Shocktoberfest consistently ranks among the country’s best haunts. It stays at the top of its game by innovating each year. New for 2014 is a Zombie Night Run, Zombie Paintball Hayride and the “Almost” Naked and Scared Challenge.
But even if Shocktoberfest didn’t have any of those, it’d still be one of our favorite haunts for one reason: Prison of the Dead Escape. It is, unquestionably, the star attraction of Shocktoberfest.
Your journey begins at the entrance to Willow Glen State Penitentiary, where you arrive via prisoner transport bus. You’re told the prison is long abandoned and now open to tours. There’s no turning back once you enter the jail, where all 50,000 square feet are used in a way that will leave you terrified. The walls are littered with skeletons. You’re sent through the jail yard, across prison cells and escape tunnels underneath the prison. The maze winds its way inside the building and out.
All the while, you’re faced with prisoners who were victims of Warden Shervon’s brutality. We’re told the warden carried out the largest mass-murder/suicide in the country.
The actors look and act realistic. Lights go on and off. It’s all extremely cool.
A similar attention to detail is evident in Shocktoberfest’s other two main haunted attractions: The Unknown and the Zombie Revenge Hayride.
While traversing The Unknown, you’ll don 3-D glasses as Professor Strangeways and his assistant, Malinda Montague, push you to your limits. Actors will interact with you a lot, including in some fun — and wet — ways.
The Zombie Revenge Hayride takes you on a Jurassic Park-like theme through a world of zombies. While the set is incredible — perhaps the best out there — it takes too long to get to the action. First, there’s a line to get to the staging area, where you watch a boring video setting the stage for the hayride. Then you’re directed to yet another line where you wait a long time to board. Not even your RIP fast pass gets you to the head of this line. By time you get on the actual hayride, you’ve forgotten everything you saw in the video anyway.
Two years ago, we found the hayride to be among the best we’d ever taken. This year, we were disappointed by the acting. Everyone on our hayride had a hard time hearing and understanding what the zombies screamed at us. Kudos, though, to the undead redneck with a penchant for pyrotechnics.
Rating: 4 Tombstones out of 5