New Jersey hasn’t been a hotbed of haunted attractions since Hurricane Sandy hit us a few years back. The Hollowgraves Haunted Manor used to be located at Seaside Heights, which was devastated by the storm. After being rescued and crane lifted out of there, it found a new home at Keansburg Amusement Park in Keansburg, New Jersey. Funny enough, it’s currently located directly across from where my beloved vintage 1920s era Pretzel Spook House once was (and is hopefully being restored for next season).
This is Hollowgraves Haunted Manor after being rescued from Seaside Heights:
I wasn’t expecting miracles given all that has happened to this house. I was very surprised that not only was there no evidence of the past hurricane trauma – the craftsmanship on Hollowgraves Haunted Manor is top notch. They exceeded every expectation that I had about this house.
It costs 7 tickets to get in. A ticket is 75 cents each. Note that they do not take the wristbands, so if you buy a wristband from the park you will still need to get tickets for this attraction.
Full disclosure: They knew we were coming (photo by John Watt):
The house looks and feels old and scary in the right way. I am very tired of the modern trend of rainbow coloring everything. These guys did it right and kept a good level of texture and contrast within each scene. They even had a pre-show.
Seriously, guys? A haunted attraction in a beach side amusement park has a pre-show. In 2014. Do you realize how that almost never happens? That happens here.
I understand that depending on the night that you go there may be different numbers of actors inside. I recommend picking a Friday / Saturday / Sunday which is probably their peak volume days to check it out. The attraction itself is designed so well that it can really function optimally with any number of actors in there. This is not a simple haunted attraction where you go through and one guy screams at you in each scene – they actually created lavish scenes in each room such that you can be led through by the actor and then you get to watch certain things happen before they chase you. It really is an ingenious way to take a beach side haunt up a notch. There is no theme exactly, but there is a story in each room that works harmoniously with the actors who are there.
If I were planning this one out I’d joke while working on it that I was building in an insurance policy. Each room has something that is worth your time no matter what the physical actors are doing. Almost every other haunt in this class relies on people just screaming in your face for no reason. This is a breakthrough because it deviates from that formula and creates a landscape that you just do not expect to encounter in an attraction with this small of a footprint. When you are inside the place feels big. The pathway inside is optimized so taht you are moving through a longer path than you might expect from the outside. I’d say it takes about 15 minutes.
The actors themselves were very good. They understood how to lead you and to give you time to take in what you were seeing.
I can’t recommend Hollowgraves Haunted Manor enough. Summer season haunts tend to be minimal because of the variability of the clientele volume. These guys figured out a way to take that financial climate and optimize it so it feels like a premium experience in the off season. That’s something I never would have expected. Seriously, they did something here in this class of haunted attraction that I have NEVER SEEN BEFORE.
Summer season is over for now. They are currently open from Fridays starting at 6PM and weekends starting at noon. Check their Facebook page out for more details.
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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