Archive for the ‘Year-Round Haunts’ Category

Sinister Pointe Moving; “Lore Masquerade” Will Be Final Event in Current Location

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Sinister Pointe recently announced they would be leaving their current permanent location in Brea, California, and will be moving to a new address for the 2014 haunt season. But fans of SP shouldn’t be worried, as we think this will be a great thing for the haunt and will inject new life into its attraction. SP has actually promised “a brand new haunted attraction in 2014.” Although they’ve always added new “elements” to their current attraction each year at their current location, it hasn’t been quite enough to justify repeated visits for haunt stalkers who live far away or are looking for entirely new experiences with each haunt season. We know what the Sinister Pointe team is capable of, and we can’t wait to see something all new from them in 2014. 

There are no details yet on the new location, but SP promises it will be close by and maybe within even a few blocks of the current spot. Stay tuned for more details.

But in the meantime, SP will be presenting the final event in their current location, “Lore Masquerade,” on April 25 and 26, 2014.

Sinister Point Lore

Join us for two evenings filled with a variety of unique entertainment, creative arts, imagination, music and dance to celebrate the closure of this amazing chapter for Sinister Pointe.

Friday, April 25th 2014
General Admission $45.00
VIP Admission $85.00

Saturday, April 26th 2014
General Admission $55.00
VIP Admission $95.00

A portion of the ticket sales will contribute to the development of the long-awaited “Spirit Lounge” a haunt-themed bar in progress from the SP folks.

For tickets and more information, check out the website.

Bloody Valentine’s Haunts 2014

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

The first haunt season of 2014 is arriving with some love and lots of fear for Haunt Stalkers. If you find it romantic to be stalked by spooks, frightened by freaks, and chased by chainsaws then check out this line up of Valentine’s Day Night haunts that promise to get your heart pumping.

It’s a known fact that being scared is physiologically arousing, so hold your loved one(s) by the hand and pray it stays attached to their body. As we always say, love will never do without haunts.

 

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Alabama

Warehouse 31 – Birmingham

Arx Mortis - Killen

California

All Saints Lunatic Asylum-Dark Hearts – Apple Valley

Talladega Frights-My Bloody Valentine – Bakersfield

Sinister Pointe-Battle Royale – Brea

Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror – North Hollywood

Horrors of Love” Valentine’s Haunted House – San Francisco

Colorado

The 13th Floor-A candlelit night of Horror  – Denver

Connecticut

Scream Acres – Covington

Florida

Legends Dark Amusements-A Haunting in Old Town – Kissimmee

Illinois

Fear City Haunted House Valentine’s Zombie Massacre Party – Chicago

New Jersey

Brighton Asylum-Dark Romance – New Jersey

New York

District of the Dead-Eat Your Heart Out – Buffalo

Blood Manor  – NYC – Scare Zone has visited Blood Manor on Valentine’s Day and had a bloody good time. Read our review here.

Times Scare – NYC

 

Oklahoma

The Asylum-Bloody Valentine  – Nowatta

The Sanctuary-Tunnel of Love  – Oklahoma City

 

Pennsylvania 

Castle Blood’s Valentine’s Show – Monessen

Valentine’s Ghost Tour – Philadelphia

The Scarehouse – Pittsburgh

Tennessee

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure: My Bloody Valentine – Gatlinburg

Texas

Chainsaw Massacre – Amarillo

House of Torment – Austin

Moxley Manor-Valentine’s Day Massacre  – Bedford

The Parker House – Denton

Cutting Edge-Twisted Love – Fort Worth SZ Review

Tayman Graveyard-Valentine Massacre – Midlothian

Dark Hour Haunted House-Love is Blind – Plano

13th Floor Haunted House – San Antonio

Virginia

St. Albans Sanatorium – Radford

We hope you have a horrifyingly Valentine’s NIGHT! 

 

Scare Zone’s Golden Skulls 2013

Friday, December 27th, 2013

As we creep out of the clutches of 2013 it’s time for us to reflect back at another year of Haunt Stalking that seems to of had quickly passed away. To close out 2013 here’s our rankings of the best (and worst) haunts we experienced in our 2013 Haunt Stalking adventures. We truly scared it up in 2013, which materialized into being one of our biggest years of fears yet. We visited numerous haunts across the country from California, to Texas, New York, Philadelphia, and beyond. For a list of all the places we visited and to read our full reviews, please click here.

As you all know, haunt experiences can be a highly individual and subjective experience; what may scare one person might not be frightening at all to another, and what scares you one night might fall flat on a return visit. Nonetheless, we are professional Haunt Stalkers and this year the Terrorspondents have combined our votes for Scare Zone’s Golden Skulls: 2013 Haunt Rankings. So these reflect want we found to be the best from our own 2013 Haunt Stalking experiences.

GOLDEN SKULLS

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BEST MAZE DESIGN/EFFECTS: Insidious: Into the Further (HHN Hollywood) 

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Runner ups:
Chambers of the Mausoleum (Corona, CA)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality (Los Angeles, CA)
Prison of the Dead Escape! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

 

 

BEST MAZE THEME: Black Magic (Knott’s Scary Farm)

 

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Runner ups: 
Insidious: Into The Further (HHN Hollywood)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality
Gunslinger’s Grave (Knott’s Scary Farm)

 

 

BEST SCARE TACTIC: 

Prison of the Dead Escape! (Shocktoberfest, PA) – Too many scares to name
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Runner ups: 
Coffin Creek Manor (Corona, CA) –  eyeball in wall distraction
Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA)  – best use of animated props
Circus (Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor – hall of mirrors, wall of daggers

 

 

BEST SCENE IN A MAZE: 

Delusion: Masque of Mortality – Children’s bedroom scene
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Runner ups:
 The Purge: Fear the Night – Outdoor park scene
Black Magic (Knott’s Scary Farm) – Burning Theatre
Lock Down (Terror Behind the Walls) – Strobe Hallway of Freaks

 

 

BEST MAZE NAME: El Cucuy:  The Boogeyman (HHN Hollywood)

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Runner ups:
Detritus (Terror Behind the Walls)
Dr. Dark’s Black Spider Side Show (Headless Horseman)
Delusion: Masque of Mortality

BEST SCARE-ACTORS/MONSTERS: Nightmare NYC: Killers 2

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Runner ups:
Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror
The Purge: Fear the Night
The Empty Grave

BEST SCARE ZONE: Ghost Town (KSF)

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Runner ups:
Purge: Survive the Night (HHN Hollywood)
Walking Dead: Dead on Arrival (HHN Hollywood)
The Fog (Haunted Hollywood Sports)

MOST UNIQUE HAUNT EXPERIENCE:  Nightmare NYC: Killers 2

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Runner ups:
Zombie Joe’s Urban Death Tour of Terror
The Purge: Fear the Night
Delusion: Masque of Mortality

SCARIEST MAZE: PRISON OF THE DEAD ESCAPE! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

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Runner ups:
Insidious (HHN Hollywood)
Terror Behind the Walls (PA)
Reign of Terror (Thousand Oaks, CA)

BEST OVERALL MAZE OF 2013:  PRISON OF THE DEAD ESCAPE! (Shocktoberfest, PA)

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BEST VALUE HAUNT OF 2013: KNOTT’S SCARY FARM 

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TOP STAND ALONE HAUNT OF 2013: TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS (Eastern State Penitentiary)

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TOP THEME PARK HAUNT OF 2013: (TIE)

UNIVERSAL’S HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS & KNOTT’S SCARY FARM

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*We really don’t like having an uncommitted result but this year it really was a toss up for us between both of these parks. Universal’s mazes were full on sophistcated Horror Shows with some of the best effects, makeup, and talent, but we just didn’t find it to be nearly as scary as years past; mostly due to the park being overcrowded. In addition, the pricing has become too high with diminishing returns on our hard earned dollars. Oppositely, Knott’s is a great value and provides the best Halloween season environments throughout the park with unique themes, but the talent was amateurish (at best) and just like Universal the scare factor felt diminished this year. 

BURIED SKULLS

This is where we load up the cracked and broken skulls (the worse of the worse) and drive them off to the crematory. Of course, being in the world of horror, we’re aptly aware that not everything will die immediately or forever, but until they return here’s our call for the worse of 2013.

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WHO MADE THIS (WORST DESIGN)?

The Bog (Coffin Creek in Corona, CA)

WTF IS GOING ON (WORST THEME)?

The Cutting Edge (Ft. Worth, TX)

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB (WORST SCARE-ACTOR/MONSTERS)

Phobia (Pure Terror Scream Park)

THIS IS NOT SCARY! 

The Cutting Edge (Ft. Worth TX)

WHAT A RIPPOFF (WORST VALUE)

Pure Terror Scream Park (Monroe, NY)

JUST DIE  ALREADY (WORST MAZE OF 2013)

Phobia (Pure Terror Scream Park)

To understand the ratings please see our ratings guide.

Sinister Pointe’s 2nd Annual Dark Market – This Weekend

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

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Haunt Season is creeping closer to us and this weekend Sinister Pointe in Brea, CA. is going to give Haunt Stalkers a bloody taste of  what’s to come at their 2nd annual Dark Market.

This Saturday, June 29th, you can enjoy an afternoon and evening filled will dozens of vendor serving up the best haunt clothing, jewelry, oddities, props, masks, make-up and more. There will be food with the Sinister Pointe crew barbecuing and serving refreshments. They also will be holding contests and raffles featuring gifts from the vendors.

Most importantly to us, the Sinister Pointe Haunted Attraction will be open at 7pm. The attraction is NOT 100% operational due to construction that has already begun for the 2013 Halloween season. However, they’re opening the attraction one last time to the public (and fans) to experience a little bit of what they got to experience during the 2012 season.

 
“DARK MARKET”

Hours:

1:00pm – 10:00pm

Cost: FREE (donations are appreciated)

HAUNTED ATTRACTION

Hours:
7:00pm – 10:00pm

Cost:
$10.00 General (per person)
$20.00 VIP Front of the line pass (per person)

**$5.00 OFF Attraction ticket with the purchase of any item $10.00 or greater from our vendors before 4pm.

 

Trip Report: HAuNTCon 2013 (Dallas, TX)

Friday, May 17th, 2013

hauntcon 2013

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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Terror Trucks Delievers Haunts to Your House

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

As kids most of us would have birthday parties themed to Transformers, GI JOE, Pokemon,  Hello Kitty, etc. As grown ups many of us have turned to hitting the local night club, bar, or throwing a house party with friends. For us haunt stalkers, unless our birthdays are during haunt season it’s kind of hard to have a haunted house party.  Wouldn’t it be great if we can turn up our parties a notch and treat ourselves (and guests) to an actual haunt experience from the comforts of our own home? Well, in our quest to fine unique haunt experiences we’ve come across Terror Trucks, a company that offers that manufactures and operates “Xtreme Haunted Walk Through Attractions“.

Terror Trucks will roll out for public and for private events. They say that these are intense attractions designed to submerge guests into an unforgettable experience, assaulting all of their senses, fears and phobias. These attractions are not for cry babies or the faint of heart and they are not equipped with “Chicken Exits”. These Terror Trucks are extremely large custom designed and built trailers that are fully self contained and completely automated. Since the entire attraction is built inside of a trailer they can be transported to any venue anywhere in the nation. This reminds us a little of Freakling Bros Trilogy of Terror in Vegas, which housed their incredibly themed and  terrifying haunts inside some unassuming trucks.

Now we’re not outright endorsing this company but we do think that concept sounds is fun. If any of you have experienced a Terror Truck we’d love to hear how it was.

Take a closer look inside  the Terror Trucks and their themed offerings:

BURIED ALIVE is one of our most popular Terror Trucks and one of the most feared. After entering this attraction you are lead into an open grave. If you are afraid of the creatures that lurk underground, if you are bothered by the smell of rotting flesh and if you are afraid of being buried alive, alone and left in the dark, then the first moments of this Terror Truck will leave you looking for the exits. Only in this attraction there are no “Chicken Exits”. After you find your way out of the grave you will find yourself lost and disoriented underground. If you can fight off the the dark, damp, rancid surroundings and fight your way through the small claustrophobic corridors that seem to never end and the intense pounding resonating through your body then you might be one of the lucky ones that find their way out, but you will never forget the experience of being BURIED ALIVE!

This is one cold blooded Terror Truck! Once you step inside our COLD STORAGE attraction to chill out you’ll soon feel the cold sweat on your body as you realize that the doors to the room you are in will not hold back the the mob of frozen zombies trying to break it down. Your only chance to escape is to first squeeze your way through our meat locker occupied by some of our previous visitors, but that is just the beginning. Step carefully on the thin ice and try not to breath in the moist smell of decay that fills the air. All of your senses will be overwhelmed and the feeling of discontent will resonate throughout your body. But before you leave you will have to endure the feeling of being alone and out in the cold. In the end, when you think you have survived, you better look down at your feet, because this attraction comes with a free toe tag.

Scare Zone’s 2012 Year in Review

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, Scare Zone would like to thank all of our readers for checking our our site this year. It was a great year for haunts and horror, and we’re glad to see the haunted attraction business growing bigger and better every year. Be sure to check back with us throughout 2013 as we bring you the latest news and rumors regarding haunted attractions nationwide.

Of course, you can’t end a year without a best of/worst of list. So as we slowly lower 2012 into its grave, it’s time to look back at some of the best and worst haunt and horror moments of the past year.

Best of 2012

♦ Haunts aren’t just for Halloween anymore – Over the past few years, haunted attractions have been making an effort to expand their business beyond the standard October Halloween season. This is a great trend for haunt stalkers, because it gives us many opportunities to be terrified throughout the year. In 2012, we saw haunts open for Friday the 13th (January and April), Valentine’s Day, and Christmas. 2012 also saw the inauguration of a great new year-round haunt in (where else?) Las Vegas, Eli Roth’s Goretorium.

♦ Haunt and horror conventions continued to get bigger and more innovative – And the best of the bunch include TransWorld (March), Monsterpalooza (April), HauntCon (May), and the Midwest Haunters Convention (June). Not only are these conventions a great place to see the latest in haunt technology and innovation, but they also feature off-season haunt tours! This year, we saw horror conventions set sail on the high seas (Tides of Torture cruise, Saw movie cruise) as well as ones taking place in campgrounds (Haunted Slumber Camp Massacre, Horror Camp Live). We hope that these events continue to come up with crazy new ideas to keep us traveling around the country.

♦ Haunts went Hollywood – This year, we saw a few big Hollywood names step into the world of haunts: Neil Patrick Harris (co-producing Haunted Play presents Delusion), Jason Blum (producing Blumhouse of Horrors), and Eli Roth (creating Eli Roth’s Goretorium). These attractions show their movie-making influences with amazing attention to detail and production, and the celebrity backings help greatly in their promotion. As more high-profile names become involved with haunted attractions, we expect to see haunts get better and better.

♦ Knott’s Scary Farm is back on top – The original theme park haunt had slipped in quality over the past decade or so, but in 2012, they came up with some truly original concepts (Pinocchio Unstrung, Trick or Treat) that made them stand apart from their competition. Although they still have room to increase the level of scares, we were really impressed with their comeback this year and awarded them best theme park haunt.

 

Worst of 2012

 ♦ The Zombie Apocalypse arrived (and it’s time to eradicate it) - Zombies were everywhere in 2012! From the Zombie 5K race touring the country, to the “Walking Dead Escape” experience at ComiCon, to the Walking Dead mazes at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood and Orlando (plus the Terror Tram), it was impossible to escape the hordes of bloody, flesh-craving “walkers.” Zombies have had their day, and we think it’s high time for something new. We’ve said many times that although zombies may be creepy and gross, they are not scary. But with the popularity of AMC’s The Walking Dead at an all-time high, will we be able to kill off these zombies in 2013?

♦ “VIP” mazes and front-of-the-line upgrades emptied our wallets - Depending on the size of your bank account, this trend of “upcharging” guests at theme park haunts is either a really good or a really bad thing. If you’ve got the money, a front-of-the-line pass is a great way to beat the long lines, and VIP mazes limit overall capacity and prevent the conga-line effect inside the maze. At Knott’s Scary Farm, their VIP maze “Trapped” was able to present guests with puzzles they had to solve in order to advance to the next room, which would be impossible to pull off in a traditional maze. However, these gimmicks are just band-aids on top of overcrowding issues (especially at HHN), and we wish the theme park haunts could come up with more innovative solutions that would benefit all guests—not just those with the ability to pay more.

♦ Pop-up haunts left us disappointed – These are haunts that pop up in mini-malls or empty parking lots, usually around the end of September. Some of the owners seem to be in it just for the money and don’t have a great love of haunts or Halloween at all. Black plywood walls, cheap 3-D effects, and a lack of actors lead to a disappointing experience. Although these haunts usually have cheaper ticket prices than the big-name haunts, they usually suck and aren’t worth the money. However, rare gems can pop up occasionally. Scare Zone tries to visit as many of these haunts as possible and provide our honest reviews.

♦ Extreme haunts tested our limits“Blackout” came to Los Angeles this year, and after reading a few reviews of the New York version, we just couldn’t get excited enough to visit this one. We suppose it depends on your personal limits, but these haunts sound more like an actual torture session than a fun walk through a haunted house. What we love about typical haunts is the use of suspense, atmosphere, and well-placed startles to give you an adrenaline rush similar to riding a rollercoaster.  In contrast, the scenarios inside these “extreme” haunts are designed to make you feel very uncomfortable. We’d love to see this kind of psychological manipulation incorporated into haunts in a more subtle and fun way; until then, we just don’t feel like paying to be waterboarded.

Haunt Review: Times Scare NYC

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

 

We began our haunt stalking with a trip to New York City, where we experienced Times Scare. This year-round haunted attraction is located in the heart of the city in the theatre district right off Broadway. Times Scare includes a Haunted House, a 300-seat theater featuring nightly performances by various guest “Shock Illusionists,” and the off-Broadway musical Silence!—a parody of the Silence of the Lambs. For guests 21 and older, Times Scare has two fully stocked, themed bars with signature cocktails and a lounge.

Times Scare opened its doors a year ago and is a Jason Egan Production, who is also the creator of the Fright Dome haunted attraction at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. In its first season, Times Scare was the NYC home of Michael Myers and featured two haunted houses combined into one with a journey into the psych ward at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital and then the Myers home itself. Now, it seems Michael has packed his bags and moved back to Haddonfield for Halloween, but the remnants of his past tenancy can still be found inside the haunted house—more on that a little later.

When we arrived, the Times Scare marquee sign was a big attention grabber, and upon entering the lobby, we were immediately transported from Times Square to the dark and Gothic setting of Times Scare.

For admission, they have various ticket options, including bundles for the haunted house and shows; however, on this night, we were interested only in the haunted house. As we began our purchase of the rather expensive $27 “haunt only” tickets, we inquired about additional discounts. As the woman in the ticket booth quickly swiped the credit card, she proceeded to tell us that they have monsters out in the street, a few blocks away, handing out 2-for-1 discounts. We asked her to honor the discount, but she said she could only give it with a coupon. Since it was raining, we weren’t in the mood to go roaming the streets of New York looking for monsters, which at that point could be like finding a needle in a haystack, but I digress. After paying the steep admission price, we only hoped that the haunt would be worth the money.

After purchasing our tickets, we climbed upstairs to the second floor, where a host dressed in a simple black shirt and jeans immediately began to warn us of the terrors we were about to experience. The host also shared some history of the building and its past life as a crematorium (cool). There’s even some of the old equipment on display. The staff was very friendly, and the host discreetly asked for the name of my cousin, who was haunt stalking with me that night, so they could be sure “to get her” inside the haunted house.

We ascended up to the 3rd floor, where the ceiling is covered with video monitors, which created a pretty cool visual. Upon arrival on the 3rd floor, there was a huge steel sliding door. Out of nowhere, a ghoul appeared, making a frightening entrance. He asked for our tickets and suddenly, the steel door slammed open and there was an army of monsters waiting behind a caged wall taunting us and screaming my cousin’s name. “Oh, this is going to be good!” we thought. After they took our tickets, the lights went out for a second, and when they came back on, all of the monsters were gone. The suspense had just went up another notch, and the ghoul told us to proceed inside.

Now we won’t give away the whole experience of what happens once you’re inside, as we do think Times Scare is worth a visit (with a 2-for-1 coupon, that is). What we will say is that the maze has some decent settings and very energetic scareactors. What we also liked was they didn’t just have the same scareactors running behind or in front of us as we went room to room; each scene had its own ghouls, maniacs, and creatures inside. They also kept calling my cousin’s name throughout. The best scareactor would have to be the chainsaw  creep who stared us down while waiting for us to timidly walk by his lair before he cranked up the saw and then chased us through 4 rooms in the middle of the house.

The overall theme was rather consistent: there were no clowns or aliens appearing in what seemed to be an insane asylum overrun by NYC’s craziest. They did have the Halloween theme song playing, but that music makes any setting scary, with or without Michael Myers present. There were also a couple high-grade animatronics, lighting, and sound scares.

The disappointing part was that the entire experience took us less than 10 minutes, and this brings us back to the price. Times Scare is a quality attraction worth seeing; however, it’s no Halloween Horror Nights or Howl-O-Scream per say. We understand year-round haunts struggle with their off-season appeal to the general market as well. So, to offer a quality experience, they need to make money to pay the bills. However, with the shows, bars, and cafe, they already have multiple money makers. What they should do is allow their victims multiple trips through the haunt, as this would also entice them to hang around longer at the bars and cafe which can really generate money.

If it weren’t for the steep admission price, we would have given it a higher rating, but that has to be factored into the overall value. And while they do have a good haunt, there’s nothing particularly original about it. We recommend that if you’re in New York City and have some time to kill, Times Scare is worth a visit. Just find the monsters in the street with coupons first!

Ratings:

  • Haunt Design: 2.5 skulls
  • Theming: 2.5 skulls
  • Scare Factor: 3.5 skulls
  • Fright Value: 1.5 skull

Overall Rating for Times Scare 2012: 2.5 skulls

Click here to read about our rating system

TerrorVision: Creepy Haunt Commercials 2012

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

The first day of fall is only 3 days away and the official haunt season is set to begin. The signs are everywhere with the days getting shorter and the nights longer. There’s candy overflowing in the grocery store aisles and Halloween stores are appearing on every corner. Now our favorite signs of haunt season are the commercials that are materializing for this year’s major theme park and local haunt attractions.

We think our fellow Haunt Stalkers would like to get into the spirit of the season with us so take a look at some this year’s best haunt commercials. In particular, we really love Knott’s Scary Farm’s 40th Haunt commercial and just can’t wait to see what they have in store this year. The U.S. versions of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights share the same spots as do the other Cedar Fair theme parks, who all have a variation of the Cedar Point HalloWeekends spot. Howl-O-Scream’s commercials are creepy  and the Tampa Icon, Trickster, is one of the scariest haunt characters we’ve seen this season. The major local haunts have also put a good amount of production value into their commercials to scare us into coming… and you can bet we plan to go to as many as possible!

After you to watch these creepy commercials don’t forget to keep checking our Open Haunts 2012 page to get the latest info on haunts around the world (but mostly in America).

Knott’s Scary Farm

Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood

Halloween Horror Nights Orlando

Halloween Horror Nights Japan

Howl-O-Scream Tampa

Howl-O-Scream Williamsburg

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point

Sinister Pointe (CA)

 

Six Flags Fright Fest (Nationwide)

Blood Manor NYC

Killers: A Nightmare Haunted House NYC

House of Torment (TX)

Goretorium (NV)

The Dent Schoolhouse (OH)

The Mortuary Haunted House (LA)

Jason’s Woods (PA)

Haunted Plantation (HI)

Graphic Sneak Peek of Eli Roth’s GORETORIUM

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Last year, haunt stalkers had a chance to experience, in real-life, the disturbing terrors from the mind of Director Eli Roth inside the HHN Hollywood maze Hostel: Hunting Season. Now Haunt Stalkers can experience his terrors year-round at The Goretorium.

The Gortorium has shared a first-look into what promises to be Sin City’s most terrifying horror experience. The gruesome video trailer gives a glimpse of what guests (victims) will be exposed to should they dare to take a tour through Las Vegas’ first year-round haunt, opening this September. Roth’s twisted plans for the world’s first GORETORIUM will showcase his unfiltered approach to horror, bringing it from the screen to reality when the mythical hotel comes to terrifying life on the Las Vegas Strip.

In addition to the video, they’ve shared with us some gory details of what our Haunt Stalkers can expect when they “check-in”: The self-guided horror experience begins in the lobby of the eerie hotel and unveils gruesome sights of past hotel guest victims, and the serial-killing family behind the deeds at every turn. Employing high-tech Vegas showmanship with old-fashioned scares, the terrifying labyrinth of live actors, animatronic frights and stunning special effects is contained in a vintage hotel setting that rivals Hollywood’s best movie sets. Fans can expect both the trailer and GORETORIUM to have all the gory, classic scares amplified with the edgy spin that has made Roth the new mastermind of horror genre.

For those of you who’ve been trapped inside a Hostel torture chamber the past few years, Eli Roth is best known as the creator of the Hostel and Cabin Fever movie franchises, and for his role in front of the camera as Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.  His film label “Eli Roth Presents” produced the enormously successful horror hit The Last Exorcism, and he currently is shooting the horror series Hemlock Grove for Netflix.

Now, check out the Goretorium trailer in its full gory glory (WARNING – Features Gore Galore)

Advanced ticket sales for GORETORIUM are available now at Goretorium.com.