We have 2 more haunted attraction reviews to get out. If you’ve been keeping up on my posts, you know what happened to me recently that has had me tied up for the last few weeks. :(
I had some issues with Dorney Park a while back and so they had given me tickets to come back and check out the park during Dorney Park Haunt this past year. We got to attend on Sunday October 27th, 2013 – their last day of operation. Harknell and I chose to buy up and take part in the Mansion House Meal experience in which you get to eat dinner inside one of their haunted houses – the Mansion House Hotel.
I hadn’t heard that much about Dorney Park Haunt. Their marketing materials seemed to be the same from park to park and year to year, so I think I had just dismissed it as a low priority. I am glad that I was encouraged to visit by park management, because I had the opportunity to find out that I was wrong. Dorney Park Haunt was a lot of fun. In my opinion the Mansion House Meal makes this event a can’t miss.
I’ll explain what went down:
Dorney Park Haunt: Haunted Houses
The haunted houses were better than we expected. The have 7 of them: Bloodshed, Cornstalkers, Desolation, Grave Walkers, Mansion House Hotel, Psycho Circus, and The Asylum. I would place them about on the same level as Busch Gardens Williamsburg in terms of scares and execution. The scares aren’t as intense as Busch Gardens Tampa, but they were enjoyable and well worth your time.
The Mansion House hotel is clearly the main attraction with the best actors. Grave Walkers had an amazing open concept where you could make your own path about a graveyard. Bloodshed had an attention to detail (including water effects for dripping blood) that we haven’t seen in the many other hillbilly haunts out there. Psycho Circus and The Asylum were ok. Desolation was their worst haunt, and probably worth skipping. Cornstalkers coudl have been the best, but it wasn’t running properly when we went through.
One thing that happened on this night was strange. We went through the Mansion House hotel twice. First it was a part of the Mansion House Meal experience, so the actors knew we all had paid extra to be there. The second time we went through later in the night there were only 3 actors in the entire house. I don’t know if they were on break or what. We encountered a similar situation with Cornstalkers. There were maybe 3 actors in the entire maze. The Cornstalkers maze itself was very well designed. I would have loved to have seen it with actors in it. My suggestion to park management is to make sure your actors are all in place before allowing customers to go through.
All in all, we had a great time and hope to return.
Dorney Park Haunt: Scarezones
They had 3 scarezones: Age of darkness, Cut Throat Island, and Headhunters. All of these were incredibly well done. They had props, animatronics, and lots of actors. They beat every other park in it’s class this year for great scarezones. I wish more parks would put this level of effort into their scarezones!
One negative that we ran into probably ties into the marketing of the event. Every other park we have worked with allows photography and videos in the main walkways and Scarezones. This is how you get people like me to put you on YouTube and advertise you for free. We never record inside haunted houses, but always record our journey through the main pathways.
An employee got in my face when we were walking through a scarezone and made us put our camera away. That annoyed me because at this point I was so impressed with the event that I couldn’t fathom why no one is talking about it. This is probably a contributing factor. My suggestion to park management is to re-evaluate how you engage with New Media. There is a reason that Universal studios and Busch Gardens want people putting their Scarezones on YouTube. Scarezones and actors outside of the attractions are your best advertisement for next year. I don’t really have anything to show anyone from this so you’ll just have to take my word that this was really well done.
Dorney Park Haunt: Mansion House Meal
The Mansion House Meal is the keystone that makes me recommend this event as a Can’t Miss rather than just “better than we expected”. Again, I am surprised that more people are not talking about this. You get to eat dinner in here before the event starts and you get a Fright Lane pass:
The table settings were gorgeous:
You get to interact with some ghostly actors throughout. At the end of your meal you get to go through the house first, so it looks like they eventually turn on you. :) Here is the happy couple. They chat with their Mom about the history of the house and their upcoming wedding:
The menu was:
Black Pepper Shrimp Piled on Garlic Toast Points
Baby Greens with Herbed Chevre, Candied Walnuts, Dried Cherries Served with a light Champaigne Vinnaigrette
OR Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad Accompanied by a Black Pepper Rosemary Crisp
Choice of Entree
Grilled Twin Petit Filet Mignon topped with Toasted Boursin Cheese served with Baby Carrots and Roasted Fingeling Potatoes OR Statler Chicken Breast Pan Seared Served on a Bed of Roasted Grape Tomato Compote with Grilled Asparagus and A Pancetta Buerre Blanc
Flourless Chocolate Decadent Torte with a Raspberry Coulis OR Rustic Triple Berry Crostada
Our Fright Lane Passes:
Here we are with the entire cast:
Jan Giejda (the new Executive Chef for Dorney Park) and Rachel Fegley created an event that was near flawless. The food was way above the level that I would expect from a theme park and on par with the finest restaurants we’ve eaten at. Trust me. We eat out a lot. I have allergies to lower quality ingredients and nothing here triggered any sort of reaction. In fact, most of it was among the best food I have ever had in my life, likely beating The California Grill in Orlando. Our only comment was that we felt that an alternative appetizer to shrimp should be offered because not everyone can eat shrimp.
Dorney Park Haunt was far better than we had expected on all levels.
We had a lot of fun. We did encounter some issues with missing actors in the haunts. We also feel that they should re-evaluate how they market this event and how they work with bloggers/new media because the message they are putting out is not one that we feel reflects the good quality or fun personality that this event has. What we experienced was unique, inspired, and certainly deserving of a jewel in the crown of good theme park haunts on the east coast.
I live nearby and had no idea that the Mansion House Meal existed until the week before we attended. That was only because I was researching deeply for this blog. We believe that the Mansion House Meal is an amazingly well done and revolutionary concept that makes a good haunted event into a great one. A great time was had and we will most certainly be back. Thanks to everyone who made this evening possible!
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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