The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory 2014 Review

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The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory (Akron, OH)

“Will You Survive Seven Floors of Terror?”

By Noah Wullkotte: jollypumpkin@aol.com

The Haunted Schoolhouse has been striking fear into Akron, Ohio for 41 years. They’re the pioneers of the haunted attraction industry. Most haunts wouldn’t be here without this legendary haunt first hitting the scene. To be a thriving business for over 4 decades is a testament to the hard work that’s put into The Haunted Schoolhouse year after year.

The Haunted Schoolhouse is in the former Thomas Town Elementary. This three story haunt is awe inspiring. It’s very rare to see a prop that can be ordered at a haunt convention or easily purchased online. Practically everything is built from the ground up. The scenes are highly detailed as well.

Most of the haunt isn’t themed after a haunted schoolhouse, but it does feature a variety of rooms that will appeal to a broad audience. There are some scenes that will make you drool because of how beautiful they are. Dracula’s Castle is incredible. There’s realistic stone, gargoyles, a chandelier, a sprawling staircase and so much more. You might even find a vampire or two who wants to bite your neck.

There’s been a violent lightning storm and a large tree has crashed through a creepy attic. A creature is hiding in the tree and he wants to meet you. You’ll travel through the downstairs dungeon where iron gates open by themselves. A sea monster rises from murky water to feast on its supper. A sewer has a hallway that goes on forever and there’s a hazardous waste zone where you might need to wear a hazmat suit.

The Haunted Schoolhouse has a few surprises that should make you jump out of your skin. A country cabin shifts under your weight which causes it to violently slam to the ground. If you’re not expecting this to happen then you might just wet yourself. A scene that The Haunted Schoolhouse is well known for is its gross bathroom. A janitor is seen peeing in a sink as a skeleton sits on a toilet. This crazy skeleton interacts with customers as they walk by. The bathroom is covered with writing and it’s just an all around funny scene. You never know what the skeleton is going to say next.

There’s so much detail in The Haunted Schoolhouse that it’s hard to process without stopping for a second to take it all in. A house has a garage with a casket sticking out the back of a truck. This scene features power lines, hubcaps, grass and more. One of our favorites is the new Freddy Krueger scene which is pretty haunting and unique. That’s all I’m going to say without giving too much away. The classroom has church pews and a headmaster. Every year, different things are written on the chalkboard that was used in the original school.

Many scenes no longer have railings or ropes. Now you’re part of the action. You’ll feel like you’re entering an interactive horror movie. This is a horrifying haunt with scenes that will chill you to the bone. You’ll enter rooms such as a scary funhouse, a graveyard, a scarecrow shack, a witch’s domain and much more. There’s even a small house you walk around with a kitchen inside. A lot of the actors wear masks and they do a good job at scaring customers. The lighting has been improved and the haunt is just an all around classic. The tour time is around 20 minutes long.

The Haunted Laboratory is in the old Guggenheim Air Institute. This haunt opened in 1981 which makes it 34 seasons they’ve been open. Real experiments were conducted in the laboratory. When monkeys were taken to Outer Space, they were brought back the Guggenheim Air Institute to see how they reacted to different situations.

The Haunted Laboratory features the largest Tesla Coils we’ve ever seen. They would give Dr. Frankenstein a run for his money. Each Tesla Coil produces 1.5 million volts of electricity. When the weather is just right, one can be seen on the roof of the laboratory. The other one is inside the haunt and it’s surrounded by a large cage. A costumed character presses a button to activate the Tesla Coil as he talks to the customers walking past it.

There’s a lot that makes The Haunted Laboratory unique. They’re home to the world’s first vertical wind tunnel. If you look down, you might be able to see the outside of the vortex tunnel as it spins. The Haunted Laboratory could possibly have the first vortex tunnel ever made. This would make sense based on the age of the haunt. Their version is pretty neat. The fabric is dark and it has glowing dots that sort of look like stars. Creepy music plays as it spins around and around. This vortex tunnel has evolved since it was originally built many many years ago and it’s one of our favorites.

The Haunted Laboratory has a 3D section. It’s a small portion of the haunt, but it’s still impressive. This year the 3D Glasses have been upgraded and they’re now high quality plastic instead of cheap paper. Alien pods hang from the ceiling and aliens are loose in the laboratory. The Haunted Laboratory has tons of detail. The morgue features an embalming table, real hospital equipment and some hand crafted props. A poor guy is having his mouth operated on by some crazy dentist and there’s a mutated scientist that’s covered in eye balls, blood and filth. A crazy nurse gets closer and closer. Both The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory pay tribute to owner and creator Don Johns who unexpectedly passed away last year. In the library scene, there’s a portrait of Don that hangs on the wall. May his legacy live on.

The Haunted Laboratory is 4 Floors of Terror. There are some classic scenes and effects that make this haunt very special. Where else can you see an infected ghoul drop barrels onto unsuspecting customers? I just love this effect. You’re not going to see many horror movie characters at either haunt. You’ll see Frankenstein, Leatherface and Freddy Krueger when you tour both haunts.

The Haunted Laboratory is just short of 16 minutes and we don’t have many complaints. There could be more actors that wear makeup instead of masks and the actors could use dialogue instead of growling or yelling at customers. This is a problem with both haunts. The 3D section of The Haunted Laboratory is too short and leaves you wanting more. With that being said, these are two of the best haunts in the state of Ohio. There’s an extraordinary amount of detail and the props are amazing. Some are massive like the angry giant with a booger hanging out of his nose.

You’re not going to forget your time at The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory. These haunts are like fine wine that gets better with age. Tickets are $17 on Friday and Saturday for each attraction. Combo tickets are $26. Thursday and Sunday, tickets are $13 for each attraction. Combo tickets are $22. VIP tickets are $20 per haunt. On Halloween night from 11 p.m. – midnight you can experience the haunts in complete darkness. Blackout is $26 per person and it includes admission to both haunts. You can purchase tickets online for any night the haunts are open at www.hshlab.com. Prices vary.

There are concessions available like food, refreshments, T-Shirts, Midnight Syndicate merchandise and more. The 2014 shirts use old school designs and are a throwback to a bygone era. We never get tired of The Haunted Schoolhouse and Laboratory. These are haunts that really showcase what the Halloween season is about. It’s about having a spooky time while enjoying a good scare.

Final Stab For Each Haunt
The Haunted Schoolhouse: Length-9  Design-10  Props/Animatronics-10  Acting-9  Scare Effect-9  Final Stab: 9.4

The Haunted Laboratory: Length-8  Design-9  Props/Animatronics-10  Acting-9  Scare Effect-9  Final Stab: 9.0
www.hshlab.com