Canada’s Wonderland has finally unleashed their revamped website and details for Halloween Haunt 2012. This years event brings us four new attractions: Two new haunts called Streets of the Undead and Iron Empire, and two new shows called The Underworld and Blood Drums. Favourite haunts such as Club Blood, Blood on the Bayou, Corn Stalkers and more return to give you even more nightmares. Read below for details on everything else for this years event which runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights starting October 5. Continue reading
Hong Kong Disneyland has revealed the details for this years Haunted Halloween event. In a departure from the other Disney parks around the world, they actually have a very dark tone to the event. It looks pretty fun, with an Augmented Reality app developed specifically for this event that allows people to interact with posters and signs around the city and in park. Specially themed Vampire Coven and Were Tribe themed t-shirts will also interact with special Haunted Halloween Magic Mirrors inside the park. Have a look at the press release below to check out all the goulish details!
On Friday night, I headed to Canada’s Wonderland for Halloween Haunt with the Theme Park Canuck crew. It’s the biggest Halloween event in Canada and it was my first time going. I figured visiting near the end of the event would be best as all the kinks would be worked out by then. The only other Halloween events I’ve been to are Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom (which is for little kids) and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando (which is aimed at an adult crowd). The events in Orlando are on a different level than anything here in Canada, so I made sure to keep that in mind at the event. Here’s my review of Halloween Haunt 2011 at Canada’s Wonderland:
We got there just before 7pm, as we wanted plenty of time to visit every attraction. The lines to get into the park were non existent at that time, but the ticket booths were pretty busy. I always wonder why people don’t take advantage of buying their tickets before the event to avoid the lines. Regardless, we headed into the park and the first thing I noticed was the creepy scare-actors milling around the front area of the park. The big fountain was lit up with fantastic coloured floodlights, and they had projections on Wonder Mountain of ghosts, shadowy figures and the like. It’s great to see how some spooky lighting, scary music and lots of fog can change the atmosphere of Canada’s Wonderland. The cold weather and wind blowing through the trees is also great for adding to the Halloween atmosphere.
We took a quick tour of International Street before heading into the only scare zone we found all night. It was located on the path between the Wonder Mountain bathrooms and International Showplace. It wasn’t marked on the map, and to be honest seemed like an an afterthought. With a graveyard theme this area featured some tombstones with graffiti on them, the usual fog machines and creepy zombie type characters running around scaring people. Not very scary but great potential.
Our first house of the night was brand new for the 2011 Terror of London. Themed to London in 1888 during the Jack the Ripper murders, this was by far the best house of the whole night. It was set up in a tent around the Splash Works change rooms. It started by having people wander through an English style pub and into the streets of the city. Then through a few English style houses, back alleyways and into a brothel type building. Finally back out to the streets for the finale. The scare-actors did a great job of being in character and having fun with the guests. The sets were richly detailed to the point I wanted to stay inside just to look around. The street scenes were so real with the cobblestone and atmospheric fog. You could tell a lot of thought and creativity went into this house.
Next up was Corn Stalkers. In quite a unique concept, it was set up in the forest around White Water Canyon. It required following a path through corn and overgrown fields through the woods and past tons of scarecrows, some that were fake and some that jumped down off their pedestals for great scares. It was very hard to tell the difference until it was too late. One problem that I had with this maze was the music being way too loud to the point that my ear was ringing afterwards, plus the fact that the sound loop would stop to reset every few minutes, resulting in silence. I did however get a great scare the second time through the maze, which caught me by complete surprise.
Miner’s Revenge was our next maze. This was set up through part of the woods around White Water Canyon, then into a cavern set up in the ride path. The idea is that the trapped souls of the buried miners are trying to seek revenge upon anyone who enters the caves. This was one of the darkest mazes and it was very difficult to actually see any of the scare-actors for most of the maze. The theming was very detailed in the parts I could see. I liked the fact you had to duck down in some areas to move onto the next cave. I expected scares in these parts, but they never happened. The end was a little uncomfortable because of the bright light in my eyes so I couldn’t see well and almost ended up tripping over something.
We headed over to the picnic tents for the next 3 mazes. This setup was great because once you left one tent it was a 10 second walk into the next house. Kingdom of Carnage was themed to medieval slaughter and torture. It had body parts hanging from the ceiling, scary Court Jesters and Knights, as well as torture devices in every corner. This was our first house that was really busy, meaning the conga line of people to follow through the maze. Although I’m not going to lie, it’s nice to know what’s coming sometimes!
Next up was Mother Noose. Themed to twisted Grimm fairy tales, this was done in black-light paint and you could buy 3-D glasses to enhance the effects. To be honest, I didn’t see a single person wearing them. The usual Alice in Wonderland, Goldilocks, Big Bad Wolf and other storybook characters were present. The house looked very worn inside, and at one point a supervisor came pushing through the crowd in her yellow Wonderland jacket, ruining any tension the house attempted to create. I did however like the theme and the actors were great.
Red Beard’s Rage was ripped right out of Pirates of the Caribbean and I loved every minute of it. There were ghostly pirates throughout, uneven planked floors to walk across and even an underwater effect with scary sea creatures outside the ships windows. This was one of the darkest houses, it was actually so pitch black, at one point the security team member had to use her flashlight to help us find our way. It was also very easy to trip over barrels on the pathway due to the darkness. The best part of this house was actually after we left and watched the pirates chase screaming girls out of the house and around the exit area while the Pirates of the Caribbean music played.
We next walked over to the Kingswood Music Theatre area to take in the two houses in those parts.Club Blood was the most fun and energetic house. The concept was that you’re invited into a nightclub that has been overrun by vampires. You start by walking through the alleyway outside the club, then inside through the coat check where on either side of you they have the coats hanging and you expect someone to jump out. After you head to the massive dance floor with pulsating music and vampires hissing while you walk past. Then it’s into to the VIP area (or is it RIP area?). This part is very creative as the door frames are outlined in lights to look like coffins. After the VIP area, you make your way through the back parts of the club. This wasn’t a super scary house, it was simply a lot of fun with the pulsing music and club-style lighting.
Blood on The Bayou was located inside Kingswood and had one of the longest lines. It was a New Orleans, zombie & voodoo themed house. You entered through a manor with a possessed woman with freaky eyes, then out onto the wooden walkways of the bayou. You could actually feel the wooden planks move as you walked, and there was real water on either side of the walkways. As you wound your way through different gazebos and shacks, zombies would pop out and even walk through the crowd of people. Very well themed and different from the other houses, with great sound effects and music.
The Asylum was our next house, themed appropriately to a mental institution where the patients have escaped and killed all the doctors. These kind of houses freak me out because they are much more realistic than the ghost and killer scarecrow themes. This was located in a backstage area behind the season pass processing building. The whole tent was themed to look like the outside of the hospital, with intense music playing to set the mood. At the entrance, one of the scare-actors would run out and mess with people even before they entered the house. They used a lot of strobes here, and had many of the usual freaky mental patients aroud every corner. It had some nice set pieces, such as theguy chained in a straight jacket pulsating on a table and body parts galore. One of the more intense houses.
The last house of the night was Clowns At Midnight. I kept putting this off because clowns freak me out, and the idea of an entire maze dedicated to these freaky creatures was not appealing to me at all. Regardless, I sucked it up and went through. It was located where the bumper cars are, with the building decked out to look like a circus tent. You could buy 3D glasses for this house too, meaning it was another glowing house. This house, like Mother Noose, also looked very worn inside. It must be something to do with blacklight paint. There were tons of freaky clowns, creepy circus music and goofy props through the maze. The one scare I got here was actually from one of the security people pushing a stuffed tiger my way. Pretty funny. The one part of this house that tripped me out was a room full of plush toys, floor to ceiling. I kept expecting someone to pop out and scare me, but that never happened. Overall not as scary as expected, but that was fine with me!
Once we finished the houses, we decided to watch a the shows. We saw both The Hanging and Beyond The Grave, but decided to skip the Skeleton Crew which didn’t look that great, plus we were running out of time.
The Hanging took place in Arthur’s Baye on the tower they use for the dive show. It was supposed to be the trial of a witch, and she was going to be hung. She tries to plead her innocence, then turns out to be a real witch and lights the hangman on fire and some pyrotechnics go off. That’s it. Seriously, it was a total letdown. We asked one of the employees why it was so simple, and he told us the show used to be better but there was an accident so they cut the it short. The horribly lip-synced dialogue didn’t help either.
Last up for the evening was Beyond The Grave. It was a random mix of sexy dancing zombie girls griding on poles, and thrusting across the stage to Guns & Roses, Ozzy Osbourne and Muse. A Mind Reader appeared for the in between segments. He would call someone from the audience to participate in some Halloween themed mind trick, then he would be finished and more singing and dancing from the zombies would occur. The dancing was good, but the singers were off-key and the music was way too loud. The show really had no storyline, and there was no connection between the Mind Reader and the zombie dancers. With that said, it was much better than The Hanging. All it needed was some pyro to get extra points from me.
A few observations and suggestions
- The main issue with many of the houses was the fact they were too dark in a lot of the areas. At times it was hard to tell if it was another person standing near you or a scare-actor. The lack of individual sound effects for the actors also hurt the mood. Instead of a noise to startle and scare you, the actors would thump on the floor in the attempt to freak you out. At times this was effective but got old really fast. The music also never changed in the houses and you could clearly hear the sound loops repeat.
- The 3D in the mazes was pointless. I’m not buying glasses for some cheesy effect. Keep the themes, just make them normal houses minus the 3D.
- Add some real scare zones throughout the park. There are so many great areas that would work for really freaky scenarios or extensions of houses.
- Focus on the small details. Add decorations, lighting and fog to all open areas of the park or don’t have them open. Some areas of the park had no Halloween themeing or connection to the event at all.
- Utilize best practices from other parks and please improve the show quality! Knott’s Scary Farm does great shows, as does Cedar Point and World’s of Fun. You’re the same company, so borrow from these park
- Overall, I had a great time at Halloween Haunt. It wasn’t crazy busy with 2 hour lines like other Halloween events, and the houses were for the most part very well done. The scare-actors were great and very into their roles. The atmosphere was spooky and I always felt safe due to the ever present security and police. I was surprised to find they didn’t sell any alcohol, which I think was for the best. The crowd was mainly comprised of teenagers and some families, so adding alcohol into the mix wouldn’t be a good idea. With a few tweaks, this can definitely be the best Halloween themed event in Canada. Great job Wonderland!
Howl-O-Scream returned last weekend to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and is scarier and more popular than ever. As of this writing on Saturday night, the event is sold out for the evening! This is the 13th year of the event and it looks twisted in ways I can’t even imagine! Check out the press release from Busch Gardens for the details, followed by descriptions of all the insane attractions that can be found when you visit.
“We’ve returned to our roots for Howl-O-Scream’s 13th anniversary. Everything has been intensified, including new takes on old favorites,” said Busch Gardens Williamsburg Vice President of Entertainment Scott Gasparich.
Howl-O-Scream’s Dark Side of the Gardens is not for the faint hearted and parental guidance is strongly encouraged. Howl-O-Scream’s evil clowns are back and they have taken over Festa Italia in the Fear Fair haunted house and the Grin and Scare Itscare zone. New haunted houses like Dead Line offer a modern spin on some classic scares while 13: Your Number’s Up,which is returning after a 13-year hiatus, forces guests to face their darkest fears. Fiends also is back in the Festhaus by popular demand. Gasparich and his creative team have breathed new life into Busch Gardens’ classic show that debuted during the first Howl-O-Scream in 1999.
Daring guests can pull back the curtain and get an exclusive look at Howl-O-Scream by participating in one of three behind-the-scenes tours. The tours offer exclusives like reserved seating at select shows and front-of-the-line access to the park’s haunted houses.
Howl-O-Scream begins Sept. 23 and continues every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 30. Howl-O-Scream is not suitable for children after 6 p.m. Parental guidance is strongly encouraged. The park’s younger guests will be treated to Halloween happenings during the day with their favorite characters at Sesame Street Forest of Fun.
Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens Williamsburg Haunted Houses
Suspicion, darkness and mind-numbing fear surround the “Bitten” house which is set in Eastern Europe in the late 1800s. Full of legends and lore of vampires and the undead that preyed on the innocent, this manor sits by the road upon which all travelers must pass but few return.
On the dark outskirts of the Fair Grounds near Festa Italia, a traveling carnival is waiting under a stained and tattered big top. Lift the flaps of the tent and discover the macabre—a fantastic collection of freaks, psychotic clowns and other insane oddities that defy human explanation. Will your sides split with laughter? Or will you turn around and run for your life? Either way, you’ll quickly understand why this evil carnival is doomed to wander the Italian countryside … never stopping in the same village twice.
For 13 long years, the dark tower was locked away from the world—existing only in the nightmares of those who had dared to experience Howl-O-Scream’s first and most terrifying maze. But now, on the eve of our 13th anniversary, the seal has been broken. The tower is open once more and on the 13th floor, your darkest phobias and fears lurk in the shadows. Are you brave enough to face them or is your number up?
Through a ruined cemetery filled with statues lies a tunnel that leads to an underground city. Its history is more terrifying than that of France’s worst revolutions. Deep within these tunnels lie mile after mile of bones—the final resting place for those who are buried here. But all is not as quiet as it appears. As guests venture forth into the dank, dripping corridors of rat infested remains, the voices of the dead begin to speak, and some have taken shape.
Howl-O-Scream Busch Gardens Williamsburg Shows
Experience the revamping of a classic – vampires have come to the monster stomp party, and they are dying to have a good time. Witches, skeletons and beasts join them in Busch Gardens’ high-powered musical “rockstravaganza.” This show contains adult themes. Parental supervision is advised.
A party procession of carved creatures and dancing scarecrows invades the village of Ireland to honor Jack-of-the-Lantern. Join Jack as he entertains park guests during this dancing party that will make everyone “boo”-gy.
Venture deep into the woods of New France, where a solitary logging camp is ensnared by a killer clan of enormous venomous spiders, ready to capture anyone who wanders into their wicked web of terror. The loggers are fighting back with their sharpest blades, but be careful … in the darkness of the woods, they may mistake you for the spiders they’re trying to destroy.
Go ahead. Step right up to the creepiest show on earth. A traveling carnival has just crawled into Festa Italia, and you’ll be one of the very first guests to see what terrible traps these carnies have in store. As they unpack boxes brimming with ghastly tricks, the high-pitched laughter of evil clowns echo from the shadows. At this sinister circus, you won’t be calling for an encore.
The full moon looms. The fog creeps closer. And somewhere in the distance, a creature howls. There are werewolves on the prowl, and they’re coming nearer—hunting for unsuspecting human prey. So listen for the rustle of dry leaves in the bushes, and beware the creepy cry that pierces the darkness. It may be your only warning in this scare zone, where you’ll discover what happens when true fear is Unleashed.
This is the realm of the living dead—a land where zombies and monsters roam and where cold eyes search for unsuspecting new victims. Could you become one of them? In the darkened streets of Germany a demonic doctor is on the loose, frantically gathering the limbs and organs of the living. His purpose: to patch together a new breed of immortal creatures and to build a ferocious force of undead to do his bidding. He’s armed his zombie militia with scissors, needles and thread, and he’s convinced them all it’s Stitchin’ Time. And now, they’re dying to make you a part of their evil empire.
Canada’s premiere haunted event returns September 30 to Canada’s Wonderland for 15 nights of gruesome, gory and just plain terrifying fun. This year with an all new maze to scare you into back in time to the streets of London circa 1888. You may think you’ve seen Wonderland before, but the park atmosphere takes a 180 thanks to the Halloween Haunt events team. Year round planning and coordination of all departments of the park ensure this event scares even the most jaded horror fan.
Take a look at the details of this years event:
The brand new star attraction for 2011. The story goes that it’s 1888 and the Jack the Ripper murders have terrorized the city of London. The discovery of the “conical five” bloody victims has paralyzed the residents of Whitechapel District with fear. With no hope of catching this culprit, every person you pass on the street is a potential attacker or victim.
The fields of the VanTassel farmstead are overgrown with two centuries of colonial debris and rotting corn. Monster scarecrows now consider this their home, attacking anyone who dares enter their fields with their razor-sharp beaks and terrifying shrieks of madness.
Castle Carnage has long been feared for its twisted reputation for using medieval torture methods on prisoners. The victims have now overthrown the cruel nobility and inflict their own bloody torture in a scene of deadly mayhem that makes Castle Carnage look like a holiday retreat. Let the brave of heart and noble of spirit beware: Chivalry is dead.
A fatal mine collapse left dozens of hardworking miners trapped and left for dead. Now out to avenge their early deaths, the murdered miners stalk anyone brave enough to go digging for trouble in their haunted lair.
Residents along the Louisiana bayou have long been warned not to venture too far from the water’s edge; beyond the opulent river mansions is a mysterious, twisted world where curses are whispered in the dark and no one ever makes it back to shore. Those who go too far are soon driven mad with fear and bloodlust so be cautious – there’s no telling what you could wake in the Bayou.
At the hottest new nightclub in town, they line up to get in, but no one makes it out alive. Because inside this devilish dance hall, vampires staff the bar and the DJ booth in an effort to lure the most edible into their isolated lair. The most delicious dancers are invited to the VIP lounge, where away from the throbbing heartbeat of the music, the vampires slowly suck the life from their victims.
When the Brothers Grimm set out to tell stories from the countryside, they never imagined the dark horrors and unhappy endings they would encounter. Tales of massacre, evil creatures and ferocious beasts are not the fairy tales we grew up with. Mother Noose recreates these haunted stories for anyone brave enough to see just how dark the dark ages really were.
The 1937 big top fire doomed the circus performers to a slow and agonizing death. Now every night, the clowns and circus freaks continue their demented performance, looking for fresh blood to avenge their suffering.
The legendary pirate Red Beard is said to have led his crew into a massacre; his ship was never found. A single surviving manuscript tells how his mistress cast a spell stopping the crew from fully crossing into death. Now the ship is in dock and Red Beard and his undead crew await new victims to help them satisfy their bloodlust.
In 1923, Miles Gravestone was admitted to the asylum after surviving Slaughter Mill. Driven mad by his memories of the carnage and outraged that no one believed his story, Miles led the inmates of the asylum in a violent revolt. Taking his fury out on the doctors and nurses, he leaves them just as deranged and bloodthirsty as the patients.
Beyond the Grave
Take a trip to the other side as Mysterion the Mind Reader delves into the world of the supernatural while our cast of zombies rise from the dead to bring you the heart of pounding anthems of Guns & Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, and Muse.
Join the citizens of Halloween Haunt at The Hanging of Molly McIvor for crimes of witchcraft and devil worship.
Acrobats and fire breathers dazzle the senses in this high action cirque style spectacle.