The Haunted Schoolhouse (Akron, OH)
“Originators of Fear”
By Noah Wullkotte: Jollypumpkin@aol.com
The Haunted Schoolhouse is possibly the oldest haunted attraction in the United States. Since 1974, this haunt has been scaring people all over the buckeye state and across the country. 37 years later and this classic haunt is still going strong. We arrived around 11:35 and the place was packed. We had experienced some strange things happened that night when visiting other haunts. The 270 E exit was closed and one haunt’s electric went completely out right when we pulled up earlier in the night. If this wasn’t a bad omen, I don’t know what is. The first haunt we would tour at the grounds was The Haunted Schoolhouse.
The Haunted Schoolhouse is a haunt of a bygone era. Nearly everything inside this massive house of fear is homemade from its large detailed sets to its intricate props. The owners don’t believe in purchasing the same products that all the other haunts do. They want to be original and stand out. The Haunted Schoolhouse isn’t your typical haunt in the way it’s designed. Many scenes only have one side to them and it’s been roped off to the general public. You’ll feel like your walking past a movie scene that has come to life before your very eyes.
The Haunted Schoolhouse has an array of detailed scenes that reflect the schoolhouse theme and other rooms that are based on classic horror movies. You’ll walk through a nasty bathroom with one talkative skeleton who sits on the toilet reading a newspaper as he talks to people and makes fun of them as they exit the scene. Another scene involves a massive grunting giant that appears to be a typical prop until suddenly a door inside its stomach is slammed open and an actor runs towards you. Many of the scenes at The Haunted Schoolhouse have clever hiding spots.
You’ll see actors hiding in the darkness, behind doors hidden in sets and more. You might not see an actor until suddenly they bust out of a hidden door or the prop you thought was fake suddenly comes alive. There’s a variety of scenes at The Haunted Schoolhouse that will peak your interest. One of my personal favorites is Dracula’s Castle that has a winding staircase, beautiful blue lighting and loads of detail that will make you feel like you’re the prince of Darkness’ invited guest. Other scenes include a scarecrow that has been cut in half and magically moves his severed arm that is attached to the wooden floor. The Haunted Schoolhouse is made up of 3 floors of fear.
There isn’t a specific theme followed throughout the haunt and this is great because you never know what to expect. One area of the haunt features a large dungeon that is home to a worm like creature that rises from the water as he snacks on his latest lunch. You might even get lost in the endless hallway that goes on and on. This detailed scene looks just like a dark and smelly sewer. The Haunted Schoolhouse has some amazing detail that hopefully customers appreciate. One of most realistic and detailed scenes at the haunt is the storm attic. You’ll walk through what looks like a typical attic, but something has gone horribly wrong. A large tree has crashed through the ceiling and much of the attic has been demolished. It looks just like the after effects of a violent storm and is detailed to the max. This is much of the case with most of the rooms at The Haunted Schoolhouse. They resemble movie sets or intricate scenes at big budget musicals.
Your favorite horror movies can be viewed at The Haunted Schoolhouse. This haunt features some of the best classics you’ve come to love over the years. This includes A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Frankenstein, Dracula, A Texas Chainsaw Massacre and more. The A Nightmare on Elm Street scene is rather detailed and features real brick and a very lifelike figure of Freddy Krueger. The Haunted Schoolhouse does a great job in not overdoing it with dark rooms. There are some dark hallways you’ll travel through, but over the last couple years they’ve become more interesting because of improved lighting. Many of the hallways at The Haunted Schoolhouse use green laser lights that mimic the effect of fireflies flying across the midnight sky. This cheap effect adds a lot to some of the uneventful dark hallways you’ll come across.
The Haunted Schoolhouse is one of the best haunts you’ll ever experience with scenes and effects you won’t see anywhere else. This haunt has stood the test of time and always has something fresh and new. Some of the props you’ll see have even been donated. A cargo coffin from Florida was given to The Haunted Schoolhouse. A body needed to be dropped off in Akron and the coffin wasn’t going to be used ever again. So, when it wasn’t being used they asked if The Haunted Schoolhouse could use it in their haunt and they did. The hospital/morgue even uses real equipment donated by a local morgue.
When The Haunted Schoolhouse isn’t used as a haunted attraction, the Thomastown Party Center is rented out for parties, wedding receptions and a variety of events and gatherings. In previous years, the owners held an event called Detention Lockdown. Groups of people were invited to stay the night inside The Haunted Schoolhouse. They were given a small flashlight to help guide their way. But, they had no clue that there were actors lurking in the shadows waiting to scare them and that the flashlight was close to dead. You could say they were a little freaked out and had something to talk about for years.
I only have 2 complaints about the haunt. (1) There are far too many actors that wear masks. The masks look awesome, but the actor usually grunts or says little. Having more actors in makeup would make the experience more realistic and the characters would have an easier time interacting with customers. (2) Crowds need to be handled better. There were way too many times where we ended up running into another large group and had to wait between scenes. I ended up missing an actor popping out or an animatronic had to be activated more than once. If these areas of the haunt were worked on, The Haunted Schoolhouse could easily be a perfect 10.
It’s only $15 for either The Haunted Schoolhouse of The Haunted Laboratory. You can purchase a combo ticket for $28 and will get to experience both incredible haunts. On Thursday, Sunday and Monday both haunts are only $13 a piece or you can purchase a combo ticket for $24. Be sure to visit http://www.hshlab.com for a $1 off coupon for each haunt or a combo ticket.
Length-9 Design-10 Props/Animatronics-10 Acting-9 Scare Effect-9
Final Stab: 9.4