I decided to take a detour from Camp Crystal Lake and talk about a topic which is another favorite of mine!
My favorite time of the year is Halloween and with that comes scary movie marathons, pumpkin spice everything and Haunted Attractions. In my neck of the woods, there are farms that do hayrides but not a lot of Haunted Attractions with the exception of Night of Terror located at Creamy Acres in Mullica Hill, NJ.
I have attended this attraction every year since 2007. Other than Creamy Acres, I have not been to any other attractions however I am happy to say that my wife Irene surprised me with a trip to Orlando this October to celebrate my 40th birthday. When I asked what will be on the agenda, she informed me that we are going to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. This is something that I have always wanted to go to since its inception.
I am aware of other Haunted Attractions in the Tri State area however I want to make sure I am getting my monies worth as an average ticket cost $35. How is one to know ahead of time how good the attraction is unless you know someone who has attended? About a month ago, I met Jarad Hagerty through Facebook. Jarad runs a website HalloweenHaunts365.com and has a Facebook page
Halloween Haunts 365. Jarad interviewed me for his website that I had shared on my Facebook page. On his website, Jarad and his team attend, rate and review Horror Attractions as well as discuss other topics related to the horror genre. I recently had the opportunity to ask Jarad questions to discuss his website.
How old were you and what was your first Haunted Attraction?
I have been going to Haunted Attractions pretty much as long as they have been around. Growing up in the early 80’s, there was not that many options like today. If there was a haunted walk through or a dark ride wherever I was, I was in there. I think my first “Modern” Haunt was Night of Terror at Creamy Acres in NJ. I will say I was around four or five when my interest in being scared really peaked.
How many attractions have you been too?
As a review group we have been to about 30 different locations. Many more coming this season as we are going for a more National base through out the states.
What states have you visited to attend an attraction?
We have been to attractions in five different states so far.
What is your favorite attraction to attend? Are there any that are on your list that you have not been too yet?
We have three favorite attractions. Field of Screams in PA. Always a great time. Awesome staff and amazing attractions. Brighton Asylum in NJ which has won our pick of Haunt of the Year multiple times. And Frightland in Delaware, always a fun night out. There is so much to do there and some really great walk throughs. This year we have added Reapers Revenge and a few others from different states we have not made it to yet.
What do you look for when attending an attraction?
We like to judge the Haunts on five different categories that can keep it fair between High and Low Budget Haunts. Actors, Scenes, Prop, Originality, and Fear Factor. Then we will give every attraction in the Haunt an Overall rating including the Haunt itself. It doesn’t take a million-dollar budget to score points with us in this system. Obviously you have places that can do what others cannot, so we wanted to keep a fair playing ground. We also like to bring rookies with us so we can tell the fear factor as I have been completely desensitized that its very hard for me to tell what is scaring people anymore. Plus, it’s fun to watch them cry.
Have you attended an attraction in which you had to sign a waiver?
Yes, Terror behind the walls has a waiver. Mainly because it is set in an abandoned Prison. There is however to everyone’s surprise, not a lot a wavier can do anyway after some of our homework. A lot of Haunts just use them as a scare tactic. We never notice a different between Wavier Haunts and Non-Wavier Haunts.
Have you seen the movies The Houses that October Built parts 1 and 2? If so thoughts.
I have. I did not enjoy these movies in the least. There are better movies on the topic. Hellhouse LLC being one of them. The way the horrible characters are written was terrible. Then they end up at this “extreme haunt” which most of those do not belong in the Haunted Attraction industry like McKamey Manor. A Haunted Attraction is a walk through that is a show, presented much like walking through a Horror Movie. Not guided torture. Its fine to be into that but we get asked all the time about the “Extreme Haunts” and there really is not such thing.
What made you want to create a website primarily devoted to Haunted attractions?
Being a Haunted Attraction fan, we would always research where we wanted to go that season. Plan our schedule and head out so we wanted to know what and where the best Haunts were. Well apparently, every Haunt in NJ, PA and so on was the Best Haunt in America! Every single one of them. So, we looked deeper and saw that there was some Haunt review groups but they hyped up every single attraction. I found this funny since I know there are Haunts, I have visited that I couldn’t stand and didn’t even try.
So, USA today, local papers and review groups found every Haunted Attraction was 5 stars? So, we had backup newspaper writers going in and getting scared over everything and naming every Haunt the best. We had enough of it, it was time to give the Haunted Attractions an honest deep dive look into their Attraction. I knew how Haunts work, I would be a good judge, I would keep it honest and straight forward. Then I figured out how to start a website and reached out to all our local attractions. Before we knew it, we would be invited all over the states we normally visited, and the Owners and staff loved the honesty. I would say a good 30% of our views are the owners and staff once we post our review. We go in, we come out and then 2-4 of us will judge every attraction right after we get out. With the haunt still fresh in our head we make our honest decisions.
The website will hit close to 10,000 views in the season and with this season we plan on hitting 50,000 views all time. With those kinds of numbers, I am willing to bet we are a breath of fresh air when it comes to reviews as we will be dead honest and have no problems giving a bad rating if its fitting. From what we have read from other sites, we may be the most honest out there. That is the biggest thing I tell new writers and team members, be honest, if its wrong mark it wrong.