Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park (Middletown, OH)
“The Year of the Zombies”
By Noah Wullkotte: firstname.lastname@example.org
The haunt season officially kicked off with our visit to Land of Illusion in Middletown, OH. The weather was unseasonably warm and the parking lot was surprisingly full for their second night of operation. It was 8:41 pm when we received our tickets and we were ready for the night that was ahead us. We were off to experience true fear at Middletown’s original Haunted Scream Park.
Once we entered the park, it was obvious that Land of Illusion has had a major makeover. The bathroom facilities are easy to find and have unique signage. The men’s restroom features a picture of Frankenstein’s Monster while the women’s restroom features the Bride of Frankenstein. Land of Illusion has just about everything you could ask for in a scream park including the Voodoo Lounge. The Voodoo Lounge is a full service bar with all the beer and liquor you could ask for.
It’s a great addition to Land of Illusion and something adults can look forward to when they bring their kids or come alone. Don’t worry because Land of Illusion is diligent in making sure each person who enters the bar is 21 years of age or older. People aren’t allowed to enter the haunts with alcohol and there wasn’t a single customer who was out of control. Everyone was just having a good time.
Land of Illusion has a plethora of concessions including hot chocolate, hot dogs, candy bars and more at the Creepy Cafe. Prices range from $2-$6. The prices are a little high, but aren’t the worst I’ve seen. Around the corner you can enjoy carnival style food like funnel cakes which are $5 a piece. If you’re not hungry and just want a memento to help you remember the good times at Land of Illusion then don’t forget to buy some souvenieers at Ghostly Gifts.
If you just want to sit down and relax then the Stage of Rage (formerly Club Zombie) is what the doctor ordered. Stage of Rage is Land of Illusion’s unique Night Club which features nightly acts and great music to help you dance the night away. Watch in comfort on one of the many benches available. On certain nights, radio stations do remote broadcasts from Land of Illusion. WEBN was there that night. If you’re ever cold then snuggle up near Land of Illusion’s large bonfire. It’s quite toasty.
Land of Illusion features 6 unique attractions. This includes Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate, Temple of Terror, Killer Klowns, Voodoo Bayou Shanty, Middletown Haunted Trail and Zombie Sniper Patrol. Zombie Sniper Patrol is the newest attraction at Land of Illusion. Tickets are $12.99 a piece. Large military trucks pull up with 12 paintball guns attached to each side. After getting brief instructions from your general, you are ready for battle against Middletown’s zombie flesh eaters. I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had. The actor playing the general is very convincing and doesn’t break character for a single second. Additional paintballs are $5 and you might run out quickly if you’re too trigger happy.
Shooting zombies and various targets is one hell of a good time and it’s nice to be able to sit down for a while. My only complaints are the price and the amount of zombies you encounter. $12.99 is a little high for a debut attraction. $9.99 would be more reasonable. Unfortunately the side I was on didn’t seem to have as many zombies and this was a little disappointing. Considering that this was the second night for the attraction, I’m sure it will improve as the season progresses.
Middletown Haunted Trail is the flagship attraction at Land of Illusion. You’ll experience nearly 30 minutes of pure terror and you’ll thank god that you survived. The haunt doesn’t follow an exact theme, but has a variety of scenes and effects that will appeal to a large audience. You’ll definitely feel vulnerable while you navigate through the darkness and areas that are surrounded by woods. Michael Myers is out to get his next victim as he hides in a cloud of fog. The Middletown Haunted Trail has a variety of scenes like a nuclear wasteland, The Nest, a schoolhouse (Aka School of Hell), Cherry Hill, an army bunker and of course Area 49.
Area 49 is the most impressive scene at Land of Illusion. It features large aliens rising from the water, flashing lights and loud sirens. You’ve entered a secret military complex and you’ll never be the same once you leave. Middletown Haunted Trail features lots of impressive props like an animated Headless Horseman, a large school bus on its side and much more. The total tour time is around 30 minutes and there are very few dead spots. It’s action packed from beginning to end.
The scenes are great, but the acting could be improved. There were quite a few times where I heard actors asking me, “What are you doing here”? Some even seemed a little agitated because I didn’t give them the reaction they expected. There are some standout characters though. This includes the teacher in the haunted classroom. He’s very intimidating with his long scraggily hair and his metal weapon that he bangs against the desks. The pyromaniac with his blow torch is a standout character as well. He’s so close that you can feel the heat from his blow torch. It’s truly a scary experience.
Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate might be the best attraction Land of Illusion has to offer. A vicious guard dog protects the entrance before you enter the haunt. Once you enter, you’ll notice missing person flyers that decorate the walls. House on Haunted Hill played on the TV as we waited in line. We luckily didn’t have to wait long since we had VIP wristbands which let us skip the regular line. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate is a haunted trail and haunted house rolled into one. It’s a sensory overload to the max with startling animatronics and lots of detail. Rooms include an immersive greenhouse with killer Venus Fly Traps, a funeral wake, a massive graveyard, a haunted doll room, and much more.
I enjoyed the attention to detail in many rooms with little things people might not notice unless they slowdown and observe their surroundings. My favorite is the Kermit the Frog stuffed animal that looks like it’s been gutted. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate is full of high tech animatronics everywhere you turn. One second you’ll be confronted by a large werewolf and the next second a zombie will attack you from the side. There’s a lot of eye candy to drool over inside this elaborate haunt. There’s even interactive CGI. Total tour time is close to 15 minutes.
The acting has improved in most of the haunts at Land of Illusion. There are a couple actors who could benefit from more training, but overall I was impressed. A haunt that has been a staple at Land of Illusion since it was called Middletown Triple Fright is of course Temple of Terror. There are very few temple themed haunts in the United States and Temple of Terror is one of the best. In 2011, new rooms were added to enhance the experience and they return for the 2013 season.
One of my personal favorites is the realistic swamp with running water and deadly creatures everywhere you turn. Temple of Terror also features a dark cave that resembles something straight out of the movie “The Descent”. LED lighting enhances the scene and gives it a nightmarish effect. Lighting has been improved in many areas of Temple of Terror thanks to blue torches that have been cleverly placed in darker areas of the haunt. Temple of Terror is full of startling animatronics like the 13 Foot Impaler, a creature falling on a large spike, flying vampire bats, animated zombies, a falling ceiling and more. It’s a quite impressive haunt. Total tour time is 10-12 minutes, give or take a few.
The next haunt on our agenda is Killer Klowns. Killer Klowns capitalizes on people’s fear of clowns or what’s better known as coulrophobia. The most sadistic and crazy clowns can be seen ready to attack at this wild and demented attraction. Colorful artwork decorates the walls of many scenes. Killer Klowns reminds me of a funhouse from the 1980’s, but with modern technology and creative design. You’ll enter various scenes like a carnival, a labyrinth of clown dummies and even an outside chain link maze which can be quite confusing. Killer Klowns has many props that go perfectly with the clown house theme. I particularly enjoyed the clown shot out of cannon and the 2 vortex tunnels. One is blue and the other resembles flames.
Killer Klowns isn’t the scariest attraction at Land of Illusion, but it’s fun none the less. I’m glad that 3-D glasses are no longer included. The 3-D effects didn’t add much to the attraction and made it feel too gimmicky. Total tour time is 10-12 minutes. Last, but certainly not least is The Voodoo Bayou Shanty. This attraction is the most intimidating from the outside because it resembles a haunted shack that’s been invaded by ghouls and unspeakable creatures. The haunt looks small from the outside, but there are many scenes inside.
This shanty has been inhabited by killer hillbillies, mutant offspring and the most brutal killers this side of Ohio. Many of the rooms are small, but you’re up close and personal with creatures that belong in the movie “The Hills Have Eyes”. You’ll enter a taxidermy room, a camper, a wooden maze, a laundry room, an outside area with a killer alligator and more. The actors stay in character and some can be quite intimidating like the hillbilly with a crossbow. The total tour time is 10-12 minutes depending on your pace.
We arrived at 8:41 pm and we were successfully able to experience everything Land of Illusion had to offer in less than 3 hours. We highly recommend that you purchase a fast pass for $15 additional dollars. You’ll thank me when you’re not waiting nearly an hour in line. The attractions are very easy to find because of brightly lit signs that are located throughout the park.
Tickets are $34.99 on Friday and Saturday nights. They’re only $24.99 on Sunday, but the Middletown Haunted Trail is closed. You can tour the haunts as many times as you would like with the exception of Zombie Sniper Patrol. Zombie Sniper Patrol is $12.99 a person. Please visit www.landofillusion.com for information on group discounts. Parking is $5 and all proceeds are donated to the Somerville Volunteer Fire Department, Madison Athletic Group and the Southwestern Ohio K-9 Search and Rescue (SWOKSAR). We highly recommend Land of Illusion to anyone who wants to have a scary good time with friends and family. It’s one of the best scream parks around and offers something new and different every year.
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-8 Scare Effect-8 Final Stab: 8:4
*Temple of Terror: Length-7 Design-9 Props/Animatronics-9 Acting-8 Scare Effect-8 Final Stab: 8.2
*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
*Zombie Sniper Patrol: This attraction has not been scored, but it has been reviewed.