Archive for the ‘Haunt Profiles’ Category

Haunt Profiles: Haunted Hayrides

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

With the Season of the Witch only days away, we’ll start taking a  look at the popular culture and history behind some of our favorite halloween traditions and haunt themes. Tonight’s Haunt profile takes a look at a classic fall tradition and  haunt favorite, the haunted hayride.

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A hayride is a pleasure ride in an open truck, wagon or sleigh which has been decorated with hay or straw and similar farm life paraphernalia. In modern times it is usually organized commercially and takes place at night.In colloquial English, the term “hayride” has taken on connotations of “good, clean fun” but also of nostalgia, hence the popular expressions “… is no hayride” or “… ain’t no hayride”. The peak time for hayrides is between September and December. While the history of how hayrides started is uncertain, it’s easy to guess that it had something to do with harvesting the hay during fall.

An autumn tradition for centuries, countless kids and adults look forward with great anticipation to the coming of fall so they can participate in this time-honored activity. Why? Because hayrides are more than just sitting atop dried grass while you’re pulled along a dusty, dirt road. Like a country version of a New York City carriage ride through Central Park, hayrides offer a time to snuggle close, enjoy the outdoor scenery, chat and have some fun.

As Haunt Season approaches hayrides take on a more sinister type of nostalgia as they become vehicles to transport hapless victims into dark woods filled with maniacs and ghouls. The experience of vulnerability is amplified as your confined space gets invaded by the creatures of the night. Riding on the open wagon, there’s nowhere to hide as scares descend upon you and your fellow riders from every possible angle, they can even come from up above.

In our Haunt Stalking we’ve found that some of the most elaborate and intense Haunted Hayrides are based on the east coast, in Pennsylvania and New York in particular. Here’s a look at what we’ve found – some we’ve even experienced can truthfully testify that they are the best Haunted Hayrides in America.

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America’s Best Haunted Hayrides

1. Headless Horseman, Ulster, New York *SZ Review*

2. Bates Motel, Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania

3. Shocktoberfest, Reading, Pennsylvania

4. Field of Screams, Mountville, Pennsylvania

5. Jason’s Woods, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

 

 

Scare Zone is looking forward to our upcoming East Coast Haunt tour where we plan to experience one of our all time favorites Headless Horseman, and for the first time ever, Bates Motel. Look for our Haunt Review… if we survive.

Hayride Terror Tips:

1) Take an allergy pill if you’re allergic to grass, straw, hay, etc. – it’s real.

2) Don’t wear your Sunday’s best as you’ll inevitability be covered in hay

3) Check the weather forecast and dress warmly as the air can be deathly chill on autumn evenings

4) For the best experience and scares try to sit on the back edge of the wagon. Chickens can find minimal comfort sitting up closer to the tractor

5) Arrive when they open as lines for hayrides can get long and move slowly as they typically only send out wagons every 5-10 minutes apart.

Haunt Profile & Reviews: Reindeer Manor Abusement Park (TX)

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Halloween in Texas is a Scary Good Time ! And as we get closer to that time of year again we’ll soon start to feel the cool breeze in the air, the eerie clouds above the city and the beautiful autumn leaves flowing in the wind. Who are we kidding? In Texas, itʼs 90 degrees in October with maybe a few days of a brisk cool night if weʼre lucky. Nonetheless, Dallas is a thriving Mecca for Halloween. Everything from theater productions, themed orchestra performances, pumpkin patches, pumpkin carving contests, harvest festivals, costume contests, organized trick or treating and haunted houses.

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After attending HauntCon earlier this year we can honestly say that Dallas is one of the largest haunted house markets in the entire country, and now with Halloween being the second largest celebrated time of the year, itʼs no wonder why people travel the distances they do to visit the many haunted attractions Dallas provides. One such place is Reindeer Manor Abusement Park. Reindeer Manor is one of the few attractions in Dallas with a true haunted past. So much that in the off season they host a number of paranormal tours for the many ghost hunting groups in Texas. Is it haunted? Well, you’ll have to visit and find out for yourself.

Nestled in the back country of a small Texas town named Red Oak. Now in itʼs 40th Season, itʼs a property rich in atmosphere and with no shortage of fear. Your journey to Reindeer Manor begins with a long creepy, winding trek down a quarter mile dirt road surrounded by trees, reminiscent of something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. You park your car and are promptly loaded into a tractor pulling hayride that takes you far, far away from the safety of your vehicle. Through the dimly lit trees and cool air, your ride soon emerges into Texasʼ very own dose of fall with a trip around the complex revealing a sneak peak at each of the three attractions taunting you of the fear to come. 13th Street Morgue, Dungeon Of Doom and Reindeer Manor Haunted Houses provide a full night of entertainment while immersing you into the historical and well documented haunted past of this very spooky place.

Reindeer Manor Abusement Park has received such high ranks as 13th Street Morgueʼs readers choice award, Dungeon Of Doom twice being named Dallas Observerʼs “Best Haunted House in the DFW Metroplex” and Reindeer Manor being featured in several newspaper publications, e-zines, magazines and DVDʼs including “Halloween: The Happy Haunting Of America”.

 

Haunt Review: 13th Street Morgue 

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IMG_1802Of the three attractions at Reindeer Manor Abusement Park, 13TH Street Morgue was our favorite. It was non-stop scary with a consistent theming throughout it’s indoor, outdoor, upstairs and downstairs settings.  The details inside are incredibly realistic with cobwebs everywhere and aged prop pieces. Even small details, like the wall paintings, window dressings,  meticulously placed furniture and  knick-knacks make the place believably haunted.

This is also one of the few haunted house attractions that knows how produce unique and believably threatening scares. The scareactors were top-notch with a mix of serious character actors and acrobatic performers who all go out of their way to scare you to death. Their timing is perfect and they all stay in character.  The haunt also employs special effects but only subtly so no to become distractions from the authentically creepy atmospheres.

We have to say that if you’re in the Dallas, Texas area during Haunt Season. You need to make the trip out to experience this haunted attraction. It is the epitome of the Haunted House experience.

 

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 5 skulls
  • Theming: 5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
  • Fright Value: 5 skulls

Overall Rating of 13th Street Morgue: 5 Skulls

Haunt Review: Dungeon of Doom

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Dungeon of Doom is slightly shorter (but still long compare to standard haunts) and and less elaborate than 13th Street Morgue. This haunted house has more sporadic scenes with less consistent theming. It seemed to have everything that would “cause your doom” featured inside. This maze had more generic scenery  and scare tactics but it still kept the scare factor at an intense level and is a strong compliment to the 13th Street Morgue.
There were some nice effects such as a passage way with strobe lights that gave the illusion of  moving walls. There was also an odd effect with a spinning  platform that is hard to navigate, especially when a ghoul begins to chase you. They also used air guns, a jackhammer, and of course a chainsaw in some of the mazes most startling scenes. The big scares could mainly be attributed to the very eager scareactors “popping out” versus any kind suspense which we encountered inside the 13th Street Mourge. Inside the dungeon we had monsters sneaking up behind us, banging on walls, screaming at us, taunting us, and even touching us. Some of the performers took their acts to levels past PG-13 (which we don’t mind) but it could make other Haunt Stalkers feel sheepish.

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 3.5 skulls
  • Theming: 3.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 4.5 skulls
  • Fright Value: 5 skulls

Overall Rating of Dungeon of Doom: 4 Skulls

 

2013 Haunt Season Information

Dates:Sept. 28th, October 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 27, 31, November 1, 2 and encore performances November 9th

Hours: Fridays 8:00pm-12:30am, Saturdays 7:00pm-12:30am, Select Sunday and Halloween 7:00pm-10:00pm

Location: 410 Houston School Rd. Red Oak, Texas 75154

Cost: $35 Adult Combo Ticket, $17 Child Combo Ticket. Admits entrance to all three attractions. Coupons available online

Websites: texashaunt.com, reindeermanor.com

Special Event:

Holiday in the Dark, Sunday October 27th. Experience all three haunted attractions in complete darkness with only one glow stick to light your way. Three Attractions, One Glow Stick, Total Darkness. Open 7pm-10pm

Hangman’s Unhappily Ever After… The End

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

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This year will mark the 25th and (sadly) final season of Hangman’s House of Horrors.

Hangman’s House of Horrors is one of the premier haunts in Texas and one of the top charity-benefiting haunted houses in the nation! To date, they’ve terrorized over half a million victims and donated more than $1.8 million to local charities! For much of its history, proceeds went to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Tarrant County. In 2005, it expanded to include other charities such as the American Cancer Society, Rocky Top Therapy Center, SafeHaven of Tarrant County, Cenikor Foundation and A Wish With Wings. To accomplish this enormous feat Hangman’s has enlisted more than 1,000 volunteers each year — from the actors to ticket-takers and concession workers to security personnel.

During the HauntCon Tour we were able to experience this venerable haunt in both a ‘lights on’ tour and in full ‘show’ mode. From our REVIEW it earned a solid overall rating of 3.5 Skulls from us with higher ratings for their Haunt Design and Fright Value.

For their final act their theme will be “Unhappily Ever After…The End”, A creepy and dark retelling of the classic fairy tales! This returns to one of the most popular themes in Hangman’s history: “Scary Tales”. Hangman’s is an enormous haunt and will take a minimum of 25 minutes (at a running in terror pace) to get through. It includes a mix of  scareactors and animatronics within a wide array of rooms featuring elements like uneven floors, spinning tunnels, swinging bridges, claustrophobic hallways, and even a “find your way our” maze. Just about every traditional haunt element and character you can think of can be found inside this House of Horrors.

Unhappily Ever After will feature riffs on Pinocchio, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Wizard of Oz, Hansel and Gretel and other classic tales. And of course perennial favorites, such as the black-and-white checkered room, the scary clowns and the spinning tunnel, will remain. So will the 3-D Wonderland attraction and the Labyrinth maze. The attraction previously inhabited by scary hillbillies in “McDagenville” will change to an on-trend zombie theme of “outbreak.”

It’s disappointing that a long standing haunt institution, like Hangman’s is calling it quits. However, in the world of horror, the term “Final Season” doesn’t necessariraly mean the absolute end and maybe after opening on Friday the 13th, Hangman’s will find a way to  have “A New Beginning”.

Hangman’s FINAL SEASON runs September 13 through November 2

Check their WEBSITE for tickets and times.

AUSTIN’S HOUSE OF TORMENT CONTINUES ITS REIGN OF TERROR

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

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In less than two weeks, Austin’s House of Torment returns on Friday the 13th to the Highland Mall. Featuring elaborate Hollywood-quality sets inside a multi-level, 20,000 square-foot facility, this house torments it’s victims with iconic characters, towering animatronic monsters and terrifying scenarios.

We experienced House of Torment back in 2009 and found the scale and intensity of this haunt productions to be simply mind blowing. With an incredible number of scareactors and elaborate settings we had to remind ourselves that we’re brave so we could make it all the way through. In addition to the traditional scares, there were segments that required us to interact with the monsters and sets in order for us to be able to progress through the haunt. These elements added another level of suspense and fun to the experience.

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House of Torment began as a backyard haunt in Austin and has quickly become one of the most thrilling and well-orchestrated haunts in the country containing three separately-themed, frightful experiences at the same location. Named “one of America’s scariest attractions” by The Travel Channel, House of Torment is now in its 11th year.  It’s immense popularity stems from the genuine and fervent obsession of its creative team and production staff, who work year-round and seasonally with their 150 scarers on everything from costumes and make-up to ticket selling and mechanics.

This year’s haunted houses include Blackthorne District, Cursed: Ancients Emerge, and Slaughterhouse: The Harvest. Each haunt will include unique, frightful monsters, with everything from brain-eating zombies and chainsaw-wielding psychos to ancient nightmarish creatures. Here are more specifics for each house.

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Visit their WEBSITE for more details on dates, times, and tickets.

Terror Tip: Stalk them earlier in the season or during one their mid-October weeknights to avoid large crowds. If you can only go on popular nights, they also offer a VIP Fast Pass ticket.

Now, here’s a SNEAK PEEK  at what’s in store for you at House of Torment –

Haunt Profile: Pennhurst Haunted Asylum 2013

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Haunted Houses in Pennsylvania are some of the scariest in America and according to a few Haunt Stalkers Pennhurst Asylum in Philadelphia is one of the best. What makes this location stand out is its twisted and terrifying real-life history of horrors that the residents were once subjected to. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that these horrors occurred as recently as the late 80’s. Now, every fall , haunt designers come in and take over the asylum converting it into a playground of  ghost stories and homicidal maniacs.

The Legend of Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst State School opened in 1908 and flourished for almost 60 years until allegations of mistreatment of residents surfaced. Over the next decade, these allegations were proven to be true and by 1986 the entire complex was abandoned, and left to rot. As nature began to reclaim the property, an effort was launched to see if there was any feasible use for these buildings. Nothing was found until now…

Nestled in the mountains of Eastern Austria lies the town of Neustadt, a small hamlet that is renowned for its medical research facilities. Dr. Heinrich Chakajian was one of the leading physicians at the premier Neustadt Center for Cranial Research and was a psycho surgical genius. Over the years Dr Chakajian performed hundreds of operations on patients with brain injuries and diseases. But what few people know, the good doctor also conducted radical experiments in his secret laboratory, located 30 miles west in the city of Loeben. His surgical experiments began with the corpses of people who had donated their bodies to science. However, Dr Chakajian realized that he needed live humans to further his experimental surgery, and discover the cure for brain ailments. His staff quietly made suggestions to Eastern European prisons in search of live patients to work on. The prison wardens were happy to release the worst of their inmates into the hands of Dr Chakajian with the agreement that they would never be released back into society. Convicted murderers, rapists, and sociopaths streamed into the gated complex and were secured in stone cells that lie beneath the laboratory. And so began two decades of radical experimentation with untried drugs, new procedures and open brain surgery.

Over the years, several problems began to arise; word was getting out about the unorthodox experiments that often resulted in intense psychotic deterioration of the patient and in many cases even death. The cells were filling up with people whose experimental surgery had gone terribly wrong. With the Austrian government and the European Medical Association closing in on the rumors of horrible experimentation going on at his lab, Dr Chakajian began a global search for a secure location to hide the worst of his experimental failures. After months of research, he came across a deteriorated complex in Southeastern Pennsylvania, just outside of the town of Spring City. The once majestic campus of Pennhurst State School, having fallen into ruins and almost destroyed by vandals, appeared to be the perfect location to house the victims. After purchasing the property from the State, Dr Chakajian began a program of restoration of some of the buildings in hopes of secretly moving his problems out of Loeben and across the Atlantic to Pennsylvania. Roofs were mended, windows replaced, asbestos and lead paint were abated and the building began to take shape. Soon, the former criminal monsters of Eastern Europe, now tragically altered by radical experiments began to flow into Pennhurst. With a strong security force and hospital staff in place, the experimentation continued. Electro-convulsive shock therapy is routinely conducted on the first floor, in room 29B. Psycho surgery is performed on level two, in the well equipped operating room. Other experiments include body suspension, light deprivation, and intense drug therapy.

For several years Pennhurst was alive again with activity but no one knew what was going on behind the walls and under the complex. One night Dr. Chakajian was killed along with several patients when a fire broke out on the second floor of the Administration building. In the ensuing chaos, the inmates mounted an escape and many of the staff were killed in the processes. Some of the patients escaped never to be seen again. The patients that didn’t escape were locked in cells deep under pennhurst and left to die by the staff that survived the bloody uprising. With Chakajian dead the buildings once again were abandoned. Its believed that some of the escaped inmates returned to Pennhurst and are living inside, waiting for explorers to enter the abandoned complex. Its said that the ghosts of Dr. Chakajian, his staff and inmates are still there too, continuing their experiments and as the number of missing people in the area would attest, the good Doctor is always looking for new test subjects.

Attractions

The Pennhurst Asylum –  a hospital themed walk thru attraction featuring many items and artifacts that were part of the original State School. Located on the upper floors of the old Administration building, which dates to 1908, this attraction features a combination of high tech animatronics, digital sound and motivated actors, as well as fine detail and realism.

The Tunnel Terror – The Tunnel Terror attraction takes you through a 900 foot long gauntlet underneath the grounds of the old State School, first named Pennhurst Home for the Feeble Minded and Epileptic. Upgraded with amazing catacombs, new sets and scares, this attraction is guaranteed to produce screams.

The Dungeon of Lost Souls – Features a labyrinth of old cells, drafty halls and a series of human experiments that have gone horribly wrong. This show includes CGI special effects, illusions, great detail and amazing actors.

Ghost Hunt –  The final attraction, called Ghost Hunt, is a self guided tour of the Mayflower Building, reportedly the most active of all the locations on the campus, and featured on Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. Armed with only a flashlight, visitors are allowed to wander through the dormitory, left just as it was 26 years ago, and search for spirits on their own.

Pennhurst is open weekends Sept 20th-Nov.3rd 2013

Use Promo Code “ghost” when buying tickets online and save $5 OFF PATIENT ADMISSION!

Click HERE to get more information about PennHurst Asylum 

Trip Report: HAuNTCon 2013 (Dallas, TX)

Friday, May 17th, 2013

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Scare Zone made the trek out to Texas in April to experience HAuNTCon, one of the larger yearly haunt conventions. We had a great time attending seminars, meeting professional and home haunters, and touring the tradeshow floor to see the latest and craziest offerings in the haunt industry. We did find the tradeshow floor be to rather small and sparse of vendors but the focus of the convention was the education sessions, most of which were free. So we still found the show passes to be a good value. More-so than the National Haunter’s Convention which we attended in 2011.

Of course, the top attraction for us was being able to tour the local haunted attractions. Each year, the convention travels to a new city, and one of the main reasons for this is to be able to take attendees to different haunts each year on its haunt tours. The Dallas/Fort Worth area has one of the largest concentrations of haunts, but we were still impressed to find out that the pre-show and weekend haunt tours would include approximately 16 different haunted attractions.

We will be providing separate, full reviews of the haunted attractions we visited that were also in full operational mode and open to the public during our visit. But our tours also included a private, behind-the-scenes look at many other haunted attractions, so we’ll be providing our thoughts on those in this post. We did miss one haunt on the tour–Zombie Manor. We have heard that this is a really great and well-themed attraction, and we’re sorry we missed it and won’t be able to provide our review.

Overall, we experienced some great attractions, some so-so attractions, and some kind of terrible ones. Our top 6 favorites are the following:

  1. 13th Street Morgue (located at Reindeer Manor) [will receive a full review in a separate post]
  2. Parker House
  3. Moxley Manor
  4. Hangman’s House of Horrors [will receive a full review in a separate post]  
  5. The Dungeon of Doom
  6. The Haunt House

Now here’s a look inside the haunts we toured during HAuNTCon 2013, from day 1 through day 2.

The Haunt House (Caddo Mills, TX)

Haunt House was voted as one of the best haunts in the country by HauntWorld in 2012. The haunt features an impressive facade that sets the stage for the detailed sets and intense scares inside. The attraction is very long, with winding paths that go up and down hill. The walls often close in on you, and the low ceilings promote a feeling of claustrophobia.  We really liked the great detail work they did on many of the sets, especially the interior rooms such as the library and the stairwell. Some of the “outdoor” scenes were more generic, but we saw many places for good scares. Overall, the theme didn’t come through to clearly to us, as their website provides a back story about a carnival dark ride gone awry. We didn’t see too much evidence of this theme. The owner of Haunt House is a long-time haunted attraction veteran, and he was on-hand to teach a few seminars at the convention. He has a lot of passion for his attraction and the industry, and this is one of the reasons why Haunt House will continue to be one of the best attractions in Texas.

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Fatal End, featuring “Dollz” (Downtown Dallas, TX)

This attraction changes its theme every 2 years. Currently, it’s themed to, as its name suggests, “dolls.” Specifically, “an old doll store and factory in an old abandoned warehouse in Downtown Dallas” in the early 1900s. The back story describes the dollmaker running out of doll parts and resorting to digging up bodies from the local cemetery. For the most part, this attraction sticks to its theme well. There are dolls and doll parts all over the maze, although more heavily used in some scenes than others. Sometimes the placement of the doll parts seemed a little haphazard. Our trip through the Dollz attraction was in show mode, but without actors. But we easily imagined actors in those creepy doll-face masks terrorizing guests. The flow of the maze was interrupted by some scenes that didn’t fit in very well, including an elaborate laboratory scene and a blacklight toxic waste scene with gas masks. In addition, the extremely loud industrial music piped throughout the maze definitely did not fit with the 1900’s time period at all (see our “Six Ways to Ruin a Haunt” article for our opinion about this). The maze was long and had some interesting scenes, but we’d like to see them work on the atmosphere and tighten up the theming.

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Slaughterhouse (Dallas, TX)

The slaughterhouse theme is very popular in haunted attractions, and it’s probably one of the easiest themes to pull off. Just hang a bunch of body parts/animal carcasses around, spread blood all over the place, and voila!–you’ve got a slaughterhouse haunt. So we were extremely disappointed to find that this Slaughterhouse attraction had almost no slaughter at all. We saw clowns, a child’s room, a grim reaper, werewolves, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and even Frankenstein. Really? Frankenstein in a slaughterhouse haunt??  Even more mystifying was the fact that we saw price tags remaining on some of the props (and yes, this was a lights-out tour in show mode with actors).  This kind of laziness makes us mad, honestly. The haunt also relied on a lot of loud noises, strobes, and firecracker poppers. We don’t recommend a visit to this attraction unless you get a very good discount coupon. As a “slaughterhouse” haunt, this attraction left us asking, “Where’s the beef?”

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Moxley Manor (Bedford, TX)

Moxley Manor is located in a small strip mall, and it’s glass storefront location isn’t as impressive as some of the facades of other attractions we visited. However, this smaller haunt packs a large punch. We were surprised by how long this haunt was once we were inside. The “manor” theming was  well done and consistent. There was  a good use fog, very dark areas, and disorienting lights to help increase the scares. It also had a high element of suspense where you’d see a ghoul in the distance who suddenly disappears behind the walls or into the fog only to reappear right in front or behind you. The actors were top-notch and got some scares from the veteran haunt crowd touring the maze that night. There were also actual maze elements, including a scene in which you have to find your way through a maze of white sheets. We think that this is one of the most frequently open haunts in Texas, as they’re always open for special events and holidays such as Super Bowl weekend, Valentine’s Day, ‘Scream Break’, Friday the 13th, and so forth. We thought it was fun and highly recommend checking it out whenever you can.

Parker House (Denton, TX)

This was one of the best attractions we experienced while in Texas. The theming, detailed sets, and actors were were top notch, and most importantly, the scares were excellent. The exterior facade sets the stage for the demented horrors inside the “Parker Funeral Home.” The first scene is a church-like interior, in which the deranged minister taunts the audience and also perfectly explains the important back story and also the rules of the attraction.  From the moment we entered the maze (through a very unexpected doorway), we were greeted with amazing sets and and innovative scares. There is also a large outdoor portion of the attraction, composed of a long trail through brush, trees, and eventually a graveyard. This outdoor section is littered with zombies and cannibal types, and a couple of nice sisters even invited us to “dinner.”  We were particularly impressed with the actors at this attraction. There were many who went way beyond the typical “boo” scare and took on a very interactive role with guests, remaining in character even as jaded haunters heckled them. They also did a great job pacing the groups through the maze, holding groups back if they got too close to the next group in front of them.

We also got a sneak peek of an all-new attraction currently being built for 2013, which looks like it will be pretty massive. Parker House should definitely be on your must-see list for 2013.

Milton’s Manor (Aledo, TX)

When we stepped into Milton’s Manor, we had an extreme case of Deja Vu—had we been here before? It turns out we had. This is the very same attraction that was featured at the Los Angeles County Fair from 2003 through 2006, then called “Scare at the Fair.” This attraction was developed by Shipwreck Productions, the team behind Queen Mary’s Shipwreck Halloween event (replaced by the current and superior “Dark Harbor“). Now retired, “Scare at the Fair” lives on in its new life as “Milton’s Manor,” located in an abandoned gas station. This 3D attraction has some well-done paintings and effects. There are plenty of hiding places for actors, and the 3D glasses further obscure guests’ vision. Although this sort of attraction is dated to us, it seemed to be a bit of a novelty to some of the locals on the tour. Perhaps this type of 3D maze hasn’t been as overused as in California. Regardless, it is a good 3D maze and worth checking out if you’re in the area.

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Creekside Manor (Midlothian, TX)

This is a brand-new haunt for 2013. We were lucky to get a preview of what’s in store for Texas locals this Halloween season. The owners have been hard at work building their new haunt from the ground up. This haunt has a great facade set amid tall trees. The interior is a typical haunted manor type of theme, and the sets are well done and very detailed. It was very obvious that they were inspired by Disney’s Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor attractions. Even the opening spiel takes its cues directly from the former’s storyline. The hallways are extremely narrow, so if you have any type of claustrophobia, you might be a bit uncomfortable. We saw a lot of expensive (but impressive) animatronics used throughout the attraction. There were scenes with organ-playing skeletons, possessed children, and man-eating plants. Even without the scareactors inside this place , it was somewhat creepy to walk through, and we can only imagine how scary it will be when fully loaded with wall-to-wall creeps. At the finale of the haunt, guests venture into a short outdoor portion that we expect is pretty spooky at night.

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Tayman Graveyard (Midlothian, TX)

This haunt features three attractions: Tayman Funeral Home, Tayman Mines, and Fappy the Clown’s Theatre of Wonders.

Tayman Funeral Home is the best of the three and is the “main attraction.” This maze begins with an “insult” actor, there to tell you the rules and make jokes at guests’ expense. We suppose this is for comic relief, but the jokes felt pretty flat and lame. We’d prefer something to set the mood of the haunt instead. He also warned us that we’d have to crawl. The maze itself was well themed to an old haunted house, and yes, we did have to crawl through one section (which went on a bit too long). There were some interesting scenes and set design thoughout the house. After you make your way through the house, there’s a brief trail called Gravediggers Hollow that goes through the backwoods, where you’ll encounter some rogue zombies who didn’t make the proper final arrangements to get inside the Funeral Home. We could imagine it being rather freaky out there at nighttime.

Tayman Mines is a dusty and dry trek through wooden walls with minimal props. We went through during the day, so we can’t say how scary it might be at night (the owner’s dogs did provide a unstaged scare from behind a fence). There wasn’t much to look at during the day, so any scares will probably depend on a strong actor component and the darkness of the evening.

Fappy the Clown’s Theatre of Wonders is your standard 3D clown maze, with scenes we’ve seen many times before, such as black walls with neon handprints. We also passed through a perplexing vampire scene, which didn’t make much sense to us amid the carnival atmosphere.

If you’re going to make the trek out to this haunt, we suppose it’s worth seeing all of the attractions; however, the Funeral Home feels like the only major maze, with the others seeming more like “add-ons.” During haunt season they do offer a haunted hayride, which we imagine could be very good through the the back woods locations.

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Reindeer Manor (Red Oak, TX)

Reindeer Manor is “a real” Haunted House located on the outskirts of Dallas with a truly haunted past, and it’s been open to the public for more than 40 seasons. They were one of the first and are one of the oldest haunted attractions in the state of Texas, if not the world. This attraction is set up as a theatrical haunt, where you go from room to room to see ghostly and grizzly stories unfold. The haunt team here is very dedicated, composed mainly of boy scout volunteers. The theming of the rooms is extremely elaborate, making us wish that we could have had the full haunt experience versus the behind-the-scenes (lights-on) walk-through tour. Some of their stand-out scenes included a collapsing ceiling, the fiery pond, a room that rocks back and forth, and a giant, lightning-generating Tesla coil. Coupled with The Dungeon of Doom and 13th Street Morgue attractions, Red Oak is one the scariest parts of Texas you can visit during the haunt season.

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Haunt Profile: The Haunted Diary Presents Haunted Hollow

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Every October, The Haunted Diary opens, unleashing its most disturbing tales. The origins of this diary are unknown, but this Halloween it will reopen and pure evil will be unleashed. So, prepare yourself for the the mystery and terror of the Haunted Hollow.  

Along with the increased popularity of the commercial haunt business, there has also been a boom of “Home Haunts,” which have been evolving to offer unique and scary experiences of their own.  The Haunted Diary Presents , located in Los Angeles, is a perfect example of a Home Haunt that offers some homegrown state-of-the-art thrills but operates like a full-scale haunted house. The Haunted Diary Presents combines a chilling mix of story and scares and includes interactive elements where guests have to physically perform tasks (e.g., push buttons) to move onto the next room.

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This year they’re offering an ALL NEW haunted house based on the story of The Haunted Hollow. It is nearly 3 times as long as previous years, with a HUGE cast of actors, all new rooms, detailed sets, and an all-new story. They do not recommend the haunt for young children, as it is billed as a rather intense experience. They have no limits (per se) and promise that guests who brave a visit “WILL be surprised” and scared.

One of the refreshing things about The Haunted Diary, and many other home haunts, is that it’s free. The creators build this haunt out their pure love for Halloween and scaring the crap out of people.  They do accept donations, which are generously shared with the Habitat for Humanity’s charity organization. So, with this haunt, you can write off your Haunt Stalking on your taxes!

This year, The Haunted Diary’s next chapter will run for 2 NIGHTS ONLY, on October 27th and 31st. So if you find yourself in the dark side of Hollywood on Halloween weekend, don’t panic, you’ve only stumbled into The Haunted Hollow.

For more information about dates, times, location, and volunteer opportunities, visit their website.

Photo: ‎Haunted Hollow will open for 3 nights this October.Admission is FREE.Opened 7:30pm-11:30pm on ALL nightsOctober 20th- Test Night (Not all talent and elements will be up)October 27th- Opening NightOctober 31st- Halloween NightThe month of Haunted Hollow is only 2 days away!‎Photo: ‎o hello. Shot taken today ;)‎

VOTE For 2012 – Top 13 Haunts

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Newly launched Top Haunts Magazine has announced their 2012 selections for the Top 13 Haunts list poll! Voting begins on Sunday, July 1 and ends on Friday, August 31. During the voting phase fans are able to vote for their favorite haunted attraction. Winners will be selected and ranked by popular vote. Votes are limited to one vote per user per day. Winners will be announced on Saturday, September 1 which is just in time for  the kick off of the 2012 Haunt season.

Now, here are official nominees. Vote here!

**We’ve included links on the haunts we’ve profiled or reviewed but these are by no means intended to sway your individual opinions and votes.


The Bates Motel & Haunted Hayride (PA, USA)
Bennett’s Curse (MD, USA)
Chambers of the Mausoleum (CA, USA)
The Dent School House (OH, USA)
Disturbia Haunted Attraction (AL, USA)
Fear Fair (IN, USA)
Haunted Overload (NH, USA)
Haunted Plantation (HI, USA)
Haunted Play (CA, USA)
Headless Horseman Hayrides and Haunted Houses (NY, USA)
The House of Shock (LA, USA)
House of Torment (TX, USA)
Hundred Acres Manor (PA, USA)
Los Angeles Haunted Hayride (CA, USA)
Netherworld Haunted House (GA, USA)
Pennhurst Asylum (PA, USA)
The ScareHouse (PA, USA)
Sinister Pointe Haunted Attractions (CA, USA)
Statesville Haunted Prison (IL, USA)
Super Scary Labyrinth of Fear 4.0 at Fuji-Q Highland (Japan)
Winchester Mystery House Fright Nights (CA, USA)
13th Floor Haunted House (CO, USA)
The 13th Gate (LA, USA)

NYC NIGHTMARE (Before Christmas): The Experiment

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

The new trend of Holiday Haunts is all the rage. Now the twisted creators of NYC NIGHTMARE  are loading up their Christmas ‘slay’ and bringing to town a special Holiday Haunt experience called The Experiment. Given that Christmas has managed to creep it’s way into stores before Haunt Season even begins, it’s only fair that now Haunt Season bleeds over into Christmas. Guess this is what derives as Holidays continue to collide.

Psycho Clan, producers of NIGHTMARE, New York’s most horrifying haunted house and AOL CityGuide’s No. 1 rated haunted attraction in NYC have announced that they will expand the sensory assaulting theatre experience THE EXPERIMENT into an off–Broadway run on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A special holiday version of NIGHTMARE (BEFORE CHRISTMAS): THE EXPERIMENT will run December 9 through December 23, 2011 at Los Kabayitos Laboratorio at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk Street between Rivington and Delancey.

Studies have shown that the anxiety of the holiday season, coupled with seasonal depression, heightens the neurotransmitters associated with feelings of fear. The Psycho Clan experimental division plans on exploiting those levels of fear for an adrenaline rushing 50 minutes of twisted holiday pleasure, with NIGHTMARE (BEFORE CHRISTMAS): THE EXPERIMENT. The event was originally part of this year’s haunted house as a second attraction, but due to its popularity, has been expanded and will return for a horrifying Christmas spectacular that’s able to amplify what it did in its previous installment and experiment on the whole audience in a terrifying (and entertaining) examination into the limits of fear.

“Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time. For too many, it just isn’t. If you don’t always feel joy during the holidays, a good scare will trigger those senses,” says Co-Director Timothy Haskell. “The same endorphins that are released during moments of joy and pleasure are the same ones coursing through your nervous system during times of great fright. So let fear ignite your holiday spirit!”

2011 Haunt Profile: Asylum and Hotel Fear (Las Vegas, NV)

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

When Scare Zone was in Las Vegas just a couple of weeks ago, we had a long list of haunts we wanted to see. Unfortunately, two of the haunts had long lines stretching to hell and back, so we were unable to squeeze in as many haunts as we wanted (click here to our reviews of the haunts we attended in Las Vegas). Two near the top of our list that we didn’t make it to were Asylum and Hotel Fear. And just because we missed out on this haunt, we don’t want you to!

Asylum and Hotel Fear (collectively known as “Las Vegas Haunts“) are located just north of the Las Vegas Strip in North Las Vegas. Both have extensive back stories and are billed as “story-driven” haunts:

Asylum and Hotel Fear, hosted at the same location, each tells the story of Mortimer Feoray, troubled child turned madman. Visit the subject’s former home at Hotel Fear, then experience his new “haunt” at the Asylum.

The haunt prides themselves on providing elaborate detail in every set and a cohesive theme, not only within each haunted house, but also between the two houses. On the web site, you can listen to the back stories for both houses. In addition, they’ve been voted a Haunt World Top 13 haunt.

Next time we’re in Vegas, you can bet that we’ll be sure to visit this attraction.