2070 Waldorf Northwest, Grand Rapids, MI
(616) 791-9818 or www.the-haunt.com
1 mile south of I-96 at exit 28 Walker Avenue
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - CHANGING THE FACE OF HAUNTING...AGAIN!
A really cool haunt is a series of stories, told with props and actors in that special way that makes your soul skip a beat.
The Haunt delivers excellent storytelling, and has some of the best bells-and-whistles you'll ever experience!
This year a "secret passage" entrance surprises you immediately, as a wall opens up to swallow you into the mighty machine you can hear churning ahead...
First stop is "Baker Street Butcher Shop" where eight things will command your attention rapid-fire! WOWSER.
TWO sets of bars prove inadequate to contain the inmates at the jail you visit next, but one of them had us feeling sorry for her. She has frizzy, blonde hair and the only companion in her room is her dirty toilet...AWWW, SO SAD.
DAFFY DR. LAFF-A-LOT
An insane doctor won our hearts instantly! He mutters something about AFLAC while handling a duck. He then says, "I've been injected him with a solution of cat feces and cat urine, trying to resuscitate him. It's not working...that's because I dropped out of Community College."
The next exchange was so excellent we're quoting parts of it verbatim:
Doctor: "If you've got the time, I can pencil you in for a...quick...pro...ceeeeedure."
Me: "What kind of procedure?"
Doctor immediately snaps: "I can do a lobotomy with a straw...5 minutes."
Me: "Wow, a STRAW lobotomy?"
Doctor: "Fifty thousand dollars, up front."
Me: "No, I wanna do it on credit because after the lobotomy you don't care about anything and then you don't pay back!"
There's more, but when we didn't go for his insanity he scrambles to offer his rock-bottom special - a cat poop brain injection for only $2! SUCH A DEAL.
Every doctor needs a nurse, and she makes her entrance in a brilliant blend of man and metal!
The environmental soundscape transitions gradually to an outdoor forest including the distinctive cicadas. The birch trees and sound thicken to saturation...the suspense builds...SOMETHING has to give...POW!
The forest eventually fades out, and you find yourself in the office of a toy company that closed up shop ages ago. There are typewriters and 4 old push button telephones on the desk, all of them off the hook with an inattentive operator sitting in his chair who died long ago.
A tribute to marionettes has two scenes, with FOUR of them in the second. CLASSIC.
We also really liked the room with a wall full of clowns, the "High Noise Area" that starts quietly with just an incandescent light bulb, and the multitude of rooms with extreme electrical hazards lurking easily within reach of hapless victims' hands!
There are wide open electrical junction boxes, frayed wires, spark "explosions" and such. It's SO convincing the city electrical inspectors were aghast the first time they saw it! IT'S ONLY A SHOW.
In a surprise "less is more" maneuver, the most amazing gag appears near the end of your journey in the form of a single actor! His silly, colorful grinning face suddenly appears out of darkness, then he opens his mouth wide and fog pours out! HEAD SCRATCHER. (More below about this amazing haunt industry development)
An "additional attraction" has a primary benefit of helping to ensure proper pacing in the main haunt. 3D COUROPHOBIA features the more visually oriented-type of gags that had caused "bottlenecks" when placed in the main haunt.
With OVER 350,000 visitors so far, pacing is crucial to delivering the kind of show haunters deserve who shell out ever increasing admission prices.
GHOST TOWN also helps divide up the masses here, an excellent outdoor maze of sorts with lots of goodies and surprises of its' own.
So yes, the new show at THE HAUNT is excellent with an amazing new stage show, cool actors, a wide variety of scenes, sound, lights, and such. But that happens every year here.
The really big story here this year is resonating across the country, in 43 states so far to be exact.
It all started last year, and we happened to be there during the first event that led to "it."
We were talking to the operator in his office after going through the haunt, then his wife and daughter came in. The daughter had recently attended a local costume party, and THE HAUNT makeup artists made her look incredible.
The proud dad marvelled at the result...but shortly afterwards saw her again in a dark portion of the haunt. RATS! Now he couldn't see how great she looked, even with the pro makeup job...DING!!!
FAST FORWARD to our 2013 tour of THE HAUNT: An actor's face appears out of nowhere with ultra vivid colored makeup. He flashes a silly grin, and as he opens his mouth fog starts pouring out of his mouth!
How did he do that? The fog part will remain their secret, but we will tell how he suddenly lights up. It's so simple; you'll probably say "Why didn't I think of that?"
It's a handy dandy low voltage, wearable LED hand triggered illuminator! The product name is FrightLite (patent pending) and it took runner up for best new haunt invention at the last TransCon! Haunts in 43 states are using them already, including the two major competing mega haunts in Pontiac, Michigan!
It's easily adjustable for any actor, and is invisible when worn.
The plug line on the brochure for FrightLite is "BRING YOUR ACTORS OUT OF THE DARK." It's¬ too logical, and a no-brainer for haunts. And there's a UV blacklight version too; can you imagine seeing it make an actor glow in a dark haunted forest? www.FrightLite.com
GETTING BACK TO BASICS
One of the first effective scares I remember from long ago at Jaycees haunts was simply an actor with a flashlight who flashes his face quickly. But I haven't seen it for years now...last time I remember was the Wyandotte Jaycees when they had an abandoned movie theater to use for their haunt.
So to us, this is a welcome return to some haunt basics that had gone by the wayside...but are back with a vengeance...thanks to that day when THE HAUNT operator couldn't quite see his daughter!
The show starts at THE HAUNT while waiting in line on 20 minute intervals with a stunning stage show, featuring 5 dancers who do a clever routine with perfect synchronization.
New this year is a fence that does double-duty: It keeps the dancing prison zombies from eating the audience, and helps provide cover for some awesome new products by lighting industry leader Chauvet. They emit brief controlled blasts of fog vertically in a V-shape that appear in various colors; it's way cool!
The actors will mess with your mind here, right from the get-go with a guy who says he's afraid of haunted houses! But he had no problem in throwing us to the wolves so off we went, happy to put ourselves at extreme risk yet again!
PHANTOM FOREST HAYRIDES
21803 West River Road, Grosse Ile, MI 48138
(734) 676-2444 or www.westcroftgardens.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - HISTORY MEETS HORROR SMACK IN THE FACE!
This haunt happens to be on the OLDEST FARM IN MICHIGAN, but the show is new again this year with one-of-a-kind homemade props. They have at once a strange blending of horrible and wholesome that is all their own.
The forest provides perfect cover for the ghouls and ghoulettes that are lurking everywhere, and soon enough it's monster mash to the max!
One of our favorite scenes is lit exclusively by the glowing red eyes of multitudes of wild animals, and we really liked the grounds decorations. There's tons of hanging orange lights everywhere, and we were amazed to see the LOCH NESS MONSTER in their lake!
After haunting, you can check out a spooky jewelry table on your way to the bonfire for cider and donuts. The trademark orange lights light the path, and a wooden pallet drove the bonfire flames sky high!
PHANTOM FOREST IS A MICHIGAN TREASURE, HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT!
HOUSE OF FEAR
620 Woodward Heights, Hazel Park, MI
(248) 547-5535 or www.houseoffearhazelpark.org
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - BIG WOWS STRAIGHT FROM COWLAND TO YOU
The House of Fear has a special weapon from America's Dairyland this year that doesn't come sliced or in a block of hardened and congealed fat.
It's an actor from the WISCONSIN JAYCEES that will knock your socks off in the final scene. At first, he seems like no big deal. But soon enough you're overwhelmed with his presence in a very big way! AWESOME.
This is a volunteer haunt that delivers the goods, and shows no sign of letting up!
The waiting room itself is new this year, and features a very special couch you'll be invited to sit on. It's comfortable enough, but then the weather drastically changes suddenly, and the wall behind you comes to life! WOW.
Custom taunting from an unseen observer is heard through hidden speakers, and has a pitch-bended voice mixed with the original. SUPER EFFECTIVE.
One thing this year we absolutely loved is something you won't see at all! And you may not hear it either...at first. It's a series of secret whisper-messages that are cleverly mixed into the soundtrack at volume levels just below the threshold of clearly audible sound.
Hearing the words at this level registers with your subconscious mind, leaving your conscious mind oblivious to suggestions given this way.
So we can only wonder what deviousness will be lurking in our brains, planted by the pranksters of House of Fear! It could be something simple, like a shameless secret plug for their buddies in the pork industry for example with repeated low-volume pleas to "Eat More Bacon."
Or it could be something more socially embarrassing, and leave permanent psychological stains that won't go away!
The awkward possibilities are limited only by their overactive imaginations, so we'll tell all our friends to be on the lookout for sudden unexpected changes in our behavior.
But I digress...did they make me do that too?
OK, back to the stuff you WILL be aware of!
A unique moving liquid-like pattern projector sets the stage as you enter the haunt, and a cry for HELP is heard ahead. Soon his plight is revealed, with a horribly convoluted setup that has his teeth connected to a battery charger! ZAP.
We also really liked the old organ that starts to play itself, an old furnace that's on the verge of burning up and exploding, and the sewing machine room with the creepy girl in her wheelchair.
The best new thing this year is saved for last, just as it should be.
At the end of a hallway sits FERGUS THE REAPER, who at first glance looks like a stationary prop. But he suddenly starts moving towards you, and begins growing taller and taller and taller. Soon, he TOWERS over everyone in any group!
This custom outfit was hand made by the actor himself in his garage! He offered to let House of Fear borrow it, and shortly afterwards was coaxed into performing in it too. How's THAT for cross-haunt cooperation? KUDOS.
HAUNTED FUNERAL HOME
3880 Inkster Road, Inkster, MI 48141
(734) 922-5542 or www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001614513583
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - CORPSE CONFUSION AT FUNERAL HOME
This used to be a funeral home. But it seems some of the corpses never made that last journey to the cemetery, and hang out here instead waiting for unsuspecting customers that THINK they're going to a haunted attraction.
No dazzling mile-high props. No fancy animatronics or dazzling light arrays.
But what you WILL get here is a good old-fashioned haunt experience, starting with the moment you arrive.
The building overhang has built in speakers, used effectively with a wide variety of music and sounds. An animal sound mixed with the music fooled even us, as we quickly looked around for the non-existent beast!
Lots of tight, twisty pathways, monster surprises from every which way, and we really liked the working funeral home electronic organ. The organist could use some music lessons, but is plainly unconcerned and played a strange song ending with a ridiculous chord.
Yes, this is a smallish haunt by Michigan standards. BUT, they're NOT going away anytime soon it seems.
Crazy Bob from Haunted Hydro in Ohio says that if a haunt survives for 3 years, it's on its way to being a potentially major haunt. 2008 was their first year...and there's no sign of them letting up anytime soon!
1318 Wildwood Avenue, Jackson, MI 49202
(517) 936-5834 or www.jxunderworld.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - GOING UP...THIRD FLOOR NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS!
Going up...to new heights and madness at Jackson's Underworld! The third floor has been opened up this year, expanding what was already a mega haunt with mega ambience built in.
There's an amazing total of 97,000 square feet here, with about 52,000 being used now and another 15,000 planned for next year. NOW THAT'S BIG!!!
The waiting area still has the cool Alice Cooper animatronics thing, but inside about 80% has changed. Creepy Clyde is on board too, with his wacky renditions of scary classics.
Some of the props are actually old items left in the structure, and give an authentic old feeling. We liked the skeleton at his desk, which sports a super-old telephone and an adding machine...remember those? The world was NOT always digital!
We also loved the way-old piano, but wondered why we heard organ music instead there! But hey, strange stuff is supposed to happen in a haunted house right?
The pathway is changed this year too, and next we found ourselves remembering a similar scenario at the former Homer Mill, which was also operated by this haunt owner. It's the part where you walk between building parts way up high across a short walkway. A single powerful strobe lights the vegetation below so you won't miss it.
"GOING UP...THIRD FLOOR, LADIES WEAR & CONFUSION"
Next you see a sign that says "IF YOU DARE" and points to the staircase, and we were off to the 3rd floor for the first time!
It even smells old, and there's a horrible termite infestation."Good Vibrations" takes on a whole new meaning, and we loved the girl with red hair and disgusting facial features that "drops in" for a surprise visit!
A loud guitarist is practicing some cool heavy metal riffs, with just the right crunch on the sound. It's so loud, it makes the walls come tumbling down! Then, just as quickly, you square off with 3 of the most giant snapping spiders you've ever seen! KILLER SEQUENCE.
Also features a cool black hole spinning counter-clockwise, with a see-through bottom and mirrors at both ends.
Our favorite gag here was next, and involves a strange case of mistaken identity. An actress did an impromptu impersonation of my partner, briefly detained ahead, using my correct name.
She closely approximated the voice of my partner, and flirts right away. She spins a tall tale about her being in my bedroom last night as I was drooling, and her strange plans with me for the next night! She has a delightful smile, but a wickedly deformed face. SHE IS MY HEROINE!
Going downstairs then finds us at the circus, from one lighting extreme to another, and back in the GUITAR CRUNCH ZONE with the heavy metal wannabe guy practicing up a storm!
There's so much more too, but you'll need to go yourself to see it all!
The parking lot exit path takes you completely around the building, and leaves you in awe of this magnificent structure.
CORPSE BARN SHOCK HAUNT
6220 Brooklyn Road, Jackson, MI 49201
(517) 206-3211 or www.corpsebarn.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - LIQUID SKY HEAVEN AMID MAYHEM IN A BARN!
First of all, this is not the barn on the side of the road. It's WAY bigger, in fact the 2nd largest in the county!
2013 is their 4th year, and they plan to add more space for as many years as they can!
Mayhem breaks loose immediately upon entering, with weird hands everywhere and a girl in serious trouble seen only in silhouette on a white background. STRIKING.
MAKING MISS MANNERS PROUD
The next scene threw us for a loop! It's the electrocution chair scene, but at the big moment the prisoner springs out of his restraints...and then scurries ahead to open the door for you, proving that even Death Row Inmates can be polite. FOOLED US.
A real life scary situation is addressed too. A large sign in the haunt reads: "SCARING CANCER INTO REMISSION - A 24 hour haunt coming in August 2014 to Relay for Life at Cascades Falls."
We really liked the room with 7 TV's showing people inside the haunt freaking out, a fabulous scarecrow dude, and a door unlike any other we've ever seen!
The door is swinging back and forth, and somehow a person's body has been impaled by the door itself. Just HOW it got embedded that way conjures up some ghastly images, and letting people come to their own conclusions can multiply the intensity horribly! KUDOS.
Getting lost is the easy part, compared to the tricky shifting floor you'll navigate soon afterwards!
After getting lost in close quarters and navigating the floor, you go from one extreme to the other when you push open a door and find yourself in full view of the sky high ceiling and a large portion of this monstrous structure.
There's a lot more for you to discover on your own, but one last sequence is way too cool not to mention!
Sinister laughing blends into an announcement of "Welcome to the gas chamber!" A blast of fog and a green laser are seen on the other side of a makeshift hallway made with flexible fabric walls on both sides.
As you turn the next corner, you find yourself in an INCREDIBLE LIQUID SKY ROOM. They use a green laser, set to a FIXED OVAL pattern projection. 2 small fans are ceiling mounted near the laser projector, with their backs facing you.
This selectively draws air towards the laser, which produces a stunning spinning circular 3D tunnel effect that is so visually dynamic jaws were dropping left and right!
Dragging your fingers across the edge of the laser beam disturbs the air currents that are always present, but never before seen in such a spectacular way...or ANY way for that matter until the more-than-razor-sharp edge of lasers made this even possible!
HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR
28405 26 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 203-7222 or www.hauntedfarmofterror.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - FARM OF TERROR CRANKS IT TO ELEVEN!
Have you ever been to a rock concert where the emcee pumps the crowd asking, "ARE YOU READY, DETROIT???!!!" and the crowd goes crazy?
Well, that's the exact same vibe this haunt's hayride has...and it's no accident. It starts with rock music...but not just any rock music...we noticed it's mostly in a major key.
In case you don't know Western music basics, sad music is usually in a MINOR key, and happy music in a MAJOR key. You could actually take a song like "Losing My Religion" by REM, and make it feel like a happy song by changing it to a major key!
The hayride starts with "Thing Called Love" by The Darkness, and everybody we could see/hear was singing along and knew the lyrics perfectly. Hmmm...sounds like a rock concert vibe again...
The host pumps the vibe to the max, dancing and gyrating like a madman! Even cooler, he uses a unique LED flashlight that doubles as a¬ HIGH POWER STROBE LIGHT. He creates disco-like lighting effects on the cart, and illuminates certain scenes with dramatic impact. Flashlights have come a LONG way!
The show is flawlessly timed to musical cues, starting with the statement "For those about to rock...we salute you!" from the AC/DC song of the same name. If you recall that song, after the word "rock" there's a cannon blast...and it's right at that moment the first really big gag hits! Perfect.
The hayride gags are many, and GIANT! Most of them are one-of-a-kind because they're made right there...many of them from broken farm implements. How's that for clever recycling?
We won't describe most of them here, except for one of our favorites. It's a giant metallic robot creature that has a menacing presence you can't miss...FABULOUS!
"SURGERY ON SPECIAL TODAY!"
The walk through haunt here has creative quirkiness as well as good scares/monster interaction. All monsters had excellent diction and clean breath...minty fresh!
A scene we really liked features a chance to "take your picture." They pose you in front of a camera on a tripod, but it looks like a fake clown camera prop and has large glowing fluorescent rings extending from the lens. Hmmm...I'll bet water will squirt out from this fake camera, but instead...!!!
One of our favorite actors is a girl that offers a bizarre sounding impossible surgery as being "on special" today. After repeating the name back to her she hilariously changed the pronunciation and meaning of the surgery name, and then loudly quipped, "I may be crazy, but I do know how to speak!" Great stuff.
A corn maze that changes on-the-fly with the actors' impulses seals the deal, and how long you remain in there is anybody's guess.
The energy level here is sky high, and the stars glisten like diamonds on a clear night. We just LOVE getting away from the big city lights and into the great outdoors when it gets to be cider and donut season again!
SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK
61288 Gratiot at 28 Mile Road, Lenox Township, MI
(586) 749-6666 or www.scarefestscreampark.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - HAUNTED CITY ON A HILL
This place is BIG! There's so much going on, they have their own security patrols to ensure things are going smoothly.
Crowd control largely takes care of itself, because there are 4 haunted attractions as well as big screen movies and a full service bar.
When you enter, you'll see a sign pointing to the "Beer Tent." But it's NOT your typical beer tent, like at a church carnival. It's more like a modern night club, with an excellent rockin' band, laser light show, comfy couches, and those nifty neon beer signs.
But that's just icing on the cake; the main course here is haunting...and LOTS of it!
The hayride features two-tiered carts to double the capacity, and lights shining out from under the cart which widely varied from strobe lighting to colored washes.
The show starts even before the cart moves, with a strange guy dancing around to the music WHILE TWIRLING A LARGE BURNING BATON!
The hayride host tells a strange story, accompanied by mysterious sounding music that gives an excellent eerie feeling.
The forest provides hiding places galore for the monsters, who take full advantage of the landscape! Our favorite scene takes place at the river, where things go from bad to worse in a hurry!
We didn't have time for the Terror Zone Maze, but we loved the Carnival of the Dead Haunted Forest Walk! There are weird games to play, strange but foxy gypsies, and we really liked the dude with the rabbit-like ears.
We ignored the "DO NOT ENTER" sign posted by the resident rednecks, and found ourselves dangerously close to open electrical junction boxes...out in the middle of nowhere? Great stuff!
Muttonville Manor is the walk through haunt, and there's an amazing history behind this haunt.
But never mind all that, even if you know the history you'll barely recognize it. The facade makes it look totally different, and most will have no idea they've actually been there before...except perhaps for one trademark scene (hint! hint!) here which is an excellent decapitation scene.
There's so much here, you might not get to do it all in one night. In fact, we ran into a friend here that came back a second night just to do the hayride!
SHAWHAVEN HAUNTED FARM
1826 Rolfe Road, Mason, MI 48854
(517) 676-1649 or www.shawhavenhauntedfarm.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - DANCING UNDER THE MOONLIT NIGHT
The vibe here was a giant party! A live DJ was rockin' the grounds, and a dance party broke out right in front of us...it was so cool!
Shawhaven is a triple attraction haunt, featuring the walk thru Samara's Boarding House, Wagons of Fear, and the Dead Maze.
Samara's Boarding House has changed totally since our last visit in 2010! It's a clever conglomeration of buildings connected by tunnel-like structures. Better yet, the setup lends itself to future expansion and/or modification.
The actor in the intro has a butler-like persona and excellent enunciation, and warns against "scaring the guests."
The entrance immediately gives a preview of an excellent laser room on the other side of a door with windows, but there's some tricky footing to make it there while encountering weirdos from above and below!
We also liked the statuette sitting at the piano, could she be real? Will she jam out like Keith Emerson?
The movie theater scene is excellent, sporting genuine movie seats, a real 16mm sound movie projector, and lots of real movie reels all over. The movie playing is in black & white, but the images are seriously deteriorated adding to the weirdness, and we really liked the theater patron with her cool makeup and blonde, frizzy hair who has a gruesome motto.
The next Liquid Sky room is killer! At first they tease you with partial projections appearing in front of you, as you dig through thick translucent hanging plastic strips. When you arrive in the room itself the green and red laser beams are manipulated in a super effective way, but just wait until you see what it is!
As always, with ALL rooms that have dramatic lighting effects, we suggest you look backwards before leaving any such room. You'll usually see a whole new dimension for even more WOW factor!
THINKING INSIDE THE BOX
Samara's Boarding House has an in-house "Farewell Casket Shop," where a dude with a red top hat tells a story with an impossible timeline. He explains that "we think inside the box!"
There's even one more laser room with a giant Jack-in-the-Box we loved, and the journey ends with a wooden fence maze outside to finish you off!
The grounds here are beautiful, and every 20 minutes a custom synchronized Light-O-Rama light show appears on the back of the main building set to spooky music.
The Wagons of Fear is like a hayride, but way more comfortable because instead of hay they use padded seats in two rows facing each other.
Some actors' faces magically appear out of the darkness, thanks to a clever new gizmo sweeping the haunt industry invented by The Haunt in Grand Rapids. The effect is fabulous, and a natural for settings like this.
The main building has its own oddities, including a super tall weirdo and a couch made from a PINK CADILLAC!
Come for the haunting, but enjoy the party too here as throngs of happy haunters do here every year!
Note: we didn't have time for their DEAD MAZE.
MAUMEE, OHIO (TOLEDO AREA)
at Lucas County Fairgrounds, 1406 Key Street, Maumee, OH
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - PREMIERE OHIO HAUNT LANDS GIG WITH ROB ZOMBIE!
Don't let this headline scare you...Terrortown is NOT going anywhere. But its' leader did, and not until after the opening weekend in Ohio went as planned. And nobody even knew he was leaving, until just hours before his plane left for L.A.!
Due to a long series of events that started with the owner of Terrortown helping other haunts, he was chosen to help Rob Zombie make his new haunted house in Los Angeles.
Hmmm...so here this guy was just trying his best to follow The Golden Rule...that's tough to do...and look where it got him!
But back to Terrortown. The show at the main haunt this year is "13 Floors" and has all kinds of great new stuff and actors too. Some of them actually came from a former competitor in the area. So instead of gloating their demise, he helps them out...and gets some great new blood to boot! WIN-WIN.
There's an excellent new Victorian Room that gives a whole new vibe you would NOT expect at a haunt. We really liked the library that comes to life, a troll creature hiding in a box, and a fabulous chair that suddenly comes to life!
SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING!
A girl announces that the next room is a game, with the object being you figuring out how to get out. There's 7 doors, none of which works! Then with a FLASH the appearance of the doors changes completely, as black lights replace all other lighting to activate special see-thru invisible UV glow paint patterns hiding on the doors.
But it gets better! You find that you've been lured into standing directly atop a "trap door," but it's "not working today" and the REAL exit door is finally revealed to be something nobody suspected at all. BRILLIANT.
We also loved the scene featuring a super old, large rectangular radio, an incredible Sasquatch that rips a human in half, and the longest black hole we've ever seen. It's actually SIX of them, placed end-to-end and all turning clockwise in perfect synchronization. WOW.
The outdoor graveyard zig-zags a path to the next building, and has clever headstones all lit separately. The graveyard too has a giant creature that attacks, and reminded us of a stegosaurus dinosaur who never believed the lie of extinction!
Another favorite massive creature was the guy sitting, and then rising, that looks like he's from Lord Of The Rings to us. ALL of these custom creations are made by the haunt itself, so you won't see anything else like them anywhere...unless of course you go to Rob Zombie's new haunt!
BIG TOP TERROR is the secondary feature here, and features lots of super tall UV glow paint weirdness in 3D with the special glasses you wear. It's a safe haven for crazy clowns of all sizes, shapes, and demeanors.
We really liked the guy doing a herky-jerky dance with the music, the giant polka-dot creature and polka-dot black hole, and some striking artwork that reminded us of the crazy face on the cover of the album "In The Court Of The Crimson King" by King Crimson.
ANOTHER STRONG WINNER FROM THE AMAZING TERRORTOWN!
855 Mayflower Road, Niles, MI 49120
(269) 687-3327 or www.haunted.org
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - GHOULS SCARE EVEN MUD AWAY AT HAUNTED 44 ACRE AMUSEMENT PARK!
Over choice has never been so much fun than at Scream Park!
Not only are there multiple attractions that mix it up every which way you can imagine, the main walk thru haunt has crazy choices and several different paths and shows to see.
Super durable all-weather carpet covers the entire grounds, so there's never a mud bath waiting. Slip-and-fall is virtually nonexistent as a result. We've never seen this at any other haunt, but it makes perfect sense.
We went on the hayride first, which isn't really a hayride...and it's more comfortable too actually. A small set of high school sports bleachers is towed instead, which also means everybody faces the same direction.
So everybody sees the gags equally, and that helps the actors concentrate the energy and focus of each gag.
Our hostess was a Swedish blonde, with that distinct accent you can't miss. She was SO much fun, and easy to hear too on outdoor PA equipment on board the cart.
She talks about phobias, because you're just about to confront a whole bunch of them head-on!
There's THREE more attractions besides the big star here, which is the awesome NILES HAUNTED HOUSE. There's multiple ways to go through, each with different shows!
This is a close knit, family operation with many dedicated long-term crew members. It shows in SO many ways, and they even gave us a special peek behind the scenes that showed what an amazingly well oiled machine this haunt is.
Next we went through a smaller sub-attraction called VOODOO BAYOU, which is a SONIC MASTERPIECE...and yes a cool haunt too with some quirky twists to round out the experience.
Sound can make or break a haunt!
The general public has now come to expect world class sound reinforcement at ANY venue they may encounter in public, all the way from the smallest bar to major outdoor summer festivals like ARTS BEATS AND EATS in Metro Detroit.
Some favorite moments in VOODOO BAYOU were the authentic looking wagon train, the girl at the restaurant who confesses that one of the menu offerings is actually "toe jam," and we loved the surprise forest creature and the high intensity gurgling sounds!
Next we saw GIANT CLOUDS of fog bellowing out the exit door at BIOLOGICAL TERROR...a very good sign!
It turns out that BIOLOGICAL TERROR is actually a "Zombie Research Facility," and has all the weirdos, visuals and situations to go with it.
We especially liked the girl with the bizarre stutter-laugh, the Control Room sporting an ancient computer with giant tape reels, and the girl with a white lab coat and stethoscope trying her best to deal with a maniac in a straitjacket!
After a short walk outside guided by rope lights, you're dumped into a fog tunnel with stutter-action strobe lighting leaving you instantly lost and confused! GREAT STUFF.
The main walk thru NILES HAUNTED HOUSE and the FIELD OF SCREAMS are way too expansive to describe here, but we have some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits to share with you.
Besides going thru as haunters, we also toured the walk thru NILES HAUNTED HOUSE from above on the catwalk for a rare perspective of this Mega Haunt, which can put thru as many as 1,200 in one hour without bottlenecking!
There's EIGHT doors in the entry way, but that's just the start of multiplicity you'll encounter. There's FOUR different times they can make you go FOUR different ways! After getting your hand stamped, you can go thru again and see a whole different show.
The NILES HAUNTED HOUSE and the FIELD OF SCREAMS both have TWO sound control rooms, minimizing speaker cable lengths. A giant array of digital audio players and amplifiers are carefully calibrated to the perfect volume levels for each display. Since they can't be tampered with by the actors, isolation between scenes is determined in advance and always intact.
Pro audio power amps up to 1000 watts are used, as in the VOODOO BAYOU sub-attraction and gut shaking bass and crisp, clean high frequencies are the result. FIRST CLASS.
The scale of this haunt is truly mind boggling, and they've had as many as 13,000 people in one night.
And check this out: Every year, about 70 actors from THE HAUNT in GRAND RAPIDS visit SCREAM PARK...and then 70 actors from SCREAM PARK visit THE HAUNT! Can you name ANY other 2 Mega Haunts that do this?!
Yes, it may seem like a long way to go from Detroit to SCREAM PARK in NILES. But NO, you'll never see a haunt in the same way after you experience it!
405 South Washington, Owosso, MI 48867
(989) 725-9464 or www.MichiganSteamTrain.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - ALL ABOARD TO LIVE A STORY
This is a FULL SIZE train. You take a ride across town, and watch the railroad gates come down and cars waiting for you to pass!
The train is actually going backwards at this point, and the engine is pushing the train with reverse thrust. On the return trip, the engine pulls the train like the ones you see zooming through town.
The train's destination is the show location too, which has been carefully staged to follow a story line you partially learn while sitting in very comfortable, padded, reclining seats.
Amid the chatter aboard the train and employees, we discover that nobody is actually in control of the train. The conductor rightfully fears for his life, as a headstone with his exact name and today's date etched in stone on it! No wonder he split.
Of course he can't evade the monsters in the desolate destination we stop at, and an all-out battle of humans vs. non-humans breaks out!
An explosive game of chicken finally breaks out, as some country bumpkin-type locals play with just-lit dynamite sticks.
Giant, REAL explosions then literally rock the entire train and the crowd goes WILD!
AN UNUSUAL HAUNTED TREAT!
TERRORFIED FOREST & HILLSIDE MORTUARY
245 Swarthout Road, Pinckney, MI 48169
(734) 878-3737 or www.terrorfied.com
ZIOPTIS SEZ 2013 - COMING HOME AGAIN...
As a kid, I grew up in a house that bordered the woods where my three older brothers and I had many adventures and built secret tree forts.
Later when I "grew up" enough to go to haunted attractions, I found a new forest to have different kinds of adventures in...RIGHT HERE at the TERRORFIED FOREST!
It's actually the first haunted forest we can remember really¬ enjoying.
But shame on us, it's been awhile since we made it back to this old friend on the haunt scene. So we were totally determined to make it this year...and whoever said "You can't go home again" is full of beans because that's exactly what we did as we scurried down the "mine shaft" to a new world that usually hides in the deepest, darkest corners of our brains!
One of our biggest favorites here is the AMAZING COLLECTION OF BLACK HOLES...and right in the forest no less. FABULOUS!
If you make it out of the forest, you're still not "out-of-the-woods" yet though because a dark maze will engulf you with blackness and a severe case of "I'm LOST!"
This haunt is dangerously close to encroaching business construction...remember what happened to Johnny Appleseed's in Washington Twp.? It was swallowed up by...and PLEASE Oh Lord don't let this happen to our beloved Terrorfied Forest...a cheap-ass strip mall. A travesty if ever I saw one, trading a cider mill/haunt for yet another chain drug store and Chinese take-out restaurant.