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