You can imagine our excitement when we heard that Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, NJ had spent 1 million dollars on a new haunted attraction. The Ghost Ship opened this past May. We traveled to Wildwood over the 4th of July to check it out.
This attraction was marketed as a real haunted house with an immersive storyline in which children under 12 are discouraged from entering. There are some good things and bad things about this attraction.
The Ghost Ship has a really great exterior. They do have some scare actors running around outside to sell the attraction which is very awesome.
Storyline is a very important and often overlooked component to the best haunted houses. i was almost sure that this would be a great attraction after hearing that they invested in creating a great storyline. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Why? Poor execution. I still don’t quite understand what the storyline is or who or what “Ignus Fatuus” is or why it’s written on the side of the ship. It’s not scary or immersive to have to Google that after you get home to figure out what is going on.
The story was very weakly communicated. There is a pre-show where some guy talks about some kind of meltdown, but it was really quick and most of our group couldn’t even hear what was being said very well. It’s a shame that they spent all of this time on a great storyline but failed to communicate it well to their customers. This house was a quick video an amalgamation of random scenes.
The attraction itself is very big with plenty of space to set up scares, especially distraction scares. It was very large, so it’s baffling to me that they would only put approximately 8 scare actors inside the entire attraction. This house was a ghost town – no pun intended. It’s not as if I went at a random time – I was here on the 4th of July. This is one of America’s biggest holidays. The boardwalk was packed. I had to drive around for an hour to just find parking. I have to assume that this is their full staff. If it wasn’t their full staff, then shame on them for operating the house in such a a state and shame on them for charging ($10-$12 depending on what ticket package you purchased) to enter.
My money got me a lot of empty hallways, puffs of water or air, and rooms of animatronics. Part of the house was open air in the sunlight, so it wasn’t that scary at all. I can grant them a pass here, but the majority of the attraction was indoors. It felt like I was walking through an empty Halloween Superstore watching the things for sale in the aisles rather than being inside a haunted attraction. I don’t understand why you would spend 1 million on a house and totally cheap out on the scare actors.
You can make a cheap house and put great scare actors in it and have a great attraction. A great house that is badly staffed may as well not even exist.
In addition to the lack of scare actors, the scares themselves just weren’t set up very well. I’m a haunt fiend. I’ve been through over 70 houses in the past 3 years. I kept thinking they were setting me up for a distraction scare but it never came. Nothing ever happened. The painful thing is that I could see where they should have people and how they should use the spaces, but they just weren’t doing it. I am easily scared and no one even came close to scaring me in this house. This certainly would only scare the most nervous of children.
As I have said, there are some good things and bad things about this attraction. Unfortunately, the bad things overwhelmed the good things. Our entire group left the attraction feeling let down. The absolutely awful Headless Horseman attraction sucked, but even it had better houses than this because they actually hired people to work inside them.
What hurts me the most is that small changes could quickly make this attraction an amazing must-see. The designers of this attraction need to go to Busch Gardens Tampa or The Bates Motel in Philadelphia where they do excellent, terrifying houses on a budget and study how it can be done. Small changes like simply adding more actors and tightening up the scenes would easily make this attraction the best attraction in the northeast. As it is now, it’s just a great proof of concept in a great facility that isn’t worth the $10-12 ticket price at all.
Oni Hartstein is a Los Angeles-based CMO and entrepreneur that is obsessed with progressive rock / metal, marketing, and nightlife. Please direct all business inquiries or review requests to the "Contact" tab on the top nav bar.
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