Newbie Review Crew Member

Justin (DarkWolf1088)

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October and Halloween are not just my favorite month and holiday because I was born during that time, but I have always enjoyed the happenings during this time of the year. From fall festivals that serve delicious apple cider to TV horror specials and to the haunted attractions across the state, I love everything that October has to offer. I loved this time of year, especially the ‘scary’ part, so much that beginning in high school I started working on an entertainment farm and also worked for their haunted hayride, as an actor, that they put on every October.

As such I have 3 years experience as an actor for a haunted attractions and 2 years experience as a supervising actor for the same haunt. Thus, when I go to haunted attractions there are two big categories I look for. These categories include Experience and Scares. When I talk about 'experience' I am talking about how well the haunted attraction immersed you into 'their world' and how well the haunt spaces groups. If I can tell that I am in a semi-trailer, there is a problem. In terms of the scares, I look for good ambush and sudden scares that have a powerful presentation behind them. It is not fun to come to haunt where all the actors do is go "boo" nor is it any more fun to go to one that is making their actors try too hard to convey a storyline. Thus if the experience is excellent and the scares are solid, that is a solid haunt in my book.

Previous Reviews: 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

2012 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.

Abandoned Haunted House Complex

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at about 4 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

New for 2012, Abandoned Haunted House Complex, just off of I-94 in Mount Pleasant, already put
themselves in a solid slot as one of best haunted houses in Wisconsin. Right now there are three words that sum up my experience at Abandoned. These three words are Wow, WOW, and WOW! These guys and gals know what they are doing and you will certainly be impressed with what this attraction has to offer. Abandoned was simply an amazing haunted attraction and one that I will go back to, whether as a reviewer or during my off time. Now, let's get into the review of this haunted house.

When you take I-94 north or south, to Mount Pleasant, you can't miss this attraction, even if you
are wearing your sunglasses at night. With a huge sign in red letters saying ABANDONED and a search light propped up on the building's roof, this has probably been one of the easiest attractions for me find. Arriving there, there are plenty of staff on scene to direct to a parking spot and towards the
beginning of the line.

Being a Sunday there was no wait to get in. Be forewarned, however, with this attraction and during the final week of October, unless you get there early, you should definitely anticipate
waiting in a long line. Thus, make sure you dress accordingly and be prepared for a wait.

Once my dad and I got our tickets we started heading around the building to the entrance of the
haunted house. Abandoned, even as you wait in line or are walking towards the entrance, works on getting you ramped up with heavy metal and heavy rock that is being blasted over large outdoor speakers. You will also find that Abandoned is not going to wait to scare you inside the house. You may just find yourself getting scared in line.

Once you are at the entrance you are let into their prepping room where a disembodied voice breaks down the rules of the haunted house and gives the necessary disclaimers about risks. An actor is also with you in the room to keep you company. Once the actor opens the door to the haunt the scares and atmosphere begin immediately.

The first room you enter you are presented with a few ambush scares and then are "forced" to watch a creepy and disturbing video with another disembodied voice asking why you came, all set to the background of more heavy rock. This alone is enough to get you ramped up and saying, "Alright, let’s do this thing."

After that room, the scares are non-stop. In this first review I am not going to detail too much of
what I saw as I want everyone who goes to be as surprised and impressed by this attraction as I was. What are important though are the actors. The actors for this attraction are some of the best that I have ever had the luxury of being scared by.

The costumes were very well done and all the props that the actors had available were very realistic. What I really enjoyed is the amount of variety that these actors presented. You had your actors that ambushed, that screamed, that talked, and those that just stayed quiet but crept you out by staring at you or following you for a length of time. That variety is exactly what I look for in a haunted house. Abandoned hit this nail right on the head and through the board.

Along with excellent actors, the scenes were eye-catching, unique, and very well done. There were
flawless transitions from scene to scene and some senses were so immense and impressive, there were times that I just got caught up studying the landscape. Along with the effects, some amazingly eye-catching environments are created. It was nothing short of walking through a horror movie. It was spectacular (and no I don't use that word a lot).

Everything about this attraction has depth. One of the big ways that Abandoned accomplishes this is by using smells and touch. You will be running into things that are wet, you will think that blood (or something) is dripping from the ceiling, and you will have things that move around you and under you. The best way to describe this is that Abandoned is a sensory overload. For example I remember one section where you can't grasp where you are because of a strobe light, then you get hit with something banging hard behind a wall, then you get hit with an air horn, and then you get scared by an actor waiting around the corner. This place is crazy.

Abandoned, has a series of tricks to keep you guessing on what is next. From distracting lights, to
moving walls, to tight mazes, you will always be "fighting" your way to end. Abandoned came out their first year wanting to have a great haunted house, and the owners and actors did this and more. So awesome was this attraction that I'm actually itching to go back this weekend with a few of my
friends. I don't want to stay away. You want a haunted house...Abandoned is the place to go.

Summary

Everything about this haunted attraction is more than worth it. The drive there - worth it. Putting up with any bad weather - worth it. The price - I would likely pay more for what I experienced. Around 40mins long, Abandoned makes every use of every minute. This attraction makes you want to rush to the next area, but at the same time "begs" for you to stay behind and look more...get scared more. Abandoned is a must see before the end of October. There is nothing you will find disappointing here.

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Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.

Mars Haunted House - CLOSED-

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at about 3 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

Back once again for a night of fright on the historic Old Mitchell St., in Milwaukee, WI. This was my
second year back at the Mars Haunted House and I have yet to be disappointed. The attraction always brings out "all the stops" when it comes to entertaining their customers. This is one of those attractions where you just might want to pay for another ticket so that you can go back on through and enjoy it all over again.

From the very beginning Mars has actors out and about outside in the waiting line waiting to creep
people out, gross them out, and, every so often, scare them right out of line. Heavy music is playing as you wait and it really sets the mood. Once you get to the entrance you ascend an old, dark, and creepy staircase to their ticket booth. The staff there is always courteous and willing to help.

Once they are ready to go you enter their prepping room while a creepy actor just stares at you,
hisses, and continues to stare at you while you wait. Once you have the 'green light' off you go. This year the very first part of the attraction was slow. Being a Sunday Mars' staff was a little down. This isn't anything you have to worry about during the final week of October. If I know Mars, they are going to give a you a great ride.

Mars had a few new bits of technology this year that just added to the overall experience. As always the actors were on the top of their game and a big 2 thumbs up goes to you guys and gals. You definitely make me miss my haunted hayride acting days. I have always been impressed with the costuming and make-up effects of the actors at Mars. Even some of the actors' looks alone is enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.

Mars actors are well versed in how to scare. I've never really frightened easy (even less after over 4 years of working a haunt), but they know their locations well and can very easily get you to jump out of your shoes. Good actors added in with top notch distractions (such as strobe lights, air cannons, and smoke) make for a very entertaining night.

The attraction itself is just beautiful as well. A lot of time and effort has gone in to this haunt
to bring you into their world. The scenes appear as if they are right out of Hollywood and you will feel as if you are in a different world. Mars' scenes alone (with all the lighting and effects), without the actors, would be enough for me to pay admittance. Their scenes really bring you into their element.

Mars remains one of my favorites and has never disappointed me yet. I have always been pleased by the level of dedication by the actors and the immersive scenes that Mars has created. This is a haunted house that I would personally give me recommendations to go visit to those asking about good haunted houses in the area. Mars is a must-see during the month of October.

Summary

Although a shorter attraction (about 25 minutes)  from beginning to end, every dollar that you pay for this attraction is worth it. Dedicated to what they do, Mars will not leave you disappointed at the end of the night. Mars brings a lot to the table and you may just need to catch your breath during some portions of the haunt because once you step into this attraction it is non-stop scares and interaction until the end. Mars....a solid and professional attraction all the way around.

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Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.

Fright Factory

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

This was my first year to the Fright Factory, a non-profit haunted house used to raise money for a
local club in Janesville, WI. Fright Factory just implies a very industrial setting. Even the attraction's website sets an industrial tone. Well the drive to the attraction did not disappoint. Driving through an old brick and mortar viaduct and driving up to the massive industrial building really set the tone
for an exciting adventure.

The lobby of the attraction was large and actors had free range to scare as they wished. Modern
rock was playing in the lobby area and the way the lines were diverted and the environment you were in almost made you feel like a lamb to slaughter. It was an eerie kind of feeling. The wait to begin the haunt was approximately 20mins. The haunt split people off in groups but I would highly suggest staying in a very small group as this will give you the best experience.

As you entered the attraction you were presented with an actor that was telling you the rules of
the haunt but doing it in such a way that just made it seem like he was telling you what to do to survive. Then all of a sudden the actor screams and a splash of blood is thrown onto the window. This was all down through a projection system which was a nice touch and a great way to open the attraction.

The labyrinth itself is expansive. There are plenty of things to look at as each room is a different
theme. There are also plenty of pitch black corridors and "traps" (such as a maze filled with hanging pipes) that bring each room together. Scares were not just accomplished by the actors. There were "old school" scare tactics such as things popping out of spaces, pictures changing form, and moving platforms and walls. These "old school" practices were also paired with new technology that really brought an exciting flavor to this attraction.

Although the actors did accomplish their task of scaring customers I was disappointed in not having a little bit more "theatrically" from the actors. I have always liked the simple ambush scares but when an actor can pull you into a conversation and still scare you or use that conversation so that another actor can scare you, that is motivation and dedication. I just wish I would have had a little bit more of that rather than simple ambush tactics.

Pacing for this attraction also seemed to be a hang-up. I routinely ran into a group in front
of me and after awhile I just ended up staying with the group because I was not getting scared between the group in front of me and the group behind me.

This attraction, however, had solid scenery, had a mix of old and new technology, had good
actors, and had a solid presentation overall. I really enjoyed the rock/pop music that was being played over the mayhem. This was different, and it was a 'different' that I really enjoyed.

Summary

For a haunted attraction that is non-profit, I was amazed at the amount of technology and well constructed scenes that this haunt had available. Even if you never get scared this haunt is fun just to go to admire the scenery and technology that is in use. Thus, I found the Fright Factory to be an enjoyable experience but I came out of it really wanting more from the actors. There were so many good spots that a scare could have been made but was never used. Further the ambush tactics got old relatively quickly once you began to walk through the attraction. So although the Fright Factory may not be a contender in the scariest haunted house it certainly tops out as being one of the most fun.

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Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.

The Haunted Barn Stoughton (PERMANENTLY CLOSED)

by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at about 4:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

We want change! Well you got it! The Haunted Barn, located in Stoughton, WI, brought a fresh
experience to the table this year. With new themes, new technology, and a new
path, it was definitely a switch-up from 2011. As always the crew at The
Haunted Barn are welcoming and actors are always aplenty while you wait in
line. It is never boring waiting for this attraction.

I waited for approx. 20mins to begin the haunted barn. The barn itself is well put together with a
smooth transition from scene to scene along with your pitch black corridors,
mazes, and other "traps". This year, however, one of these mazes
caused a jam when one group could not figure out how to proceed through the
maze. Inevitably this caused more and more people to group up and thus completely
ruining any pacing that was there.

Although the pacing was poor I can't hold it against the haunt because one group is not cognizant
enough to navigate a simple maze. Nonetheless be prepared to run into other
groups and as such you can always attempt to distance yourself from a group in
front of you so that the actors can have enough time and you can enjoy the full
experience of this solid attraction.

Otherwise the indoor portion, the barn, had great new scares this year and new technology in use. It really changed up the atmosphere from last year and put this attraction in line
with "corporate" haunted attractions that have hundreds of thousands
to spend on haunted houses. Most of the actors this year, as always, did a great job
using opportune moments to scare their customers. The pacing problem ,that I
already mentioned, however, took a toll on this effectiveness during my trip.

Heading outside to go through the haunted woods portion, I was again presented with a different
set-up than last year which just added to the experience. Scares in the woods
were moderate to non-existent this year but I was informed, later, that the
attraction was hit hard during my visit as the actors normally assigned to the
woods were out sick. Nonetheless the woods, as always, are a nice incorporation
into a haunted barn.

After going through the woods and going back into the barn for one last indoor scare I was presented with a completely new world this year with one room/one scare that I have never
really seen before. I will not ruin the surprise for anyone but the Haunted
Barn pulled off a really great scare and I give them 2 thumbs up for the
creation and successful application of such a scare.

Most Memorable Moment


Again my most memorable moment is something that if I told you would ruin the surprise. It is something that you got to see and experience for yourself. Please go and check it out.

Summary

All in all the Haunted Barn remains one of my top favorites and it sucks that I came to review when the business was dealing with a lack of actors due to illness. When everything is said and done, though, Haunted Barn puts on a solid performance and it’s definitely worth checking out. Make sure you dress for the weather as this IS an indoor and outdoor attraction. Don't wear any shoes that you don't mind getting dirty. Finally take the time to really appreciate the time and effort required to pull off such a strong attraction and enjoy the show.

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February 21st, 2024 11:09 p.m. CST 24.01