Pataskala Haunted Forest 2009 Review

Pataskala Haunted Forest-“Jebidiah’s Revenge”
Pataskala Haunted Forest is much different from other haunted trails I’ve visited before. Most of the rooms you’ll enter involve rehearsed skits revolving around a story that develops as you progress from scene to scene. It’s a haunt that you’ll either love or hate, but over the years it has created a large following for haunts in that area.

Length-9: Your adventure through the forest where the Murdock clan dwells will take you around 50 minutes to complete. This is a lengthy haunt with many long skits, but there were far too many times where we had to wait at least 5 minutes for actors to get ready with their scenes. Waiting on the rest of the groups behind us to catch up also ate up a lot of time. So overall if you subtract the time you are waiting before scenes and for people to catch up with you, this haunt is more like 30 minutes which is still quite long for a haunted trail.
Design-7: There are some very creative rooms such as the Riddler’s room, The Murdock jail, the mine shaft, the insane asylum and much more. But a few scenes near the end of the tour weren’t working properly and we ended up having to bypass them. This has me wondering what these areas involved and how they finished the Murdock story. I love the fact how Pataskala Haunted Forest is very story driven with the different skits that take place in the various shacks, but there are just far too many scenes that weren’t effective. They start off interesting where they are involving the audience into the action, but then end with a chainsaw chase or just lights flashing off and on. It’s a bit anticlimactic the way these scenes are finished and a little corny.
There are too many skits that are taking place in these huts that are upwards of 10 minutes or more and aren’t as scary if you just created a regular walk through haunted trail while incorporating 2 or 3 shacks explaining the Murdock story. This aspect of Pataskala Haunted Forest needs to be changed next year because after you’ve been experiencing a scene for longer than 5 minutes it starts to become boring a after a while.
Props/Animatronics-6: Decor isn’t a huge strength for Pataskala Haunted Forest. The majority of the props you’ll see are homemade. But when you think about it, back when the Murdocks were around they would have made most of their stuff in order to save money. There’s really not much that will make your jaw drop, but plenty of decorations that cover scenes.
Acting-7: Last year’s actor of the year was Jebidiah Murdock and once again He’s the best character at Pataskala Haunted Forest. The reason for this is because the actor portraying the character seems authentic and doesn’t try too hard in scaring people. He explains why the woods are haunted and sets up what you are going to experience the rest of the time you are in the forest. He’s a very solid performer, but should be wearing boots instead of sneakers. Back when Jebediah Murdock was alive sneakers weren’t invented unless He recently bought a pair at his local Foot Locker.
The rest of the characters you’ll encounter obviously enjoy what they are doing, but it’s not working as effectively as it could be. The main reason for this is because the majority of characters are too young and to believe that a 17 year old would be locked up in jail and having a confrontation with the warden about him sleeping with his wife just isn’t believable. This is the case with many of the actors you’ll encounter. They are more believable to children going through the haunt, but not to adults.
Scare Effect-7: There were a few people in front of us that were petrified and strangely one mother was trying to scare the daylights out of her daughter. Every time She smelled a hint of gasoline She would warn her daughter that a chainsaw might be coming her way. The night we visited, it was a full moon and there was a strange glow in the sky. It was creepy to say the least. This haunt has its creepy moments, but it’s really dependent on how the groups respond to the different scenes. If one person in a large group of 20 or more isn’t having a good time and wants to comment on all the scenes, it’s going to effect everyone’s experience. And instead of being scary it’s going to end up being funny.
In order for Pataskala Haunted Forest to be as scary as it could be, they need to get rid of the guides that are in the front and back of the groups. The reason a haunted trail is scary in the first place is because you are walking alone in the dark woods not knowing what is going to happen next and if you will survive. Your sense of security is gone and when you add guides into the mix it’s just not nearly as scary. Making the trail a bit safer by removing branches, stumps, etc would allow customers to have free range and walk alone.
Customer Service: All proceeds go to the Pataskala Lions Club and Southwest Licking Youth Football. So from the start you know the staff is working at the haunt to help others.The staff is very friendly and helpful. The parking is only $1 and is very organized. They even have a variety of concessions available at the concessions trailer.
Fright Value: $10 seems to be a reasonable price for a haunt that lasts nearly an hour. A print out coupon available on may help bring in larger crowds that are looking for cheap entertainment. Don’t forget to pick up some tasty food and drinks at the concession trailer.
Final Stab-7.2: Pataskala Haunted forest is a very unique haunted trail. Instead of just having monsters jump out and scare you, they use various skits to create a story that slowly develops every turn you take. There are some bone chilling moments at this haunt, but some areas that need to be worked on in order for there to be larger crowds at this annual haunt. Either way you look at it, it’s frightful family fun for all ages.