Please note: this review is for the 2016 season rather than the current season.
by LyleisWeird (Newbie Review Crew Member) after attending on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at about 6 p.m.
Submitted: Friday, October 14, 2016
Have you ever stayed at a “haunted” hotel? Some old, dusty place with a half remembered ghost story tacked on? Like any well reanimated shambler, I seek those places out. I’ve had some good times, but nothing anywhere near “haunted”—except some errant scratches and likely squirrel nests. Most so called “haunted” hotels are just so in name alone. Well, time to exorcise that noise and get down to Manitowoc for Dead by Dawn’s Dead & Breakfast.
It’s hard to describe this haunt without giving away the goods. The concept of a haunted house you can spend the night in is totally unique. Expect to get the best, worst night of sleep you’ve ever had. The experience is totally immersive, from the family that doesn’t break character—even while suggesting vegan-friendly restaurants in town—to the fully decorated rooms. They manage to balance the comfort and friendliness of a high-end B&B with the mind-wrenching fear of a professional haunt.
The entire building is decorated in a way that would make Morticia jealous. Some of the props are custom made by Dawn and they are mind blowing. There are three themed bedrooms you can spend the night in: Clown, Nightmare, and Pirate. Clown and Pirate are the larger of the two and have a more consistent theme while Nightmare is simultaneously cozy and a phobia-ridden joy ride. The props may be fantastic, but it’s the actors that steal the show.
The actors at the Dead & Breakfast are incredible. The cast is a handful of people playing about a dozen characters. It was like visiting with the Adams Family. Before your haunting begins, you can hang out with the (g)host family in a retro Tiki parlor and have a few drinks. (They have a mixed drink called “Smurf Blood.” Let’s just say Gargamel was right, Smurf’s are delicious.) We had some eerie conversations and some good laughs.
I won’t spoil anything about the actual haunting. There’s a cavalcade of nightmares portrayed by one, or two, actors with phenomenal talent. My wife and I were the only couple in that night and we got a full force haunting. The actors quickly picked up on what was working and what wasn’t and played to our fears. We’re excited to go back on a night where other couples have booked. Having three rooms full of scared guests is definitely the way to enjoy this haunt. This in’t just a haunted attraction, it’s an experience like none other.
If that doesn’t motivate you to get over to Dead by Dawn’s Dead & Breakfast. I’ll leave you with one of the notes I took during my stay:
“2:30 A.M. Don’t know where the sound of chains rattling is coming from… (giant pen scratch from being scared out of my mind as I was writing)”
A note on the cost:
At $299 a stay the price may seem a little steep, but after you break it down it’s actually pretty reasonable. A normal haunted attraction is about $15-25 for, maybe, 20 minutes of scare. Dead & Breakfast comes in as way more cost effective since you are essentially buying some scare in bulk. Also, as a B&B, Dawn and her family are just great. They accommodated, helped us find things in town we needed, and introduced us to people in town. They put Manitowoc on the map for my wife and I. Dead & Breakfast is well worth the price.