Please note: this review is for the 2013 season rather than the current season.
by NicoleL after attending on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at about 2 p.m.
Submitted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
For $15 (prepaid) or $20 at the door - this is probably the best value for haunts in the area that I've seen. The entire attraction took us about 90 minutes - well worth the money.
Getting there: Make sure you have your GPS and KEEP AN EYE OUT because The Dark Side's sign off the main road was TURNED OFF and we overshot the turn. Note to haunt - make sure your sign is fully lighted and turn it on at dusk. When we pulled up the lights in parking lot were out, no moon and it was foggy - again, we "get" the name is Dark Side, but it was hard seeing where we were parking.
Ticket booth, queue was good ambiance.
First haunt: You are lead up a hill to a mineshaft - which looked/felt like a real descent into the mine shaft. The actor who told us the story was ok, but it was hard to hear the story - his voice didn't carry well. Actors were good, rooms were good.
Hayride: You are next led to a hayride directly from the haunt. Through the fields and into a forest, the scariest part of this ride wasn't the actors or the "seat surprise" (which was very cool by the way!). The scariest part was - very little headlights by the driver and it looked like we were on the edge of a ravine cliff! They had some VERY cool and I'm sure expensive animatronics, but it was SO dark you couldn't make out what they were. PLEASE for the love of God, do some lighting so people can fully enjoy them. People behind me were saying "why are legs coming out of those trees?" (They were animated tree-arms but it was so dark it was hard to see and looked like human legs). Some of the facade sets were very cool, detailed, well-lit and we could appreciate who well done they were.
After the hayride you do a haunted walk in the woods. The first woman (witch?) was very "Hey-don't cha know, cheese n rice" - pretty funny. Some good folks jumping out at us, but again, NO LIGHTS. It was pitch dark in spots and one of the actors yelled at us that we were off the path - problem is, we couldnt' SEE the path because there was NO guide lighting (like the light ropes in other areas of the attraction). Loved the guy who jumps out near the bridge.
Next was a haunted corn maze. Again there was another "story" and the girl was good but it was hard to hear - something about a beast and a corn crip - the beast we may have missed but the guy on the front porch was hilarious. Finally the second haunt was in an old nursery - actors were great, very full of plant materials - actors were so into it they knocked some old pots/plants off of racks.
OVERALL, THIS WAS TOTALLY WORTH the $$$$$$$$$ from all the haunts I've visited over the years. 90 minutes of entertainment - good deal for the price!!!
Actors' effort was good BUT many screamed - I wonder if they had their voices Saturday morning? I think more could do improv/interaction/weird body language and be even more scary than yelling AAARRRRGHHH!
Lighting: We get that the name is "The Dark Side" but PLEASE hire a lighting designer so we can see the cool makeup and expensive animatronics! The facade sets on the hayride were wonderfully lit and they were our favorite things about the haunt... because we could see them. It was SO dark we barely saw actors jump out at us.
1 safety issue - We tripped on an INDOOR power strip that was being used for a rope light outside on the last hill out (Actually our friend tripped on it and then it went out - he turned it back on). It was a wet night - not safe. Please use outdoor-grade stuff. That was truly scary.
WHAT WE LOVED:
The length of the haunt - the fact that the price includes 2 haunts, a long hayride, haunted woods and haunted maze!!!
Makeup & costuming was good (from what we could see because it was so damn dark)!
Actor's acting/effort - very good, we just wish we could see them a little more!
Concept - very good.
OVERALL A- (Would be A+ with better lighting).