Category: Maryland

2013, Maryland, Oni's Favorite Things, Oni's Life, Technology

Intervention 2013: Registration rate increases June 30 at midnight – book now!

I really hope you can come to my convention this year! Intervention (a combination of the words “Internet + Convention”) is the best educational conference for DIY creators PLUS a fun gaming con. We have people who actually do cool stuff teaching you how to do it and selling their wares. Harknell and I created the event in 2010, and this will be our fourth year running the event.

If you want to learn how to DIY with technology there is no better place. If you don’t create and just want to just see the brightest and best creatives and Thought Leaders there is also no better place to meet them and purchase their stuff!

We are “The Premier Showcase of Online Creativity”.

We also have one of the best Video Gaming rooms I have ever seen. Thanks to Wes Mason and his team we have everything from a Commodore 64 hooked up to a flat panel to the most recent gaming systems. We have just added an Ouya to the room this year.

We also have board gaming programming and tournaments!

You have just until June 30th at midnight to get the lowest price for tickets to the event so it’s in your best interest to act now. Not only do you save money but your registrations and donations help us make this happen!

2013, Maryland

Intervention 2013 welcomes more guest speakers – have you registered yet?

Have you registered to hang out with us at Intervention 2013 yet? It’s this Aug. 23-25, 2013 in Rockville, MD. Conveniently located near public transportation and plenty of free parking and food options.

We have a donation program that gives you cool benefits (both at the event and some can be mailed to you even if you can’t come). So please consider donating a few bucks to the cause. Without your support the con would be a lot less awesome than it is. :D

Guests so far:

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and MAKE Magazine

Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance

Paul Sabourin of the band Paul and Storm

Raul Aguirre Jr. – Disney Animator, Man Vs. Art Podcast

Check out the full guest page here. More will definitely be announced.

And don’t forget to bring the family to our awesome Children’s Programming!

2013, Haunted Attractions, Maryland

Hallow Inc’s Urban Haunted House is gets ready for year 2 – September 2013

Hallowinc in Rockville MD has released some images for their second year of haunting. The did a great job last year. I wonder what they have planned for this year?

“The sky and earth were scorched with hopes to contain the virus.
No one could have predicted the horrific chain of events that would follow.
The infected mutated into new forms and the new strain seems unstoppable.
Darkness pervades the land and all who survive seek refuge underground.
Their solace is only temporary; fate seems to always find a way.
Mankind is on the verge of extinction.”

2012, Attractions, Florida, General, Haunted Attractions, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Reviews, Theme Parks

OniHaunts 2012 Haunted Attraction Awards

We’ve reviewed a lot of haunted houses last season. There’s small group of haunts that went above and beyond everyone else. This is our first year honoring the best of the best.

How We Judge This Thing:

Since every Haunted Attraction differs it’s kind of silly to compare all of them against each other. It would not be fair to compare Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights to a small farm haunt. We rated the haunts based on how good they were in relation to their scale.

Not every haunt that we loved got an award. Why? Winning one of these is not easy. A haunt has to truly blow us away above and beyond to get one. They have to be a haunt that not only can we recommend to anyone looking for the absolute BEST haunt experience – they have to also do something different and or better than everyone else in their class.

We figured out why these haunts were the best of the best and tailored the award to them so that the awards are also informative for both attraction owners and haunt fans.

It goes without saying that every haunt that got an award is worth your time.

The most difficult award to get from us is The Brutality Award. This award is only given to 1 haunt each year. To get it they have to basically nearly reduce both Harknell and I to tears. Considering that we go through hundreds of these and have seen it all this is not an easy task to accomplish.

Best Theme Park Halloween Festival:
Busch Gardens Howl O Scream: Tampa, Florida

The combination of passionate scare actors, team spirit, innovation, great set construction and scares puts Tampa, Florida’s Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream above all of the rest.

Innovation Award:
Third Rail Projects: Then She Fell (Formerly The Steampunk Haunted House): New York City

Not exactly a haunted attraction but we feel that discerning haunt fans will love this. We also feel that haunts could learn a thing or 2 about narrative from the Third Rail Projects folks. Then She Fell, creepy interactive theatre from New York City easily takes the Innovation Award.

Best Farm Haunt & Best Scare Actors:
Corner of Chaos: East Windsor, NJ

East Windsor’s Corner of Chaos stole both the Best Farm Haunt (largely thanks to their phenomenal Barbaric Barnyward walk through attraction) AND Best Scare Actors award. It was obvious they spent a lot of time training their actors in improv and scare tactics.

Best Atmosphere:
Nightmare on Gravity Hill: Jackson, NJ

Jackson, New Jersey’s Nightmare on Gravity Hill is a relatively new haunt but you wouldn’t know it by looking at it. Beautiful set pieces beyond anything we have ever seen grace this large farm haunted attraction.

National Treasure Award:
The Haunted Schoolhouse and Lab: Akron, OH

The Haunted Schoolhouse and Lab in Akron, Ohio wasn’t just worth the 9 hour drive for us- it was probably worth the last 30 years I have lived on this earth to get to the point where I could experience it. There is no other haunted house like this. You’ll find a mixture of classic haunted house techniques married with the unwavering passion of the family who has been doing this since the mid-70s. We believe they should be National Treasure.

Best Indie Haunt:
Easton Haunts: Allentown, PA

Probably the most underrated haunt we went to. More people should be talking about this haunt because it is a total Must See. Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Easton Haunts is a handcrafted haunt with professional execution that blew us away. You will find things inside this haunt that you will see no where else because they probably invented it themselves.

Best Haunt Complex:
Hundred Acre Manor: Pittsburgh, PA

Hundred Acre Manor in Pittsburgh, PA had amazing set pieces that you might expect to see in Orlando. The haunt was top quality, very long, and well worth anyone’s time.

Best Theme Execution:
The Scarehouse: Pittsburgh, PA

The Scarehouse in Pittsburgh, PA managed to take themes that many other haunts have used to bore us out of the realm of the cliche and turn it into something new. The professionally handcrafted and surprisingly wonderful and engaging visual and auditory vistas in this haunt were better than the rest. (If you call being scared out of your wits “wonderful”. We do.)

The Brutality Award:
Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares: Saylorsburg, PA

Finally we have the Award to end all Awards. There is no higher honor than The Brutality Award. To win this you have to reduce both Harknell and myself to probably tears, which almost never happens. You have to brutalize us.

Congratulations to Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. We love you, you sick and twisted f—s!

Honorable Mention:

The following haunts have our wholehearted stamp of approval.

Maryland – Rockville: Hallowinc Urban Haunted House
New York City: Nightmare: Killers
Pennsylvania – Lehighton: The Haunting at the Waldorf
Pennsylvania – Sinking Spring: Shocktoberfest
New Jersey – Passaic: Night-Mares/Brighton Asylum
New Jersey – Mullica Hill: Night of Terror
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia: Fright Factory
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia: Eastern State Penitentiary Terror Behind the Walls
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia: Eastern State Penitentiary Terror Behind the Walls: REMIX (Special Event)
Pennsylvania – Glen Mills: Bates Motel
Pennsylvania – Plymouth Meeting: Lulu’s House of Horrors
Pennsylvania – Lancaster: Field of Screams

2012, Haunted Attractions, Maryland

Haunt Review: Nightmare Screamplex – so poorly done I almost crapped my pants

Harknell, myself, and a small group of friends headed down to Nightmare Screamplex in Boyd, MD this past Saturday after visiting the amazing Hallowinc. (That’s right – 2 haunts in 1 night.) Nightmare Screamplex says it has 3 attractions, but they are really just 3 sections that are fed by one line (in other words, you can’t just go to the 2nd attraction, you have to go through all of them). Our general take on this is that really means it’s 1 attraction–this is a common thing many haunts do to seem bigger than they are.

Nightmare Screamplex was an unanimous thumbs down from everyone in our party. Out of the hundreds of haunts we have done, the only haunt we have been through that was worse than Nightmare Screamplex was Frightland in Delaware.


At first, the atmosphere of Nightmare Screamplex seems nice. They have a movie screen set up playing Dracula, a small bonfire, and some food stands. They had (for an extra fee) some kind of bungee cord game, paintball targets, an adult sized bouncy house, and a giant chess game. When you pay for your tickets you get a wristband with a group number.

After about 5 minutes, the shiny facade began to fade for us. It was extremely cold, and even though it did not appear to be that crowded, the wait was long. I lost track of how long we were there, but it was a LONG time and (I believe) the entire time we were there they only called 7 or 8 groups. We had hoped to hit 3 haunts in 1 night on this night. To do this we normally buy an Express or VIP pass at the haunts we do. Nightmare Screamplex didn’t offer this option. I knew before even entering the attractions that Nightmare Screamplex had blown our schedule up and was glad that I had done our must do haunt of the night earlier. It’s clearly obvious that their business model is about stranding you in their midway long enough that they can get more money from you. There is no earthly reason the wait should have been that long with this few people. None.

Eventually our group was called. It was only then that I noticed that my group number wasn’t for “our” group (i.e. the group we arrived with). It was for “the” group. After all of that waiting we were paired with about 20 other people. Every haunt fan knows that when this happens you get some people who are cool and the inevitable douchebag who takes nothing seriously because “[he] ain’t skeered.”.


To add insult to injury, when our group was called we had to walk down a very long path to the front of a haunted house facade in the woods. There was almost no lighting there so it was pitch black. They had some entirely ineffective fake LED candles on the ground. Even worse – we no longer had any heat from the fire. We were then made to stand here in the freezing cold for at least 15 minutes with the previous group who had STILL not been let into the attraction. (so what did the group pulsing do if we had to wait in this line?)


Nightmare Screamplex has 3 listed attractions: Field of Terror, Nightmare Forest, and The Asylum. All 3 of these names are the names of other standalone attractions not owned by this company, and not very original. This should have been a red flag to us. It actually was, but my mission as a blogger is to go to and review every haunted attraction I can find.

Nightmare Forest:

All of Nightmare Screamplex takes place on a very long stretch of extremely treacherous and dark forest. The first attraction is Nightmare Forest. By “treacherous” I don’t mean that they did a good job theming the attractions. I mean we almost fell and busted our ass at least 5 times each. It was too dark to see and there were large gnarled roots and rocks in the pathway. NS’s boasting that their attraction is long is true – and a huge negative. Picture walking for almost an hour on treacherous ground with people lunging and screaming at you every so often. We ignored the actors because we were all more concerned about not falling. A forest is a forest, but at least make some attempt to clear the common walking area of major obstacles! Every so often you’ll reach a place that is themed and it’s done with what appears to be cheap plywood. A few lights are in some of them, but for the most part the illumination is by the light pollution from the far off midway and the terribly ineffective LED candles they put on the floor.

The first attraction looks like some sort of castle. At some point there was an evil mad hatter who apparently was using A REAL GODDAMN HATCHET to hit into the wood and did so FAR too closely to my face. At any other haunt where it’s fake and well-done I would not be concerned but it was obvious this was just some asshat with a FREAKING REAL HATCHET HITTING INTO THE WOOD NEAR MY FREAKING FACE.

Beyond that there were a few underwhelming themes. All of it looked like it was just falling apart. To make matters worse, there is no way to exit. Yes, we did consider exiting a few times, but were stuck in the middle of nowhere in the forest. You won’t find anything special here, and all of the actors are doing the basic and tired “lunge and scream” which signals poor training to me. There is no narrative, no improv, and it was all so unremarkable that I can’t remember most of it other than how relieved I was when it was over.

It was obvious many of the scare actors were trying their best, but the set up and direction of this haunt really seemed to prevent them from doing so.

Field of Terror:

By the time we reached Field of Terror, I wanted to leave for multiple reasons.

1. I was bored.
2. I had eaten some spicy food for dinner and I had begun to have a food sensitivity reaction.

Yes, for the first time in my life, I was close to crapping my pants in a haunt, but not because it was scary or good in any way.

Why is this relevant? Because once you are in this forest there is no way out without going through the entire trail. There are no bathrooms or any other facilities available. There are long lines for no reason. There is no reason they pulsed the groups through. It’s just a clusterfuck.

So I must tell you at my own expense that I considered popping a squat next to their lame castle facade thingy.

No this does not make me happy. But there it is.

Luckily I held it together and got through their weird castle facade that led into an unremarkable corn maze. In one instance of positivity, there were a couple of really good actors in here.

The Asylum:

The Asylum is the attraction that was much better than everything else. It looks like they actually thought about the design a bit. I was hopeful that it was an upward trend, but 2/3 of the way through it leveled out again and finished on a low note – again with more poor flooring that almost made us fall and bust our ass.

The chainsaw guy at the end got no reaction from anyone in the group because the whole thing was just tiring at this point. I could hear the next group come out complaining about how awful it was.

And then we have a run in with an employee:

We retired to where our car was parked in the parking lot to discuss what we just saw and where we were going for dinner. We all agreed that this haunt needed work and was likely to have many issues with people falling and getting hurt.

We weren’t talking loud at all, but for some reason an employee felt the need to eavesdrop and offer his 2 cents, which I found to be incredibly tacky.

I mean come on – be honest with yourself. This haunt needs work. He tried to ask us our opinion, but when we offered it by telling him what we liked and what we felt needed some work he gave us a snotty “Well we can’t appeal to everyone.” line before jumping in his car and leaving.

Customer Service 101: Don’t engage with unhappy customers unless you can fix their problem. Don’t try and convince them what they just experienced was wrong and don’t ask for their opinion if you don’t really want it.

Really? Who does this haunt appeal to? I can only think of 3 groups:

1. Local kids who have no other option.
2. People who have never been to a haunted house before.
3. Employees of this haunt.

Our opinion: Avoid.

(side note: We’ve been told by some people that this event is a clone of another, longer running event called Bennett’s Curse (which we’ve never visited)–if so they need to do a much better job of understanding what makes that one good, and not just make a crappy copy.)