Category: New Jersey

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, Reviews

Passaic, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Brighton Asylum 2014 Review

Brighton Asylum in Passaic, New Jersey stands out from the rest in the way that they conceptualize their haunt. First off, they actually have haunted house events operation year-round. Not constantly, but for many holidays and special events there is a version of their show running. So if you are looking for a haunt in the off-season this one is a good bet.

They way they build their attraction is a bit different than many others. It feels like they really put some thought into it and did not simply do what everyone else is doing. If you go to a lot of haunted attractions like we do you won’t be bored with what you see in here. It’s also worth noting that the videos and images on the site were created by them inside the attraction and aren’t your standard stock photos that some other attractions use.

This year’s show was different than when we experienced them in the past because they built upon that foundation. They redid the beginning. It is no longer a museum before you enter the main complex but an additional area of the attraction. I thought this was great, however we would suggest looking at the sound proofing of that area. When the actors spoke it was not impossible to hear them but slightly muffled due to the big area. All in all it was well done with some great actors.

The attraction had many great scenes built into it and a lot was different this year since 2012 when we last went. They did a great job with the scenes which had actors syncing up actions with for example, a gun.

I won’t spoil it for you but I’ll just say that Brighton Asylum is a brand unto itself that has great actors and ideas implemented well. You should do this one.

Brighton Asylum New Jersey Christmas Haunted House

Your next chance to check them out is for their Christmas show on December 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th from 8:30pm-10:30pm.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey

Wharton, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Haunted Scarehouse 2014 review

Wharton’s Haunted Scarehouse is a massive indoor haunted attraction in New Jersey. They have 2 levels. Each level is very large. I lost track of time but I think we may have been in there for close to an hour.

Haunted Scarehouse New Jersey Haunted Attraction Review

They have a lot of high tech set pieces and animatronics. Out of all of the haunted attractions that we review they seem to use technology the most. Even the staging of the scares and rooms incorporate technology.

It’s not used as a crutch. You have likely seen many of the haunts who buy an expensive set piece and use it like a garden fountain in the center of the room with no thought behind it. I felt that the technology was placed well within each room and complimented the scares very well. In some cases you could see yourself while being scared, which was unique.

They have the best photo set up I have ever seen. You know how most attractions now offer photos with your friends? These guys designed a picture taking system that does regular attraction photos as well as 3D and animated photos depending on how large the crowd levels are. There’s also a video that gets taken of you in the attraction getting scared. At the end you have the option to buy these at $5 each. It is sent to your email or social media. We bought all of them plus the video made inside the attraction because why not?! Here’s us, and our friends John and Tara:

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Since 2008 we have been asking why more attractions don’t do it like this and adhere to this pricing level. There’s no reason in the digital age to charge $35 for a photo like many theme parks do. You can make more than that up in volume if the price is right – AND it’s almost free advertising for the haunt with the Facebook/social media integration.

Finally someone with some brains did what we would have done if we owned a haunt.

As far as the haunt is concerned, last year we felt that it had some things that it had to work on.

I am glad to say that they improved on a quantum level this year. Every issue we called out was fixed. There was no backup in the meat room near the claustrophobia chamber. The actors were standing in better places related to the props. The constant screaming in the ear was mostly gone and replaced with more skilled scares.

I knew they could do it. Two of the scare actors from Hotel of Horror moved over to this place. You might recognize them in the attic as the guy with the staple gun and the woman in the shiny black catsuit. They are in my professional opinion the 2 best actors they have. Many other actors are up to par as well. The guy downstairs in the meat room is one of many who were giving it their all. Full Disclosure: I am Facebook friends with these guys. Still, everyone (including them) knows that I would have said something negative if they deserved it.

I actually asked them how the haunt was doing before I went. I have no desire to go to a bad haunt. I would have zinged them if it were bad. I didn’t want to, but I would have due to my commitment to ethics and transparency with my readers.

They did a great job this year.

Matt (the staple gun guy) was on fire the night that I went. I hope that in the coming years more people follow his lead and utilize improv and interaction with other actors to create the scene. I enjoyed the downstairs area a lot. The rooms are more elaborate and have more effects that work well with what’s going on. I felt the attic was the stronger of the two.

Changes were made this year – all good ones. The queue was redone this year to accommodate a VIP line and the above mentioned photos. Honestly – most of my friends have busy schedules. I know many of them would not go to a haunt without a VIP (RIP) line. I just pulled another 70 hour week so I can say that if I were a casual customer I would be the same way. This is a phenomenal addition and a great way for them to make some passive income to fund all of that innovation they are doing.

One thing to note is that this place has become so popular that there is a significant wait just to get in and buy tickets on very busy nights. I recommend that you get a RIP pass online for this reason if you can afford it. Otherwise come with friends and prepare to hang out for awhile.

New Jersey doesn’t have many haunted houses of this caliber. It was bound to catch on. They innovate with technology in here harder than every other haunt in my tour. The best part is that the application of such actually works and isn’t a gimmick.

Haunted Scarehouse upped their game this year. I think that if they keep doing what they are doing they will level up each year in the years to come. I am genuinely excited for them. They should be proud of what they have accomplished in just a few years.

Do this one.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, New York, Oni's Life, Press

Oni and Harknell on FIOS1 News this week talking about Haunted Attractions in New Jersey and New York City

A segment about Haunted Attractions will air this week on FIOS1 News. Thanks to CJ, Jennifer, Wade, Gloria, and team for having us in the studio to film this. This was so awesome to be able to talk about this and educate people on the various genres of haunted attractions. I believe there is a haunt for everyone – even people who don’t like to get scared and I hold to that claim.

oni news

I’ll let you now when it airs / when I get video.

Here I am in the green room before we went on:

oni green room

I was so sleepy! Early in the morning, guys. That’s how the news does it. Earrrllly in the morning. It was worth it! :)

2014, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, Reviews

Augusta, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Scareland Stadium

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Oni and I were invited to check out a brand new Haunted Attraction happening in Augusta New Jersey at the Skylands Stadium called Scareland Stadium. This event is a co-production between the stadium and the group that produces State Scare. We’ve been to a similar concept before (placing a haunted attraction inside a stadium), but in this instance, the idea was to actually embrace the idea of the haunt being related directly to the stadium.

The attraction is an outdoor haunt, which was built with “rooms” but is open to the elements (just a note in case it is rainy). They fully embraced the notion that this takes place at a baseball stadium, and you, as the attendee, are placed in the roll of a “rookie” trying to get a place on the team. Of course, all of the member of the team now are either dead, or working to make you dead.

The budget on the event isn’t the starring role here, since given it’s setting and location they couldn’t make overly elaborate sets, but they did something else which I’ve always suggested in these cases: they went for a bit of comedy. While it is certainly scary, with people jumping out and being creepy–they really had a ball (ha!) with the idea of making each room have a bit of humor and the actors did a great job with the one-liners and other interactions. They even had a few really inspired setups (like a “Press Conference” that you were the star).

Overall I’d suggest this haunt as a fun family experience. It’s scary enough to be a haunt, funny enough to entertain, but not as rough or overwhelming as some of the more intense haunts we visit–so I can easily see this as a great all ages destination. They also have a food service location and bench area that you can hang out at and have some stadium food before or after your trip around the bases. (oh, and that was a fun bit as well–they set up a “zombie” team on the field which was a neat touch).

2014, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, Reviews

Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey Haunted Attraction: 26th Annual Halloween Haunted House

We visited the Jefferson Township 26th Annual Halloween Haunted House on Oct. 16th, 2014. This event was a bit different than the normal haunted attractions we visit because it was designed and staffed by the local kids from Jefferson Township as part of a fundraiser for their activities. It runs only 2 days a year and is set up within 2 days before the event. Yes, it’s worth your time.

jefferson township haunted house

Right off we knew that this haunt would be something special. Since it was a fundraiser the enthusiasm and spirit of the staff was really high–they really showed that they were there to make the event fun and have a good time doing it. It was also funny to see times when the people in the haunt and the people going through it recognized each other and made funny remarks or especially tried to scare people. Given the limited time, and the age of the developers/creators the set up was of course fairly “adhoc” but even so it had a great range and phenomenal understanding of psychology demonstrated within the attraction.

This was way above our expectations for quality.

The only things we’d recommend to them is to lower the fog levels a bit–many of the rooms actually were pretty enough that they can stand on their own without the fog. Also have the actors change up from mostly shouting “get out” or other similar statements to perhaps improv skits with each other. We recognize that actor training in their circumstances is somewhat limited but maybe giving the kids the idea to come up with characters and motivations that they all define for themselves might be a great teaching tool and maybe an opportunity for the local theater groups to get involved.

They implemented a really great solution to pacing for the haunt: a rope system where the attendees held onto a rope lead by one of their staff. This was a spectacular idea to keep the attendees moving while preventing the typical backups that can happen. A really great extension for next time might be to have this staff member also have a story that connects with the haunt which they then talk about as they go through.

This is an idea so good that I think other haunts might want to look at this idea and add it. It would really add a new dimension to things and make the walkthrough a bit more like a ride.

So, what does this tell us? That even the most basic style of haunted attraction can have great ideas and that there can be some unique fun found in going to these types of haunts even for the most hardcore haunt fans. We were extremely impressed with what we saw here. If these kids continue to embrace creativity like this they’ll be earning 6 figures in no time as adults. This is a can’t miss event that I’ve told all of my haunter friends about.

I also have to give the kid in the parking lot an A+ for being the only person to scare me this year. He put his skull mask face in my car window before I got out and I jumped. I just didn’t expect a scare to be THERE. A+ fun, guys. A+