Land of Illusion 2019 Review

Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park (Middletown, OH)
“Full Moon Fright!”
By Noah Wullkotte:

Friday the 13th is an unlucky day for many. But tonight it’s a time for fright and fun at Land of Illusion Haunted Scream Park. The moon had a golden glow and it illuminated the scream park. It was a Full Moon for many around the country depending on your time zone. There hadn’t been a Full Moon on Friday the 13th since year 2000. Land of Illusion has been scaring the city of Middletown, OH for over 20 years. Every year they add something brand new that makes the experience unique and quite haunting. Their ticket building resembles a haunted mansion and it changes colors as scary CGI animation plays in the windows. I loved the lightning storm effects. Watch your back because you never know what’s lurking in the darkness.

An actor dressed as Jason Voorhees stalked the crowd as he looked for his next victim. The intimidating actor towered over patrons as he raised his machete. Another actor was dressed as crazed butcher who was covered in blood and carried a hatchet. Land of Illusion consists of 6 uniquely different attractions. This includes Temple of Terror, Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate, Killer Klowns, Phobia, Zombie Sniper Patrol and their flagship attraction known as Middletown Haunted Trail.

Middletown Haunted Trail is what started it all back in 1997. In the late 90’s many haunts still consisted of black walls and low budget props. Fast forward 22 years later and the haunt landscape is a much different place. High tech animatronics, dynamic lighting and movie like sets are common at many haunts around the country. This includes Land of Illusion which reminds me of a haunted Disney World in a sense.

Land of Illusion is a utopia of fear with plenty of fun things to do to occupy your time. There’s a variety of concessions everywhere you turn. The Creepy Café has tasty treats and thirst quenching refreshments. There are nachos, hot dogs, caramel apples, soft pretzels, soda and much more! Land of Illusion is one of the few scream parks that I’ve been to that has its own fully stocked bar. The Voodoo Lounge is a great place to sit back and relax while enjoying a frosty beer. There are vendors scattered throughout the park that offer everything from fresh squeezed lemonade to deep fried goodness. Ghostly Gifts has your hookup if you’re looking to buy some Land of Illusion memorabilia. I purchased a Christmas Glow cup, but I was also eye balling a Land of Illusion Scream Park beanie. I regret not buying it.

If you’re not into haunts then that’s just fine. On select weekends, Land of Illusion has concerts on its Stage of Rage and various special events. The previous weekend they had artists like Dokken. They’re a band that’s well known for their classic song “Dream Warriors” from the A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Soundtrack. People can be seen enjoying themselves at the Mechanical Bull Riding station where you’ll need to hang on for dear life. It’s easy to locate everything at Land of Illusion since there’s no way to miss the signs or banners for each attraction. There’s even an outdoor digital map. It can get pretty chilly during the fall season. Thankfully there is a large gas powered fire pit nearby and a fancy bathroom in case nature calls.

Phobia is the newest attraction at Land of Illusion. You’ll come face to face with your worst fears. You’ll experience complete darkness, loud sounds, skin crawling insects, tight spaces and much more. This is a rather short haunt with a total tour time of around 7 minutes, but if you get lost in the darkness then it could be longer. There are a few massive props which includes a killer crocodile and a massive wild boar. Both make physical contact with customers. This isn’t the flashiest haunt at Land of Illusion since it relies mostly on its creepy atmosphere instead of high startle actors. But we enjoyed it last year and the same goes for 2019. This is a spooky haunt where you’ll feel like you’re entering a dark and twisted dream full of creatures and your worst fears.

(Here’s the beautiful Light Tunnel entrance used for Zombie Sniper Patrol.)

Zombie Sniper Patrol is a 13 minute excursion into the deep dark woods where zombies have taken over a small town. You’ll hop aboard a US Army cargo truck and be handed a paintball gun as you shoot the living dead. Aim for the nuts! Zombie Sniper Patrol is included in the admission for Land of Illusion and you can experience it as many times as you want. There were quite a few times where actors would step onto the truck and take selfies with patrons. You might experience a truck chase or two and there are tons of the walking dead that are waiting to take a bite out of you. It’s $5 to refill your gun and you’ll be given safety glasses unless you wear a pair of eye glasses.

Temple of Terror is one of the few Egyptian themed haunts that I’ve been to and it’s an unpredictable experience if you’ve never been to it before. Enter a mind shaft where the floor violently shakes. Pray that you’ll survive. This temple has a curse and mummies from a bygone era are ready to attack. Parts of Temple of Terror are very detailed. The rain forest has running water and some scary creatures. Watch out for the ghoul that flies in the air. You’ve never seen bats as large as the ones at Temple of Terror and the 13 Foot Impaler Monster wants you to be his next victim. There are a lot of high startle effects and high tech props. My favorite is the ceiling that comes crashing down. Walls are decorated with hieroglyphics and there’s a plethora of tombs and coffins full of zombies and unspeakable sights. Lighting has been improved and it’s a more sinister haunt. It’s just the right amount of darkness. The actors don’t use much dialogue, but they’re great at growling and making bizarre indescribable sounds. Total tour time is 12 minutes.

Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate is one of the most beloved haunts at Land of Illusion. A ravenous demon dog guards the estate. Do you have the guts to enter? This is an attraction that combines elements of a haunted house with a haunted trail. There are plenty of graveyards where you’ll meet some horrifying monsters. The playground is even haunted. Inside the estate is where the intensity is taken up a notch. A haunted playroom features a little girl who cries out for her mommy. Dr. Psycho wants you to be his next experiment in his makeshift laboratory. This haunt is full of eye candy which includes animals in the animal kennel and many zombies that pop out from every which way. Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate feels haunted as you enter different rooms in the dilapidated home and there were a few times where I was caught off guard. Total tour time was around 12 minutes give or take a few.

Killer Klowns is a crazy haunt with off the wall characters and some pretty creative scenes and effects. Put your 3D Glasses on and get ready for pure madness. Killer Klowns reminds me of an old carnival funhouse, but with modern animatronics and beautiful 3D artwork. You’ll enter scenes which include a simulated pinball machine where you are the pinball. Their chain maze can be pretty difficult if it’s you’re first time. The clowns are relentless with their insults and some of the props are bizarre. My favorite was the massive Jack in the Box. Killer Klowns isn’t the scariest haunt at Land of Illusion, but it’s one of the funnest for sure. The actors are obviously having a great time as they torment patrons. The clown who ran at me inside the vortex tunnel was great. Total tour time is around 10 minutes, but this all depends on how lost in get inside their maze.

Last but certainly not least is Middletown Haunted Trail. This is the haunt we look forward to the most at Land of Illusion. It offers the most variety in the way of scenes and scares. It doesn’t follow a specific scene, but that’s okay. It’s the most unpredictable of the attractions at the park. Middletown Haunted Trail is a bone chilling attraction with just about any type of scene you could imagine. Our personal favorite is Area 49. This massive scene features aliens rising from the water and alligators that attack.

(Here’s just one of the many talented actors you’ll find at Land of Illusion.)

You have to see it for yourself because it’s one of the best alien scenes we’ve ever encountered and it’s been that way for many years. Middletown Haunted Trail also has one of the best Michael Myers. He can be found hiding in the darkness as he magically appears out of thin air. Other scenes include a spider’s lair, the witch’s brew cave, School of Hell, Cherry Hill, a hillbilly shanty town and much more.

The pumpkin patch features massive pumpkins with twisted faces and the haunted forest has fireflies and trees that look like they’re about to come alive. Other cool effects include two large school buses that are standing on end and you’ll even see an animated headless horseman. This is a lengthy attraction that lasts upwards of 23 minutes. The actors were on their A game that night. We were creeped out by the half human/half spider creatures and we can’t forget the blow torch wielding killer. You’ll feel the heat from his murder weapon. Middletown Haunted Trail has earned a reputation as one of the best haunted trails around and rightfully so.

Ticket prices start at $29.99 if you visit on a Thursday or Sunday. Please remember that you can go through the haunts as many times as you want that night. Friday Admission plus Fast Pass is $64.99, Saturday is $44.99, Saturday plus Fast Pass is $69.99 and Sunday & Thursday Admission plus Fast Pass is $44.99. A Season Pass is $99.99 and a Season Pass with Fast Pass Admission is $199.99. It’s $12.99 if you just want to experience Zombie Sniper Patrol and nothing else. Group pricing varies. Parking is $5 and you’ll be given a parking pass.

Land of Illusion can get very crowded the closer it gets to Halloween and a Fast Pass might be your saving grace since you won’t have to wait in a massive line. You might also want to consider going on a Thursday or Sunday since those days are typically slower nights for haunts. Middletown Haunted Trail is closed those nights. There are plenty of photo-op stations in the park and you’ll have your picture taken multiple times throughout the night. You can view your photos near the park exit and decide if you want to purchase them or not.

There’s not enough I can say about Land of Illusion. There’s a reason why this place is so popular. It’s simply fun and a good value. The place is beautiful and I liked how there were decorated trees throughout the park. The light tunnel for Zombie Sniper Patrol is eye catching to say the least. There are a few things that could be improved. Phobia would be better with a few more actors and it’s too short. But besides that, we don’t have many complaints. We walked nearly 3 miles the night we visited Land of Illusion. Don’t forget that Land of Illusion becomes Aqua Adventures Waterpark during the summer and we love their Christmas Glow event. It’s magical and a great way to spend time with friends and family during the holidays. Land of Illusion is the place to be this Halloween season. Be Afraid, be very afraid!

Final Stab For Each Haunt

*Middletown Haunted Trail: Length-9  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-8  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.4

*Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate: Length-7  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-8  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 8.0

*Temple of Terror: Length-7  Design-8  Props/Animatronics-8  Acting-8  Scare Effect-8  Final Stab: 7.8

*Killer Klowns: Length-7  Design-7  Props/Animatronics-7  Acting-7  Scare Effect-7  Final Stab: 7.0

*Phobia: Length-6  Design-6  Props/Animatronics-6  Acting-6  Scare Effect-6 Final Stab: 6.0

*Zombie Sniper Patrol: This attraction has not been scored.