Hundred Acres Manor for the first time this Halloween season. I say “reluctantly because of our fear of being disappointed: I consider myself to be very pessimistic about things that are highly praised these days. Happily, we were horrified and impressed by what we found deep within this urban forest.
Upon our arrival, we were immediately enthralled by the monstrous castle façade complete with very realistic-looking and creepy stained glass windows. Turns out the disturbed and demented creatures inside would be equally captivating as our trip through the Manor resulted in me both having temporary hearing loss (due to nearly 40 minutes of Bratzilla’s screaming) and feelings of great relief that the haunt—which has been named as one of the top in the country—was worthy of the hype.
Unfortunately, haunts by nature and design can often be mere gimmicks to make a fast buck by moving people through as quickly as possible without regard to their enjoyment and experience, or respect for the act of haunting, which is so sacred to many of us freaks and creeps. Hundred Acres Manor, however, is a haunter’s temple, filled with décor, props and actors that astound and terrify those who dare pay for the pleasure of exploring such a fiendish design. Here’s what sets it apart from the myriad black plastic nightmares that call themselves “haunted attractions”:
Variety – From the entrance funeral scene to the ghastly Tool and Die Shop, and the many points in between, Hundred Acres Manor allows its patrons to explore such a great variety of locales that your sense of wonder is always piqued. Variety also comes in the form of lighting, scare angles, ratios of human actors versus props, and the physical environments, which sometimes require you to duck, scramble down walkways, or squeeze through tight passages.
Attention to Detail – It is obvious that every inch, whether it be Hundred Acres Manor’s gothic castle exterior or the main entrance of the decaying South Valley Hospital, is painstakingly hand crafted. I cannot recall one aspect of the haunt that did not powerfully contribute to the haunted experience.
Acting – All of the actors, from those with speaking parts to those whose jobs were to scare and flee, performed their roles with an exactness that exemplifies the importance of both actor training and having the right people. Although Hundred Acres Manor is a high traffic and long running haunt, each actor’s energy level was very high, even late at night.
Queue Line Management – Queue line management was very good, although there were a few spots where we had a group behind us on our heels. Most of the time, however, we felt as if we were left to explore the Manor and ward off its horrid denizens on our own. This is a great achievement considering the amount of patrons passing through its abysmal halls.
Value – Admission to Hundred Acres Manor is $16. We spent almost 40 highly interactive and engrossing minutes in the haunt, and we were moving at a fairly brisk pace. Although the maze portion can get pretty tedious after a while, there are rarely any moments where you feel like a scene is merely being used as filler. Most of your time in the haunt is either spent taking in the props, décor and costumes, or being scared.
Heart – Hundred Acres Manor is 100% volunteer run and its profits (after expenses) go to two great, LOCAL nonprofits: Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Animal Friends. I don’t think I need to say anymore about that!
So if you are like me and have a death grip on your wallet and worry about how to best spend your time during this deadly time of year, do yourself a favor and visit Hundred Acres Manor. The evil masterminds behind the attraction really understand what goes into making a good haunt and are meticulous about the kind of experience that patrons have when they dare to visit. You won’t be disappointed!
P.S. We are now on Twitter. Follow @PGHExhumed for updates and terrorific news all year long!