Another nicely scary working-farm haunt, The Haunted Barn consists of a trek through a haunted barn (ironic, no?) and "Blood Shed," followed by a night-time hike through some spooky fields, up and down a moonlit hill, and then over a spooky rutted path. It's a good home-grown haunt, not all overly-fancied-up like the more corporate haunted houses out there, and there are some cool scenes and good characterizations. The ghouls interact and threaten well at times and it has a really nice sense of place and atmosphere, with the stars stretching out above you, and with all the autumnal smells and night time sounds of a rural farm in October. Unfortunately, the final leg of the haunt might need a few more scares, as we found ourselves wandering around a little too much and hoping for something further to happen a little too much. Still, a good haunt fer yer money and definitely worth the trip from Madison.
Signage / Visibility / Location
Very easy to find, just follow directions on Haunted Wisconsin (that's hauntedwisconsin.com, its on the internets, oh, wait, you're probably there right now), there's a big lighted sign pointing you toward the working farm on some rolling hills. You park on the lawn, which looks like it might get out of hand sometimes, so pick a spot on the outskirts where you can get out easily; we saw some cars almost parked in even at such an early hour, I dunno, maybe that's part of the terror.
Wait Area / Line Entertainment
We got there very early and really had no wait, but by the time we left, a bit after 8 PM, there was a huge line, so get there early. There were some ghouls harassing the crowd (let us praise an excellent Beetlejuice, whom one does not see very often amongst the Freddys and Jasons and Leatherfaces out there in this crazy topsy-turvy haunted-house world of ours), and there are a number of snacks'y things to purchase to keep your spookin' energy up. It's again on a real farm, so there are outbuildings to wander around and there's a pretty cool little giftshop trailer with lots of black-lit halloween/horror-themed stuff going on. There's also a big lit-up tent with picnic tables, which was a good place to rest with the group, quickly hash over the haunt, and enjoy the screams of other patrons gently cascading down the hill.
Quite good. The aformentioned Beetlejuice popped in and out of the haunt, doing a pretty dead-on Michael Keaton, and there are several scenes where the actors really act like they mean it; shout-outs to the little girl in the nursery who apparently is of two minds about what she wants you to do with her doll, and the most excellent little vampire girl toward the beginning, who forced one part of our group to engage in a twisted game of Simon Says. There were also evil children who yelled at you from inside an abandoned schoolbus; yes, that's right, evil children on an abandoned schoolbus, but we weren't sure if they were supposed to be there or were other patrons' nasty little kids, so basically, hat's off to the nasty kids, whoever you may belong to. Oh, and you end up at Camp Crystal Lake at one point and don't make any assumptions....
Sets Scenes / Props / FX
This haunt set up some of its scenes quite well; there are some interestingly-developed little vignettes which depend on characters, such as the little girl in the f***'ed-up nursery, which always adds a little sumthin' sumthin', and the natural setting of the farm at night, and walking around through fields and up and down hills, is suitably atmospheric. Had some good props, really loved Camp Crystal Lake and it's misdirection. Did think that the Blood Shed lacked a little in the creativity department and seemed a little sparse, at least when we were there, which again, was the very beginning of the night. Apparently another part of our group heard some kids calling out in the Blood Shed that they wanted daddy to get them dinner and they wanted "people meat" tonight, so maybe there was more going on in there than I saw in my group.
Three different areas with no waiting in between: the haunted barn proper, then the "Blood Shed" and its outdoor accoutrements, and then a hike up a haunted hill, through a graveyard and back down again through a spooky field. Took us about 45 minutes, a real value for your dollah.
As stated before, there are multiple waiting areas and stuff to distract you patrons while you wait. You purchase yer tickets and you takes yer chances and then you wait to get in. Groups were spaced out well throughout the haunt, we never ran into another group, and there are some cool moments outside when you see other groups wandering around and can wait and watch them get freaked out by the scares you know are almost right upon them....
Most Memorable Moment
1) Camp Crystal Lake and that pneumatic Jason prop.
2) Simon Says with the one little vampire girl.
A good haunted-house value for your eight bucks -- an enjoyable haunt and a great "cold night on a spooky farm" experience, but not as kick-ass as it could be, as it ends with a whimper, not a bang. They might be stretched a little thin or something; the haunted barn and overall setting are quite cool and there are some excellent characters and interactions with ghouls, but, at least in my experience, the "Brand New for 2009 Blood Shed" seemed a little underwhelming, and the haunted hill/field/forest area a little lacking in the scenes. It might be that we were there very early, and perhaps some of the ghouls had not had their din-din yet or were delayed otherwise, I suppose time management can be an issue when one is slaughtering and spooking and terrorizing all day. We may also have missed some stuff in the Blood Shed, as other people in another group seemed to have seen (or heard) more. Whatever the case, the wonderful setting itself really seals the deal, and it's pretty much an evening's worth of entertainment and then some. Recommended.
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