Bonus non-theme park report: USS Nightmare.
I've never done a true non-theme park haunt (local haunt, standalone, whatever you want to call it) but I've been wanting to try one. After reading some of the horrific descriptions of some independent haunts and having a few bad experiences at theme park haunts, I was very nervous to try a standalone haunt and wanted to build up my courage over a few years of successfully going to theme park haunts before branching out.
I decided this was the year and when I saw an ad for the USS Nightmare, I knew I wanted to try it. The story
of the USS Nightmare is that it was a commercial dredge boat called the William S. Mitchell that operated in the 1930s on the Ohio river. The captain had his young daughter, Anna, on board with him. One day, in what is termed as the "Mitchell Massacre
", the boat went out of control and hit into a bridge. When local authorities were finally able to gain control and board the vessel, they found mutilated bodies and burned clowns aboard. Many people died, but the daughter was never found.
So yeah, pretty f-ing creepy if you ask me, but I loved that there was a supposed true story to feed into the haunt.
I found a friend who was down to go, and we got some liquid courage downtown before going to the haunt.
First of all, they were only open until 11 but said as long as you had your ticket and got in line before 11, you were good to go. We barelyyyy made it in time, but we were definitely the last ones.
SPOILERS??? The experience starts out with them telling a little about the history, and then putting you in an "elevator" that thumps around for a bit. During the course of the experience, you travel between both decks and there are various parts where you can choose paths and some maze-y parts where you can get lost. I think because we were the last ones, the actors sort of ushered us through more quickly, because in some of the maze-y parts they jumped in to tell us which way to go. Of course there were creepy clowns, plenty of scary animatronics and jump scares, and some pretty cool effects including a mechanical ledge that "dropped" us a little. There were some very dark portions where you had to feel around, ducking through doorways, fog that looked like water, strobes, the whole nine yards. Some of the animatronics were a little off and triggered just after we walked past, and it seemed that there were more that didn't go at all. There was a HUGE one that we passed twice (once on the lower deck and once on the upper "drop" deck) but the second time it wasn't moving at all. I'm kinda okay with this though because animatronics scare me a lot.
All in all, I thought it was a really cool experience with some cool effects and sets. However, even though I definitely got jump scared, I didn't actually find it as scary as my mind had built it up to be. My friend isn't easily scared and didn't get scared even once. The website says the experience takes 30+ minutes but it took us more like 25. I wonder if that's because we were the last ones and they wanted to get us through faster.
Hopefully I'll get to visit more of the local haunts this year (and maybe even try the more extreme USS Nightmare "RIP Experience"??), but I would definitely recommend this as of now. $20 isn't too bad and even though it might not be that scary to a lot of people, it was still a lot of fun!
I figured I wasn't allowed to photograph inside, so I just took photos of the outside.