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Newbie Review Crew Member

Lyle (LyleisWeird)

Photo of Lyle

2016 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2016 season rather than the current season.

Dead by Dawn Dead & Breakfast

by LyleisWeird (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at about 6 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review

Have you ever stayed at a “haunted” hotel? Some old, dusty place with a half remembered ghost story tacked on? Like any well reanimated shambler, I seek those places out. I’ve had some good times, but nothing anywhere near “haunted”—except some errant scratches and likely squirrel nests. Most so called “haunted” hotels are just so in name alone. Well, time to exorcise that noise and get down to Manitowoc for Dead by Dawn’s Dead & Breakfast.

It’s hard to describe this haunt without giving away the goods. The concept of a haunted house you can spend the night in is totally unique. Expect to get the best, worst night of sleep you’ve ever had. The experience is totally immersive, from the family that doesn’t break character—even while suggesting vegan-friendly restaurants in town—to the fully decorated rooms. They manage to balance the comfort and friendliness of a high-end B&B with the mind-wrenching fear of a professional haunt.

The entire building is decorated in a way that would make Morticia jealous. Some of the props are custom made by Dawn and they are mind blowing. There are three themed bedrooms you can spend the night in: Clown, Nightmare, and Pirate. Clown and Pirate are the larger of the two and have a more consistent theme while Nightmare is simultaneously cozy and a phobia-ridden joy ride. The props may be fantastic, but it’s the actors that steal the show.

The actors at the Dead & Breakfast are incredible. The cast is a handful of people playing about a dozen characters. It was like visiting with the Adams Family. Before your haunting begins, you can hang out with the (g)host family in a retro Tiki parlor and have a few drinks. (They have a mixed drink called “Smurf Blood.” Let’s just say Gargamel was right, Smurf’s are delicious.) We had some eerie conversations and some good laughs.

I won’t spoil anything about the actual haunting. There’s a cavalcade of nightmares portrayed by one, or two, actors with phenomenal talent. My wife and I were the only couple in that night and we got a full force haunting. The actors quickly picked up on what was working and what wasn’t and played to our fears. We’re excited to go back on a night where other couples have booked. Having three rooms full of scared guests is definitely the way to enjoy this haunt. This in’t just a haunted attraction, it’s an experience like none other.

If that doesn’t motivate you to get over to Dead by Dawn’s Dead & Breakfast. I’ll leave you with one of the notes I took during my stay:

“2:30 A.M. Don’t know where the sound of chains rattling is coming from… (giant pen scratch from being scared out of my mind as I was writing)”

A note on the cost:

At $299 a stay the price may seem a little steep, but after you break it down it’s actually pretty reasonable. A normal haunted attraction is about $15-25 for, maybe, 20 minutes of scare. Dead & Breakfast comes in as way more cost effective since you are essentially buying some scare in bulk. Also, as a B&B, Dawn and her family are just great. They accommodated, helped us find things in town we needed, and introduced us to people in town. They put Manitowoc on the map for my wife and I. Dead & Breakfast is well worth the price.

Summary

If you are the adventurous type of soul and want to try out a haunted attraction like nothing you've ever been scared in before, then I can't recommend this enough.

View all Dead by Dawn Dead & Breakfast reviews

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Please note: this review is for the 2016 season rather than the current season.

A & J's Halloween House

by LyleisWeird (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at about 9 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: High

Review

Once, every four years, Halloween coincides with election season. Awkward presidential masks and bumbling commentary abound. A & J’s Haunted House is a great example of how to incorporate election season without succumbing to these pratfalls.

A & J’s built some amazing props for their haunt. The custom podiums for their monster candidates stand out as having memorable, Burton-esque design. Their model White House is mind blowing. I have no idea how they put that together, but I’m inspired. The windows are even decorated with the silhouettes of classic horror icons. (Elvira for president.) Towering over everything is a haunted Washington Memorial that gives everything an epic scope. The scene is really made by all the small details. The skeleton security and zombie paparazzi make it feel like you’re really at an undead presidential debate. The design is fantastic, but the best parts of this display only happen after dusk.

The Folks at A & J’s have a strong understanding of how and where to light their haunt. Nothing washes out or is over or under lit. So many little details and surprises only happen after they flip the switch and the lights come on. Let me know if you can find Jack and Sally—they're well hidden.

Signage / Visibility / Location


Conveniently located in Milwaukee's spookiest neighborhood, Bay View.

Summary

Bay View is a great place for home haunters. Block after block of eerie decorations build up like spider webs as we approach the spookiest day of the year. Make sure to stop by and see A & J’s Haunted House and get some inspiration for haunting your own house!

View all A & J's Halloween House reviews

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Please note: this review is for the 2016 season rather than the current season.

Haunted Cornfield at Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm

by LyleisWeird (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at about 10 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review

Well boils and ghouls, it’s that time of year again! Pumpkin spice is in the air and hauntings are revving up to full, spectral force. What better way to kick off the season, and the first day of October, with a haunted cornfield? When my wife and I heard about Meadowbrook Haunted Cornfield we were all ears.

The first night we tried the haunt we got rained out. They had still been setting up and the rain had delayed their opening. We spent about 20 minutes chatting with Rick, the proprietor. After a spell, we decided to just come back the next day rather than wait around. Rick seemed generally let down that we couldn’t stay. As a manner of apology, he gave us a jar of Meadowbrook pickles—they pack a punch!

The next day made a huge difference. The whole place was lit up with spooky goodness everywhere and a pumpkin patch with some of the most impressive gourds I’ve seen in a while. The unassuming cornfield from the night before was alive with eerie lights and the waling of the damned. The ground was still muddy, but the haunt was pretty steady with victims, er, guests, tromping through the pumpkin patch and lining up for some scares.

The haunted cornfield itself was out of this world—sometimes literally. You'll follow the winding path and run through a variety of themed encounters. It's almost like getting a few haunts for the price of one. The haunt has great pacing, giving you just enough time to catch your breath before scaring it right back out of you. The haunt's design tells a tale of an abandoned mining town before opening up to all your wildest nightmares. Far from feeling hodgepodge, it's like a measured decent to madness. As it says on their website, the haunt is physical. Be ready to stoop down under spider webs, squeeze through looming corn stalks, and crouch through tight passage ways. You can skip the gym after this one.

I shambled into this haunt with the expectations of quality scares and low budget charm, but what I got was a haunt that can rival some of the big budget productions. I don’t want to give much away, there are surprises around every turn, but at one point you will board a haunted ship and flee from an animatronic prop that would give Cthulhu nightmares. If you're looking for a frightfully good time, the Meadowbrook Haunted Cornfield is the place to be.

Signage / Visibility / Location


You might miss the turn off the main road heading to the haunted cornfield—keep your eyes peeled for the large, pumpkin-shaped signs. When you first pull in to Meadowbrook Haunted Cornfield you pass their wild assortment of pumpkins with the mouth of their haunted cornfield looming in the distance. The parking area could use some lighting, as it was a little dark; nothing dangerous, just keep someone's eyes peeled for signs and staff, and drive slow. You’ll be fine.

Actors' Performance


The actors do a killer job with their roles. They chased, jumped, screamed, crawled, and tormented us through every winding turn of the haunt. They put their hearts and souls, and maybe some other people’s hearts and souls, into their acting. We were literally chased back to the parking lot. That’s the kind of dead-icatation that’s hard to dig up.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


The prop work at this haunt is on its own level. The aforementioned animatronics steal the show, but the rest of it is nothing to shake a stalk at. I would not have been disappointed to see some of these special effects at a big budget, pro-level haunt. The unassuming, bucolic farm belies the interactive props, motion sensors, and immersive sets. Rick and his team have the chops to give any haunt a run for their money.

Length


This is going to be some of the most terrifying, frantic, and enjoyable 40 minutes of your life. Their website says to expect 45 minutes to get though the haunt. We made it in just about 40—but we were running for our lives for a good portion of that.

Most Memorable Moment


I won't spoil the horror for you, but, at some point, you'll be lost in a maze with a clown that just, really, really wants some friends to play with...

Summary

I can’t recommend this haunt enough. In spite of the 40 minute drive from Milwaukee, my wife and I plan on going back at least one more time this season. 10/10 Children of the Corn recommend this haunt.

View all Haunted Cornfield at Meadowbrook Pumpkin Farm reviews

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View my 2020 Reviews




October 23rd, 2020 10:11 p.m. CDT 12.10