I had the opportunity to check out The Shallow Grave in Winter Haven, Florida on October 9th, 2015. They have 2 haunts: ADHD (Attention Deficit Haunt Disorder) and Haunted Hills: The Rage. They actually cultivated a pretty detailed back story that you can check out here.
The Shallow Grave is located about 49 minutes south of Orlando and has 2 haunts. I felt that both haunts were really well-designed. In some ways the sets reminded me of Netherworld in Atlanta. While not as large as Netherworld (because absolutely nothing I have seen so far is) you can definitely see the care that they took to construct and plan each room. The set pieces were very well placed and it did feel like each room was a different place rather than a different room in a warehouse. They let customers in 6 at a time and do not conga line people through, which is good. They also had at least 5 scare actors out front scaring and posing for photo ops.
ADHD is exactly what it sounds like it is – it’s a nightmare of varying rooms that switch themes at a moment’s notice. This is supposed to be your tormented mind after you evade their icon, Thaddeus. I did this haunt first, but I believe it’s supposed to come second in the story. In here you’ll find much of the more fantastical monsters, clowns, and wild insanity.
Normally I would say that it’s odd that they switched themes from room to room. Many haunts so this and it’s a thing that I usually give the side-eye at. That isn’t the case here because the entire point of the haunt was an ADHD nightmare and they even created a back story to go along with it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – narrative makes a haunt. Tell me a story. Yeah, they have that down.
ADHD was a good choice because it allows them to get creative with a wide spread of monsters in a geographical area that I feel is under served when it comes to indie haunts. This is needed. Theme park haunts are what most Floridians seem to be familiar with. Theme parks are great but there’s an entire scope of Holy Shit that theme parks won’t ever be able to do that the indie haunt can and will do. Where I live in the northeast it’s the opposite – most people know indie haunts and look at theme parks strangely. My travels have really shown me the difference in how haunts are regarded on the eastern seaboard. Since I was a sociology major this kind of thing fascinate me.
But I digress.
Haunted Hills: The Rage
Haunted Hills: The Rage was more of a linear story about their icon, Thaddeus who is a cannibal during the Great Depression. Again, the haunt was well-staged and the actors were in good places that I felt complimented the props rather than doubled up on where the props were. That’s pretty important and something I have seen many haunts get wrong, so I notice when it’s done right.
You start out entering Thaddeus’ house and then you have to find your way out because HOLY CRAP cannibals and monstrous people. My only issue with both haunts was that a few of the actors were not as active as they should have been and simply stopped after an initial scare so the person in the back (me) didn’t get it as hard. The sets were done so well and everything worked together so fabulously that I don’t think most people would notice, but I am trained to notice the smallest things.
I actually think that (if the local economy can handle it) they should consider an upcharge price where you get to go in as 1 or 2 people. I think that would be something people would love and the issue I had being at the end of the line of 6 would become a non-issue.
I really liked The Shallow Grave. This is a growing haunt in the central Florida area that is poised to really show the locals some of the more freaky stuff that is done in other geographical areas. If you want to see some different types of scares than the usual theme park scares you should definitely check this one out because they are really building something Florida can be proud of. I can’t wait to see how it grows next year.
Ticket prices vary but ranges from about $15-$20 and I feel are pretty inexpensive for what is inside. You can see pricing details and learn more 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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