We had last gone to Corner of Chaos back in 2010. In 2010 it was a good haunt. I am pleased to report that since then they have made many changes and additions which made Corner of Chaos in East Windsor, New Jersey even better. Thus far, their scare actors have been the best I have seen on a farm haunt and evoked the level of quality we saw at Busch Gardens Tampa this year.
Corner of Chaos features four haunted attractions: three self-guided walking mazes (The Nightmare Machine, Wooded Wasteland, and Barbaric Barnyard) and one guided wagon tour (Wicked Wagon Ride). The wagon ride is new to us as it was not here in 2010. The other mazes also have had significant changes.
Let’s break it down:
The atmosphere at CoC is better than most. I believe this is due to the ridiculously high quality scare actors they hire. They have some scare actors roaming in the midway; The first person you might encounter is a skeleton man on stilts. When you enter the midway, you’ll see a souvenir booth on the right, Port o Johns, a covered area of tables, and a psychic is on the left. In front of you will be a sign that directs you to their 4 attractions. There is a concession stand off to the back left that serves traditional Halloween fair food like funnel cakes, hot apple cider, and food truck-style food.
There is a path that leads you to the right. On the left of that path is a big bonfire–this is very handy this time of year and it can be quite cold in NJ and can reach into the 40s or 30s at night. If you continue down the path you will run into the Barbaric Barnyard and another concession stand.
There are about 4 or 5 roaming actors that are something special beyond anything else we have seen. You will know them because one of the women wears a big wedding dress. They are actually a roaming scare actor a capella music group. Do not miss the chance to see them. You can imagine our surprise when they came up to us while we are in line and busted out with a medley of “This is Halloween” and “Ghostbusters”. They were very skilled. I had flashes of our recent trip in Orlando as us “Jersey assholes” gave them an uncharacteristically exuberant round of applause.
We do have a small criticism of the Midway. We felt it should have had brighter lighting on some of the decorations, and better illumination of the walkways. I think they had some hearses and other things set up to add atmosphere, but it was really tough seeing what they were because it was so dim. In addition to that, they had 3 stages with various shows and music. The times these shows played was not listed on their website or at the event. We saw (heard) some of the band while we were in line, but the other 2 shows we weren’t sure when they would be going on. We didn’t end up getting to see them. I would suggest that they put up a sign near each stage that lists the show times.
The Nightmare Machine:
The nightmare machine was good, but I would recommend doing this one first as it is the least intense. You’ll find clowns and all kinds of things on this lengthy trail. The set design was very creative and good. The group behind us almost went insane, I think.
We had done the 2010 version of this maze and found it to be good. I believe the experience was better this year. They added many new things. My memory isn’t good enough to precisely compare 2010 and 2012, but I think they put more people above your head this year. They had some cool “toxic waste” costumes that lit up on a few people, and the sets were good. Again, the scare actors here are insane. One guy came down over our head and started singing “WHAT I WANT OR MY BIRTHDAY IS A BIG BOOTY GIRLLLL!” and we almost fell over laughing.
I firmly believe that narrative and sometimes funny encounters with scare actors make up the best haunts. We have that here.
The Barbaric Barnyard is NUTS. Do this one last. It is the most intense. This one highlighted to me how poor the scares were this year at Universal Studios. Harknell and I go through hundreds of these attractions, so we are a bit harder to scare than your average person. We can generally walk through the scariest places like a warm Summer’s day.
The Barbaric Barnyard whipped our ass.
Owned. Destroyed. Obliterated. Where’s my Mommy?
Did I mention it’s almost 100% different from the 2010 version that was still good back then? Yeah.
The actors in here were TIGHT. They were working together and signaling each other. I said, “Oh hell no!” and a guy pops out and says, “OH HELL YES!!!” I think the Barbaric Barnyard may be one of if not the best attraction we have ever gone through. We were totally blown away with the quality and intensity of the scares in here.
DO NOT MISS THIS ONE.
Wicked Wagon Ride:
This attraction is where (I believe) there used to be a long trail. The trail has been converted into a queue that leads down into a wagon ride. It’s not a typical hayride where you sit inward on the car. They have you facing outward with your legs dangling off of the wagon. This is a great idea – Harknell and I have been saying for years that farms should modify the hay rides to face outward. That’s the direction you are looking at, after all.
A narrator is on the cart with you. We had Betty Rage. She had a microphone with speakers that were good. I say this because most hayrides we encounter seem to have broken speakers and no narrator. CoC got it right.
Most hayrides are underwhelming to us because they rely on just the scenes flying past you while a busted-ass speaker fuzzes around. The scenes on The Wicked Wagon Ride aren’t the scariest you will encounter, but the fact that they have a narrator and stellar scare actors made it something special. It makes me wonder if there is a theater program that these guys hire from. The end queue of this ride appears to exit where the 2010 version of The Wooded Wasteland used to exit. We enjoyed it a lot.
One note: they have a certain “Something Awful” designed entity in this area, you are warned….
CoC gets it right. They inject narrative. They also pulse you through in small groups. (NOTE: Pulsing is what the best haunts do to avoid the conga line where you may miss scares. This does naturally result in slightly longer waits. Make sure you dress warm.)
I have a list of haunts that I recommend to people who don’t have much money to go haunting. That list has to answer the question “If I can only go to one haunt this season, which one should I go to?” Obviously those have to deliver. CoC is on that list. The atmosphere is better than most, their scare actors are as good as the best of the best. The Barbaric Barnyard is insane. Do not miss the a capella group.
Some pix from the event:
NOTE: This attraction gave us press passes to attend for free. This does not affect our review in any way. We work for our readers and no one else. Read our commitment to you here.
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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