Ah outdoor haunts...how they have always held a special place in my heart. It takes a special breed of actor to work in and work with the elements to achieve a scare. Schuster's Haunted Forest did not disappoint. First and foremost I have to say that this attraction used strobe lights and darkness amazingly well. If you are expecting to be able to attain your night vision on this outdoor attraction you can just forget about that now.
There has always been something about wandering through the woods, freely, and getting scared that most people enjoy. The Schuster's have set their haunt up for success. When you begin the haunt you really feel as if you have been dropped off in the woods and you are working your way back home. This aspect I really enjoyed.
The haunt had plenty of scare variety. Haunts can get boring if all they are is actors jumping out and screaming. This haunt had a good combination of role playing type scenes and flat out jumping out of the darkness. The one thing I was disappointed in, however, is that there are some spots that are dull due to the lack of scares or scenery.
This minor "hic-up", however, was few and far between. The haunt still did well with keeping the creep factor up. Being in the woods alone (mostly by yourself) is enough to put anyone on a bit of an edge, but the way the haunt moves you around and pinch points that it puts you through it definitely keeps you up on your guard.
Schuster's Haunted Forest is definitely a must for those that want that "Halloween feel". Nothing quite beats woods, creeps, and only moonlight to guide you home.
Signage / Visibility / Location
A bit of a problem. A huge sign but no lights to speak of. You are coming to the haunt off of a highway so if you miss that sign...forget about it. You will definitely have to turn around and come back. There is also a distinct round barn on the property that you might be able to see. Look for that. If you have GPS or you are looking at addresses and the location is getting closer, slow down, and you will be able to see the sign. From there pull in and enjoy!
Wait Area / Line Entertainment
During the day Schuster's is an entertainment farm with plenty to offer. The night is just the same. There is a market where you can buy Halloween goodies and gifts. There are also several concession stands were you can purchase snacks, drinks, and my favorite, kettle corn. There was also a bonfire and other smaller activities that you could do.
Don't have the nerve to be scared but still want to be out on a fall night. The event also offers the ability for visitors to take a night time tour of their corn maze. All in all there is plenty to do before and after the haunted attraction.
The actors did a great job, especially those that were in the positions of role playing. I never saw any actors break character and all actors kept to their roles. Further each actor had a unique way of scaring. This is refreshing to see as screaming gets boring and, eventually, annoying. This troop of actors definitely deserves to know that they did a good job.
Sets Scenes / Props / FX
All I can say is that there is nothing better than use nature as your set. This may sound easy but to really make this type of attraction work you got to know what you are doing. The scenes fit the set...a mine shaft, a shack, and an old time carnival are all things that fit ones idea of a haunted forest. This definitely helps you feel as if you are in a movie. Finally the props and FX were appropriate as well as simple which was fitting for the landscape. Everything worked together to really create a first class attraction.
The length all together was about an hour. The problem was that half of that hour was spent waiting to board a wagon, waiting to enter the haunt, and then waiting to be taken back to the farm. Granted the farm had a busy night, as they should, but what this means is that the haunt should be longer or a better way to move patrons through should be found. Is the wait worth it...I would say so but just be prepared for such a wait.
Again another haunt that utilizes our boys in blue to help with crowds, disorderly people, and other trouble makers. Two Dane County deputies were there to assure that everyone behaved. Not one minute did I feel that there was going to be a problem.
Traffic control, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. The event had A LOT of vehicles tightly packed into one parking area with little room to back out and head home (without hitting another vehicle). When I left there was a line of cars jockeying to get into a spot. That is another time you need to factor in.
Most Memorable Moment
I would have to say that the most memorable moment, honestly, was the wagon ride to the beginning of the attraction and from the end. The ride really sets the mood and brings the creep factor up. With the design of the wagon and hard core music playing as you are hauled off it really does set the mood.
Although this haunt has its rough spots it does not hurt the haunt itself. It is still well worth it to come out and brave the woods. I would definitely recommend this for anyone who wants a true Halloween haunt.