Land of Illusion 2011 Review

Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park (Middletown, OH)
“Attack of The Killer Corn”

By Noah Wullkotte:
Our tour of The Land of Illusion began on Saturday, September 10th. The forecast for the evening predicted dark skies and little to no rain. Every year this popular haunt destination makes slight changes, but 2011 is the year the creators have gone all out to make their most dramatic changes to many of Land of Illusion’s popular attractions. When we first arrived their weren’t a lot of cars in the parking lot, but that would soon change the later it got in the night. Right away we noticed that the ticket buidling had been overhauled and it now resembles a two story home and is better themed with the rest of the Haunted Scream Park.
Last year Land of Illusion was refered to as a Haunted Theme Park, but this year it’s being marketed as a Scream Park. Hopefully this small change in name gives people a better understanding about what they are going to experience. They can now figure that they will be touring frightful haunts instead of entering a theme park with rollercoasters and various rides and attractions.  Land of Illusion’s mission is to create a safe place where you, your friends and family can come together in one place to enjoy a variety of haunts that are easy to locate. There’s also plenty of food, concessions and side attractions to experience.
That night WEBN had one of their vans set up near the Club Zombie dance stage. The entertainment for the night was The Freak Show Deluxe. I won’t spoil any of their show, but all I have to say is that their show is both disturbing and entertaining at the same time. It’s not too extreme for small children, but still has enough edge to make your jaw drop. The first haunt we would be touring that night is the Temple of Terror and thankfully it was right next to Club Zombie. We wouldn’t need to walk very far and could conserve our energy for the night.
Temple of Terror is one of the first attractions Middletown Haunted Trail added when it was simply known as Middletown’s Triple Fright years and years ago and has been a staple at Land of Illusion ever since. When you first enter the building, you won’t notice many changes. It’s pretty much the same queue line Land of Illusion has been using for years which includes ancient Egyptian text and drawings, simulated stone and creepy cursed statues holding flames.
But once you enter Temple of Terror you’ll notice that the lighting has been improved, the actors are more intense and there have been many new rooms added to the experience. The first big addition is the brand new cave that is both breath taking and realistic. You’ll come face to face with a variety of vampire bats and dreadful creature as you travel under ground. Hopefully you survive and come out in one piece. The next addition is the brand new smamp. It’s a murky and realistic adventure where you’ll be forced to travel across a bridge as you encounter angy natives, snakes and a variety of dangerous animals and creatures. The third big addition is the monk temple that features a wall of glowing skulls and a big surpirse waiting for you above. All I can say is watch your head.
The newly enhanced Temple of Terror got me pumped up for the evening because I didn’t really know what to expect anymore from The Land of Illusion and it got me really excited about what lied ahead that evening. I would be pleasantly surprised and blown away. This isn’t the same old Land of Illusion I once knew. It was new and improved from top to bottom and we were amped up to tour the rest of the Scream Park. The next haunt on our agenda for the night was Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate. This is always one of my favorite haunts at Land of Illusion since it incorporates elements of a haunted trail before entering an actual home that houses Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate.
As you may have guessed, this haunt is themed after a house that has been taken over by ghouls and creatures from beyond the grave. You’ll encounter various laboratories, a haunted doll room, graveyards, a green house full of mutant Venus Flytraps and everything you could imagine in an actual haunted house. My only minor complaint about this attraction is the outside area before entering the actual estate. It’s fun entering graveyards and different haunted areas, but after you’ve seen many animated props that are quite similar, the experience starts to lose its impact and everything begins to look the same. The star of the attraction is obviously the inside portion which is the haunted estate. This is where the attraction comes alive. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate features state of the art animatronics from various companies like Scare Factory, Unit 70 Studios and others. This is the case with many of the haunts at The Land of Illusion.
After we were done touring Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate, we decided to take a short break and check out what the rest of the Haunted Scream Park had to offer. Land of Illusion has something for everyone. If your feet get tired, you can rest for a second in front of the bonfire. If your stomach is growling and you’re dying for something to eat, there’s plenty of concessions scattered throughout the park. This includes the Creepy Cafe Food stand and a brand new concessions tent called Taste of Tico. Tico is a colloquial term for a native of Costa Rica. The plural form is ticos. Tase of Tico is a sit down area featuring a variety of food like french fries, nachos and much more. The prices are a little high at the various concession areas, but I’ve seen worse. The smoker they use is massive to say the least and could smoke a full sized human if you had to.
You can even purchase yourself some Land of Illusion gear such as t-shirts, hoodies, beanies and more at the Ghostly Gifts/Tickets area. If your feet get a little sore from touring the haunts, you can sit down and enjoy a show at Club Zombie. Check Land of Illusion’s website for the schedule of events taking place at Club Zombie. There are many bands scheduled for this year. During the day on Saturdays and Sundays, Land of Illusion has Blast Zone Paintball. You can find more information on this by visiting http://www.blastzonepaintball.comWhile much of Land of Illusion’s demographic is young teens, there were also quite a few familes that could be seen touring the haunts. It might have only been the second weekend in September, but people were ready to get the pants scared off of them.
We were done exploring the grounds of Land of Illusion and we’re ready for Killer Klowns 3D. This 3D attraction’s name was inspired by the 1988 cult classic “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”. A fear of clowns (aka clorophobia) has always puzzled me. I’m not really sure why people have this deep seeded fear, but Land of Illusion does a good job at capatalizing on it. This year’s haunt isn’t drastically different from years past, but is more consistent with its theme and utilizes music better to suit each room.. You’ll notice the track Science Fiction/Double Feature from The Rocky Horror Picture Show being used in a small portion of the haunt, but I’m not going to reveal the exact location.
In a sense this is a typical 3D carnival style attraction, but there are some unique things that set iself apart. This includes the outdoor chain maze which might be a little confusing to first time visitors of The Land of Illusion. There was only one actor being used when I went through the maze and he did a great job in entertaining people who tried to escape. There were countless times where he would act like he was ready to attack and bite me, but would refrain himself. Scenes you’ll enter include a small mirror room, carnival games section, a row of clown heads, jack in the box surpise area and a variety of carnival and clown themed rooms. So, get ready for some carnival fun with your 3D glasses when you enter Killer Klowns 3D at The Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park.
Because we had a fast pass, there was plenty of time to relax and we didn’t have to rush through each haunt. It confuses me why some people aren’t willing to pay the additional $10 for a fast pass when you could be waiting for an hour or more in some lines, especially the line for Middletown Haunted Trail. Plus, the more time you have, the more likely you’ll have time to tour your favorite haunts multiple times.
The next haunt on our list to visit was the Voodoo Bayou Shanty. This haunt used to be located in Hamilton, OH and was called The Jackson Road Haunt until it moved to Land of Illusion in 2010 and became Voodoo Bayou Shanty. This is one of the more unique attractions at Land of Illusion because it incorporates the hillbilly backwoods theme. Since this is one of the newer attractions, the line was very small. But this will change as the haunt becomes well known among the other haunts in the park. Before entering the shack, you’ll be greeted by a member of the Dubois family. She likes to keep it in the family, she says. That alone scares the hell out of me.
The Voodoo Bayou Shanty reminds me of something straight out of The Hills Have Eyes. You’ll come face to face with mutant hillbillies, twisted hill folk and some grizzly scenes of murder and deceit. My favorite addition is the new lake that’s full of ravenous allegators ready to chomp at your bits. The rest of the haunt features gory scenes like a bloody living room with a murder victim, an outdoor area with a trailer that’s home to a bloody corpse and everything you could imagine that relates to mutant offspring. It’s not unlikely to see mutulated family members or half human/half bore people that are ready to make you their meal. This is an entertaining attraction that hopefully expands each year and really develops a story people can follow as they enter each room.
We had gone through 4 haunts already and had plenty of time to spare before Land of Illusion closed at 2am. The weather was perfect that night and you could tell that people were ready for the haunt season and so was I. Teenagers could be seen hanging out with their friends while families could be seen having a great time being together on a perfect September night. What’s better than going to a haunt on a brisk night? Nothing, there’s absolutely nothing. The next haunt on our schedule was the Middletown Haunted Trail, Land of Illusion’s most infamous haunt. If you only have time for one haunt at the park, then it’s Middletown Haunted Trail. Unlike the other haunts, the haunted trail doesn’t have an exact theme and offers something for everyone. It’s also the most intense haunt at Land of Illusion.
You’ll enter a Spider’s Lair, Michael Myers Victim room, School of Hell, Cherry Hill, The Nest, an army bunker and many many rooms that will appeal to a broad audience. My personal favorite is the Area 49. It features aliens rising out of the water as you walk on a vibrating bridge as sirens blare and gun shots can be heard all around you. It’s an impressive sight and a true show stopper. While, there were quite a few scenes that included a bloody butcher shop or kitchen, it doesn’t overshadow the rest of the attraction. You can’t beat 30 minutes of quality entertainment.
The time was 10:36 and we had a lot of time left before the park closed. The only thing that was left was the brand new Filed of Screams. I honestly wasn’t expecting much since the majority of corn fields follow the same formula. You enter a field of cornstalks where paths have been made. Some cornfields feature actors that are hidden in the corn and it’s your mission to find the exit in a timely fashion. At Field of Screams, you are given a small map that has a picture of how the cornfield is shaped. It resmebles a skull that’s near a spider web. You’re also given a small Land of Illusion flashlight that helps you light your way and read the map.
There are 9 check points. Each time you find a lit checkpoint, you use the available hole puncher at the checkpoint and punch the number. There’s no time limit and the estimated time you’ll be inside the maze is 30-40 minutes. Besides the checkpoints and map, there isn’t really anything different or innovative about Field of Screams. The only advantage is that it’s rated family friendly in terms of scare factor. The other haunts at the park rated close to 5 in terms of how scary they are. Various signs are posted throughout the park with information on each haunt. This information is also available on the map you’ll be provided when you purchase your ticket.
Overall, it was a fun and frightening night at The Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park. There have been some drasitc improvements made to many of the haunts that I mentioned earlier in the review, but there are also many problem areas that need to still be addressed. Quite a few of the actors in the majority of the haunts lack dialogue and resort to grunts or acting like lunatics. It’s funny, but not very frightening. Field of Screams pales in comparison to the rest of the haunts and needs a lot of improvements before it can be considered a worthy haunt that can go toe to toe with the rest of attractions.
That being said, Land of Illusion is still a killer value. On Friday it’s only $29.99, Saturday it’s $34.99 and on Sunday it’s a mere $24.99. Plus, you can enter each haunt as many times as you would like before the park closes. If you are planning on visiting Land of Illusion, please purchase a VIP ticket for ten additional dollars. You’ll thank me when you aren’t waiting hours in line on Fridays and Saturdays. Also, please don’t forget to check out the various discounts available on Land of Illusions’s website with savings up to $5. The bottom line is that even with its few faults, Land of Illusion is a great value no matter how you slice it.
Final Stab For Each Haunt

*Haunted Trail: Length-10  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-7  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.6

*Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate: Length-8  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-8  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.2

*Temple of Terror: Length-8  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-8  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.2

*Killer Klowns 3D: Length-7  Design-7  Props/Animatronics-7  Acting-6  Scare Effect-6  Final Stab: 6.6

*Voodoo Bayou Shanty: Length-6  Design-7  Props/Animatronics-8  Acting-7  Scare Effect-7  Final Stab: 7.0

*Field of Screams: Haunted Cornfileds will not be rated based on the same categories as other haunts.