reason to look back over your shoulder for a second look…when you get behind the wheel of this Haunt it performs as admirably as the Tesla in the quest to scare you senseless.

The Dwelling of Despair Haunted House & accompanying Forest of Fear is a self-guided, interactive ghoulish attraction known for its awesome animatronic special effects, elaborate decor, skilled actors, unique monsters, unusual themes and chilling detail! Now in its 34th season the Dwelling of Despair has prided itself in providing a creative and ghoulishly good time to all haunt goers along with a few (ahem, more like several!) frightful moments. 2018 marked my 26th visit to this haunted venue and similar to prior years I was once again amazed at how many of the sets/themes have changed. While you may notice quite a few similarities along your terrifying tour outside of this haunt, what awaits inside will torment and twist your mind in new ways. Following the lead of last year’s version, the chills, thrills and scares are delivered more upfront and in your face than with the skits that traditionally tormented you in the Dwelling of Despair. Rest assured though, this haunt still offers opportunities to interact with the demon’s inhabiting the Dwelling of Despair and retains the same Halloween charm that has brought guests back for the past 34 years!

The 2018 edition of this haunt presents two horrifying sections to test your wits and your desire to survive. The Forrest of Fear kicks off your terrifying tour on a dark and twisted path patrolled by evil spirits and several fiendish ghouls. If you're lucky enough to slip past these gorish guardians the entrance of the 3 story Dwelling of Despair awaits from the 3rd floor balcony. To escape the nightmares found within the unfriendly confines of the Dwelling of Despair you must successfully navigate a maze of uniquely themed rooms and hidden passages through the bowls of the entire house. Along the way you are sure to encounter each and every inhabitant of the house...some fun, some helpful but most of all they are all quite frightful!

My tour group this year consisted of 2 teenagers attending this haunt for the first time and 3 adults who have visited in the past. All thoroughly enjoyed their experience this year noting how much they enjoyed meeting Wild Eyed Kid Rock, the giggling Gaggle of Clowns and the mind boggling maze.

TOUR GROUP RATINGS: Here’s how my tour group rated Dwelling of Despair for both the Scare and Fun scale (1 to 5)

Haunt Teenager (first timer) #1: SCARE-3 / FUN-4
Haunt Teenager (first timer) #2: SCARE-3 / FUN-4
Haunt Adult #1: SCARE-2 / FUN-3
Haunt Adult #2: SCARE-3 / FUN-4
Haunt Veteran: SCARE-3 / FUN-4

Signage / Visibility / Location


This may not be the easiest haunt to find. If you’re on HWY 60 in Slinger look for the lighted portable sign with a flashing arrow on the north side of the road. Fireman’s park is an immediate right turn after you make turn north off of HWY 60. The Haunted House is actually tucked away after a short winding drive into the park.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


This haunt offers a heated wood shack with a concessions stand to comfort you while you anticipate the horror that awaits you. A tented staging area provides shelter from the elements as you undergo last minute preparations before your terrifying tour through the woods.

Actors' Performance


A great mix of adult and young actors delivered entertaining performances. Less veteran haunt goers looking to get freaked out will not be disappointed. All haunt goers will be certainly be entertained.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Some really unique sets and a several outstanding special effects.

Length


Approximately 25 minutes.

Crowd Control


Numbered tickets allow you to purchase your tickets and assemble wherever you’d like while you wait. No long lines to stand in at this haunt. VIP tickets allow you to avoid the wait and skip to the front of the pack.

Most Memorable Moment


Several to choose from…. I don’t want to trick anyone out of experiencing the sensational surprises that await but interacting with Wild Eyed Kid Rock was a real treat.

Summary

The Dwelling of Despair provides an exceptional balance of scares, ghoulishly gratifying visual treats and interactive entertainment making this haunt a fun Halloween destination for both kids and adults alike. The indoor waiting area complete with concession stand make this a howling good time regardless of the weather.

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December 12th, 2018 3:16 p.m. CST 1.5.1