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Please note: this review is for the 2019 season rather than the current season.

The Dark Side at The House on the Rock

by PaigeBerrier (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Saturday, October 12, 2019 at about 7 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

Tucked away between the fields and farmlands of Wisconsin is the infamous House on the Rock, a one-of-a-kind experience that combines one architect’s creativity for unusual spaces and a passion for collecting strange and unusual objects. It is a must see for Wisconsinites; half-museum, half a weird old antique store, and is one of the rare things that is even more unbelievable in real life than described. On a regular day, the House on the Rock is full of tons of strange and sometimes creepy objects, but every fall the weekends are dedicated to the Dark Side, a special route that focuses especially on the more haunted side of the attraction.

I am a huge fan of the House on the Rock for their normal season (my spouse and I even took our engagement photos there!), and for years now I have been curious about the Dark Side. I came with two others, and we were all very impressed with their dedication to decor and the overall length and size of the haunt. Red lights led you down into the starting area, inside the short museum portion, and then your path continues through portions of the second and third areas of the normal attractions, which is a very different route than one takes on the normal tour. Through these areas, several of the normal (creepy) elements are more heavily featured (namely scary dolls and dollhouses), and additional, more Halloween elements are added (like animatronics and props). All of this is accompanied by some amazing scary sounds that featured classical music and organs.

This haunted house is definitely untraditional, namely in the sense that it doesn’t feature very many actors, and some of the items are real antiques and collectibles. It’s very long, taking about an hour to go through, and certainly has a lot of attention to detail with a ton of decor, lights, and sound. However, I wouldn’t say it’s scary in the jump scare sense - it’s more psychological, and interesting from a historical standpoint. Our group felt they could have benefited from more actors and less props within the haunt, as well as a bit better crowd control, but overall it is a super interesting, fun place to go for the Halloween season. I would especially recommend it as an add-on to your normal day at House on the Rock - I’d love to see it during the daytime normal and then this version at night!

Signage / Visibility / Location


The House on the Rock is very clearly marked from the road and is easy to find via services like Google Maps. They also have a year round website and Facebook page that puts out information about the attraction.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


It’s a bit of a winding path down to the start of the haunt, and while we didn’t encounter any actors on our way there, the area was decorated really nicely with red lights, speared skulls, and some nice signage. We had virtually no wait to start our experience, which was also nice.

Actors' Performance


This is the primary section I felt could be added to for this haunt. I would say for the hour-long haunt we saw a maximum of 10 actors. A few of those were amazing though, whispering in our ears or following us along our path. However, a few were there to simply guide traffic and didn’t do much in ways of acting. I would love to see twice or three times as many people within the haunt itself - it’s super creepy and that would have really added to the haunted house experience.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


I enjoyed seeing some of the normal collections re-lit or re-arranged, which included the carousel, a lot of dolls and dollhouses, and the organ room. I enjoyed less the more traditional Halloween props - spooky animatronics and things like that.

Length


This is a very long haunt, you could easily stroll through it for an hour or more.

Crowd Control


I also felt this was a little lacking at his haunt. There was no attempt to hold groups back, it’s more like a free-for-all in terms of walking wherever you want at your own pace. That in itself can be very cool, I was just expecting more a traditional haunted house, and we ended up running into a lot of other patrons.

Most Memorable Moment


I am always stunned by the carousel room, and this night was no exception. I can only imagine what it would be like to come upon that room never having been to the attraction before. It’s huge, glittering, and has an eerie glow, even in the daytime.

Summary

The Dark Side at the House on the Rock is a fun, casual, naturally creepy attraction; the perfect supplement for people who are already fans of the normal attraction, or are in town visiting it during the regular hours. We had a great time seeing all of Alex Jordan’s creepy collections and structures with new lighting and a new vibe!

View all The Dark Side at The House on the Rock reviews

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August 5th, 2020 5:00 p.m. CDT 11.13b