2015 Tri-State Haunted Attraction Preview
Hello, Dread Central readers! As a haunt reviewer located in the tri-state area, this year we will be bringing our reviews to the Dread Central universe. We have compiled a preview of some of favorite haunted attractions for the 2015 Haunt Season and look forward to providing up-to-date information and news throughout the year.
As we approach the Haunt Season, haunt owners, staff members and creative consultants are hard at work putting on the final touches of enhancing their attractions for 2015. Last year we covered twenty-two haunted attractions and hope to visit more locations this year. Several haunted attractions have added new scenes, sets, themes, additional attractions and content this year.
This article will serve as a brief snapshot and preview of what to expect for the 2015 Haunt Season from some of our favorite haunted attractions.
Reapers Revenge – Web Page here.
Location: 460 Green Grove Rd, Olyphant, PA 18447
Reaper’s Revenge has consistently evolved and improved its haunted attraction over the past few years in an effort to make it one of the best overall attractions in the tri-state area. Last year Reaper’s Revenge added a massive post-apocalyptic themed walk-through attraction “Sector 13” which was extremely popular among guests. This year Reaper’s Revenge continues to build off the success of previous years, expanding and improving on all aspects of the attraction. The haunted hayride, which we felt needed an update is set to feature some major changes, and the attraction has added some new key staff members whom have veteran experience in the industry. Reaper’s Revenge has been our favorite overall attraction each year as it combines a multitude of different horror genres to generate fear from all guests. From zombies, to clowns, to pitch darkness, Reaper’s Revenge promises to continue to be one of the best haunted attractions in the tri-state area.
Reaper’s Revenge is composed of four attractions; “Haunted Hayride,” “Sector 13,” “Pitch Black,” “Lost Carnival.”
What to look for in 2015:
Look for an expanded and improved Haunted Hayride. Reaper’s Revenge has added several new veteran staff members to its staff which will help enhance the attractions creativity and quality. Owner Paul Kotran has informed us that the attraction has hired Nic Wessely as a set designer, co-director of operations. Nic has vast experience in the haunted attraction industry, has worked at major haunted attractions such as Nightmare New England, Terror on the Fox and was a part of Bad Boys Scenic Design. Nic is joined by Emmy award winning FX artist Eric Lusk (http://www.creaturecabin.com), who will be working with the creative staff at Reaper’s Revenge. Eric has worked on major motion pictures such as; Spiderman 3, The Omen, X-Men 3, Rocky Balboa, Monster House along with extensive television experience.
Brighton Asylum – Web Page here.
Location: 2 Brighton Ave, Passaic, NJ 07055
The Brighton Asylum has continued to improve over the past two years we have visited this attraction. This year, the Brighton Asylum has been entirely revamped to include two haunted attractions; The Brighton Asylum and The Tunnel, along with two escape rooms. The Brighton Asylum includes some of the most unique, detailed set pieces coupled with actors who have continuously improved their level of interaction with guests each year. This is an extremely popular attraction, and utilizes timed ticketing which helps keep the attraction a unique experience for each group. The ownership and staff of the Brighton Asylum are committed to improving and changing the attraction each year incorporating new interactive elements such as escape rooms. Furthermore, the Brighton Asylum hosts several off-season attractions which are equally entertaining and disturbing, ranging from a Christmas themed haunt to a Valentine’s Day attraction.
What to look for in 2015:
The Brighton Asylum has been completely revamped and changed for the 2015 haunt season. If you have visited this attraction before, it is a must return as they have added three new attractions in addition to their Brighton Asylum walkthrough.
The Legend of the Brighton Asylum:
Brighton Asylum was used for housing psychologically damaged individuals back in the 1940’s but was closed permanently in 1952 due to a multitude of reasons, many not even fully uncovered to this day. The state came in to inspect the facility but to date, no such report can be found. In 2011, Brighton Asylum was re-opened to the public, but as a haunted attraction. So only those who have actually visited Brighton Asylum have any semblance of an idea of went on in there. The Tunnel system was presumably used for medical deliveries and bypassing certain parts of the asylum.
The Brighton Asylum is composed of two core attractions and two escape rooms;
“Brighton Asylum” – Brighton Asylum is an interactive haunted attraction that incorporates detailed set pieces, animatronics, CGI effects, and intense actors. This attraction has continuously improved over the past two years, utilizing misdirection, set designs, and sound effects to create a terrifying experience.
“The Tunnel” – The Tunnel is a new walk-through attraction below the grounds of the Brighton Asylum. This attraction will feature patient experiments, hidden living quarters and actors hidden beneath the grounds. The Tunnel will only be open for the Halloween season and not during the off-season attractions.
“Dead Escape” (Escape Games Room) – Guests will be trapped in a room by a “maniac” who has released a virus that turns victims into zombies. Guests will have to work together to use clues left behind to escape the room within four minutes.
“Lab Lockdown” (Escape Games Room) – Guests will play the role of DEA agents investigating “Dr. Van Houten” and his lab. Guests will be poisoned upon entering this escape room and have four minutes to find the antidote to this poison.
Bonus Interview with Brighton Asylum Owner Rich Gonci
How did you get started in the haunt industry?
Rich: I got started in the haunt industry back in 2004, co-operating an outdoor haunted attraction at a local farm. It was always tough fighting the weather and having to constantly take the haunt up and down in such a short period of time. But even so, it was always a passion, and we thoroughly enjoyed the planning and building that went into it every year. After 6 years, I think we all knew that going indoors was the ultimate goal, and given our current situation of having to constantly put things up and take things down, we knew we could create something really unique and special given the right circumstances. Brighton Asylum was definitely it!
How would you describe Brighton Asylum’s growth and evolution? What is the general history of your haunt?
Rich: Fast! Word got out about Brighton Asylum like wild fire. People would come asking all sorts of questions about the backstory of the asylum. “Was this really an asylum” they would ask? There was never a shortage of speculation about what might have happened here, who might have been housed here, etc. The word of mouth was staggering and continues to do this day. Just this past season, The Today Show visited us, and one of the lead anchors, Tamron Hall, tore a muscle in her throat from screaming so much and so often. It is things like this that have peaked the interest of people.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a haunt owner?
Rich: There is so much that goes into the creation and operation of a successful haunted attraction, I think many people see the lines and say “I can do that”. Maybe they can. But it’s massive work 365 days a year for perhaps just 15-20 days of operation depending on your calendar. Brighton Asylum has an operational Calendar of almost 30 days because we operate off season as well, but even 30 days is a small window to earn for 365 days. I would say that the biggest challenge is organizing all of the pieces that must be put in place to ensure the totality of the operation. There is so much that must be done to open, from hiring, training, managing, designing sets, costuming, safety inspecting, advertising, marketing, etc., and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. I could go on for a paragraph on all that must be done. But that’s where it is important to have good people, delegate responsibility and be a good leader.
How do you prepare your staff and management for the upcoming haunt season?
Rich: This is one area I think we excel in because of the calendar we take on each year. We operate not only for the full Halloween season, but for Christmas, Valentines weekend, and then once per month through May or June depending on the year. It keeps all of us in top shape, and more effective at spotting areas that need to be changed, updated, or perhaps even built upon if we already have a solid foundation that is working well.
What is your opinion on “extreme” or physical haunted attractions?
Rich: Some of these events I wouldn’t categorize as haunted attractions at all. Some of these more extreme events I would categorize as more “abduction” scenarios. Customers enter usually 1 at a time and have to complete a wide variety of tasks while being impeded in a multitude of ways. Throughput is very slow, but entertainment value can be very high for those who enjoy this sort of experience. On the flip side, haunted attractions adding a physical element to their haunt are going to want to keep their throughput high so there will be less opportunity for that type of show, and more of a touch, grab, separate, etc. type of thing going on, which is not nearly as extreme, but adds a lot to the scare itself because that place of safety for the customer is now broken down. No longer can a customer go through a haunted attraction declaring “haha, I am safe, you can’t touch me”. Now it’s “oh crap, these things can grab me! Now what??” And we have found at Brighton Asylum, that people really like it. We don’t go super extreme, I mean, we aren’t picking people up and throwing them down an elevator shaft, but it’s interaction where the actor is not only depicting a character with words and movements, but now with that added element of physical contact where the actor can bring all those elements together to create a more interactive experience for the guest. We don’t do “contact” versions throughout the season due to throughput concerns, but we have contact nights Thursdays later in the month, and then very often during the off season. So we have plenty of opportunities for those who wish to experience it. At Brighton Asylum, the contact is optional during our contact nights, so even those who do not wish to be touched can still attend.
Are there any misconceptions that you feel customers or the public have about the industry?
Rich: Sure. I think that one very important misconception customers have about our industry, is that somehow, we can control the pace at which people walk through our attractions. I am referring to groups catching up to each other inside the haunt. It can’t be helped unless a haunt is using guides at the front and back of every group. Otherwise, people walk at different paces and as a result, groups WILL catch up to each other at some point inside an attraction. Putting more space between groups is of course one option, but even that is not fool proof if the group your timer just waited 2 minutes to put through (instead of 30 seconds for example) is now running through the attraction at top speed while the group in front of them is shuffling along at a snail’s pace. At Brighton Asylum, we have moved to reservation based ticketing in order to help alleviate this problem.
Any advice for someone who would like to enter into this industry?
Rich: Sure! Do NOT open a haunted attraction unless you have consulted with a professional haunted attraction consultant first or owner with at least 10 years’ experience at the very least. Learn the business. Don’t look at the long lines, count customers, and say “I can make money with this”, because you won’t. You will lose your shirt. Most haunts fail in the first 2-3 years. So if you are really serious about opening a haunted attraction, learn the business, have a plan, and make sure the numbers add up FIRST. That is your best chance for success in the industry. Happy haunting!
Haunted Scarehouse – Web Page here.
Location: 105 W Dewey Avenue, Wharton, New Jersey
The Haunted Scarehouse consists of two terrifying attractions; “The House of Nightmares” and “The Attic,” spread over two floors. Two years ago we first visited the Haunted Scarehouse and while entertained found the attraction to be lacking in several areas such as actor interaction, and set design. Last year, we visited the Haunted Scarehouse as a last minute attraction and were blown away. This attraction has totally upped its game to become one of the best attractions in the tri-state area. The Haunted Scarehouse incorporates impressive, expensive set designs, technology and intense, interactive actors to generate scares in both of its two haunted attractions. The actor quality coupled with some of the most interactive set pieces make this a must visit haunted attraction experience that utilizes modern technology. “Key cards” trigger unique set experiences for guests and allow patrons to become direct participants in the haunted attraction. This year the Haunted Scarehouse has also added a third additional attraction, the Trapped Escape room.
What to Look for in 2015:
The Haunted Scarehouse is a must visit haunted attraction. This year look for the new Trapped escape room, which guests will be trapped inside one of four rooms; the den, bathroom, playroom and kitchen. Guests will have five minutes to escape the room to avoid the psychotic “Hayden” family.
Halls of Horror – Web Page here.
Location: 320 Delaware Ave, Palmerton, Pa 18071
The Halls of Horror is one of the most terrifying, extreme and mature haunted attractions in the tri-state area. The set designs, themes and insane actors found within the confines of the Halls of Horror take aspects of extreme haunted attractions and incorporate old-school creativity to create a horror movie come-to-life that goes beyond one’s expectations. The Halls of Horror offers a special unique experience known as the “Blood Experience” that is a must visit for any fan of horror and Halloween. The attraction is physical, mentally exhausting and entertaining at the same time. Twisted actors will make you feel fear, some will make you laugh and you will feel as accomplished as you complete this haunted attraction. This is not your typical haunted house experience, you and your party will be the only guests in a disturbing nightmare that is of the highest quality. Disturbing, gritty set designs and larger than life monster actors make this attraction stand out amongst the pack. Again this attraction is intense, and is for mature audiences.
What to look for in 2015:
Each year the Halls of Horror adds sets, and new scares to its intense haunted attraction experience. If you are able to, chose the Blood Experience option for a unique, intense and personal experience that will not be forgotten.
Fear Hollow and Deadwoods Haunted Trail – Web Page here.
Location: 1600 Church Road Mountain Top, PA 18707
Fear Hollow features two haunted attractions; an indoor walk-through Haunted House known as “Mayhem on the Mountain”, and an outdoor walking trail, the “Deadwoods Haunted Trail”. This attraction has continuously improved over the past three years, and last year featured one of the best outdoor walking haunted attractions that we have ever visited. Fear Hollow’s “Deadwoods Haunted Trail” incorporates several indoor walk-through set pieces including an abandoned mine, and insane asylum along a dark, dimly lit path. The indoor haunted house incorporates aspects of traditional haunted attractions along with quality actors and set designs which improve each year.
What to look for in 2015:
Fear Hollow continues to add set pieces, and designs to its already excellent haunted attractions. This year the attraction has renamed its haunted house to “Mayhem on the Mountain” and we expect to see several changes and new additions to the “Deadwoods Haunted Trail.”
Dracula’s Forest – Web Page here.
Location: 2828 Rock Rd, Clarks Summit, PA 18411
Dracula’s Forest is a traditional haunted hayride that has been a staple in Northeast Pennsylvania for the past 32 years. The haunted hayride incorporates incredible atmosphere and disturbing classic scenes to provide an entertaining haunted attraction experience. The design of the hayride and atmosphere of Dracula’s Forest is the perfect setting for this attraction and we hope Dracula’s Forest increases its intensity for the 2015 season. What is exciting for this year is the addition of a new attraction “The Walk of Doom”. This outdoor walk-through attraction is the first new attraction at Dracula’s Forest in several years.
What to look for in 2015:
“The Walk of Doom” attraction is an exciting addition to Dracula’s Forest. “The Walk of Doom” will place guests on a journey through an outdoor path which promises to cater to mature haunted attraction fans. Guests can be dragged off the path, and will travel in small groups throughout the dense forest. This is the first new attraction at Dracula’s Forest since the Shockwalk and we are excited to see what they have planned.
Hotel of Horror – Web Page here.
Location: Cherry Valley Rd, Saylorsburg, PA 18353
The Hotel of Horror consists of two highly detailed and mature haunted attractions; “Zombie’s Revenge” and “Altered Nightmare’s Voodoo.” Historically, the Hotel of Horror has been one of the most detailed and psychologically terrifying haunted attractions in the Poconos/Northeast PA. The makeup designs and set themes found in this attraction are of the highest quality and the location of the attraction; the Lake House Hotel contributes to the atmosphere of both unique attractions.
What to look for in 2015:
The Hotel of Horror has added a new attraction for the 2015 season. “Coffin Coach” – a dark ride that takes guests on a trip through the afterlife, and iPas which allows guests to monitor visitors of the Hotel of Horror, and trigger selected animatronics to terrify guests.
Brokenhearts Asylum – Web Page here.
Location: PA-118, Dallas, PA 18612
The Brokenhearts Asylum returns for the 2015 haunt season. Little is known yet about this attraction but it was previously one of the most intense, interactive and extreme haunts in Northeast Pennsylvania.
What to look for in 2015:
Stay tuned for more information about the return of the Brokenhearts Asylum!
Field of Screams – Web Page here.
Location: 191 College Ave, Mountville, PA 17554
Field of Screams is one of the best mainstream haunted attractions you can visit for the 2015 season. Field of Screams is composed of four unique haunted attractions, each which are extremely detailed, have some of the best actors and effects found in any haunted attractions. Every year Field of Screams continues to expand and improve each of its four attractions and has added a new building to its haunted hayride. Field of Screams is another extremely popular attraction and we suggest you visit them early in the season or purchase a VIP pass. Last year we found the “Nocturnal Wasteland” walk-through attraction to be one of the most impressive outdoor attractions that we have ever visited which incorporates impressive special effects and actors who work tirelessly to scare.
Field of Screams is composed of four core attractions and hosts various special events throughout the season; “Haunted Hayride,” “Den of Darkness,” “Frightmare Asylum,” and “Nocturnal Wasteland.”
What to look for in 2015:
Expanded haunted hayride and improvements to all attractions. Field of Screams continues to expand and improve in all areas of its operation as a major mainstream haunted attraction.
Bates Motel Haunted Hayride – Web Page here.
Location: 1835 Middletown Road, Glen Mills, PA, 19342
The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride is celebrating its 25th season and is doing so by bringing back famous sets/scenes from its history. The Bates Motel boasts one of the most technologically impressive haunted hayrides that has massive animatronics, and sets which incorporate Hollywood quality effects such as large scale explosions and impressive sound effects. The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride is one of the most popular haunted attractions in the country, and while not the most intense haunted attraction is a must visit for the impressive set designs, and characters found throughout each attraction.
The Bates Motel Haunted Hayride is composed of three unique attractions; “Haunted Hayride,” “Haunted Corn Maze,” and “Bates Motel” walk-through attraction.
What to look for in 2015:
The Bates Motel is celebrating its 25th anniversary by adding in several scenes/sets from years past. This year the attraction has also updated its theme for the “Haunted Corn Maze.” The “Haunted Corn Maze”’s theme “Revenge of the Scarecrow”, incorporates new sets, scenes, and monsters for the 25th anniversary. Also look for the return of a flying Dracula and the Headless Horseman.
Pennhurst Asylum – Web Page here.
Location: Church St & Bridge St. Spring City, PA 19475
The Pennhurst Asylum haunted attraction was one of the most improved, and scariest haunted attractions visited in 2014. The attraction boasts high-tech, movie quality scenes and intense actors that make this a must visit. While the attraction’s price may be steep, the quality of each set is second to none. The atmosphere of the Pennhurst Asylum alone sets the perfect tone for an experience that is interactive, mature, and well above most mainstream haunted attractions. We recommend that you attend this attraction early in the season, or purchase a VIP pass due to the extensive lines which do hinder the experience. This year Pennhurst promises to add to each of its four attractions, and while it does not appear that any new buildings are open this year, hopefully more corridors of the asylum and its tunnel system will be made available to explore.
What to look for in 2015:
Improvements made to all four attractions. Pennhurst Asylum is composed of four core attractions;
“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 attraction has advertised new props, and made many changes for the upcoming season. This was the first attraction opened at the Pennhurst haunted attraction and last year incorporated several interactive scenes including actors who separated guests from their parties for unique experiences. A mature themed haunt, with actors who have some of the most impressive make-up designs you will see in any haunted attraction.
“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 aggressive actors.
“The Tunnel Terror” – “The Tunnel Terror” attraction takes you through a 900 foot long gauntlet underneath the grounds of the old Pennhurst State School. “The Tunnel of Terror” incorporates strobe lights, fog and darkness to misdirect guests as they travel through catacombs, and disturbing set pieces. The Tunnel of Terror is one of the scariest attractions at Pennhurst and promises to continue to add new scares this year.
“Ghost Hunt” – “Ghost Hunt” is a self-guided tour of the Mayflower Building, which is considered to be the most active paranormal site at the Pennhurst campus. This attraction allows guests to explore the dormitory and has added a new walking tour of an abandoned section of the property.
Fright Factory – Web Page here.
Location: 38 Jackson St, Philadelphia, PA 19148
Fright Factory is a gritty, intense haunted attraction located in an industrial district of Philadelphia. The set designs, use of darkness, and mature themes found throughout the Fright Factory make for a disturbing haunted attraction experience. This year the Fright Factory is continuing to renovate and expand. The industrial atmosphere of the attraction coupled with the disturbing set designs, and use of tight corridors make this a must visit experience. Last year the attraction maintained its intensity right until its finale, and we hope to see what changes they have made for this year.
What to look for in 2015:
Fright Factory has been renovated and expanded for the 2015 haunt season.
We will continue to report information on other tri-state based haunted attractions on a regular basis. We are excited to see what all attractions have in store for the 2015 season and look forward to seeing how each attraction improves throughout the season. Several haunts have several new themes this year including “escape rooms” which should add a whole new element of suspense and interactivity to the haunted attraction experience. Thank you for your continued support as we continue to expand this year!