Land of Illusion 2012 Review

Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park (Middletown, OH)

“Your Worst Nightmares X6”

By Noah Wullkotte:

Back in the day Land of Illusion was simply known as Middletown Haunted Trail and featured one haunt. Over the years they’ve changed names, moved locations and added new and improved attractions that appeal to a broad range of haunt goers. Land of Illusion has evolved into a grand scale event, but some things have stayed the same. It’s still a one stop location you can bring the entire family to, it’s remained a great value anyway you look at it and there’s always something lurking in the shadows that is sure to entertain and thrill you.

City Blood’s haunt season officially kicks off with a trip down to Land of Illusion. Throughout the week, we constantly checked the forecast to determine the perfect day to tour the Scream Park. One day, the forecast would have clear skies where the next day would predict rain showers in the evening. With little trepidation, we decided on Saturday, September 8th.

It took us around 40 minutes to arrive at Land of Illusion from Cincinnati, OH and when we finally made it, we were shocked at how crowded the parking lot was for this early in the season. After paying the $3 parking fee, parking the car and picking up our wristbands, we were ready to experience the one and only Land of Illusion.

Without further ado, here is City Blood’s 2012 review of Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park in Middletown, OH where your worst nightmares are X6.

When you first enter Land of Illusion you might be a little overwhelmed by all that the Scream Park has to offer. You’ll first notice Club Zombie. Club Zombie is a haunted dance floor that scares up entertainment on a nightly basis. Music videos from artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga were playing on the projection screen as lights flashed and fog flooded the dance floor. That night fire dancers performed as well as The Zoot Theater Company.  We unfortunately missed one of their performances. They were taking a bow as Darth Vader’s Imperial March played.

Club Zombie is a great place where you can sit down, relax and take a break from all the haunt action. There are wooden benches set up along the way and a big area in the middle where you can dance with friends. Every Friday night DJ ETrayn brings his haunted house beats to Club Zombie where you, your friends and your loved ones can dance the night away. During Land of Illusion’s opening weekend, the park hosted a battle of the bands featuring bands from all over. Near Club Zombie is a large bonfire where you can get warm and toasty during those cool fall nights.

Land of Illusion is surrounded by vendors everywhere you go. The biggest food booth is the Creepy Cafe with prices ranging from $2-3 and extra chili being 50 cents. They offer everything from hot dogs to nachos. For the first time ever Land of Illusion will be offering cold beer to customers who are 21 years or older. This definitely appeals to parents who are bringing their young kids to the park and want something more than soda to drink. Other vendors include Town. Boulevard Church Funnel Cake Booth ($5 a cake), Ghoulish Gift Shop, Junction Sandwiches and more. We bought a massive order of seasoned fries from Junction Sandwiches for $3 and shared it between the three of us. Their free samples of Barbeque were to die for.

You definitely won’t go home on an empty stomach at Land of Illusion where there’s always something delicious waiting for you. The prices can be a little high on some of the food items, but it’s still quite a bit cheaper than what major theme parks charge and is comparable to other haunts. The Land of Illusion even has a special Press Hall for media to hang out. Throughout the night we noticed people filming inside the haunts for LOI-TV. LOI-TV is Land of Illusion’s online TV show that features footage from the park and behind the scenes segments that deal with activities at the Scream Park. If you’re lucky enough, you might be filmed the night you’re at Land of Illusion.

The first haunt we toured that night was Temple of Terror. Temple of Terror is a dark and twisted attraction that feels like a haunted version of Indiana Jones. The queue line resembles the inside of a cursed Mayan Temple. Egyptian art covers the walls and frightening statues can be seen holding flames. Nothing has changed much in the way of queue line decor, but the line is still well themed and gets you in the mood for what is yet to come.

The first room features a door that magically slides open by it self. Once we stepped inside, we began to hear a menacing voice warning us about the wrath we would soon endure because we had the courage to enter the sacred chamber. The room began to violently shake as we tried to hold on for dear life. This is a great start for a quality attraction.

Last year Temple of Terror was remodeled with many new scenes and features added to the haunt to make it feel fresh and new. These new scenes return for 2012. This includes a realistic cave that’s been taken over by ravenous vampires. The cave’s walls are very realistic and mimic what you would see in a lava cave that’s been forming for thousands of years. Cleverly placed blue led lights help light the way.

The dangerous and foggy swamp returns as well. You’ll be lucky to make it out alive in one piece as you walk across a shaky bridge while you dodge angry natives, venomous snakes and creatures that make the jungle their home. This is a breath taking scene that features flowing water and a realistic jungle environment.

The Temple of Terror is a well themed haunt, but there are areas that could be improved upon. There are hallways here and there that feature darkness and lack detail. They include props that are hard to see and aren’t that memorable compared to the rest of the decor inside Temple of Terror. The vast majority of the eye candy inside the haunt is jaw dropping. This includes over the top animatronics like the 13 foot Impaler, The Demon Knight Monster, an impaled victim, a falling ceiling, claustrophobia tunnel, walls with animated skeletons and much more. Temple of Terror hasn’t changed much since the 2011 season, but it’s still one of the better attractions at the park.

The next haunt on our schedule for the night was Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate. It’s conveniently located near Temple of Terror. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate is one of the standout haunts at Land of Illusion and easily competes with the Middletown Haunted Trail and Temple of Terror in terms of scares and decor. While waiting in line, we got to watch a little bit of the horror classic “The House on Haunted Hill” which reminds me a bit of the haunted house at Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate. Your tour through the haunted estate begins with a new CGI introduction. A zombie can be seen through a window feasting on his victim in the woods. He quickly looks up and runs towards the window when suddenly he’s shot in the back of the head by a gun-toting hunter. The zombie’s head explodes and chunks of the flesh eater’s cranium hit the customer as they watch in horror.

From there you’re confronted by a werewolf hunter who asks if you’ve been bitten or not before he fights off a blood thirsty beast. The first 5 minutes of the tour is themed after an outside graveyard and indoor funeral home. You’ll enter a massive graveyard taken over by zombies, caged skeletons, a hangman, a monstrous mutant dog and a flashing hearse with a skeleton driver. You’re guests at a funeral as you walk inside a funeral ceremony that has a few surprises up its sleeves. There are a lot of impressive animated scares before you enter the haunted estate.

Inside the dilapidated home is where the fun truly begins. Each room coincides with the haunted estate theme. You’ll walk through a haunted green house with Venus Fly Traps and other mutated creatures, a human meat locker, a gory kitchen, a bloody bathroom, granny’s nursery and more. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate has the look and feel of a home that will consume anyone who dares to enter. My favorite actor inside the estate was the evil rag doll with buttons for eyes. She added shock value to granny’s nursery.

We thankfully survived Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate and there was plenty of time left to check out the remaining haunts at Land of Illusion. If you’re planning on going to Land of Illusion I highly recommend you purchase a VIP Fast Pass for Friday and Saturday night when the park is packed. For ten more dollars you can enter the Fast Pass line. You won’t have to wait in lines that can exceed an hour or more. You’ll also have plenty of time to re enter any of the attractions at the park.

The weather was perfect and there wasn’t a grey cloud in sight. It was early September and I didn’t expect the park to be extremely crowded, but there was a decent crowd none the less. Families could be seen wondering around the park enjoying themselves and teens could be seen hanging out with friends. There’s a variety of entertainment at Land of Illusion that should satisfy most age groups. Luckily there are plenty of well lit signs pointing you in the right direction as to where to go. Without these signs, it would be pretty difficult trying to find your way.

The night was still young and the next haunt on our schedule was 3-D Killer Klowns. I will never understand people’s fear of clowns, but just about every other Scream Park features a clown/carnival themed attraction. 3-D Killer Klowns is a fun haunt, but it pales in comparison to the rest of the attractions at The Land of Illusion. It’s more silly than it is sinister. The 3-D art is bright, colorful and impressive, but the decor and scenes aren’t scary unless you have a fear of clowns.

3-D Killer Klowns is one of the longer lasting attractions at Land of Illusion, but this is mostly because of the outside chain maze. The amount of time you spend in the maze will greatly affect your tour time. The rest of the haunt features a demented carnival, colorful rooms with bright colors and flashing lights and everything you would expect from this type of haunt.

The time was 9:45 pm and we still had the Voodoo Bayou Shanty and Middletown Haunted Trail left. We always save Middletown Haunted Trail for last since this is the haunt that started it all at Land of Illusion. It’s always the most popular haunt with a mixture of scenes that appeal to a broad audience. Next on our agenda was the Voodoo Bayou Shanty.

The Voodoo Bayou Shanty is the newest haunt at Land of Illusion. It was introduced in 2010 and has had a warm reception ever since. Before it called Land of Illusion home, it was located in Hamilton, OH and was simply known as The Jackson Road Haunt. The Voodoo Bayou Shanty focuses on the story of the Dubois Family and their cursed Louisiana shack. Brother and sister guard their home before allowing you to enter its haunted rooms. When you shake the brother’s hand pay close attention because you might notice something missing.

Once you enter the cursed shack there’s no turning back. Imagine The Texas Chainsaw Massacre sprinkled with a little bit of Wrong Turn and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a crazy hillbilly haunt. The rooms are tight and confining as you get up close and personal with some crazed hill folks. There are very subtle changes that have been made to this year’s haunt and most of Voodoo Bayou Shanty isn’t drastically different from last year’s version. The haunt consists of rooms that are inhabited by mutant offspring, soulless hillbillies, bloody body parts and twisted scenes that Deliverance would be proud of. Part of the experience takes place outside where an old camper with a confederate flag inside is parked and a swamp with a vicious alligator is ready to attack. The haunted tour is just under 10 minutes, but is great while it lasts.

The major problem with this haunt is that some of the scenes are too much alike since everything has to be centered around the hillbilly theme. This is the major downfall of Voodoo Bayou Shanty since there’s just so much you can do with the hillbilly theme before it starts to become predictable. With that being said, Voodoo Bayou Shanty is a much better haunt than it was when it first debuted at the park and has a promising future if the right changes are made.

We toured our first haunt at 8:30 pm and it wasn’t even 10 o clock yet. We had plenty of time before the park closed at 2 and there was only one haunt left on our list. We are of course talking about Middletown Haunted Trail. The Middletown Haunted Trail is known across the state of Ohio as one of the best haunted trails you can find and is nationally recognized by major haunt magazines and media sources. The trail is close to a mile long and offers a plethora of scenes from sci-fi to horror. There’s something for everyone.

The Middletown Haunted Trail is notorious for having the longest lines at Land of Illusion. We happily entered the fast pass line and only waited a couple of minutes. The haunt is a 20-25 minute excursion into the unknown. Your tour begins with a journey into the darkness where creatures are waiting to attack. You’ll then be transported into a live war zone of army barricades before entering Area 49. Area 49 is a secret military base where aliens are stored away and mutant alligators smell blood. This is an incredible room that has to be seen to believe.

The rest of Middletown Haunted Trail has a variety of rooms and scenes including a nuclear wasteland, a witch’s brew, a spider’s lair, an encounter with the Headless Horseman at Cherry Hill, School of Hell, The Nest, a walk through school bus and more. I kind of miss the vertical standing school bus from year’s past, but its absence doesn’t take away from the haunt. I also miss Michael Myers who’s been replaced with Jigsaw I believe. I couldn’t tell because of how dark and foggy it was on the trail. The Middletown Haunted Trail is full of colorful characters like the torch wielding female or the different chainsaw maniacs that occasionally emerge. Overall this is one of the most entertaining haunts at Land of Illusion that doesn’t have to stick to a certain theme.

Our night would soon be coming to an end. We decided to tour Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate and Temple of Terror for a second time before calling it a night. This year’s Land of Illusion was a blast with something fun to experience around every corner. The most dramatic change made was the elimination of Field of Screams. This large corn maze was a decent family attraction in 2011, but seemed out of place at the Scream Park. It didn’t add anything innovative to the corn maze concept and paled in comparison to the rest of the attractions. Land of Illusion made the right move in removing it from their haunt lineup.

The acting this year was a little disappointing. Numerous times I heard, where are you going or get out of my room. There also weren’t enough queue line actors entertaining people throughout the park. There were less than a handful and the ones I saw had less than impressive costumes. The only queue line actor that stood out was the Headless Horseman who was at the beginning of the line at The Middletown Haunted Trail. As the season progresses, the acting should improve.

Even though there are areas that Land of Illusion needs to work on, it’s still a great value for what they offer. You are getting 5 quality haunts and one haunted dance club for $34.99 a ticket on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays, price of admission is only $24.99 a person, but Middletown Haunted Trail is closed. Buy your ticket at the park after midnight on any Friday night and it’s automatically good for a free admission on any other day! Various discounts are available at with savings up to $5.

While I recommend purchasing a VIP Fast Pass on Friday and Saturday nights, $44.99 can be a little steep especially for a large family. VIP Fast Passes aren’t available on Sunday night when the park is less crowded. Please remember that Land of Illusion has plenty of food and refreshments available from hot dogs to pulled pork sandwiches. If you are 21 years or older, you can even enjoy a cold beer. New this year at Land of Illusion is onsite camping in the south parking lot on Chrisman Lane directly across the street from the park. This is great for those who want to make it a night of haunting and don’t feel like driving home. The Land of Illusion has become a great destination for friends and families to enjoy lots of scares, good food, great fun and long lasting memories. I highly recommend you visit one of the best Scream Parks around and tell them City Blood sent you.

Final Stab For Each Haunt
*Middletown Haunted Trail: Length-10  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-7  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.4

*Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate: Length-8  Design-9  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-7  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8:2

*Temple of Terror: Length-7  Design-9  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-7  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.0

*3-D Killer Klowns: Length-8  Design-7  Props/Animatronics-7  Acting-7  Scare Effect-7  Final Stab: 7.2

*Voodoo Bayou Shanty:  Length-7  Design-7  Props/Animatronics-8  Acting-7  Scare Effect-7 Final Stab: 7.2