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Brighton Asylum (Passiac, NJ)-2020 Season Review

Introduction

The acclaimed Brighton Asylum (Passaic, NJ) is set upon the backdrop of New York City as an immersive tribute to “horror,” a major destination attraction that is one of the most impressively designed in the country. Celebrating its tenth year during one of the most challenging seasons ever impacted by the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, management, and ownership of the attraction has implemented an extensive COVID safety plan, which can be found at https://brightonasylum.com/covid-19-update/ for a complete list of all guidelines. We first began visiting Brighton Asylum several years ago and have attended various regular season and off-season events. What we have always found is that the experience is never the same.

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While many haunts make minor upgrades or tweaks to their attractions, Brighton Asylum goes all out in its effort to create new, upgraded show every season. Even during challenging times, Brighton Asylum added to each of its three core attractions and enhanced its variety of ancillary entertainment and merchandise options for the season. Perhaps no other haunted attraction has poured its resources, passion, and heart into creating a “move quality” experience that transcends one’s expectations of typical haunted attractions. Even when faced with operational challenges, Brighton Asylum continues to find new avenues driving innovation and focuses on quality experiences within each of its three extremely detailed core attractions.

Despite the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic, Brighton Asylum never fails to impress, boasting such incredible attention to detail and painstakingly creative set designs that feel “alive” and are unlike any other walk-through attraction you may visit this season. Like other successful haunted attractions, the management, staff, and actors of this attraction are entirely committed to providing an incredible show each year, utilizing feedback and honest reviews to improve the experience of the attraction. New for this season Brighton Asylum midway to include a retail store, more photo ops, a brand new horror walk-through museum of screen-used props and costumes from famous sci-fi and horror films, all new indoor and outdoor axe throwing, five-minute escape rooms, redesigned COVID-19  waiting line and larger “outdoor” presence for guests to enjoy.

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The production values of Brighton Asylum are breathtaking, as the design team and management have taken scene creation to a new level. Set within the confines of a large industrial complex, Brighton Asylum transforms each corridor and room into a nightmarish scene, with incredible special effects, intricately detailed rooms, professional lighting, and sound effects that create an immersive experience of the highest quality. Very few attractions have a level of detail that causes us to completely stop and want to explore each room. Obsessive attention to detail makes this attraction stand out. Even the smallest details in each room tell a different story, from “crayon” drawings created by the “insane” on the walls to some of the most lifelike gory props in the industry; each element is carefully planned and implemented to stun the senses and bring to life realistic scenes that transform the entire environment.

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An intense level of detail and appreciation for the artistic design is clearly visible in all attractions and extra events such as “axe throwing” and various photo opportunities. Innovation and commitment to building a better show is the primary goal each season. Every single season the creative and design team of Brighton Asylum continues to find new ways to revamp its three core attractions; “Brighton Asylum,” “The Bleeding Grounds,” and “PORT9L,” always upgrading each set design, add additional scenes and incorporate interactive funhouse elements into a world-class haunted attraction. While many haunts rely on pitch darkness and blinding lights to create fear, Brighton Asylum is designed so guests can see and feel the gruesome details of every single scene, and rooms themselves are often “interactive.” Scare performers, while not as interactive as previous seasons due to pandemic safety operations, engage guests with energy, feature impressive make-up and costume designs, and ensures guests “believe” in the chaos they are immersed in.

Attractions

Brighton Asylum, set in an industrial complex in Passaic, New Jersey, is an indoor walk-through attraction featuring three separate haunts. The first two attractions are separated into two “haunts”; guests start their adventure in the innovative underground “PORT9L” attraction before entering the “Brighton Asylum.” On the second floor is a Victorian-inspired slaughterhouse known as “The Bleeding Grounds.”

As mentioned previously, Brighton Asylum features numerous additional “Escape Rooms,” a variety of popular “off-season events,” “axe throwing,” a “museum,” and a new “paranormal investigation experience,” giving fans numerous options to enjoy their evenings throughout the year.

PORT9L

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“PORT9L” might quite possibly be one of the most unique and innovative attractions in the industry today and a stark departure from the traditional themes found in haunted attractions. A desolate, urban nightmare, where survival is emphasized, and a demonic presence can be felt amongst scenes of decay, graffiti-covered walls, and numerous “survivors.” An “alternate” universe of a significant city gone to “hell” perhaps best describes what has been created in this one-of-a-kind attraction that shines in its second year of operation. Giant sewer rats pop out of nowhere, survivors are out for blood, and the undead homeless roam subways and escape routes created by a twisted universe that may be classified as post-apocalyptic in spirit. Brighton Asylum has somehow built an actual “moving” subway simulator into this unique haunted attraction.

Guests feel as though they are passing through an abandoned, desolate subway, having to move on through the attraction while being stalked by a variety of strange characters that represent the lost souls of this industrial horror show. “PORT9L” is post-apocalyptic, it is gritty, it features a “Satanic” presence and monsters that have arisen as a result of mutations, pollution, and a society that has lost its soul. A city of evil rises in “”PORT9L,” and in an industry where similar themes are the norm, nothing else compares to this nightmarish representation of the “end of times” in which only those demented and violent enough can survive!

Brighton Asylum

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Brighton Asylum” attraction is one of our favorite walk-through attractions of all time. Once again, massive set changes and additions have been undertaken to create an almost entirely new attraction for the 2020 haunt season. “Brighton Asylum” features some of the very best set designs, special effects, and unique interactive rooms in any haunted attraction. From a movie quality representation (not an exaggeration) of “Stephen King’s It” to a hallway of containment units bursting at the seams, each scene is unique, diverse, and heavily detailed. The quality of set designs, lighting, and audio effects are top-notch and disorientate guests as they transverse the halls of the “Brighton Asylum.” The unique, innovative set designs of the attraction add to the scares, and the actors become shockingly aggressive in their dedicated efforts to “scare.” We witnessed numerous scare-actors work tirelessly to stalk hapless victims, chasing even some into the stairwells and out of the attraction itself. These actors are insane; they hang from sets, jump from planks, make off-color jokes with guests, and play their roles phenomenally. Constant aggression and the use of scare acting to manage the attraction’s flow are a tribute to the level of detail placed into the haunt’s design. The quality of acting, coupled with high-tech, detailed set designs make this attraction something special.

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The detail and quality of each set design and corridor are impressive and cannot be understated. We often found ourselves admiring each room, each hallway, and every little detail breathes life into this haunted attraction. Animatronics and props are lifelike, feature disturbing imagery such as tortured half-dead hanging bodies, and depictions of gruesome surgery. Corridors feature interactive doors that move and jolt, leaving little downtime. Favorite scenes include an incredibly disturbing “moving” padded room that utilizes creepy scare actors mixed, lit by slow strobe lights in a room that moves, creating a sense of panic. Guests must duck, walk across “unstable” bridges, crawl, dodge massive props that “reach” out for their victims and avoid at all costs the twisted characters who seem focused on trapping each guest within the asylum.  “Brighton Asylum” is longer, and improved in every way, and a spectacle to see. Despite massive crowds, the attraction manages crowds to prevent guests from backing up or running into other groups. While “socially distanced” actors were always in place and utilized their talents to avoid guests from rushing through each scene. You will want to experience each scene in its entirety, and each corridor features action and surprises that scare and challenge guests to escape the “Brighton Asylum.”

The Bleeding Grounds

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“The Bleeding Grounds” is best described as a fast-paced Victorian-era inspired nightmare that starts off as a traditional haunted house and quickly evolves into a dungeon of pure gore and horror.  “The Bleeding Grounds” brings to life a period long in the past, with the perfect combination of scare-acting, use of technology to create scenes such as a massive “thunderstorms” and interactive rooms that move and force you to duck at times to generate a period-authentic experience. After an upstairs visit through an abandoned library, rather gruesome “dining room” and “living room,” the experience becomes even more intense. Hanging bodies, mutilations galore, and insane actors seem to pop out of the most unexpected places and have such character designs and engage in performances that make one’s skin crawl. “The Bleeding Grounds” starts off somewhat “traditional” but quickly divulges into pure violence, which fits the unique theme of a period-piece human slaughterhouse, torture, and sinister intentions. Guests are always kept off guard, as unique designs feature action “below” and sometimes “above” each group, creating a chaotic, action-packed pace in the “finale” attraction featured at Brighton Asylum.

Final Thoughts

Brighton Asylum is one of the few haunted attractions that not only outdoes itself every single season; it goes overboard in terms of implementing the latest in haunted attraction technology, set design, sound, and show performance. Each of the three attractions is rich in detail and has some of the most interactive set and room design; it is unfathomable how much effort and resources are poured into making massive changes each season. We have never visited an attraction that undergoes an almost complete redesign and improvement process as intense as Brighton Asylum, and this season once again, the attraction lived up to its hype. From a more pragmatic, larger-scale review of operations, we found the most effective of the large-scale upgrades was a drastic improvement in the “PORT9L” attraction, a genuinely innovative concept coupled with enhanced sound effects and interactive rooms that added a layer of immersion to the meticulously designed scenes. Each attraction feels distinctly different from both a design and performance perspective.  For example, “The Bleeding Grounds” featured some of the most “theatrical” performances, and the characters in “PORT9L” were far more aggressive and conveyed a sense of danger in their performances (yet always maintained extreme safety). Diversity in performance associated with attraction theme is another highlight amongst many at this ever-evolving attraction.

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Many haunted attractions lack change or fail to capitalize on the “hype” created by their branding. We have visited numerous haunted attractions with fantastic web pages, unique press packages, and images that convey a sense of Hollywood-quality special effects. By and large, these attractions fail to meet the high expectations, which in some cases are self-defined. Brighton Asylum does not fall into this trap as the creative team and management work tirelessly. It invests heavily in ensuring that every season truly outdoes itself in attraction design and overall performance. A celebration of horror and a constant spirit of innovation drives the continued success of this popular urban attraction. One of the finest designed haunted attractions you will ever see, every scene is meticulously crafted, and one can quickly become lost in the surreal nightmares featured at Brighton Asylum!

Get your tickets now at: http://brightonasylum.com/

Written by Joe Rovinsky

Joe Rovinsky is a seasoned veteran media creator in the haunted attraction and immersive entertainment industry. Having worked with national and regional media outlets and numerous major attractions, Rovinsky has become established as one of the top influencers in the haunted attraction industry.

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