Review: Niles Scream Park brings the fright

Photo by Matt Herm and Kellie Welch

 

Warning: Although this article contains spoilers, Niles Scream Park redesigns its attractions every year to keep things new for returning attendees. Nevertheless, reader discretion is advised.

Concluding it’s seasonal run, Niles Scream Park haunts live up to the lofty bar set by their own 40 year history, including a 2016 win of “Top Haunt” in a nationwide poll run by Coaster Nation. With it’s ever-rotating roster of spooky attractions, 2018 proved its worth against past runs of the park.

The central focus, the Haunted House, with moving floor panels, buzzing saws, and ghouls around every corner, the scares came early and often. The sheer length of the attraction in comparison to other similar houses was especially impressive, as was the attention to detail in the entryway library section, complete with actual full spooky texts.

Attendees who entered the “Doll House,” one of the park’s three main attractions, had to walk through the building with dozens upon dozens of lifeless and glossy pairs of eyes watching them.

As guests made their way through the twists and turns of the “Doll House,” more and more dolls of all shapes and sizes appeared --even ones that were not so lifeless after all.

Many of the dolls, some appearing to have once potentially belonged to a forsaken ventriloquist, looked as though a young child in the nineteenth century would have owned them.

Annabelle kept her eyes on guests.

The “Doll House” took about 15 to 20 minutes to finish, and did not require a waiver of any sort as the actors were not allowed to touch any of the guests.

For fans looking for lighter fare with a comedic spin, the Haunted Hayride offered a breath in the midst of the screams. A post-apocalyptic theme park mascot gone awry named Bizmo haunts the path ahead, with his unflinching electronic gaze sparing no patrons. The narration was well orchestrated, with plenty of laughs throughout the ride.

All of this is topped off by “Hooded,” an attraction that was introduced to the Scream Park last year.  Thrill-seekers must be 18 and up to enter, as Hooded requires a waiver for entrance.

Unlike the other attractions, actors are allowed to touch the attendee. Those who dare to enter are thoroughly instructed on what the rules are, and what to do in case of getting lost or wanting to quit early. There are no groups or pairs allowed, as each journey through Hooded is a solo one.

The idea is to hang onto a rope as a guide through the area with a bag of “skin” over your head, rendering the attendee blind. Being blinded leaves plenty of room for the imagination of the attendee to take over, leading to an experience of sensory overload.

Upon signing the waiver and entering a dark room, the attendee is bagged by a psychotic redneck and taunted to set the mood of what is to follow. Even with the knowledge of knowing none of it is real, it doesn’t make the experience any less raw or intense. For those who can stomach it, prepare to be choked, urinated on, and have hands stuck in a “portable potty.”

Attendees will also be attacked by wasps, hit with electroshocks, and more. A point will come when you arrive at “Cletus’ Farm,” where psychotic farm hands will berate your poor decision to trespass, after which you will be attacked by hungry pigs.

At the end, you are instructed to run, and don’t stop until the end. The attendee is unbagged and runs straight through to the exit, leaving nothing but pounding adrenaline and an overwhelming sense of wondering what just happened.

If you were unable to make the Scream Park this year, rest assured, as the park has been around for 45 years, and does not appear to be going anywhere soon. All attractions will be redesigned next year, which will lead to all-new scares. All of the awards the Scream Park has received were given for a reason - it truly is one of the best haunts around.

 

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