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2017 The Dark Side Haunted Adventure Event Reviews


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Please note: this review is for the 2017 season rather than the current season.

The Dark Side Haunted Adventure

by Captn_DeathSchlager (Senior Review Crew Member) after attending on Friday, September 29, 2017 at about 8 p.m.

Fun Factor: Very High Fear Factor: Medium

Review

OVERVIEW:  While most haunts measure their size by square feet The Dark Side actually measures its size in acres.   At 40 acres The Dark Side is larger than the Bradley Center (6 acres), the Pettit National Ice Center (9 acres) and Miller Park (25 acres) combined!  If you compare The Dark Side to a popular Theme Park like Noah’s Arc you’ll find that the 40 acres and 6 attractions of the Dark Side compare to 70 acres and 8 attractions for Noah’s Arc.  With this in mind perhaps The Dark Side should be considered more of a haunted theme park than a haunted house or attraction? 

Haunt goers that appreciate the use of endowments over size will find that this haunt has an impressive arsenal of astonishing surprises.  The base price of admission includes 6 distinct adrenalin filled adventures that feature a multi-story mine shaft, hay-ride, ginormous vortex (…perhaps Wisconsin’s largest?), wilderness village, tree top suspension bridge, two mind boggling and bizarre mazes, an exploding car, multiple bonfire locations and a train ride to boot.  For an additional admission fee ($10-$15) haunt goers can join the fight to prevent the walking dead from invading The Dark Side’s base camp aboard a double decker hay wagon equipped with fully loaded paintball guns.  (Yes, that’s right…on this ride you not only see zombies, you’re actually allowed to shoot them!)
 
PERSONAL THOUGHTS/REFLECTIONS:  My immediate tour group consisted of one novice haunt goer, three 13yr old first time haunt recruits and myself…an avid scare seeker of 20+ years and over 100 haunts.  (Yes, that's 5 or more a year!)  For the duration of our 90+ minute tour through the haunted attractions of The Dark Side my immediate group was combined with approximately 15 others.  If being stuck at the back of a VERY large tour group makes your blood boil like mine fret not.  At the entrance of the Decent, Backwoods Revenge and Foxglove Nurseries attractions the large tour group is broken down into groups of 2-5.  The large group reassembles for the hay wagon ride that tours “Twilightmare” and the grand finale attraction. 

As most of the theme park tour is outside and requires a little downtime for the large group to reassemble definitely do come dressed for the weather.  If you’re concerned (…as I was…) that a haunted theme park that’s been voted “Wisconsin’s Scariest Haunted House 4 years in a row” would be a bit much for younger first time haunt goes, don’t be.  While the new haunt recruits of my group did scream on a few occasions these screams were always followed by laughter and never tears of terror…a noteworthy point since the three 13yr old first timers were allowed to tour the attractions by themselves when the large group was divided. 

While personally I wouldn’t consider my experience at The Dark Side as the Scariest I would definitely classify it as THE most immersive haunted theme park adventure I’ve ever toured.  The Descent, Twighlightmare, Backwoods revenge and train ride contain amazing effects that will satisfy even the most avid scare seeker’s thirst for thrills!
 
INSIGHT & SCARE/FUN RATINGS FOR EACH ATTRACTION:  (averaged 1-5 rating from my group of 5)

The Descent – Multi-level tour of a haunted mine.  Scare: 4  / Fun: 4

Twighlightmare – Enjoy a bonfire hosted by locals before taking a hayride through the forest that surrounds The Dark Side.  Scare: 2 / Fun: 5

Backwoods Revenge – Warm yourself by the fire and listen to the stories of Grandma Townsend before taking a self guided tour of the pine forest dwellings.  Scare: 4 / Fun: 5

Mephistopheles Lair – Enter if you dare and exit if you can find it.  Scare: 1 / Fun: 3

Schizophrenia – Tour the corn maze but beware of what lurks in the shadows.  Scare: 2 / Fun 3

Foxglove Nursery – Visit briefly with a bizarre botanist before taking a peak at what’s growing inside these greenhouses.  Be careful, it is not what you’d expect to see!  Scare: 3 / Fun 4

Train (with no name) Ride – Enjoy a ride through and around The Dark Side Theme Park while being entertained by the locals.  Scare: 2 / Fun 5
 
note:  I toured The Dark Side on it’s opening night which can be a blessing a curse when it comes to a fully operational haunt.  As most haunts don’t advertise their technical issues it’s quite possible that I may not have experienced The Dark Side at an unintended scare level.

Signage / Visibility / Location


This may not be the easiest haunt to find as most would likely consider this location the epitome of “the middle of nowhere”.  If you’re traveling on HWY 67 keep your eyes open for the small town of Ashippun.  In the heart of Ashippun you’ll find an angled intersection for Hwy O.  Follow Hwy O west until you see a lighted sign with an arrow that points you towards The Dark Side haunted theme park.

Wait Area / Line Entertainment


This haunt offers a heated barn complete with ticket window, gift shop, concession stand and a waiting line that features a spa/salon station for those looking to spruce up their ghoulishly good looks.

Actors' Performance


During our tour we encountered 5 locations with actors who’s role was intended to interact and entertain rather than to just scare the bejeezus out of us.  These actors portrayed their roles brilliantly and were absolutely exceptional at adlibbing and allowing you to playfully interact with them.

Sets Scenes / Props / FX


A nice variety of themes and superb special effects you won’t find anywhere else.  A genuine haunted theme park complete with rides and demented dwellings.  All sets were elaborately decorated with a fine attention to detail to ensure haunt goers receive a totally immersive experience.

Length


Approximately 90-120 minutes.

Crowd Control


Indoor waiting line weaves through the stables of a barn.  Ghouls entertain you periodically while you wait.  VIP tickets allow you to avoid the wait and skip to the front of the pack.

Most Memorable Moment


As you may have guessed if you read this entire review, the immense size of this haunt and how much they’ve packed into this experience make this a uniquely memorable haunted theme park!

Summary

With 7 different attractions covering 40 acres The Dark Side has more in common with a Theme Park than a traditional Haunted House!  For the base price of admission haunt goers enjoy 6 distinct adrenalin filled adventures that feature a multi-story mine shaft, hay-ride, ginormous vortex, wilderness village, tree top suspension bridge, two mind boggling and bizarre mazes, an exploding car, multiple bonfire locations and a train ride to boot.  For an additional admission fee ($10-$15) haunt goers can join the fight to prevent the walking dead from invading The Dark Side’s base camp aboard a double decker hay wagon equipped with fully loaded paintball guns.

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September 21st, 2020 7:13 p.m. CDT 11.29