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Photo TR - Philly-area Haunts


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What's going on, peeps? Yeah, I said peeps. Keepin' it real like in the late 90's up in here, yo. Let me take you back. Back to a time where Michael Jordan played basketball with Bugs Bunny. A time where five gangster rappers were able to write, record, and shoot a video for a song used in a kid's movie -

 

 

You thought I was kidding, didn't you? Nope. Yes, the 90's were truly a wonder. But that's neither here nor there. In fact, we're not time-traveling at all for this. I just thought it'd be a fun introduction. Sue me.

 

Today we'll be staying firmly in the year that has both given (unlimited comedy with the election) and taken away (RIP everyone famous), 2016. I've got three haunt events (so far) that I figured I'd give a report about, sound good? Good. Let's do it.

 

Haunt #1 - Sleepy Hollow - http://sleepyhollowhayride.com/

 

This was my first time visiting this event. I've heard about it for a long time but never got out to it's location. Couple my curiosity with a wide open Sunday night and you've got a Kyle willing to drive the hour-ish to get there and get scared! I'll be honest, this is the haunt I was expecting the least out of. It looked nice and all but didn't have the notoriety of other haunts in the area. Happily, I was way wrong about it. Let's run down the attractions -

 

Sleepy Hollow Hayride - Lame. Very lame. Still fun, but lame. I mean hayrides are fun no matter what but this one had long stretches of absolutely nothing happening. It was more a nice ride through the farm than a haunted attraction. That being said, it did have some cool things happen along the way. This is a hayride in actual hay trailers, complete with 10-foot tall cages surrounding you. The actors make great use of this and climb and flip all over the place, hanging upside down in front of your face. They also had a headless horseman section that had him run by at full gallop twice.

 

Field Of Fright - Holy crap! This is a great combination of indoor/outdoor portions through a massive cornfield. It's very long (took about 20 minutes to get through), has excellent actors, a ton of cool effects, and tons of variety. Honestly I would rank this towards the top of my all-time favorite haunted attractions. It was that good. You're not just walking through a cornfield with people jumping out to say "boo!" You go through many different scenes connected by a path through the corn and there are a bunch of different scare tactics put to use.

 

The House In The Hollow - Again, HOLY CRAP!!!!! This haunt is on par with Halloween Horror Nights in terms of production design and budget, except they don't depend on drop-panels and sudden loud noises for every scare. In fact, I think between the cornfield and this there were maybe 5 of those style moments. They have put all of their focus on atmosphere and trickery to really get in your head and freak you out. The misdirection at work in this haunt is masterful and actually ended up with my group running and screaming in abject terror out the exit! It's not all about the scares, either! They employ a bunch of actual actors who have lines and improv and will crack jokes. It breaks up the experience very well and keeps everyone screaming with laughter and horror throughout. I LOVED this haunt!

 

I really hope Sleepy Hollow gets larger recognition. They've been around for years but I feel like I never see them properly represented on the haunt websites. This place is DEFINITELY worth the trip and the price can't be beat compared to other area haunts! Non peak nights have a $26 for all three attractions special. To compare, Pennhurst Asylum is $42 for their three haunts, Terror Behind The Walls is anywhere from $19-$45 for their one haunt, Bates Motel is $40 for their three, etc. If you're in the area, make the trip to Sleepy Hollow.

 

Haunt #2 - Valley Of Fear - http://valleyoffear.com/

 

Again, first time visiting this event. It's about a 20 minute drive south of Sleepy Hollow so it was easy to stop by on my way back home. I had heard good things about their hayride claiming to be the original and in the "deepest, darkest woods." I was pretty excited. They also offer a zombie haunted house and a vampire outdoor haunted trail. Let's get started -

 

Haunted Hayride - Well, it was better than Sleepy Hollow's but still needs work. As for that "deepest, darkest" claim? Not in the slightest. For half of the ride I was clearly able to look at the backyard lights of various neighborhoods surrounding the location, not to mention the lighting for their paintball attraction and haunted trail. The actors were alright but seemed mostly bored. The coolest part was that there were no sides to the trailers so guests are welcome to sit right on the edge and dangle their legs over for the entire ride.

 

Underworld - Haunted trail. Pretty darn boring with actors who clearly wanted to be elsewhere. There was also the same problem as the hayride where I could easily see non-attraction lighting.

 

The Facility - Haunted house about a zombie breakout. This was pretty amateur and again had bored actors. Production design wasn't anything to write home about, the scares were simple "boo" scares, just overall forgettable.

 

Such a shame that every member of staff here seemed bored and would rather be talking to each other than providing a haunt experience. For the prices they charge ($33-$39) I would expect a much higher level of quality. Avoid this place.

 

Haunt #3 - The Bates Motel And Haunted Hayride - http://thebatesmotel.com/

 

This is my second visit to this event but it's been nearly a decade. My last visit was while I was in college in 2007. I was excited to get back as I remember the hayride being pretty awesome and the house scared the crap out of me. The corn maze was kinda lame back then so I wasn't anticipating anything different, really.

 

Haunted Hayride - Easily the best one I've done so far this year. There is no break in the action. The tractor keeps moving and the action happens all around you, even overhead. Take this video, for example -

 

 

I took that about halfway through the ride. It's a short clip but gives you an idea of just how wacky the experience can get. Mostly everything here was built on-site with in-house designs and they've had over 25 years to perfect it. While it's not particularly scary it's still one hell of an experience and show.

 

The Haunted Corn Maze - Just like my last visit the corn maze was just average. They've added a lot of stuff since my last trip but it's still not very scary. Things feel disjointed and it's not a very long haunt. Still fun, just not great.

 

The Bates Motel - OK, I don't know what happened, but I feel like they've cut this thing in half. I clearly remember taking a much longer trip through the haunt with a huge finale. What I got was a funky intro followed by a series of rooms with no real flow which just sort of ended with no fanfare. It was definitely better than the corn maze but extremely short (maybe 5 minutes start to finish) and lacking in scares. Such a shame since I recall screaming like an idiot my last time here.

 

You can definitely tell they spent most of their money on the hayride and have let the walkthrough haunts fall to the side. Hopefully they can take care of this in the coming years. It's not like they have a shortage of funds as they're one of the busiest haunted attractions in the country.

 

I'll be updating this thread over the next few weeks as I visit more haunts. I'm still not sure exactly which ones I'll get to but I'm hoping to hit at least two more. On with the photos!

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Sleepy Hollow - I like this crowd size.

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Sleepy Hollow - Climbing on the cage.

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Sleepy Hollow - Eek! Skeleton!

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Sleepy Hollow - Eek! Tall evil thing!

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Sleepy Hollow - Eek! Eyes!

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Sleepy Hollow - Eek! A clown!

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Sleepy Hollow - Booga booga booga!

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Sleepy Hollow

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Sleepy Hollow

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Sleepy Hollow - Bonfire every night.

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Bates Motel - Scarecrow just hanging out.

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Bates Motel - Creepy corn.

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Bates Motel - Creepy tractor.

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Bates Motel - Start of the hayride.

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Bates Motel - Skeletor would be pissed.

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Bates Motel

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Bates Motel

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Bates Motel - Fire!

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Bates Motel - Great sets.

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Bates Motel - Full size church facade.

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Bates Motel - Here, piggy piggy!

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Bates Motel - It's gonna eat me!

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Bates Motel - More fire and skeletons.

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Bates Motel - Gaaah! Weird monster thing!

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Bates Motel

Edited by KBrylczyk
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do the actors touch you at all in any of these?

 

Nope. I'm sure if you gave some of them your number you could arrange for a more private affair, though.

 

 

Haha thanks, some of my friends can't handle haunts where the actors grab ya so just wanted to know before we got there

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Awesome reviews, Kyle! Always was curious about some of these places.

 

By any chance, are you planning on also visiting Night of Terror in Mullica Hill, NJ? It's not that far from Philly (straight down 322 over the Commodore Barry Bridge) and I've heard some pretty great things about it.

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^ Unfortunately their schedule doesn't work with mine at all, so no. I went to Screamy Acres (What Night Of Terror used to be called) back in 2007 just like I did Bates Motel and remember it was fun, though. I went to Rowan University so it was the closest haunt and we got a student discount, haha.

 

I'm thinking of hitting Frightland in Wilmington and maybe Pennhurst Asylum, Field Of Screams (Absolutely amazing back in 2011), or Shocktoberfest.

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Thanks for visiting Sleepy Hollow, for in the past I have worked in tech for the house :devil:

I live very close to the farm, and on nights where they have the bonfire I can hear the live music from my house :b

Many of the local high school students act at the house.

Also, how was the final scare in the house? (It gets me everytime :wtf: )

Thanks for visiting :) =) :)

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Thanks for visiting Sleepy Hollow, for in the past I have worked in tech for the house

I live very close to the farm, and on nights where they have the bonfire I can hear the live music from my house

Many of the local high school students act at the house.

Also, how was the final scare in the house? (It gets me everytime )

Thanks for visiting

 

Hey, awesome to hear from someone who works there! You guys were incredible and I hope you can pass along my review to any higher-ups at the haunt. Both walkthroughs were top of the tops for me!

 

Oh, and the finale of the House In The Hollow? Dude, that's probably the best "OH HOLY CRAP WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE" moment I've seen! I was having a great time looking at the scenery when suddenly I was running for my life screaming through the exit. I was laughing the whole walk back to my car. Well done!

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Field of Screams sounds fantastic. Kings Island has always done "Cornstalkers" and it's been halfassed every year; shockingly in Ohio I haven't been able to find a cornfield haunt. Thanks for the write up! This time of year always has me looking to read haunt reviews.

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I don't know if this will work for you schedule wise but Williams Groove just announced that on the 31st for one night only they are hosting a haunt event in the old park. The site keeps crashing so the only thing I know is that it is called Terror in the Park and is supposed to cost 45 bucks admission.

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^ While that sounds pretty funky, I'm unable to do anything on Halloween night. We're loading in and setting up everything for A Christmas Story - The Musical that week and I'll be working late on lighting that night. The larger event those guys organize certainly looks interesting, though I'm not sure I can justify a two hour drive for it. Field Of Screams is my limit.

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^ While that sounds pretty funky, I'm unable to do anything on Halloween night. We're loading in and setting up everything for A Christmas Story - The Musical that week and I'll be working late on lighting that night. The larger event those guys organize certainly looks interesting, though I'm not sure I can justify a two hour drive for it. Field Of Screams is my limit.

 

I totally get the distance/ scheduling thing. They literally may announced it so I figured why not toss it out there just in case. The park during the day creeps me out. I don't think I could walk through in the dark. Lol

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Time for another update! This time I made the trek south into the land of tax free shopping, Delaware! Now I know you're all thinking, "But Kyle, what would possess you to willingly drive into Delaware and stop before entering Maryland? Surely there's nothing at all of note in that god-forsaken wasteland of wannabe beach towns and teeny tiny cities." To that, I say, "Oh, ho ho, look who's up on their high horse about a small, inconsequential state in this country of ours. Delaware has plenty of reasons to stick around. It's not like it's Rhode Island. For instance, did you know you can buy liquor at places other than a state-owned-and-operated store that will gouge your wallet (thanks, PA) so you can drink your Smirnoff Marshmallow with a smug grin on your overly-concerned-in-other-people's-affairs face? Did you know you can also buy that without giving a cent to the feds because there's no tax? Yeah, Delaware isn't so bad after all, is it?"

 

I'm just kidding, it totally is. Seriously, Delaware sucks. If you live there, move. You're better than that. Show some self respect, loser.

 

But I digress. Let's get back on track. Where were we? OH YEAH!

 

Frightland - http://frightland.com/

 

Frightland is not what you'd expect from a Halloween attraction. It's half haunts, half little-kid-friendly carnival. No, really. There's a carnival with rides and games and food vendors. It's all really quite odd and is a huge shift in atmosphere that I wasn't really a fan of. Anyways, I'm not here to talk about a crappy little carnival on a farm, I'm here to talk about the haunts! Off we go!

 

Haunted Hayride - This was actually a really good one, easily my second favorite of the year behind Bates Motel. I wasn't expecting much from what I had read online but they did a bang-up job and managed to make me jump a few times! The sets weren't as super detailed as Bates but they were impressive enough. This is also probably the only hayride in the world that uses a kiddie coaster as a scare tactic! Yeah, you heard that right, they've got a kiddie coaster in the clown section that comes to life quite loudly and suddenly as you're passing by. Pretty nifty! There's also a massive (30 or 40-feet tall) Dracula that the wagon drives through to erupting fireballs. Seriously, this is a solid hayride and came out of left field. Awesome!

 

Ravenwood Cemetery / Fear / Zombie Town - Alright, this was weird. They're billed as induvidual attractions online, onsite, and on your ticket. In reality they're one haunted trail. Ravenwood Cemetery and Fear are incredibly short and ineffective while Zombie Town was pretty nice with some impressive sets and gags. Seriously, it took maybe 2 minutes to walk through Ravenwood Cemetery. Fear took all of 30 seconds. Zombie Town was larger than both of those combined but obviously that's not saying much. Basically the hayride drops you off at the start of Ravenwood Cemetery and then you're required to walk through all three, in that order, to get back to the carnival. There's no going around, there's no starting at one and doing them in a different order. There's just a walk from halfway across the property back to the entrance area. Honestly if they combined these three into one cohesive theme and lengthened it a bit they could have a solid haunt on their hands. As it stands they have three short, mostly boring haunts. Quantity over quality at Frightland, apparently.

 

Idalia Manor - I'm pretty sure this is intended to be the centerpiece haunt. It certainly seems that the most money was spent on it. There's a nice facade and there's some cool effects going on inside. It's still a short haunt, maybe 5 minutes to get through, but there's some real effort in the design of this haunt. You're constantly changing direction and there's many good hiding spots for the actors. This was definitely my favorite walkthrough haunt of the night.

 

Zombie Prison - Any "zombie" themeing goes right out the window in the second room of this haunt. That being said, it isn't a bad thing. The haunt begins with a quick "elevator" ride with a quick "gotcha" at the beginning. Immediately upon exiting the elevator you are sent down a loooooooooooooooooong and straight hallway with a single strobe light pulsing extremely slowly at the other end. You get really thrown off with perspective with this effect. There's also misters, fog, and plenty of actors creeping along the sides of the tunnel to freak you out. Once you're out of the tunnel it's more or less a very dark maze with actors behind cell doors, some eletrical spark effects, etc. Because of the confusing layout and light level they were able to sneak up on you pretty well. Again, though, very short haunt.

 

The Haunted Barn - Some reviews I had read online told me this was the best haunt at the event. I beg to differ. It's the longest! I'll give it that! It's also the most dangerous for anyone over six feet tall. There's a lot of low ceilings and hanging pipe, so you should always be on your guard that you don't knock yourself out. I felt like many of the scenes in this haunt were repeated throughout and many were too dark to appreciate the design work. However, the actors in this haunt were easily the most hopped-up bunch of crazies all night! It's just unfortunate that the scare tactics at play here didn't really hit home. Oh, well. Enjoyable, but not very scary.

 

The Attic - I was told specifically to save this haunt for last as it's the most terrifying at Frightland. I will no longer look to that person for advice because they're clearly stupid. The Attic sucked. Hard. It's a "pitch black" maze (AKA pretty dark with random low lights in spots so you see a mannequin) that never realized it's true potential. The first 50 feet made excellent use of the darkness and hidden speakers at varying heights and locations. You'd hear whispers in front of you on the floor, then at your side overhead, then right in front of your face, then behind your ear, etc. Unfortunately they completely ignore this effect for the next 99% of the haunt and depend on you wandering around feeling the walls and occasionally saying "boo." This one is bad.

 

And that's the end of that. Frightland. Come for the hayride, stay for the...well, just come for the hayride. Then you can leave.

 

I'm pretty insanely busy for the next week at work. We're loading in our next show and getting rehearsals underway which means I'm stuck working late after the actors get off of the stage which are prime haunt hours. I'm hoping to get to at least one more haunt this season but it won't be until next Saturday at the earliest. In the meantime, go back and re-read everything. It's not like I'm boring.

 

Oh, and there's pictures. Yayyyy!

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Look! It's a carnival slash haunted attraction! Anyone else find this odd?

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I approve of this method of handling children.

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Graveyard hangout area. There's a refreshment stand in there somewhere.

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Hooray for the Haunted Hayride!

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DJ pumping the crowd up.

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Zombie Prison's entrance.

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Their iconic skull silo, visible from the highway.

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Idalia Manor's facade. It's only one level, don't get too excited.

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<=======HEY NOW! I'm from Delaware and you have a major point here, alcohol is cheap and no tax!

 

Frightland's Hayride is pretty good and it does take people by surprise! I agree everything else is just "ok".

 

Delaware also is great because sooooo many great parks, beaches and major cities are just a few hours away. I can think of many worse places to live. Just sayin!

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Every time I drive to the beach in October I'm tempted to go to Frightland. We'll be there 2 weeks in a row for the Sea Witch Festival and Punkin Chunkin. Maybe this can be the year.

 

PS: We don't mind you hating on Delaware. They have the nicest beaches in the northeast / mid Atlantic and the less people that go and find out about them, the better. I also realize that the fact that I just mentioned "Punkin Chunkin" backs up your previous claims and fulfills every stereotype imaginable but whatever. Haters gonna hate.

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