Newbie Review Crew Member

Ted (HocusPocus)

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.

Previous Reviews: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

2011 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

A Theater Of Lost Souls Presents: Nightmare Factory Haunt

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 21, 2011 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Low Fear Factor: Medium

Review

I’ll admit to this upfront, my experience at Nightmare factory was more of an unfortunate nightmare than a frightfully fun time.  As a result my review of this haunt may be a little unfair to a haunt that many have reviewed favorably.  (Although honestly of the 6 haunts I’ve been to this year I don’t think I would have placed this one in the top 5.)  Here’s what went wrong with my experience…it’s probably unlikely that you may experience the same misfortune as me but for what it’s worth….

Nightmare #1…the waiting line incident.  It’s mostly outside and unfortunately while I was waiting a car driving by decided to hurl an egg into the crowd.  My guess is that they were trying to hit BoBo the Clown who was nearby but they missed…and hit my friend standing next to me.  With no local law enforcement patrolling the area and numerous parked cars along the street obstructing you from getting a clear view of the street (including a large snack wagon) there appears to nothing in place at this haunt to discourage incidents such as this.

Nightmare #2…the dark hallway incident.  This haunt, like a few others, features a few really dark hallways.  Typically you don’t find ghouls dashing through these hallways but at this haunt there was.  Have you ever wondered if the ghouls in these dark hallways can see you when you don’t see them?  I’ll admit, I have always been a bit curious.  Unfortunately for me, I found at the hard way when a little ghoul ran right into me in the middle of a dark hallway.  OUCH!  The incident knocked the wind out of me but at least the little ghoul was nice enough to apologize and turn on a flashlight to show me the way through the rest of the maze.

Nightmare #3…not every ghoul may know you’re in the room.  As a result of Nightmare #2 I arrived in the next room a few seconds after my group.  The ghoul in the room had already jumped out and was waving an object with a long wooden handle…not exactly sure what the object was but as he spun around in a move that I originally thought was meant to scare me the long end of the handle caught me square in the stomach.  In hind sight the ghoul obviously had no idea I was there as he was just as surprised to see me as I was at being struck.  No apologies from this ghoul though…just a surprised look and then he continued to carry on with the show.

Nightmare #4…when these ghouls smell blood, look out!  I’ve never seen this before at a haunt.  There were a few ghouls at this haunt who were perfectly positioned to scare those stuck in the back of the group.  In every instance these ghouls actually intentionally walked right past those in the back just to scare the group members in the front.  Admittedly the girl in the front of our group was really scared and it was fun watching her get freaked out but on the other hand everyone else in the group paid to be scared as well.  As a result of this and being stuck in the back of our group there wasn’t a single instance at this haunt where anything made me jump.

Other than these misfortunate instances The Nightmare Factory is a decent haunt.  The 3D section is pretty cool visually and features a trick or two but it doesn’t have much in terms of scare factor.  The non 3D section does contain a little gore and has a few cool concepts but it lacked the oomph to make me jump.

Signage / Visibility / Location


It’s really hard to miss this location as your drive by.  Strobe lights flashing in the windows, search beams illuminating the sky and a great big snack wagon parked just outside of the entrance.  Street parking was plentiful and I heard rumors that there was a parking lot nearby.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Bobo was VERY entertaining…by far the best actor I’ve come across this year.  Wait area REALLY stinks.  The waiting line is mostly outside which appeared to be totally unnecessary.  The line moved every 15 minutes and only about 25 people were taken from this line at a time.  Once you finally reach the front of this outside line you are taken into another waiting area inside.  Not sure why this haunt needs two different waiting lines where other haunts get by with one.  Also, waiting in line is totally old school…many other haunts have incorporated a ticket numbering system so you don’t have to stand in one place for an hour.

Actors' Performance


Outside of Bobo the remaining performances were brief but adequate.  The sets at this haunt are not ‘skit’ style so not much theatrical acting was required.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The 3D rooms were sharp but this haunt lacks the jaw dropping and eye popping special effects found at other haunts.

Length


At the onset of this haunt we were informed at the pre-haunt instructional that the haunt would last about 45 minutes.  After touring the entire facility my watch read 24 minutes.  Approximately 16 minutes for the upstairs haunt and 8 for the 3D haunt.

Crowd Control


Outside of a roped line and one costumed actor there was nothing else present in terms of crowd control.  Patrons were left on their honor to respect the line and those around them.

Most Memorable Moment


Bobo and his antics.  Definitely the MVG (Most Valuable Ghoul) of this haunt!!

Summary

My experience at Nightmare factory was more of an unfortunate nightmare than a frightfully fun time. The Nightmare Factory is a decent haunt but lacks the oomph to really put a good scare into you.  The 3D section is visually entertaining and features a trick or two but it doesn’t have much in terms of scare factor. 

View all A Theater Of Lost Souls Presents: Nightmare Factory Haunt reviews

Comments: (2)

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

House of Bathory (CLOSED)

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 21, 2011 at about 2 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

If you enjoy interactive skit style haunts that make you occasionally jump out of your skin then you’ll love the House of Bathory!  This was my first time visiting a Dead by Dawn Productions haunt.  They’ve been in the Haunted House business for 22 years now and it really shows.  Rooms are very well thought out and 100% original….with the exception of the Vortex room which you’ll experience at just about every haunt these days.  (Although I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of walking through a Vortex.)  To Dawn’s credit she does add to this Vortex a unique twist I haven’t seen at any other haunt.  I really enjoyed the skits found in each room.  The acting was superb and the actors were comfortable enough to involve haunt goers in the action.  What I really, REALLY liked about this haunt was that regardless of where I was in the group (first, last, middle….) the scares definitely me jump and I’m certain they will make you jump too!

I won’t spoil any of the scares waiting for you at the House of Bathory but the premise of this haunt is a journey through time with each room featuring a unique skit pertaining to a period of history.  From the pilgrims to the 70’s and featuring the likes of Charles Manson and Hitler…the skits, costumes and décor for each of these themes were masterfully orchestrated and performed admirably by spirited actors.  While this may not be the scariest or goriest haunt you attend you’ll definitely enjoy yourself and experience a few really good scares along the way.

Signage / Visibility / Location


The location of this haunt is located right on the main street of downtown Manitowoc. While the haunt itself wasn’t obvious to me…it’s located at a costume store which by the way has some exceptionally cool decorations…it was hard to miss the 5 hearses that were parked along the street and the ghouls that were patrolling the sidewalk leading up to the haunt.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


The waiting line is located outdoor so dress appropriately.  Portions of the waiting line are located under the store canopies that appear on each of the store fronts along the street.  There were ghouls and eerily decorated hearses along the street although I didn’t not get a chance to interact with them

Actors' Performance


The actors were a lot of fun and performed their roles admirably.  They were certainly comfortable enough to involve haunt goers in the action.  I particularly enjoyed conversing with a few of the ghouls over a game of Monopoly…that is until they nearly scared the crap out of me!

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Sets are creative with a lot of subtle detail that may go unnoticed if your not paying attention.  Particularly enjoyed a few exceptional special effects that made me jump as well as the acoustics/sound of many of the rooms.

Length


It took our group approximately 17 minutes to complete our journey.

Most Memorable Moment


There were several...but I particular enjoyed the very unique and surprising twist to my experience with Hitler.

Summary

If you enjoy interactive skit style haunts, The House of Bathory is a must see!  This haunt oozes with imagination and creativity and younger audiences will definitely enjoy themselves as much as adults who crave wickedly creative entertainment.

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Comments: (0)

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

Hubertus House of Horror

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 14, 2011 at about 6 p.m.

Fun Factor: Medium Fear Factor: Medium

Review

If you enjoy participating in your haunted adventures and enjoy being ghoulishly entertained chances are you'll like this year's Hubertus House of Horror.

This haunt features a mix of young (some very young) and adult actors in a variety of skit orientated rooms as well as some descent special effects.  Quite a few of the effects were carry overs from prior years but they were still executed well enough to entertain and in some cases even make you jump.

I was grouped with several haunt goers that were aged between 17-24.  While everyone in my group agreed that they enjoyed their tour of the Hubertus House nobody admitted to being particularly scared or surprised enough to jump at any point.  ...although one couple did admit to clunking heads pretty hard in one of the dark mazes so perhaps they may suffering from a slight case of amnesia.

Personally I really enjoyed their elevator and Vortex rooms...which by the way may be the best executed vortex in the state.  I also enjoyed participating in the skit orientated rooms.  Unfortunately, like my fellow haunt goers I never experienced anything that made me jump during my tour nor did I particularly enjoy the pitch black mazes.

Signage / Visibility / Location


This may not be the easiest haunt to find but if you're on the right road you really can't miss it. Also, if you come across a mass of parked cars in what feels like the middle of nowhere you've probably found the right place

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


One of the best wait areas around! The Hubertus House leverages a school gymnasium to keep you warm, well fed and entertained while you wait. The concession stand was well stocked with sweets, popcorn, drinks and even burgers. Costumed actors also popped in occasionally to heighten your anticipation of what was to come

Actors' Performance


A good mix of adult and young actors delivered entertaining performances. None of them totally freaked me out but they were still very entertaining. A few of them were good at adlibbing and allowed you to interact with them

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Some really unique sets and a few outstanding special effects.  Hubertus House haunt goers from prior year's though may not be as dazzled as new thrill seekers.

Length


Approximately 15-20 minutes. Once again I was so disorientated after the Vortex I completely forgot to stop my watch until I had regained my balance in the parking lot

Crowd Control


No problems with crowds this year. We purchased tickets earlier in the evening and then came back after checking out a few of the other haunts in the area. We were allowed to jump in line immediately as our ticket numbers had already been called.

Most Memorable Moment


The elevator ride and the room that follows it....I won't give it away but the sequence of these rooms was genius!

Summary

Perhaps not the scariest haunted house around but a very solid performer year after year.  A few creative new sets and entertaining effects make this a fun haunt to attend.

View all Hubertus House of Horror reviews

Comments: (0)

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

Terror on Rural Street

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 14, 2011 at about 4:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review


Bravo!! Hands down I'd say this is the best Terror on Rural street they've had since it opened 11 years ago. I typically tour between 8-10 haunts a year and I'd say arguably this year's Terror on Rural Street is probably the best haunt in SE Wisconsin and certainly in the top 3 around the state. Seriously, you may find different kinds of scares at other haunts but you'll be hard pressed to beat the quality and attention to detail that you'll experience at Terror on Rural Street.


Elaborate sets, high tech scares and professionally made-up monsters. This haunt features effects so detailed and gruesome you'd swear they were real!


Following my tour through this year's haunt I had the privilege to get a behind the scenes tour. I was totally amazed at how much time and effort is invested into the nightly operations. Professional theatrical make-up artists with over 25 years of experience, a maze of corridors supporting the haunted hallways & rooms, a warehouse full of additional props, rooms cram packed full of costumes and a totally amazing tech room overflowing with electronics and video feeds that totally blew me away!


Speaking of video feeds....those of you who are particularly interested in the quality of your haunted experience or may just be wondering "how did they do that?" may find this interesting. Each room and hallway is under constant surveillance by staff members with a very keen attention to detail. These staff members remain in contact with the ghouls and monsters lurking in the shadows and rooms around the haunt to ensure they are always perfectly positioned and timed to scare the bajeezus out of you and your fellow haunt goers.

Signage / Visibility / Location


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 court yard between the waiting area and the entrance really set the tone nicely

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


A heated indoor waiting area protects you from the elements.  The waiting area concession stand is also a bonus.

Actors' Performance


We had a lot of fun interacting with the performers.  Elaborate costumes and finely detailed make-up really enhanced their performances.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


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

Length


On the plus side of 15 minutes.

Crowd Control


Waiting room with concession stand is fairly spacious.  Plenty of room in the court yard to also wait.  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


Several to choose from for me...  I really enjoyed exploring the multi-level set of the trophy room, the visually captivating lazer effects and interacting with the ghouls in the dining room.

Summary

Arguably the scariest and most visually captivating year ever for Terror on Rural Street.  A fantastic venue along with a nice variety of sets, creative ideas and exceptional special effects make this the best haunted venues in the state.

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Comments: (0)

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

Mars Haunted House - CLOSED-

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 7, 2011 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Medium Fear Factor: Very High

Review

If you're looking to totally immerse yourself into a nightmarishly good time, look no further. This year's Mars Haunted House once again offers an immersive experience that will excite your senses. Sets and passage ways are elaborately decorated with a keen attention to detail to provide ample visual stimulation. Encounters with ghouls seeking not only to scare the bajeezus out of you but also to creep you out make for both a bloodcurdling and chilling experience.

Traditionally I have declared this attraction to be Milwaukee's Scariest haunt. This year's edition of the Mars Haunted House once again makes a good case to continue as the area's top attraction. If you've enjoyed Mars in the past or if your just looking for a good scare or two you certainly won't be disappointed this year.

If you're into evaluating haunts with your senses you might find this helpful:

* Sight: Elaborate sets with great attention to detail. Lighting and
special effects were frequently used to surprise me even though I was expecting
it.

*Sound: Superb! The sound experience allowed me to become totally
immersed in many of the rooms….especially immediately upon entering this haunt!


* Smell: Ever wonder what death smells like?  …you’ll know the answer by the time you
depart this haunt.

* Touch:  Feel the splatter of
blood or a reaper breathing down your neck!

Signage / Visibility / Location


If the hearse parked by the front door and the elaborately dressed ghouls meandering along
the sidewalk don't catch your attention you may be dead already...but if you're not you probably wouldn't be the first person to drive past the site.


Wait Area / Line Entertainment



Be on the watch for Stiches & Violator! Words won't do justice for these ghouls…but trust
me, when you encounter them you'll know it! Elaborately dressed ghouls interact with you to heighten your anticipation while you wait to enter. The waiting line is all outdoors...so dressing for the weather may be a good idea if you're attending during peak haunting hours.


Actors' Performance



The performance of the characters outside was exceptional! Inside the haunt the actors’
focused more on scaring the bejeezus out of you than entertaining you.


Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Definitely worth checking out! With the total immersion and interaction with the actors and
sound in each room it's very easy to miss some of the attention to detail found in each room.... there are plenty of outstanding effects to keep you visually entertained when you’re not jumping out of your skin.  As was the case last year…at the risk of giving away one of the best effects found at this haunt the ”Laser Vortex” is definitely worth checking out.


Length


About 10-12 minutes


Crowd Control


Waiting line is clearly roped off and patrolled frequently by ghouls.


Most Memorable Moment


In addition to stimulating your sense of sight, sound and feel the Mar’s Haunt this year also excites your sense of smell. The smell of death was quite prevalent through many of the rooms I visited. The stench was so strong it seemed to linger in my nostrils well after my departure.


Summary

Once again, an outstanding attraction for those who like to be scared. While not completely redone this year, if you've enjoyed Mars in the past or you just plain like to be scared you certainly won't be disappointed this year.

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Comments: (0)

Please note: this review is for the 2011 season rather than the current season.

Lister F/X Presents Monster Mayhem Haunted Laser Tag (CLOSED)

by HocusPocus (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 7, 2011 at about 3:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Low

Review

This year's Monster Mayhem is definitely unlike any other Halloween attraction I've ever attended. By far it was the most fun I've ever had at a haunt.

Taking participation to a whole new level Monster Mayhem not only allows you to roam freely through rooms and hallways it also allows you to hunt and be hunted by the creatures lurking around the maze of rooms. As a bonus, you can also go rogue on your fellow haunt goers and hunt them down as well. (...this practice is actually encouraged.)

Also unlike other haunts this attraction offers fun for all ages...kids, parents and grandparents alike. I must admit, I was a bit nervous when I entered with a group of 12 as in most cases this results in being crammed tightly into small rooms where you struggle to see the action. But this venue
accommodated our group easily and the large group size actually made the action even more enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed watching a spirited mother of several young kids hunt them down and then shoot them cold heartedly in the back....several times! (...she did later admit that she may have gotten a bit carried away.)

While Monster Mayhem may not be the scariest haunt you visit this year it will make a strong case for being the most fun haunted attraction you attend this year!

Signage / Visibility / Location


Located in the basement of Paulo's Pizza / Pub. There are signs for the haunt but they're not nearly as obvious as the signs for Paulo's. Located right on the corner of 51st and Howard you can't miss Paulo's....but you may miss the signs for Monster Mayhem.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


Doesn't get much better than this! While you wait....order a pizza, have dinner, play a few games in the arcade or listen to music in the pub

Actors' Performance


Granted, there aren't a lot of actors involved with this year's Monster Mayhem but the ones you interact with do a superb job of getting you involved in the fun.  I especially enjoyed the doctor...great job of adlibbing and if his accent wasn't real it certainly sounded like it.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


These guys really have a keen eye for technology.  If you're into techno props you'll enjoy the sets at Monster Mayhem.

Length


Beginning to end my adventure lasted about 15 minutes which included a little setup instructional time to get us operational.

Crowd Control


Given that the venue is at a Pizza Parlor / Pub the logistics of how the Haunt patrons mix with those from the Pizza Parlor Pub may be interesting....this is the fourth year I've visited this haunt and I've never experienced any crowd control concerns...I suspect that they've worked out any potential bottlenecks with the flow of traffic through the establishment.

Most Memorable Moment


Chasing monsters and then being chased by others...a very entertaining change of pace!

Summary

If you enjoy participating in your Halloween ventures you definitely need to checkout Monster Mayhem.  I've seriously never had more fun at a haunt.  Fun for all ages and for the who family!

View all Lister F/X Presents Monster Mayhem Haunted Laser Tag (CLOSED) reviews

Comments: (0)

June 24th, 2024 8:28 p.m. CDT 24.08