Please note: this review is for the 2012 season rather than the current season.
by HocusPocus after attending on Friday, October 19, 2012 at about 2 p.m.
Submitted: Sunday, October 21, 2012
This was the first visit to the Dark Side. I’ve always heard great things about it so I was thrilled this year to finally experience this haunt for myself. Here are my notes regarding this haunt in the order that I encountered them:
* Location...if you’re from Milwaukee this haunt is really in the middle of nowhere. It’s amazing how dark it got out there! (…which is perhaps why this haunt is called the “Dark Side”?)
* The size of this haunt is enormous! From the parking area, to the waiting room and especially the haunt itself. This haunt doesn’t measure itself in feet but in acreage!!
* The waiting area and concession stand are all indoors but didn’t appear to be heated. Glad I brought my hat and mittens along.
* The waiting line itself was dark and creepy. I could make out the shadows of those around me but that was it. Definitely set the tone nicely for most of the haunt.
* The size of our group when we departed the waiting area was about 20-25 but I was pleasantly surprised when our tour group was broken down to smaller groups of 2-3 people at several junctures, most notably for the mine shaft and green house portions of the journey.
* The mine shaft was very, very cool! Amazing set design / construction. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Definitely thumbs up in terms of creativity and scare factor!
* The costumed actors who greeted us following the mine shaft were fun to interact with. The camp fire was a welcome sight. I particularly enjoyed the Cajun accent of the tour guide who gave us insight about what was to come during the wagon ride.
* The remainder of our journey from this point was about 90% outdoors.
* The wagon ride was creepy and fun….although if it has rained or is drizzling your butt will get wet. (…either that or the girl sitting next to me was so scared she peed her pants!) The pyrotechnics were very cool and the actors did a great job of scaring our group. My only disappointment with the wagon ride was the darkness which made it difficult to appreciate the props encountered along the way and the performances of the actors who had assumed positions on the wagon not near me. …although for those with fearful imaginations instead of curiosity the wagon ride had some serious scare factor.
* Much like the intro to the wagon ride, the actor providing the intro to the walking portion of our tour was very fun to interact with. The other costumed actors did a very effective job of creeping everyone out.
* The sets along the walking tour were very authentic. I particularly enjoyed the attention to detail found in the meat shop and greenhouses. The corn maze was also a lot of fun to traverse.
* Total time to complete my entire Dark Side adventure was a whopping 42 minutes! For the price, none of the other 10 haunts I toured this year have come anywhere close to this.
Signage / Visibility / Location:
Just one blinking sign with a lot of words on it point you to the dark and lonely long road that leads to the Dark Side. The last few words on this flashing sign read “Dark Side” which caught my attention just in time to make the turn.
Wait Area / Line Entertainment:
Waiting room with concession stand is spacious and all indoors…although I’m pretty sure it is not heated. The waiting area was dimly lit but creepy.
The performances of all 3 Tour guides were sensational. I particularly enjoyed the Cajun accent of the wagon ride tour guide.
Sets / Scenes / Props / FX:
The craftsmanship of the sets at the Dark Side was superb. Many of the sets had a very authentic look and feel to them. While the special effects may not have been cutting edge they were effectively executed to maximize your entertainment value.
My tour took 42 minutes to complete. Mine shaft took approximately 5 minutes, Wagon Ride took approximately 19 minutes (including the campfire time) and the walking tour took approximately 18 minutes.
I arrived early and didn’t have to wait long. The waiting area / line was clearly roped off and quite long so it appears that you must wait in line vs. purchasing your tickets and then waiting for your number to get called.
Most Memorable Moment:
I really enjoyed touring the mine shaft. Set design was amazingly lifelike and the special effects were sharp!
Don’t let the Dark Side’s location scare you away…this haunt is definitely worth the drive. Perfect for families and groups looking to have a ghoulishly good time!