HAUNTS – Rotten Manor – MI

ROTTEN MANOR

Rotten Manor had incredible potential, but was one of the experiences I’ve had at a haunted attraction.

There were a few great actors, beautiful sets and some cool moments. The actress in the gingerbread house and the actor with the pig mask that did the countdown were awesome! The gingerbread house scene was actually my favorite moment in the entire event. The set, scents, props, lighting and actress were all top notch. The payoff of the oven was lacking though…we expected something, anything in that moment but nothing happened. The foam rooms were creative, but there could’ve been fewer. The dark tunnels and tight spaces moments were great the first few times but did get a bit overused. The facades were gorgeous!!! We did meet a few very competent and kind staff members that seemed passionate about the haunt and customer service.

However, Rotten Manor had some of the worst crowd control I’ve ever seen at a haunted attraction. I’ve seen crowds with similar energy at haunts like Haunted Hoochie or House of Shock except at those events the cast and crew are able to keep the crowd in check. Unfortunately this staff and cast didn’t have the same expertise.

A few moments really stood out as disappointing. I asked the staff member that let us into the trail what the rules of the haunt were and he replied, “There are no rules” which seemed to be the major issue. We had an actress say ,”sorry I broke character” and then continue to talk about how hot the guys in front of us were instead of scaring us. The guys in front of us on the trail managed to hide away in the crypt and proceed to jump out and attempt to scare my husband and I but no one stopped them even though we waited and tried to stay far behind them we’d catch up to them harassing actors or making what appeared to be tiktok videos on different sets (with actors watching them do it). One of the actors just blew directly in my face as a “scare”, which isn’t scary but probably going to lead to me catching a cold. Inside the manor an actor separated my husband and I, which we’ve seen done effectively in other haunts, however there was no purpose or payoff we just ended up not being able to enjoy the haunt together. It was so packed we were often standing around waiting to move, I stood trapped in an airbag for a really long time due to lack of purging the line properly. I had strangers grabbing me and running into me through the majority of the dark sections because we were crowded in the space and couldn’t see.

There was a large crowd out, so lines were long. It was mostly frustrating because the people in front of us chained smoked even while standing in front of the NO SMOKING sign. Security appeared to say something to them but instead of putting out their cigarette they passed it around and tried to finish it then lit up again as soon as he walked away. It seemed security didn’t want to eject anyone even if they clearly were breaking the rules.

Overall the haunt has massive potential, but lacks tremendously in skilled actors and an overall effective staff. It seems a bit of training might change this from a hot mess to one of the nation’s top haunts. Unfortunately at the moment they are just a hot mess.

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HAUNTS – Museum of Monsters – CA

MUSEUM OF MONSTERS

Museum of Monsters is a fun monster themed popup just in time for Halloween! It’s a perfect event for all ages. The monsters are creative and a little weird but not especially scary. It’s a great stop for anyone looking for fun Halloween Instagram pics too!

HAUNTS – Factory of Terror – Ohio

FACTORY OF TERROR


Factory of Terror is a good standard haunted attraction. It makes a lot of top haunt lists, but I wouldn’t say it’s really worth a special trip. It’s got some great visual moments and really elaborate puppets, set and tech at points and then there are large sections lacking creativity.


I did enjoy the mirror maze and some of the moving floor and wall effects. I felt the use of vertigo tunnels and airbags was excessive and ineffective. There were A LOT of very loud sounds throughout that eventually became less of a jump scare and more of a headache.


Factory of Terror claims to be one of the longest haunted houses so we expected much more, but it was simply multiple small haunts. One of the most frustrating things about the event was the theming inside each walkthrough. It was very difficult to figure out what was going on because they were divided up as if to have distinct themes but once inside each maze seemed to change within itself as if they didn’t really know what story they were telling. Stronger theming within each maze could help the actors make stronger character choices.


There were a handful of very talented actors, but overall most had no idea what they were doing. It really felt that they lacked proper training. One entire walkthrough was basically growling. The maze with the large gargoyles in front had some of the best actors and one incredibly unprofessional actor (the first scare when you walk in) was literally playing on her cell phone and looked up annoyed when we stared at her waiting for her to do something and then waved at us as if to say, “move along, stop bothering me.”


Overall Factory Of Terror seemed to be run by nice people that have a passion for haunting, but need some tweaking and the actors need training. If you’re in the area definitely check it out, but I wouldn’t drive far out of your way to see it.

HAUNTS – Lewisburg Haunted Cave – Ohio

LEWISBURG HAUNTED CAVE


Imagine walking along a bridge over water inside a cave in darkness and feeling something grab your ankle. I don’t have to imagine it, it happened tonight at Lewisburg Haunted Cave. That was the beginning of a very exciting adventure through this one of a kind, truly scary haunted attraction in Lewisburg Ohio.


I have experienced many amazing haunts around the nation from Hollywood style makeup and sets to immersive storytelling to extreme individual experiences, but it’s rare I am actually scared in a haunted attraction. Lewisburg Haunted Cave is genuinely scary and thrilling in a way I’ve rarely experienced. It’s a perfect balance of “fun fear” meets “real fear”. There were moments I legitimately screamed. The unusual underground setting with it’s uneven wet ground, bridges and, claustrophobic nature play a big role. The unexpected moments with perfectly placed pyrotechnics are stunning. The full sized vehicles were impressive. I think the standout scene with Satan giving you actual choices is one of the very special ways this haunted attraction shines above the rest. I mean how unnerving is it to know you have to choose correctly or you could get lost wandering around inside for who knows how long? Honestly though the truck was the moment that made me hit the ground with tears in my eyes. I don’t want to spoil the moment here, but if you’ve been there, then you know the moment I’m talking about. It was such a well done scare that it took a moment for my reality to catch back up to me and remind me that it was a haunted house and I was safe. (They got me good.)


This was about an hour experience because we didn’t get lost. It can take longer. It is dark and the ground is uneven. Please wear sturdy shoes that you won’t care about getting dirty. I wouldn’t recommend this for young children or anyone with health issues that could be aggravated by stress.


It is an impressive combination of genuinely creepy atmosphere, effective actors, awe inspiring animatronics, top notch sound and lighting design, physical and mental stimulation that attacks all of your senses and even pyrotechnics inside one of the most unique venues I’ve encountered. Basically what I’m saying is…it’s amazing!!! Don’t be mislead by the inexpensive ticket price, it’s worth much more for this experience. *They also have a historical tour type hayride that is more family friendly as well as entertinament and concessions. I highly recommend Lewisburg Haunted Cave.

*Due to time constraints we were unable to ride through the family friendly attraction.

ESCAPE ROOMS – Escape Games at the River – CA

Escape Games at the River

Playing this Baker Street Mystery game was a throwback to the early days of escape rooms. It was the type of first gen game that would’ve impressed up when we started playing escape rooms, however felt a little lackluster now. 

We ran into a few small glitches in the game. There was a problem with one of the puzzles not working as well as it could physically that caused us to waste some time and get annoyed. The final lock was jammed. Honestly my biggest problem was the final puzzle’s logic, it felt misleading. Everything else was fine.
They did have one really clever puzzle I hadn’t seen before, but it didn’t really fit the decor of the room as well as some of the other puzzles. The room looks nice, nothing fancy but certainly clean and well kept. 

If you’re in the area I would say check it out. 

ODDITIES – Jurassic Planet at the LA County Fair – CA


I’ve never been particularly interested in dinosaurs, but I heard about Jurassic Planet and my curiosity got the best of me. I’m glad it did. 

For only a small $5 up charge to your fair admisssion you can walk among 40 life sized realistic animatronic dinosaurs. It pretty darn cool! I know they aren’t actually real dinosaurs (except for a few live creatures on display such as an emu, alligator and tortoise), but they seem pretty real if you let your imagination run wild. I found myself wanting to pet them and at one point talking in “baby talk” to a few adorable animatronic baby dinos. 

I really enjoyed Jurrasic Planet and wanted to share it here. I also recorded a bit of my experience which you can watch from YouTube below. 

ESCAPE ROOMS – Mission Escape Games: Escape the Hydeout – California

MISSION ESCAPE GAMES

 

WATCH MY INTERVIEW WITH JOE FROM MISSION ESCAPE GAMES HERE

We must find out what happened to Dr. Jekyll before Mr. Hyde returns to have our hides!

Escape the Hydeout in Anaheim California is a beautifully done escape game. It tells a clear story using familiar characters from literature. The puzzles are fun and they do a wonderful job of adding their own unique spin on some of the standard puzzles I’ve seen before. They use the space well. They have the perfect combination of standard puzzles and locks combined with technology.

I was most impressed with the gorgeous Victorian style set. The room is very well designed and the decor is outstanding. I had actually played an earlier version of The Hydeout in New York in 2015 and one of the surprises in that room was painfully obvious to a seasoned player, but in the new room I feel they’ve addressed that. They’ve also improved the game overall. There are a few really fun “Wow” moments through the puzzle solving and technology in the game.

They are located about a 10 minute walk from Disneyland, so this is the perfect location if you are on vacation because you can walk over from the park. There is a parking lot, so if you are driving they validate parking. That area can be a little busy depending on when you visit, so be sure to give yourself a little extra time just in case.

I would recommend this game for both new players and experienced players.