An enjoyable storyline-driven haunt in Milwaukee located underneath a fifties-themed working pizza parlor. This is one of those haunts where you're a legitimate part of the story, in that you interact with characters throughout and outcomes are dependent on your participation. It also has a couple of godd**ned scary points where companions and I thought we were going to have heart attacks, which would make for really good publicity for Monster Mayhem, I suppose. Oh, and read the website stuff before you go -- it has some background information on the storyline that will help you put things in context.
Signage / Visibility / Location
Very easy to find, right off the interstate, Google maps very clearly lays it out, and there are big signs for Paulo's Pizzeria. Lots of parking, big parking lot shared by many businesses, all of whom are unlikely to have visitors at haunt time, I would think. I think there's a bowling alley across the street if you want something else to do post-haunting. There also looks like there's plenty of street parking.
Wait Area / Line Entertainment
This is a sweet deal. There's a huge pizza parlor, retro-themed for the fifties, with things like vintage jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, booth-side mini-jukeboxes with fifties and sixties tunes on them, etc. We had dinner there before they opened (their pizza has that really good bubbly-but-crackery-crust pizza that this writer grew up on in Midwestern Illinois) and there are tons of tables and booths. They also appear to have an extensive appetizer menu and there's a whole other barroom and a separate vintage videogame/arcade room for the kiddies or the kids at heart (I have the heart of a small boy myself...in a jar on my desk! Bada Bing! I'll be here all week!), really all that one could ask for as one is waiting to fulfill one's mission to investigate the strange occurrences and disappearances in the basement formerly housing Blazzin' (sic) Lasers (actually, I think that Blazzin' (sic) Lasers is the off-season purpose of the haunt space).
You buy your tickets at the back of the restaurant and there is some kind of projector which may in the future (we were told by the ticket lady) show footage of people in the haunt, which seems like a very very clever idea. Due to the time pressures of having to work the next day, we got there when they opened and were the first guests for the night (I would not recommend this, you want to go later in the evening so the ghouls are all warmed up and hungry for blood, but if you don't want to wait, Sunday night at 7 is a good time), so there wasn't really any wait for us.
They give you wristbands once you've paid, and I think they said they call out numbers for people to get ready and then get in line. The waiting area to get in is a concrete block stairwell, lit with green lights and haunted by a zombie lady and an extra-special surprise we heard about but didn't get to see, as we were lame and went on a Sunday night instead of the more usual times of Friday and Saturday and apparently the extra-special surprise doesn't work on Sunday nights. Ghouls these days! Back in my day, ghouls would walk a mile uphill, with just bloodied stumps for legs and dragging themselves forward with skeletal flaking hands, just to work on a Sunday night. I tells ya, no respect.
This was great, even though we were there on a Sunday night (okay, now I will stop saying that), these guys were convincing and obviously really into their storyline, dead serious actors who are intent on drawing you into the unfolding plot. You play an important part at certain points, and they treat you like you have a role to play in the action yourself. Ghouls were good, and there's this cage filled with slavering ghouls in various stages of undress crawling all over each other that seemed just awfully...unsettling.
Sets Scenes / Props / FX
Fewer scenes than one might get in other haunts, but there's definitely more plot going on than the stereotyped haunted houses of Oh No It's Freddy Krueger, and around that corner, it's Jason! And there's Michael Myers! And a Clown with Big Fangs eating a Baby!
I think they're really trying to give you an adventure here, not just scare you with various disconnected things jumping out of the dark, so, what they lack in cliche, they make up for in interactional opportunities. I love that stuff! We were given a mission by the guy at the front and had to play it out over the course of the haunt, almost like those LARP thingies all the kids are playing these days.
Hot Tip -- they asked for some kind of number code at one point (I think it was four digits), that we hadn't gotten, and so they weren't able to deactivate the bomb and the guy at the end told us we failed our mission (Sorry guys!). So, keep your eyes peeled for a number code or listen more closely to information the characters give you and you might, just might, get to stop the bomb from going off, though I'm not sure why that means you complete your mission. If I had a hoard of zombies and ghouls running amok, I would probably make it my mission to explode a bomb down in there.
Oh, about 15 minutes to get through the haunt, a little short, but that might be because we were there, yes, on a Sunday night. Again, we had no wait, but when we left, a line was already snaking up the stairs and into Paulo's Pizzeria.
They sent us all in twos, and this was important in the plot, not sure if they do this on the busier nights. It was really fun, much more interaction that way, but also less fun, in that you don't get to go through the whole thing with your friends if you have more than one.
Most Memorable Moment
The cryogenic chamber and its Occupant...
Enjoyable haunt where you play a more active role in things and all the characters connect up into a grand plot that relies on you to do more than just be scared. In some ways, it kind of made it scarier, in that it seemed, I dunno, more real, and you had to take things a bit more seriously.