Senior Review Crew Member

Brett (wm)

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I love Halloween and fall in general for several reasons. First off, I was born 15 minutes before Halloween. Missed it by that much! But it's not so bad… presents one day, candy the next! Good thing I was not born around Christmas, otherwise I'm sure I would get the birthday/Christmas combined gifts! I also love Halloween because it's the one time of year where it's ok to pretend to be someone or something you're not. Just an FYI: other times of the year you might get arrested for that. The colors, the crisp air, the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet… all reason I love the fall season.

When I attend a haunt, I want to be scared! It's a great adrenaline rush, much like a roller coaster ride. Some funny rooms or actors are ok if used in moderation. I love to see the creative details that some haunts put into their exhibits, some are works of art! But I also like the dark haunts, where you have to rely on your other senses to make it through. Strobes and black lights are ok, again if used in moderation.

Previous Reviews: 2021 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

2021 Reviews

Please note: this review is for the 2021 season rather than the current season.

Terror on the Fox

by wm (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 at about 8:30 p.m.

Fun Factor: Medium Fear Factor: Medium

Review

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Terror On The Fox. It also marks my 10th year of writing reviews for Haunted Wisconsin. As things currently stand, this will be my last year as a reviewer for this great resource. So it feels right to do one final review of TOTF. My last review of this haunt, and I’m confident it's my last time attending it.

One thing to note: I originally tried to attend TOTF on Saturday, October 23rd, but the lines were extremely long. Instead I attended during the week and there were no lines at all. Seems like I made the right decision, as I’ve seen many complaints from those that attended on the weekend and were waiting hours in line… even with a fast pass. When I attended I was told that the same amount of actors were working during the week as the weekend. If that’s the case, TOTF is extremely understaffed. There was also an escape room on the property, but it was not open. There were numerous times throughout our visit where we were expecting a scare, but nothing happened.

TOTF has been around a long time, but the actual house structure has been around a lot longer. Whomever built it knew what they were doing and designed one hell of a haunted house! I have many fond memories visiting this house as a teenager. Then again as a young adult when it was on the east side of town. I even worked in it once! Through the years it was relocated several times before landing at what I believe to be it’s final resting place: Next to the National Railroad Museum. It’s changed hands numerous times as well, most noticeably owned by the Oneida Casino. Currently it's run by 13th Floor Entertainment Group, which claims to be the world's largest Halloween themed entertainment company. If that’s the case, then you would assume the bar is set extremely high for a quality haunted attraction.

My last review of TOTF was in 2011, but I actually attended it several years ago when they were doing Blackout. That was their highly disappointing lights out event. I did not review that visit, simply because there was nothing to write about. It was packed with (too many) people walking around in the dark, bumping into each other. The biggest strength of TOTF is their eye candy, which you can’t see when stumbling around in darkness. So this year as I attend, the lights are on and I have more to write about.

Your trip starts out with another staple of TOTF; the “Terror Train”. Visitors ride the train to the TOTF grounds, with a few actors on the train to scare you along the way. Taking a train through a wooded area and by a creek at night is something everybody should do at least once in their life. Upgrades to the train through the years have included lights, music and a huge skull with glowing eyes on the front of the train. It’s 100% unique to this haunt, but pretty much the same as it always has been for 25 years. On this visit there was one actor that did a GREAT job! He was making all sorts of crazy noises and did a good job of getting in people’s comfort zone. The other female actor was trying to have conversations with multiple people, but was very hard to hear with her covid mask on.

Once exiting the train there is another line that forms for their cemetery. This looks AMAZING. The church-like building is lit perfectly and it feels like you’re on the set of a big budget horror film. There are a few actors roaming around as you wait in line, but unfortunately hardly any as you walk through the woods itself. There were so many incredible things to look at, but the scares are few and far between. It was disappointing.

After your walk in the woods you find yourself in front of the great house itself. So here I am again, standing in front of this building that has held in millions of screams throughout it’s lifetime. I’ve seen it at least 20 times in my lifetime, but it still holds me in awe. There’s a VIP area off to your left for those that upgraded, but I can’t take my eyes off the house. Another line forms in front of it, which allows you to watch the actors in front of the house while you’re waiting. I guess you could say this is another staple of TOTF: the actors in front of the house putting on a show to lights and music. Since there was barely a line this night, we were ushered into the front door.

I find myself walking incredibly slow, trying to take it all in. That unfortunately allowed for the group behind us to catch up to us. There’s so much to look at, and it’s all lit perfectly. If there was an award for best looking haunt, TOTF would win every year. Each room is PACKED with eye candy. There were a few actors that were able to scare us, but there were also many areas with little to no actors. They use air cannons throughout, which had me jumping each time. In one room a TV distracted me enough to where I didn’t see an actor lunge at me until it was too late. It was effective, and those type of distracted scares could easily be done throughout the haunt to elevate the fear factor.

We walked back to our vehicle feeling let down. I can only imagine if we would have upgraded or waited in line hours to walk out feeling like that. There's so much potential at the TOTF, it's a shame to walk out feeling anything but entertained.

Signage / Visibility / Location


Super easy to find and you can see it from a mile away. In the past this was a great location because there wasn’t much around it so it had a creepy vibe. Now there’s a big hotel next to it and some other buildings with bright parking lots. It lost it’s charm driving up to it.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


There are really three separate wait areas. On a busy night, you’ll easily be waiting hours in total. Going on a weeknight, the only thing we had to wait for was the train to come pick us up. There was no entertainment in the 1st line, but there were some actors for the 2nd and 3rd line. Watching the house while you wait in the 3rd line is a lot of fun.

Actors' Performance


This was a mixed bag, with some actors doing a great job and some not so much. The costumes were all great, it all boils down to performance.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Easily the biggest strength of TOTF. Nobody can touch their visuals that they create. They have a big budget unlike the smaller haunts, and they deliver in this one category.

Length


It takes about 10 minutes to ride the train, 10 minutes to walk through the woods / cemetery, and about 20 minutes to make your way through the house. The time you spend waiting in line can easily add hours onto that during their busy nights.

Crowd Control


The group behind us caught up to us pretty quickly, but that’s all on me. I wanted to take in each room, and they just wanted to get through them as quickly as possible. I can imagine on a busy night it would be a totally different situation.

Most Memorable Moment


Being in front of the house taking everything in. Then walking into it, and having them close the door behind you. It’s extremely intimidating!

Summary

Tons of great things to look at, but extremely light on scares. That has always been a running theme for TOTF, and I’m not sure why that is. For amount of time and money you spend here, they really need to up their scare game. You can't keep claiming you're one of the best in the country or even in Wisconsin when people are leaving disappointed.

View all Terror on the Fox reviews

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Please note: this review is for the 2021 season rather than the current season.

The Realm of Darkness Haunted House

by wm (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 23, 2021 at about 8 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Very High

Review

There are many haunted houses that you see and hear about every season. They invest a lot of money in advertising, but do they really live up to the hype? That’s why I personally love finding the smaller, lesser known haunts in the area. They are hungry and have something to prove! The Realm of Darkness, located in Kaukauna, is one of those smaller haunts and has everything a great haunted house should be!

It was a chilly but clear Saturday night, perfect for seeking out those creative fiends that are looking to give us a few good scares. Kaukauna is pretty much right in between Green Bay and Appleton, so it’s a short 15 minute drive from either direction.

This haunt has a perfect mix of dimly lit rooms in addition to pitch black areas that you need to rely on your senses to get though. You start off in an Elevator seemed to have a malfunction. And so begins your descent into the Realm of Darkness! The next room was a surreal room of lasers and fog. It almost looks like we were in a swamp! A few rooms here are more entertaining than scary; like the dentist office or the Christmas themed room. There was a great maze that had us going in circles! The only lighting for the maze was a strobe light that cut in and out. When it was out, you couldn’t see a thing!

We exited the building, thinking we were done, but was another maze with more creatures lurking about! And just so you don’t forget about them after your frightful night, one last surprise waiting for you…

Signage / Visibility / Location


There wasn’t really any signs until you come up to the event. But if there’s an award for BEST SIGN, ROD should get it! It’s location on Wisconsin Ave seems a bit odd at first, in the middle of retail properties on one side and residential on the other. The maps app on my phone found it easily enough.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


The wait line is in what was once a parking lot. Visitors that attended for the 1st time were confused if they should stand in line or head to the ticket window located in the back corner of the lot. There were a few actors that mingled throughout the crowd as they waited. They sold food and drinks while you waited and also had a nice fire going.

Actors' Performance


All actors did a great job! Some were funny, but most hit their marks and delivered the scares that you’re paying to get!

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


Each room in the haunt has its own unique theme and different from the next. Good use of fog, air cannons and sound. The props were well done and the lighting and strobes were PERFECT. Some haunts tend to over-due it, but less is more!

Length


It took us about 12 minutes to get through the entire haunt.

Crowd Control


There was only once where we bumped into another group inside the haunt.

Most Memorable Moment


Easily the end of the haunt. Just as you let out a sigh of relief, they get you one last time!

Summary

This haunt has the perfect mix of scares and laughs! Fingers crossed that this haunt continues to get bigger and better. You’ll highly enjoy your trip here, and also enjoy spending less than half of what you’d pay at one of the bigger haunts.

View all The Realm of Darkness Haunted House reviews

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April 18th, 2024 5:09 a.m. CDT 24.01