Oh yeah. It’s Haunted Attraction award time. Read all of my reviews from last season here.
The award judging is handled like this:
1. We must be confident in recommending this Haunted Attraction to a friend.
2. We must feel that we would be OK with visiting this year’s incarnation again. In video game terms, it must have re-playability.
3. We look at everyone who stood out and craft a special award to tell you why they are the best of the best. There are different styles of haunted attraction. This encapsulates the entire spectrum without forcing us to compare apples and oranges.
- The National Treasure Award is possible to get 1 time only per location. It denotes a significant impact on haunt culture over a large number of years. It’s not something that can be judged every year with the same attraction. Once you get it, it is in perpetuity. It is the predecessor of that haunt’s creator being inducted into The OniHaunts Haunted Attraction and Dark Ride Hall of Fame.
2013′s winners are:
National Treasure Award:
Maryland, Ocean City: Trimper’s Haunted House
Trimper’s Haunted House is a Bill Tracy dark ride that has been operating for about 50 years as of this writing. It is one of the last remaining attractions of this type in the world. I visit every year.
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania: Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares
The only haunted attraction that I can confidently recommend to anyone at any time in the season is Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares.
You can go on the first day of operation or the last and they will still destroy you. Every scareactor in this place could teach a master class to anyone else in the industry. Not one person is any less than a 5 star grandmaster of messed up shit. This is the only haunt that I personally visit twice per season. Nowhere else will you see this kind of creativity and horror done in such an unapologetic way. If you also tire of the formulaic, politically-correct haunts as I do, this will be the crown jewel in your little spooky heart.
Outstanding Performance by a Scareactor:
Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania: Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares: The Penitent
Listen. This is the first and probably ONLY time we are giving an award out to ONE GUY. If you went through Altered Nightmares this year you know damn well why.
Anthony HoH (The Penitent) didn’t just blow us away, we believe that his performance blows up the entire eastern seaboard. It was extreme, resonant, inspired, and controversial. The best part was that it worked without being controversial just for the sake of doing it. You got the idea that he actually knew who his character was in a way that is messed the hell up.
You have no idea how many emails I’ve gotten since posting about this guy from people who went, saw him, and nearly lost their shit.
Best Halloween Festival:
New York – Ulster Park: Headless Horseman
Headless Horseman blew us away this year. They have the game on LOCK.
They have built their haunt up such that it’s not just an evening affair – it’s almost a lifestyle. They did a great job on the haunt this year. In addition to that one could easily spend hours here on their midway enjoying local food, shopping, and socializing. They even have Martha Stewart – level seasonal decor and crafts in here!
Many come back after enjoying the haunt just to do this. This is a true destination now worth of the several hours it took us to get here by car. Some deposit timid family members in the midway while they get scared – and all parties will have a memorable evening. They left everyone with this kind of scope in the dust this year – even the major theme parks.
That is not an easy thing to accomplish.
Pennsylvania – Allentown: Dorney Park Haunt’s Mansion House Meal
Dorney Park Haunt’s Mansion House Meal was probably the most unexpected win of this past season for us. The ability to dine on very fancy food inside a haunted attraction with in-character actors who later chased us around is not what I would expect from a Cedar Fair theme park. But there it is. The industry needs more of this!
The Brutality Award:
Pennsylvania – Spring City: Pennhurst Asylum
It was impossible not to give this to Pennhurst Asylum.
It’s not easy to scare us. Hours later while eating dinner in a well-lit diner I went to use the bathroom. While I was washing my hands someone else entered. I visibly jumped and screamed. I was disturbed for the rest of the night.
Well played, Pennhurst. Almost no one can get me that crazy. They went from needing some work in 2010 to blowing the doors off of us this year. Wow.
OniHaunts Haunted Attraction and Dark Ride Hall of Fame
The first inductee of the Hall of Fame is Don Johns, the creative mind behind Haunted Schoolhouse and Lab in Akron, Ohio. It is with great admiration and sadness that we have to posthumously honor him. His impact on haunt culture is undeniable. Akron has a true gem, and that will never change in our opinion as long as this phenomenal haunt is operating.
Pennsylvania – Philadelphia: Fright Factory
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh: Scarehouse’s The Basement
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh: Hundred Acres Manor
Pennsylvania – Glenn Mills: Bates Motel