Well guys – I have emerged on the other end of running Intervention: The Premier Showcase of Online Creativity so expect more frequent posts now. Also since it’s one of the things that makes life worth it for me: HAUNTED HOUSES.
Harknell and I had the opportunity to check out Nightmare Mansion in Virginia Beach, VA this Summer. This haunted attraction is not on the boardwalk itself, but just a block away in an area where a lot of the main traffic flows through. (2008 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451)
Here are some more shots of the outside:
This haunted attraction reminded us a little bit of the (now defunct) Grimm House in Kissimmee, Florida insofar as it had one actor in the house following you through. This is not a bad thing – many haunted attractions that are open outside of the Halloween season are structured like this. The houses are generally built with a walkway in the back of the house so that one actor can appear throughout in a seamless way. This can work better than you might think.
We had fun in here because we love messing off inside haunts – but you should not expect this to be a full scale haunt. If you expect a full scale haunt you will be disappointed. We expected a seaside haunt and then when it met that expectation we were OK with it. I believe we were in there for about 15 minutes. I am a big advocate of people knowing that there are different types of haunted attractions. I think that it does no one any good to expect the same type of thing in every haunted house. There are theatrical haunts, extreme haunts, high scare haunts, classic haunts, and more.
This one is definitely a seaside-style haunt that is optimized for this type of operation. In English what I mean is that it’s made to operate with a lower overhead so that it can stay open for the entire summer. If you like haunted attractions like we do and are in the area this is a variant on the concept that you should maybe check out – especially since there is a Pirate Dark Ride a few blocks away that I will review later. I would not recommend that you should travel 7 hours to see this like we did.
Unless there are big changes I couldn’t justify driving back all of that way to see this again. The attraction itself seemed to need some maintenance and the actor inside was just trash talking throughout. There was no real skill involved with the scares. Ideally I would like to see the interior restored a little bit so that even though it’s just one actor in there there might be more things to see inside to make it memorable.
That said, there was one thing that I really didn’t particularly care for. It’s just $8 per person to go through. But after you go through the actor inside made me aware at the end of the attraction that he works just for tips.
The reason that I did not like this are twofold – and it’s not about the cost. I have money and would gladly pay whatever.
First, I was unsure if he was being serious or not. After being messed with for 10-15 minutes it really breaks the flow of the attraction to have serious words come out of the same actor’s mouth. It’s tough to know if it’s a part of the show and another joke or not. We were confused at first.
Secondly, I did not like that this was not posted or articulated to us before we went in. I rarely carry cash on me anymore. I would have felt like a colossal jerk if I had gone through and not been able to tip anything. This really puts the customer in an awkward position. You want the customers to leave laughing and talking about the attraction, not confused and down a few more dollars than they were planning to spend. Advance notice would also probably get the actor better tips. This is the only haunted attraction I have ever been through that had tips at the end so it was totally unexpected and honestly – it left us feeling surprised / weird.
That said, just know that they ask for tips at the end and you won’t be confused like we were.
I am not sure what their Fall hours are. Their Facebook page does note that they have Fall hours but does not indicate them. Your best bet is to give them a call to make sure they are open before venturing out @ (757) 428-3327.
I definitely feel that you should support off-season haunts like these even though this one did not blow me away. The verdict is that I want to love this one but it needs some TLC and seems to be on autopilot. I have such conflicted emotions about this one. We had fun because we didn’t expect a lot.
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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