Thursday, October 6, 2016

Face Your Worst Fears at Dorney Park's 2016 Halloween Haunt

The ghouls are back!  One of the most anticipated parts of Dorney Park's season has quickly become Halloween Haunt, where guests can face more creepies and monsters then ever before.  Now in its 9th season, Halloween Haunt has grown to include eight different haunted mazes, three menacing scare-zones, three different live shows, special food offerings and 25 of the park's famous rides.

The 2016 edition of Halloween Haunt features two new houses, additional decorations throughout the park and improvements and changes to several returning attractions.  NewsPlusNotes was able to check out the Haunt recently so let's dig in, shall we?

One of this year's new haunted houses is Blood on the Bayou, themed to the famous French Quarter of New Orleans in the late 1800s.  The haunt's facade is a stately mansion like you would find on many streets in the city, though this one is hiding many dark secrets.  The mansion belongs to Madam Laveau and she's attempting to cleanse her house of evil spirits brought by Baron Samedi, spirits that are caught between the worlds of the living and the dead.  Also, they're not too happy about their current situation, naturally.

The battle between the living and spirits intensifies as guests move through the mansion and into the darkened bayou where Baron Samedi has set up camp - being entertained by his collected souls and attempting to add to them.

Blood on the Bayou is elaborately themed, and while I don't want to give away any secrets for those who haven't visited yet, there are plenty of unique costumes, animatronics, crazy scares and sets.  The bayou portion really has water under it, and guests move through several different structures in the area that keep sightlines just how the park wants them - limited for scares!  The house is a real testament to the recent attractions the park has created, truly on a "next level" when compared to some of the older ones.

The park's second new attraction for 2016 is Urgent Scare, which started the season known as The Ward.  Urgent Scare replaces The Asylum, but is in the same location and has some overlapping themes.  However, the Asylum was focused on the patients that were running amok in the hospital setting, whereas Urgent Scare shows visitors just what can happen when the hospital staff goes bad.

And they've gone really bad!  This haunt features a creepy hospital setting that includes tortured patients, disorienting sections, a rotating tunnel (or are you rotating?) and more.  The Asylum was long one of Haunt's most popular, and so far Urgent Scare is proving to be another new favorite.

For those who want even more fright when they visit Halloween Haunt, the park offers Fright Lane passes that give access to six different Skeleton Key rooms - two of which are brand new this year.  The Skeleton Key rooms give guests a shot at going though "tight spaces, uncomfortable situations and unforgettable encounters" while at the park.  Its a premium experience, so Fright Lane passes do have a cost above general admission, but also include front of the line passes for all the haunts.  There's pretty much no way I'd experience Halloween Haunt without them!

Above is a photo taken deep in the heart of Cut Throat Island, a scare zone filled with gigantic pirate ship parts along with plenty of drunken pirates, sirens, and frightened townsfolk.  This attraction has a new Skeleton Key room this year, which you have to experience for yourself... but I will say that it is one of the grossest I have encountered so far!  The Mansion House Hotel also features a new seance for its Skeleton Key room, complete with ghostly recordings on everyone's cell phone that can't be heard until later.

Age of Darkness also has one of the most intense Skeleton Key rooms, technically back again this year after a 2015 debut.  Set within the torture chamber side street of the scare zone, the room is quite literally in your face... though you can't see much of what's going on!  Again, I won't ruin anything but it's another good scare.

Also back from its premier last season is Trick or Treat, an indoor haunted house filled with witches and the trick-or-treaters they're holding captive.  This house also features elaborate sets and decorated rooms, which quickly move from quirky to dark and sinister as the attraction progresses.  Last year the Skeleton Key room was a gross-out based on touch, however this year it's been kicked up a notch.  I'll just say that I've never eaten anything like that before!

I mentioned earlier that the overall feel of Halloween Haunt this year is the best it has been in years, with new decorations in the park along with the haunts.  Here (and sorry for the bad photo) are some beautiful jack-o-lanters that are hung in the mature trees down near the entrance to CornStalkers.  They flicker in the night air and add so much to the feeling of the event.  A subtle, but great addition for sure.

And while on the subject of CornStalkers, it is back again this year with the tagline of Barn Bred & Blood Fed.  Guests enter into Mama's House, and if partaking in the Skeleton Key room, learn more about Mama's large family (some of which have gone missing) and their endless hunger... and yes you should be worried about just what they are eating!  After Mama's house it's time to head out into the corn fields for some exploring, and if you survive that then there's till the barn to get through.  Watch out: gore ahead!

It seems everyone has a fear of clowns these days, and the park's scare zone CarnEVIL is ready to play on those fears.  This is one of the scare zones that was modified this year to make an even creepier environment, if that's even possible when you're talking about clowns!  The scare zone has been located just in the Hydra Plaza area, but this year added some territory and now extends down the walkway adjacent to the backside of Planet Snoopy.

That walkway is fairly narrow and is now lined in red and white stripe walls along with sinister looking colored lights.  There are large props located along the stretch, off putting lighting along with carnival music which to me is inherently scary.  Plus, they fill the area with fog so that gives the demented clowns even more ways to scare!  Definitely a huge plus for this year's CarnEVIL!

There's also plenty of live entertainment if you need a rest from all the haunted houses while at Haunt.  Returning this year is both Blood Drums and Skeleton Crew, which continue to draw in the crowds.  New this year is The Awakening: Power Struggle, where the parks monsters battle for control of the park in four separate short shows.

Dorney Park also hosts a special ticketed meal inside the Mansion House Hotel haunt, reservations required, along with Fright Feast - and all-you-can-eat meal served nightly.  Remember, it's important to fuel up in order to survive the scares!

Halloween Haunt is not recommended for younger children, however the park does feature The Great Pumpkin Fest during the day - perfect for families looking for scare-free fun.

If you're planning a visit to Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park, make sure to plan out your evening before going - happy hauntings!