THE ZIOPTIS 2016 STATE-OF-THE-INDUSTRY ADDRESS
This year's report will focus on industry changes and conditions.
Once again, performance levels were high across the board and awards would be pointless and counterproductive to our purposes.┬ KUDOS TO ALL HAUNT OPERATORS!
As always, there are gains and losses every year which is to be expected.
First, the new entries to the market:
HAUNTED PLANET EXPERIENCE┬ in┬ TOLEDO, OHIO┬ took big advantage of the MEGA HAUNT VACANCY left when┬ TERRORTOWN┬ closed up shop a few years ago.┬ HAUNTED PLANET EXPERIENCE┬ is run by the outfit that ran the┬ HAUNTED PRISON EXPERIECE┬ in┬ MANSFIELD, OHIO┬ for an incredibly successful run of 15 years until their lease ran out in 2015.
Also new for 2016 was┬ AWAKEN HAUNTED ATTRACTION┬ in┬ LESLIE, which unfortunately we did not visit.
THE SCREAM MACHINE┬ in┬ TAYLOR┬ returned after hiatus in a new location on┬ ECORSE ROAD.┬ An old friend is back, as strong as ever!
Now the losses...and these are MAJOR.
The┬ BIGGEST SHOCK┬ was the unexpected closing of┬ ERWIN'S BARN OF HORRORS AND TERRORFYING CORN MAZE at ERWIN ORCHARDS┬ in┬ SOUTH LYON.
But┬ ERWIN'S┬ had a┬ crazy long run, and went out totally in class on top of their game. We have great admiration and respect for┬ Linda┬ and the entire crew there.
Other big news was the┬ FORCED DEMISE┬ of┬ THE BONEYARD┬ in┬ STOCKBRIDGE┬ (which we reported when we were given the green light last year).
Short-sighted complaining neighbors caused them to close in a major setback for the struggling little┬ STOCKBRIDGE. The annual pilgrimage of happy haunters to┬ THE BONEYARD┬ was easily the biggest event of the year for this dinky little town, as well as a source of employment for many residents.
What a crying shame.┬ Why did they complain?
Was┬ THE BONEYARD┬ loud?┬ BIG TIME!┬ Was it raucous and wild?┬ YOU BET!
Which is to say they were doing their job and excelling.┬ Their┬ propane fire blasts┬ are still burned into our mind's eye!┬ (see reviews)
To our thinking, complaining about a haunt being loud is like blaming the night for being dark...it's just what they do. DUH! Sorry for existing...and for bringing lots of money and fun to┬ Stockbridge...sheeesh!
Another┬ MAJOR INDUSTRY LOSS┬ was┬ A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD┬ in┬ WEBBERVILLE, which we fear suffered a┬ proximity problem in being a little too far off the beaten path. There's no way it had anything to do with show quality.
It was a┬ FIRST RATE HAUNT┬ by all measures, and if they come back we will be among the first making a B-line for what had become┬ our unofficial FINAL HAUNT OF THE YEAR to visit.┬ Several times we blew off our┬ MEGA HAUNT plans on Halloween Night┬ to go here instead!
DARK LEGACY┬ in┬ WIXOM┬ was absent this year, but it was a forced last-minute hiatus. The property they were on was sold, triggering an escape clause in the contract.┬ We look for BIG THINGS in the future from this strong young haunt!
And another┬ STRONG YOUNG HAUNT┬ we see climbing up the ladder with the potential to reach the top is┬ CLIO MANOR HAUNTED HOUSE.┬ This year they made an┬ INDUSTRY FIRST┬ to our knowledge with a┬ NASA TECHNOLOGY SEARCHLIGHT┬ that seriously kicks butt using a fraction of the electricity arc units gobble.┬ ┬ This thing is insanely bright....I think it's like┬ 1.7 BILLION CANDLEPOWER!
BURTON HAUNTED FOREST┬ and┬ McCURDY'S REVENGE┬ failed to appear this season.┬ BURTON HAUNTED FOREST┬ told us they sometimes go into a holding mode, as it's an all volunteer haunt so they may be back.┬ McCURDY'S REVENGE┬ had lost their buiding and had re-grouped for a re-opening previously, but currently has an unknown status.
Changing gears now...
Quick! Name┬ TWO MAJOR MEGA HAUNTS IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...
Okay, the majority of you probably said┬ EREBUS┬ and┬ THE HAUNT. That's cool.
But what we ask that same question a couple years from now?
This is a free-wheeling wild industry,┬ where one of the few constants is change...so let us throw out a few predictions loosly based on what we've seen...and it's a LOT...setting the┬ TIME MACHINE┬ to the year 2019 now.
Quick! Name┬ TWO MAJOR MEGA HAUNTS IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...
Okay, the majority of you probably said┬ ROTTEN MANOR┬ and┬ HUSH. That's cool.
Back to the present:
ROTTEN MANOR┬ is an amazingly elaborate┬ MEGA HAUNT┬ that started in 2015, and they have great ambition and great abilities on every level. They could easily┬ TAKE OVER AS THE NUMBER ONE HAUNT┬ and become the default haunt that media visits for Halloween theme articles and reports.
HUSH┬ also has great ambition and abilities...and one more thing up their sleeve. They quietly acquired a secondary property (still in┬ Westland) that's massive.
But what we ask that same question yet a couple years from there? Setting our┬ TRUSTY TIME MACHINE to the year 2021 now...
Quick! Name┬ TWO MAJOR MEGA HAUNTS IN THE MARKET RIGHT NOW...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...dum-dee-dum-dee-dum...
Okay, the majority of you probably said┬ DARKSYDE ACRES┬ and┬ HAUNTED PLANET EXPERIENCE.┬ That's cool.
You get the idea...even the┬ biggest of the big┬ eventually sings their swan song┬ so anything is possible! Speaking of which...
What IS the deal when a new haunt comes on the scene...has a killer first class show with great actors and artistic excellence...but then fails miserably when other haunts nearby do well?
The one we're thinking of this season is┬ ABANDON HAUNTED HOUSE┬ in┬ MELVINDALE.
They had a dismal season, despite an expertly produced haunt with fabulous production values.┬ HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Meanwhile, two other quality┬ Wayne County┬ haunts┬ (THE SCREAM MACHINEin┬ TAYLOR┬ and┬ HUSH HAUNTED ATTRACTION┬ in┬ WESTLAND┬ did well.┬ What's the deal?
All three are worthy haunts, so all three should have been well attended it would seem on the surface...
This reminds us of a similar situation a few years back with┬ SINISTER HAUNTED HOUSE┬ in┬ UTICA┬ failing despite a first class presentation and critical acclaim from multiple haunt review/rating services.
It doesn't seem right, especially if you're the owner of one of these haunts...we totally get that.
But the haunt market is a fickle animal, subject to whims and whimsy's of emotionally charged haunt fans. Unexplainable pockets in the market can pop up anywhere.
On the other hand, there's market locations that have multiple quality haunts where both do exceptionally well.┬ LENOX TOWNSHIP┬ comes to mind, with both┬ HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR┬ and┬ SCAREFEST SCREAM PARK┬ bustling with record crowds.
And two major long running FARM HAUNTS remain strong performers with┬ BLAKE'S┬ in┬ ARMADA┬ (not far from┬ LENOX TWP.) and┬ WIARD'S┬ in┬ YPSILANTI(also home of┬ KRAZY HILDA'S).
WORD-OF-MOUTH┬ is bigger than even the largest ad in a haunt publication. In fact, some haunts even skipped advertising in the two major haunt rags in┬ Detroit┬ -┬ THE HAUNT GUIDE┬ and┬ THE FEAR FINDER.
One last item...and this one affects us and the entire Michigan haunt community on so many levels:┬ THE REALM OF DARKNESS┬ in┬ PONTIAC┬ has changed hands, and when the sale is complete the haunt is┬ MOVING TO MISSISSIPPI!
On the surface, this may seem a CRAZY BIG MOVE to make. But that's what industry giants do - BIG, BOLD THINGS.
Operator┬ Denise┬ says she will probably retire after┬ REALM┬ moves to┬ MISSISSIPPI, but we don't believe it for a┬ New York┬ minute!┬ Denise┬ is one of the most creative and dynamic individuals we've ever met, all while maintaining the highest of ethics when others fell short.
The history behind┬ REALM┬ is the stuff legends are made of...but not┬ "Urban Legends"...we're talkin' LEGENDS FOR THE AGES BASED ON REALITY. There were many┬ REAL DOCUMENTED SUPERNATURAL EVENTS┬ at┬ THE REALM OF DARKNESS!!!┬ (see various reviews and many articles in the Archives)
THE ZIOPTIS 2015 STATE-OF-THE-INDUSTRY ADDRESS
&┬ SUPERNATURAL CERTIFIED┬ SCARIEST HAUNT OF THE YEAR AWARD
The original purpose of the first haunted house was simply one thing - to scare people!
Scares can be man-made, and there are lots of incredible examples for sure.
But when those┬ scares come unexpected from other sources like the spirit world...AHHH, now that's a whole other realm that gives goose bumps and shivers down the spine of anyone...even a┬ top-level church pastor and a highly experienced paranormal author┬ with┬ PBS TV show┬ credits!
Once again in 2015, the haunt industry bar has been set so high that awards for individual categories would be pointless and highly repetitive - KUDOS TO ALL HAUNT OPERATORS!!!
So this year, we have only one category for awards going to the original core of the haunt genre -┬ SCARIEST!┬ And the ultimate scares would be the REAL KIND we've alluded to,┬ CERTIFIED SUPERNATURAL by independent sources┬ not affiliated with haunts.
Zioptis 2015┬ Certified Supernatural┬ Scariest Haunted House Award
We have a two-way tie between┬ THE REALM OF DARKNESS┬ in┬ PONTIAC, MICHIGAN┬ and┬ THE HAUNTED PRISON EXPERIENCE┬ in┬ MANSFIELD, OHIO.┬ (Also, honorable mention goes to┬ ABANDONED HAUNTED HOUSE┬ in┬ MELVINDALE, MICHIGAN)
Too long for here, see full bone-chilling reports with their 2015 reviews in 2015_C for the┬ REALM┬ and 2015_B for the┬ PRISON┬ and┬ ABANDONED.
The haunt industry as a whole is strong, despite some major losses like┬ McCURDY'S REVENGE┬ in┬ CORUNNA,┬ PAPP PARK┬ in┬ TAYLOR┬ and┬ TERRORTOWN┬ in┬ TOLEDO, OHIO┬ as their operator went to work full-time with┬ ROB ZOMBIE┬ on his wildly popular haunts across the country - last year in┬ CHICAGO.
The top-notch┬ BURTON HAUNTED FOREST┬ in┬ BURTON┬ wasn't open in 2015, but they told us they sometimes take a year off.
Two new breakout haunts stormed the scene,┬ with powerhouse performances from┬ ROTTEN MANOR┬ in┬ HOLLY┬ across the street from┬ THE RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL┬ and┬ ABANDONED HAUNTED HOUSE┬ in┬ MELVINDALE.
The facade of┬ ROTTEN MANOR┬ is off-the-hook fabulous, and cost a small fortune and took a small army months to build. The facade design made us think of what┬ THE ADDAMS FAMILY┬ and┬ THE MUNSTERS┬ would see in their best possible dream! Also unique to this haunt is a giant series of wacky "hallways" made out of giant metal drainage pipes to incredible effect. This is unlike anything else we've seen!┬ A NEW MAJOR PLAYER.
ABANDONED HAUNTED HOUSE┬ is a welcome new addition to the┬ DOWNRIVER AREA┬ which had a major loss last year with the unexpected shuttering of┬ THE SCREAM MACHINE┬ in┬ TAYLOR┬ and┬ PAPP PARK┬ also being closed in 2015.┬ PERFECT TIMING.
Last┬ year's major breakout haunt was┬ DARK LEGACY┬ in┬ WIXOM,┬ coming on even stronger and longer┬ this year with a new mind-twisting show that keeps crowds flocking to this new haunt oasis.┬ And their photo opportunity is to die for fabulous,┬ appearing much like a storefront display window for easy viewing from outside the building. And they've┬ partnered with the pizza parlor┬ in the same complex - have you ever met a haunter that doesn't love pizza?!┬ SMART MOVES.
Industry leader┬ THE HAUNT┬ in┬ GRAND RAPIDS┬ continues to re-define the haunt genre itself with an addition that takes audience interaction to a whole new level. Patrons are challenged to solve a baffling mystery using their wits and smarts with ESCAPE MICHIGAN. This brings┬ A WHOLE NEW DIMENSION TO HAUNTING┬ that will probably be a┬ giant hit with the gaming crowd┬ we're thinking, as well as casual haunters ready for mind-bending challenges.
We finally re-visited┬ NIGHT TERRORS AT WIARD'S┬ in┬ YPSILANTI,┬ and it reminds us a lot of┬ BLAKE'S┬ in┬ ARMADA┬ in that it's a outdoor / indoor multi-attraction haunt with each part being absolutely top-notch.
Also in┬ YPSILANTI,┬ KRAZY HILDA'S TRAIL OF TERRORS┬ wowed us┬ with a new expanded show and some of best witches we can remember experiencing.
Down the road also on┬ Ford Road in Westland,┬ HUSH HAUNTED ATTRACTION┬ had their last year at that location as they prepare to unleash a new giant when┬ HUSH HAUNTED THRILL PARK┬ opens in 2016! This will be a multi-attraction, with outdoor and indoor features and will be at a yet-to-be-disclosed location but still in┬ Westland.
This is but one sign the industry is in good health, although surely more losses will also come. It's a constantly evolving industry, with the public increasingly expecting excellence in all phases of the haunt experience!
Another powerful sign of industry health we find at the┬ CLIO MANOR HAUNTED HOUSE┬ in┬ FLINT,┬ which is in their 2nd year for 2015. This dynamic young haunt has an amazing building with lots of room to grow, and is also fully equipped for paintball fun and target practice.┬ Look for BIG THINGS in the future here!
Also in the┬ FLINT AREA,┬ THE CRYPT and ST. LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM / 13 FEET BELOW┬ continued their tradition of not only delivering top-notch haunt experiences, but also┬ vigorously cross-promoting┬ with other haunts.┬ WIN-WIN!!
One young haunt that looks like a┬ seed taking root for big things to come┬ is┬ SCOTT'S HAUNTED CORN MAZE, HAYRIDE & ROOMS OF TERROR┬ in┬ OXFORD.┬ They floored us with some key individual performances, and made amazing use of a smallish building resembling a double-wide trailer!┬ SMALL BUT MIGHTY.
But from humble beginnings come great things, and that reminds us of┬ A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD┬ in┬ WEBBERVILLE┬ who lost their namesake when┬ Wes Craven┬ died this year.┬ NIGHTMARE┬ has a facade to die for in a woods setting with natural ambience off-the-hook to begin with. Their show always changes, but they have a dedicated core team of high-quality actors that always deliver unique experiences as varied as the yearly themes here.
THE BONE YARD┬ in┬ STOCKBRIDGE┬ continued their┬ unique brand of ASTONISHING TRAIL BLAZING...literally! One of the┬ amazing propane blast scares┬ also provided an┬ amazing juxtaposition┬ unlike anything we've ever seen before at any haunt.┬ ┬ HOT STUFF!┬ ┬ (See review in 2015_C)
Also off of I-96 are┬ SLAUGHTERHOUSE┬ in┬ FOWLERVILLE┬ and┬ BESTMAZE┬ in┬ WILLIAMSTON,┬ both delivering the goods big time but in different ways.┬ SLAUGHTERHOUSE┬ combines magic and comedy like nobody else, and┬ BESTMAZE┬ produces a new state-of-the-art highly artistic maze every year. They publish pictures of each year's maze, and we can only imagine how many people flying in airplanes have wondered at the site of┬ BESTMAZE!
SHAWHAVEN FARMS┬ is also nearby in┬ MASON┬ and has always thrilled us, but sadly we missed them in 2015.
We also missed another excellent haunt we feel is very important for several reasons at the┬ MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY DRAMA DEPT. BUILDING┬ in┬ EAST LANSING.┬ UNDERWORLD┬ was the show theme for 2015, and we're encouraged with future professional thespians wanting to do this as they get more experience under their belts and stretch their chops in a way unlike any other!
JACKSON'S UNDERWORLD┬ in┬ JACKSON┬ made good on their promise of giant expansions for 2015.┬ They opened up the top floor of this behemoth, and raised the aerial bridge you walk through that much higher. This is hands-down the┬ MOST INCREDIBLE HEIGHT SENSATION GAG┬ we've ever seen and experienced! Also, a┬ brand new sub-attraction┬ has been added with the┬ very dark and very scary┬ JACKSON'S UNDERGROUND┬ making this truly┬ A MEGA HAUNT LIKE NO OTHER!
We got back to the basics to great effect in┬ MILLINGTON┬ at┬ BATE'S HAUNTED SAWMILL AND JC'S AXE HOUSE┬ in an area also boasting amazing natural ambience, accented by strolling performers and authentic sawmill equipment designed for massive ripping power.┬ The mere appearance of these mechanical monsters conjures ghastly images,┬ made even more powerful because the beholder's brain automatically "fills-in-the-blanks" upon seeing them at a place where mayhem is to be expected!
Another first-time visit for us was the┬ HAUNTED FOREST OF BAVARIA┬ in┬ FRANKENMUTH,┬ which was added on to their┬ ADVENTURE PARK┬ which features┬ THRILLING ZIP LINE FLIGHTS┬ that have been getting rave reviews on┬ Yelp┬ and such.┬ CROSSOVER MADNESS.┬ (This same outfit offers another┬ ADVENTURE PARK┬ location in┬ BLOOMFIELD HILLS┬ too, much closer to┬ DETROIT.)
Even as we experience some losses this year, we're also getting rumblings about a former major haunt in┬ Michigan┬ that could be re-opening in 2016. And there's some possible┬ REALLY BIG NEWS┬ about what's going to happen to the┬ TOLEDO MARKET┬ that we can't spill quite yet too...so stayed tuned!
THE ZIOPTIS STATE OF THE INDUSTRY ADDRESS 2014
The awards seemed pointless this year.
Yes. For starters, it would have meant MANY DUPLICATE AWARDS.
The LEVEL OF EXCELLENCE ACROSS THE BOARD is astonishing!
And it's strange - we kind of just take that for granted because we just happen to be in┬ DETROIT - THE WORLD CAPITAL OF HAUNTED HOUSES.
So just kind of informal this time - let's start with some GREAT NEWS that we were afraid was going to be another major loss to the industry.
McCURDY'S REVENGE┬ in┬ CORUNNA┬ was back for 2014, after unexpectedly vanishing a few years ago after a┬ FABULOUS RUN WITH A KILLER HAUNT.
Turns out they lost their previous building, and just needed to re-group with their┬ GIANT ARMY OF VOLUNTEERS┬ at the new location.┬ A SURE WINNER!
Then we had the┬ WORLD CLASS STEALTH CREATURE┬ following us closely, BUT NEVER BEING SEEN at the┬ HAUNTED FUNERAL HOME┬ in┬ INKSTER.
That could have easily┬ WON AN ACTING AWARD, but then again so also could the new acting crew at┬ THE REALM OF DARKNESS┬ in┬ PONTIAC.┬ They were the SURPRISE BREAKOUT for 2014, hitting you with an amazing array of skills to take you on an emotional roller coaster.┬ We busted our gut laughing our butts off, then just as quickly it got ULTRA CREEPY and then turned to breathless AMAZING PHYSICAL FEATS.┬ A GIANT SUCCESS.
Thinking of more┬ GIANTS IN THE INDUSTRY┬ -┬ THE HAUNT┬ in┬ GRAND RAPIDS┬ continues to raise the bar, and actually invented a MAJOR haunt industry actor tool with their┬ FrightLite.┬ Another innovation at┬ THE HAUNT┬ is their┬ FABULOUS STAGE SHOW┬ in the waiting area, with Hollywood grade lighting and dancers.┬ STUNNING!
Closer to Detroit┬ we really like┬ HUSH, a dynamic young haunt on the move in┬ WESTLAND┬ that┬ combines science and insanity┬ in a way that leaves you wanting more -┬ SMART MOVE.
The┬ PHYSICAL THRILL FACTOR┬ was excellent at┬ ST. CHARLES VILLAGE OF THE LIVING DEAD┬ in┬ ST. CHARLES,┬ which has the advantage of an army of volunteers to make new magic every year.
And the┬ WYANDOTTE JAYCEES┬ are still at it in┬ WYANDOTTE,┬ using a different building every year as they show up on the soon-to-be-demolished list the city provides them with!
BESTMAZE┬ in┬ WILLIAMSTON┬ changed their show completely again, except for the black hole which all haunts usually keep once they have it because it's so effective.┬ EACH MAZE IS AN ARTPIECE, and state-of-the-art maze techniques are used playing on natural human tendencies┬ -┬ CLEVER.
A haunt with standout creepy acting┬ is┬ REALM OF HAUNTED MINDS┬ in┬ ROMULUS.┬ There's also a miniature city with various buildings, a pirate/ghost ship big enough to get on and sail away to fantasy land, and a train that can be boarded too making an┬ EXCITING ADVENTURE LAND FOR KIDS!
There was┬ MAJOR NEW BLOOD┬ with the┬ brand new massive┬ DARK LEGACY┬ in┬ WIXOM,┬ but we just lost┬ THE SCREAM MACHINE in┬ TAYLOR┬ and┬ THE EXTREME SCREAM┬ which vanished without a trace a few years ago after its last run in┬ Waterford.
Also gone was┬ HOUSE OF FEAR┬ in┬ HAZEL PARK,┬ a volunteer haunt that had truly incredible presentations - we loved the wooden radio that played old music backwards and the couch that got caught in a hurricane as soon as you sat in it.
On the other hand, also brand new for 2014 was┬ BONADEO FARMS HAUNTED HOUSE & HAUNTED CORN MAZE┬ in┬ HIGHLAND┬ which is off to a great start.
TERROR ON 27┬ in┬ ASHLEY┬ totally blew us away in 2014, with a triple feature freak out fun fest that also features a cool photo opp you stage yourself. Now that┬ THE HAUNTING┬ in┬ ADRIAN┬ is gone, we need a new haunt that's a little ways out to hit that┬ REALLY DELIVERS THE GOODS┬ ÔÇ“ and┬ TERROR ON 27┬ has never let us down.
SLAUGHTERHOUSE┬ in┬ FOWLERVILLE┬ has created their own special blend of hayrides and an amazingly creative haunt that mixes magic and comedy to great effect. The stories run the gamut, and are both engaging and incredible with visuals to match.┬ A GIANT FAVORITE!
Another trip in that neck of the woods that's become MUST SEE for us includes┬ A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD┬ in┬ WEBBERVILLE,┬ BONEYARD┬ in┬ STOCKBRIDGE,┬ and┬ SHAWHAVEN FARM┬ in┬ MASON.
KRAZY HILDA'S TRAIL OF TERRORS┬ in┬ YPSILANTI┬ may have secured its long-term future with their new collaboration with┬ PANAMA FARMS┬ as their new site with amazing potential. With the right moves, they could easily become the┬ BLAKE'S┬ of the┬ west side.
BLAKE'S┬ in┬ ARMADA┬ is a giant of the industry that has already realized an amazing potential, but still continues to evolve anyways - because that's what leaders do.
Two other outdoor haunts that are also first class are in the same city of┬ LENOX TWP.┬ HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR and SCREAMFEST SCARE PARK┬ are both thriving, and may seem like competitors but actually help each other by both delivering the goods in different ways and bringing mass traffic to the area.
OHIO┬ is also jam packed with great haunts,┬ but our faves are┬ TERRORTOWN┬ in┬ TOLEDO,┬ GHOSTLY MANOR┬ in┬ SANDUSKY,┬ and┬ HAUNTED HYDRO┬ in┬ FREMONT.
JACKSON'S UNDERWORLD┬ in┬ JACKSON┬ opened up more of their giant building to great effect, and re-vamped the waiting area with┬ DISTORTION'S figurines┬ and a fun photo op that's also a clever promotional tool.
TERRORFIED FOREST┬ in┬ PINCKNEY┬ will be changing hands after next year, and the previously encroaching development is no longer a threat. This is one of the┬ ICONIC HAUNTS┬ that just seems to us like it should always be there if the haunt industry is healthy.
On the other hand, no single haunt can define the industry either. Consider one of the┬ BEST HAUNTS EVER that suddenly vanished,┬ THE HAUNTING┬ in┬ ADRIAN.┬ A world class master magician produced the show, but got snatched up by east coast television as he moved on to new challenges and horizons.
SCREAM PARK┬ in┬ NILES┬ is probably the┬ biggest overall multi haunted attraction in┬ Michigan┬ to our knowledge,┬ but we missed them this season opting to hit┬ GHOSTLY MANOR┬ in┬ SANDUSKY, OHIO┬ instead which also was┬ INCREDIBLE.┬ (Reviews 2014_B) If you've never seen┬ SCREAM PARK, you NEED to go see this extravaganza for yourself! Our first time was in 2013 - see Reviews 2013_B.
In the┬ Downriver area┬ PSYCHO PATH┬ in┬ FLAT ROCK┬ totally changed their show,┬ and┬ PHANTOM FOREST HAYRIDES┬ in┬ GROSSE ILE┬ cranked it to eleven this time!
The┬ FLINT AREA┬ is densely packed with haunts, so only the best survive. The big splash 2nd year new kid is┬ EXIT 13┬ with their new owner that has massive plans,┬ and another newbie we love is┬ CLIO MANOR HAUNTED HOUSE.┬ The makeup and lighting at CLIO MANOR are sublime.
THE CRYPT, ST. LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM & 13 FEET UNDER┬ are all going strong with excellent shows, but we still miss the┬ LOCH LOMOND PROJECT┬ forest walk which was across the street from┬ ST. LUCIFER'S.
On the other hand,┬ BURTON HAUNTED FOREST┬ also in the┬ Flint area┬ is a┬ FANTASTIC VOLUNTEER HAUNT, and has been approached by┬ ABC-TV.
Successful off-season haunted events were staged by industry leaders┬ EREBUS and REALM OF DARKNESS┬ both in┬ PONTIAC,┬ as well as┬ HUSH┬ in┬ WESTLAND┬ and┬ EXIT 13┬ in┬ FLINT.
Lastly, we'd like to applaud the haunts where the owners are also actors in their haunts. We might be missing some, and if so let us know - but these special haunts are┬ THE HAUNTED HYDRO┬ in┬ FREMONT, OHIO,┬ HAUNTED FUNERAL HOME┬ in┬ INKSTER,┬ THE BONE YARD┬ in┬ STOCKBRIDGE,┬ and┬ A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ROAD┬ in┬ WEBBERVILLE.
TOP AWARDS FOR 2013
MOST AMAZING HAUNT OF THE YEAR - SLAUGHTER HOUSE, FOWLERVILLE┬ (Off-the-hook creativity, top flight illusions, gut-busting comedy, effective magic, lavish fire blasts, fabulous UFO gag, 14 foot fall corn!)
SCARIEST HAUNT OF THE YEAR - REALM┬ OF DARKNESS, PONTIAC┬ (with 7 GOTCHA! moments. Honorable Mention - The Haunt, Grand Rapids with 6 GOTCHA! moments.)
BEST ACTING - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS (Very quick on their feet.)
BEST AMBIENCE - THE REALM OF DARKNESS, PONTIAC (Subtle lighting expertises, authentic feel in medieval & cave sequences.)
BEST ANIMAL ACTOR - LAKE EERIE HAYRIDE, BROWNSTOWN TWP. (For the adorable pug dog in the meat grinder, with his bright smiling face!)
BEST ANIMAL PORTRAYAL BY AN ACTOR - SINISTER HAUNTED HOUSE, UTICA (For the amazing cannibalistic chicken man.)
BEST ANIMATRONICS - TERRORTOWN, MAUMEE, OHIO (Uses ONLY devices they make.)
BEST ATTENTION TO DETAIL - THE REALM OF DARKNESS, PONTIAC (Museum-like feel permeates haunt, genuine antique props.)
BEST BANG-FOR-THE-BUCK - SCREAM PARK, NILES
BEST CHAINSAW ATTACK - SINISTER HAUNTED HOUSE, UTICA (Highly acrobatic actor flies about room with slow strobe.)
BEST CHOREOGRAPHY - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS (Fabulous original dance routine performed every 20 minutes in waiting area.)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - HAUNTED HYDRO, FREMONT, OHIO (Excellent retro film featuring "brand new" circa 1950 Ford automobiles in shocking crime scenes around town.)
BEST COMEDY - SLAUGHTER HOUSE, FOWLERVILLE (Laugh riot juxtaposition with ghastly live events.)
BEST CREEPY ACTOR - SINISTER HAUNTED HOUSE, UTICA (Gravity challenged girl who invents her own language.)
BEST FACADE - EREBUS, PONTIAC (Hideous giant thrashing creature hanging from top, waiting line visible from street, search lights.)
BEST FOREST WALK - KRAZY HILDA'S TRAIL OF TERROR, CHELSEA
BEST HAYRIDE - HAUNTED FARM OF TERROR, LENOX TWP.
BEST INNOVATION - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS (FrightLite low voltage, wearable LED hand-triggered illuminator - Patent Pending)
BEST LIGHTING - EREBUS, PONTIAC (The Swamp & Dancing Laser Mirrored Maze.)
BEST MAGIC - SLAUGHTER HOUSE, FOWLERVILLE
BEST MAKEUP - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS
BEST MISDIRECTION - THE REALM OF DARKNESS, PONTIAC
BEST NETWORKING, TERRORTOWN, MAUMEE, OHIO (Landed them a gig with Rob Zombie to help create his haunt in California this year.)
BEST ORIGINAL COSTUME - HOUSE OF FEAR, HAZEL PARK (Fergus The Reaper custom made costume allows him to suddenly grow VERY tall!)
BEST PACING - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS (Gradual┬ and┬ rapid flawless transitions, no bottle-necking.)
BEST PHYSICAL THRILLS - EXIT 13, FLINT (You ARE warned it's coming!)
BEST SHOCK VALUE ACTOR - ST. LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM, FLINT (Cute, well endowed large girl has left arm removed in ghastly realistic experiment.)
BEST SOUND - SCREAM PARK, NILES
BEST SOUNDTRACK - THE HAUNT, GRAND RAPIDS
BEST VOICE QUALITY - ST. LUCIFER'S HAUNTED ASYLUM (Nurse in opening scene with perfect enunciation, pleasing inflection and mannerisms.)
BEST WITCHES - LAKE EERIE HAUNTED HAYRIDE, BROWNSTOWN TWP.
TALLEST CORN - SLAUGHTER HOUSE, FOWLERVILLE (14 feet tall, the biggest in Michigan to our knowledge.)