An enjoyable all-indoors haunt set at an abandoned factory building on a spooky hill right behind a quiet residential neighborhood, Fright Factory is one of those multiple-floor, dark-maze-and-scene-heavy haunts that tend to have more creative juice and room for acting (Acting!) than the typical walk-through-bleargh!-chainsaw!-heavy-haunts. Boy oh boy, does this place set the scene as you approach it, snaking past all these rusted out fences and up to a yellow-brick factory building looming above you at the top of a short climb through what looks like an abandoned industrial loading area. The ghouls attack from all directions in the haunt proper, including from above (yikes!), but there are also nice opportunities for interaction with actors in their little vignettes, so a full experience all around. A (Severed) Thumbs-up!
Signage / Visibility / Location
Very easy to find, just follow the official directions, we had no problem. It's behind what looks like a residential neighborhood and up on a hill; parking might get pretty dicey when they're really busy, as you park on the street around the haunt and neighborhood, so be prepared for that, and the street is kind of tight and there are all these patrons walking around and clogging up the crosswalks and such (stupid patrons!), so it might be in your best interest to park a little ways away and avoid the crowded streets up close.
Wait Area / Line Entertainment
All indoors, which was really nice, as it was spitting rain on Friday. Pay at a ticket window, then line up in one of those queues like at Great America that snake around and you think your wait is going to be shorter, but it's a trick of the eye (very tricksy, Fright Factory). If you don't want to wait, you can pay an extra $5 and go to the front of the line; this seemed to be worth it, as the wait was about 35 minutes at 8:15 PM and it's all a fund-raiser anyway. As stated previously, the setting is suitably spooky, it's really an abandoned factory with these huge ceilings and industrial detritus all around, and you climb these dirty stairs and wind through all these dusty hallways and it sure smells like something got abandoned somewhere, which just adds to the atmosphere, of course.
Some great stuff, from black-robe-clad li'l old ladies sitting at a dining table muttering about how much they'd love to eat you, to a really really menacing executioner who was seriously about seven feet tall (in real life, or maybe he just seemed that way) and quite the intimidating presence; perhaps he executes at his dayjob as well. Also, there's a very friendly butcher and friends who appear to run their own shop, and a great Freddy. Again, they set up some nice scenes and the ghouls can act out a little stuff if they want to, cause they don't rush you through, so feel free to interact at your own discretion.
Sets Scenes / Props / FX
The setting really speaks for itself and allows all kinds of cool opportunities that they take advantage of, from wandering through what seemed like a real meat-locker (no idea what that was originally, possibly just a good set, but the butcher aprons were really wet and sticky, so kudos to you, butcher-apron-preparing-guy), to a really great compression room; this must be the new big thing, every haunt we went to this season had a claustrophobia-inducing scene where you're compressed and crushed by the walls and ceiling and it's pretty intense, and Fright Factory's was very effective. This might be wishful thinking on my part, but they may also have been trying to tell some story that we didn't completely get -- there's a scene labeled "St. Ana's Orphanage," and it seemed to connect visually with some other stuff with Christmas trees and people in black robes or something; we wondered if this was from a movie or if it had some resonance with local residents of the Janesville area, so if they're playing off some local legend, that's cool. There's also a scene recreating one of those famous moments from NOES #1 (That's Nightmare on Elm Street #1 to all you laymen out there) with a real-live working industrial fan and a nicely-sparking knife-glove, and some moments where you're not sure initially how you're going to get out of the room you're in, and some disorienting "Didn't we just make our way through this little corridor with the same paintings and wallpaper?" stuff.
Took about a half hour to get through, more if you want to interact with the ghouls a bit.
Ah, this may have been the problem with not rushing you through, they looked like they tried to take different groups through different paths, but we got bunched up with a group of patrons behind us and in front of us, so it got kind of awkward at some points; there was a great interactive tarot-reading scene, but we ended up with a roomful of people in front of the tarot reader, so the scare got kind of watered down. Good scene, though. To their credit, I think all-indoor haunts have a harder time keeping groups separated, as there's less room for dawdling than there might be at an outdoor, farm/forest/corn maze setting, so let's cut them some slack on this one.
Most Memorable Moment
1) Great Floating Jason Mask Room.
2) There's a point where you have to electrocute a guy to get out of the room; delightful!
3) Mr. Executioner, Could You Just Move A Little Bit to the Right or Left and Let Us Through?
4) Death From Above.
A lot of fun, and makes full use of it's creepy abandoned church pew factory setting. Terrorific atmosphere, scenes move you around in creative ways, and actors are obviously having a good time with the horrifying. Looks like they planned this out in an interesting fashion, and good misdirection and disorientation, along with some enjoyable performances and good special effects. Recommended.