The Dent Schoolhouse (Cincinnati, OH)
“Charlie’s Open House”
By Noah Wullkotte: Jollypumpkin@aol.com
Remember the days when you just didn’t feel like going to school because of a big test or you were a little under the weather. Well, you better pray for a day off school or you may end up in a body bag after a day at The Dent Schoolhouse. The Dent Schoolhouse is simply one of the best haunts in the nation and has grown leaps and bounds over the years. I remember when it was known as The Haunted House and was a charity haunt. It was a decent haunt at the time, but didn’t really have any direction. Some scenes involved horror movies while others had you scratching your head. A lot of it just didn’t make much sense.
You would have a hard time finding a better location than a schoolhouse with a haunted history, but the owners at the time didn’t realize that they were sitting on a gold mine. Incorporate the storyline of the schoolhouse and people will come. That’s exactly what 1031 Productions did when they took over in 2006. Bud and Chuck Stross as well as Josh Wells were involved in their home haunts in Kentucky at the time and they were some of the most elaborate in the United States.
I remember visiting Majestic Nightmare and Nightmare Manor back in the day and they were incredible home haunts with great detail, large Halloween inflatables and things you wouldn’t expect from a low budget haunt. People flocked to these haunts on Halloween night. Who would have ever guessed that the guys who built these elaborate home haunts would one day turn The Haunted House around? The first year 1031 Productions took over, the haunt still had its same name until 2007 when it would become The Dent Schoolhouse.
It would lose some business its 2nd year because of the name change, but word was getting out about how professional this haunt had become. Nearly ever inch of the place was themed after a schoolhouse and it was quite startling. Ever since then The Dent Schoolhouse has been ranked as one of the best haunts in the nation by Hauntworld Magainze, Haunted Attraction Magazine, USA Today, local review sites and now the Travel Channel.
The Dent Schoolhouse has recently been chosen as one of 4 haunts picked nation wide to be featured in a new Halloween show coming out this October on The Travel Channel. This will be the first haunt in Cincinnati, OH to ever be featured on a Halloween special as far as I know. This just reiterates the fact that Cincinnati is an incredible place to celebrate the Halloween season because of The Dent Schoolhouse and many other local attractions.
In April, people across the country got the chance to experience The Dent Schoolhouse for the very first time during Hauntcon. I didn’t attend the tour, but I heard that people were simply blown away. The Dent Schoolhouse is one of those special haunts with rooms that are perfectly themed to tell a haunting story that will scare and amaze you. It’s rare to visit a haunt that has so much going for it from incredible lighting to great acting and dynamic sound design. Every year I visit this haunt, it improves and 2011 is no different.
I try to act professional on the outside when reviewing haunts, but I still get chills when I visit a place that feels truly haunted. I don’t know what it is about The Dent Schoolhouse that makes me feel like a kid on Halloween, but it does. We arrived a little past 8 and it was packed. There must have been a few hundred people in line and the haunt had been open less than an hour. Tonight was Dent’s media night where haunt reviewers were invited to experience the haunt first hand and talk face to face with the owners. It was great talking with Chuck Stross and Josh Wells, but my main objective was to check out the frightening haunt known as The Dent Schoolhouse.
After I exited the upstairs media room and walked down the steps to the outside, I caught up with Granny played by Scott Lynd (aka Tater). His character Granny is known across the haunt industry as one of the best queue line characters and boy was I in for an experience. During this year’s Halloween & Attractions Show tour of the Darkness in St. Louis, I wore a fake fur coat and now I regret it. Ever since then Granny has referred to me as a chipmunk. She feels sorry that I wasn’t casted as the fat chipmunk in the latest Alivin and The Chipmunks movie. After I was able to get away from Granny, I got in line.
I didn’t wait long at all and it was finally City Blood’s turn to enter The Dent Schoolhouse. The first scene you’ll enter features a haunted playground with creepy school children and a relentless cowboy who taunts you as you try to escape. His mask was beyond creepy. You’ll then walk past a school bus that has an evil bus driver that suddenly slams open the door before you enter the boarded up school. This is where the fun begins. Get ready because it’s going to be a very bumpy ride.
One of the first scenes is a classroom full or murdered school children who have been dealt an unfortunate fate. Each room plays off of the haunted schoolhouse storyline to near perfection. You’ll walk through various classrooms, an art room, a science lab, a haunted nursery, a makeshift morgue, an elaborate shed, a mad scientist’s laboratory, a school carnival, meat locker, prom scene, cafeteria and lots more. I’m getting tired just naming off the plethora of scenes this haunt has.
For 2011, The Dent Schoolhouse has opened up parts of Charlie’s basement for the first time ever. It’s dark and dusty with a lot of surprises in store for people who dare enter the school. Charlie is more sadistic than ever before and really lets his victims have it. One of the most impressive scenes for this year’s Dent is the brand new sewer that includes a large monster who bursts through a brick wall using his large buzzsaw type weapon. The room is flooded with large amounts of water and includes industrial barrels. It just amazes me how much detail is in this haunt from the walls with peeling paint to the malfunctioning wires that flash and pop.
The school looks like it’s falling apart and hasn’t been visited by humans in years. You’ll notice aged antiques that look like they’re straight out of the 1950’s or older. The Dent Schoolhouse also has incredible lighting throughout the building. Lights mysteriously flash on and off and the old fashioned lamps add a realistic touch to the haunt. It feels like you’re in an old school that has been condemned to Hell.
A haunt can have the best props and scenes around, but without great actors it’s not very convincing. A top rated haunt makes you feel like you’ve stepped foot in an actual haunted house with monsters and ghouls waiting to attack. The Dent Schoolhouse has a great cast with veterans like Damien Reaper who has been scaring people for 13 years. One of my favorite characters I encountered was Lunch Lady Gross Edna who was quite agitated when I didn’t order something at her grotesque cafeteria. At one point she even mysteriously popped up from nowhere as I entered another room. The Dent Schoolhouse has a mixture of great characters from crazy clowns to a chainsaw maniac.
As I exited the school, I realized that I made it out in one piece. The group in front of me was screaming in terror and The Dent Schoolhouse can do that to you depending on your fears. The Dent Schoolhouse is one of the best haunts in the nation and one of the haunts that has helped put Cincinnati on the map. For $20 you get admission to both The Dent Schoolhouse and Detention Hall. For $30 you can skip the lines. For $7 you can buy a ticket for their lights on tour which takes place on October 30th. No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a great time at the one and only Dent Schoolhouse.
Length-9 Design-10 Props/Animatronics-10 Acting-10 Scare Effect-9
Final Stab: 9.6
Detention Hall (Cincinnati, OH)
“Pray To God The Bell Rings”
By Noah Wullkotte: Jollypumpkin@aol.com
Detention Hall is included in the ticket price for The Dent Schoolhouse. It’s a confusing chain maze full of fog, flashing lights, madmen and monsters who try to mislead you. The maze is more confusing this year and can be intense at times. Most people will be out of the maze in under 15 minutes, but I guess it depends on the individual. It’s a fun attraction, but pales in comparison to The Dent Schoolhouse. The addition of more props and actors would intensify the maze. Not much has changed since last year and hopefully big changes are made for 2012.
Please note that props/animatronics aren’t considered when rating Detention Hall since the majority of mazes have very few props.
Length-6 Design-6 Acting-5 Scare Effect-6
Final Stab: 5.6