Please note: this review is for the 2014 season rather than the current season.
by DarkWolf1088 (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, October 17, 2014 at about 7:30 p.m.
Submitted: Monday, October 20, 2014
The Dark Side...now this is a haunted attraction that I have some history with. I was with the Dark Side as an actor/actor supervisor when it first began in the early 2000s. This trip was my very first time through the attraction since I left for college in 2008, and this time as a customer. Needless to say I was impressed by how far the Dark Side had come. The route to the farm has always been a favorite aspect of mine. A long country back road dead ends at the haunt's parking lot. Once there you buy your tickets at the "general store" area where there are heaters, concessions, merchandise, and a tiny Halloween village displayed. Once you buy your ticket you enter the waiting line area which is inside the barn. This provides ample protection from inclement and cold weather.
The wait to actually begin the haunt was approximately 15mins (This would have been considerably longer if I had arrived any later than I did). I was a little disappointed that there was no line entertainment but I guess I was just happy that I was warm and out of the wind for the time being. After 15mins 35 of us began the walk up to The Descent and that is where the attraction begins.
After the group was greeted by a kindly farm hand, people were paired off, and instructed to walk up the hill towards an old abandoned "mine". This was another trip were I was alone so when they got to me I made my trek up the hill and entered The Descent. The Dark Side does an excellent job of making it feel like you are going deep underground and everything around you makes you feel like you are in a legit mine. It wasn't long before the actors began to do their job....and an excellent job they did. All the actors used the nooks, crannies, and darkness of the "mine" to their benefit. Unfortunately I did not get the full experience of what I'm sure The Descent had to offer because the pacing of the groups became a bit of an issue. Shortly after entering I ran into a large group of patrons that had grouped up together. Thus I would suggest that when you make your walk up the hill that you take your time so that you can get the full benefit out of The Descent. Other than the pacing, The Descent was an environmental pleasure with lots of fun to be had.
You exit The Descent to a common area that has a large bonfire in the middle. Here again we waited for 15 minutes while people exited The Descent. Actors did spill out into the common area and kept all of us huddled around the fire entertained. After all 35 people made it through The Descent, we loaded up onto a wagon which begins the next attraction, Twilight Nightmare. Now this was a fun ride! With a fully "decked out" wagon that is pulled by a tractor we began our journey into the backwoods. Here, the Dark Side, shined. With actors that literally climb on the wagon and effects that completely disrupt your senses (such as gas explosions), Twilight Nightmare was a visceral onslaught. What made it even better is that this is no open field hayride. There are times that it feels like you are going to collide with trees of slip off the path into a river below. This is not a pumpkin patch hayride...this is the hayride from hell. With plenty of scares and unique effects (some that I would say are unique just to THIS haunt), Twilight Nightmare provides for a very entertaining ride.
Following the hayride, you are dropped off in the middle of a pine forest. Here you are greeted by an armed farm hand who reads you into what happened on the farm (namely institutionalized boys messing around with toxic waste) and warns you about what is ahead. Again the Dark Side excels in using the natural environment to set a really creepy scene. What I really enjoyed was the feeling of being able to "roam" the forest. The paths are not tight and there are even areas dedicated to one scene where you can take your time and walk around in the area. This is something you don't get to do too often in haunted houses. I was let down in that actors appeared to be few and far between in this area. I was all alone and was prime pickings to be stalked and scared, but unfortunately rarely experienced either. Chalking that issue up as a fluke, Backwoods Revenge still provides plenty of fun and a "free roam" environment that really makes you feel like you are in a movie.
Once you exit the woods a wooden bridge takes you over a corn field and into the next attraction, Mephistopheles Lair. This attraction is small but, depending on your disposition, can be very frightening, or at the very least, frustrating. Without giving much away on this particular area, Mephistopheles Lair is a maze...and a really good one at that! Exiting is not as simple as you might think. There are no scares here...but it can get scary.
When you finally find your way out, you will follow a dirt path that will lead you into the corn. With deranged hillbillies calling out "fresh meat" from every which way in the corn field, you may just want to turn back. In Schizophrenia you are again given a pretty wide berth to navigate the area, letting you walk around and investigate as you please. Again the Dark Side excels at using the natural environment. Just being in a field with corn towering over you, at night, and hearing "things" move around is enough to make anyone skittish. Actors do a great job of exploiting the field and providing some top notch scares. There is no telling what is a prop and what is a "monster" in this attraction. You will just have to find out for yourself. Exciting from beginning to end, Schizophrenia could easily be a haunted event by itself.
Once you clear the corn you have one final trip...through the greenhouses. Foxglove Nursery has beautiful scenes and with the attraction being outdoors, everything about this greenhouse feels authentic. In this attraction you get more of the haunted house feel as flower beds and pot shelves constrict the path and close in above your head. Keep your wits about you, there are plenty of ghouls waiting inside to give you a scare. This was a great way to end the trip and by far felt the most "realistic" which always adds to the experience.