Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Here's a tip though... show up early! We got there a few minutes before the haunt opened for the night and the line was already massive! I remember reading somewhere that the organizers hope to get about a thousand attendees each night. Well, it looked like there were already a thousand people there and the haunt hadn't even opened yet. Despite the long line it only took about 45 minutes for us to work our way to the entrance. During that time we were entertained by actors, admired hundreds of carved pumpkins, walked beneath a 25 foot tall witch and watched chainsaw-wielding maniacs chase other haunt-goers. The time flew. (In the future though, they should consider selling hot cider to the people waiting in line. It was cold!)
Amazingly, once we walked through the main entrance, we were alone. My wife kept asking "where's that family that went in right before us?" They had only entered a couple of minutes before, so I assumed that we would eventually catch up with them. Nope. Never saw them again. For the 20 minutes that it takes to get through the haunt we were totally by ourselves. Well, by ourselves amongst the assorted ghouls, that is.
It's no exaggeration to say that we probably encountered 50 - 60 costumed actors. They lunged towards us, blocked our path, invaded our personal space, smelled us, chased us, and (as my wife found the most terrifying) silently followed us for minutes at a stretch. Because of the strength of their actors, Haunted Overload is able to remain scary without resorting to cheap scares, the use of any sort of forced storyline or an over-abundance of bloody props.
As much as I loved the actors through, my favorite thing about this haunt has to be the general atmosphere. It was a total departure from the type of haunts I'm used to. Instead of walking through a prop-filled tent in a car dealership parking lot, or an "insane asylum" constructed in the shell of a recently closed super store, we actually were walking through a dark, creepy woods. And everything that they added (buildings that look like they've been there for 50 years, trees with tortured faces that look like they naturally grew that way, rusted out shells of automobiles that must have been abandoned ages ago) felt 100% authentic to the environment.
The next day, we returned to tour the haunt during daylight hours. (It's not very well advertised, but for just $5 they'll let you walk through without any effects going or actors present.) It was great to be able to take our time admiring the craftsmanship of the display and their attention to detail. I couldn't believe how much we had missed the night before! Every time we looked left, we were unknowingly missing tons of great stuff to the right. We must have spent twice as much time walking through during the day as we had the night before. (In part because we weren't being menaced by werewolves following my wife or zombie children asking "have you seen my mommy?") You could probably go through the haunt a dozen times at night and never see it all.