USS Nightmare 2010 Review

USS Nightmare-“Celebrating 19 Years of Fear”
Genre: Haunted Boat
Location: 101 Riverboat Road
Newport, KY 41071
Runtime: 25-30 min

USS Nightmare has been scaring fright seekers for nearly 20 years. 2010 will be its 19th year of operation and this classic haunt shows no signs of slowing down. We toured the spooky steamboat on a rainy Wednesday night. The crowds were small, but the people there seemed to really be in the mood to get the ship scared out of them. Are you ready to get the ship scared out of you?

This is City Blood’s 2010 review of USS Nightmare.

What’s Good About The Haunt?
USS Nightmare is bigger and badder than ever. There have been many changes made for the 2010 season making this year’s haunt dark and sinister. This is unlike any USS Nightmare you’ve experienced before. You will notice right away that the haunted museum uses less lighting and has some frightening items on display. Items include a shrunken head, a turtle head, various insects, old documents, animal skletons and more. Much of the boat’s paths have been altered making scenes tight and somewhat claustrophobic. There are also more sections where you’ll need to duck. This is apparent in the new area where you’ll duck under a casket before getting a very startling surprise.

This year you’ll be up close and personal with Distortions Unlimited Psycho Vision. This prop features a psychopath in a straight jacket spinning on a large disk as he laughs and screams hysterically while a mega strobe light quickly flashes. This prop is built to last and has been used in USS Nightmare for many years without any major problems. It’s an eye catching prop you don’t see at many haunts.

USS Nightmare features decor that blends in great with scenes. Examples include a sliding body bag, an impressive vortex tunnel with mirrors at the end, a corpse rising out of a casket, a clown popping out of a barrel, the classic electric chair, a tight claustrophobia tunnel, a ghoul ripping his face in half and the one and only Impaler. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again. USS Nightmare is the only haunt I’ve been to that really uses The Impaler to its full potential. Instead of putting him in a dark corner, they’ve placed this 13 foot monster behind a large net as if He was King Kong.

This actors are more intense than ever and really showcase their talents in some brand new scenes. One of my favorite scenes is the butcher room featuring a half human, half boar creature. She’ll torment you as you walk past a cut open corpse and various body parts and gory bits. The classic laboratory also has been enhanced with a brand new area featuring a crazed dentist working on his latest patient. While you’re making your way through the haunted boat, play close attention to some impressive areas of the haunt that have incredible detail. The doctor’s operating area uses real bunks, the newly enhanced clown room features a 3D clown car and the cursed temple has real stone flooring.

Over the years USS Nightmare has featured some type of clown/carnival scene. For a long time there was a colorful ball pit that you had to walk in and for the last couple of years there’s been a wide open area featuring a pop up clown, bubbles and plenty of off the wall characters. For 2010 the clown section has been revamped and is better than ever. You’ll enter a colorful Fun House featuring a large clown car, a clown head with red flashing eyes and mouth and plenty of impressive art that decorates the walls. The new Fun House isn’t overdone with extremely bright colors and you aren’t required to wear 3D glasses. Having the vortex tunnel connected to the Fun House is also a great touch. You’ll feel like you’re entering into a portal that transports you back into the real world.

There are many new scenes you’ll walk through at this year’s USS Nightmare. This includes a infirmary with a burn victim, a biohazard wasteland with an infected lunatic using a large tazer gun on himself, a chainlink maze, an enhanced museum with an entertaining tour guide and much more. There are many areas of USS Nightmare that have been added that will make it feel fresh and new for returning customers. But if I was to give everything away, I would have to kill you.

Classic scenes that people have come to love return like Anna’s playroom, the body bag freezer, the strobe slat maze, the cursed temple/crypt, the falling balcony, Rat Girl’s domain and the classic Fear Station (AKA Dreamalator) where you can choose what room you want to experience. USS Nightmare has a big advantage over haunts in the tri-state area since the creators have incorporated parts of the old boat into many of the scenes. There’s no need to build rusty pipes, levers or old machinery because this is a real boat and an authentic experience.

What’s Bad About The Haunt?
USS Nightmare has some very detailed rooms, but there are a few that could use some improvement. The most obvious is the forest at the end of the haunt. In previous years, Guns and Roses Welcome To The Jungle would play right before you would come face to face with a chainsaw maniac. The room itself resembles a jungle/forest, but much more could be done with it. A soundtrack of crickets chirping and animals off in the distance could be added into the scene so if feels like a real jungle. Old fashioned lamps that flicker on and off could be blended in with the woods to make the scene more dynamic. Even a few Vine Creature animatronics from Dark Raven Designs could be incoporated to make this area really stand out.

I understand why not much is done with this scene and it’s mostly because the creators want people going through to be frightened by the actor wearing a Ghillie Suit and the chainsaw maniac. But the problem you have here is that if the actor doesn’t do a perfect job that night, the entire scene is ruined and becomes very forgettable. Since this is the final scene, customers need to leave with a good lasting impression of your haunt. Unfortunately the chainsaw maniac at the end needs to be replaced or use an actual chainsaw instead of a fake one with sound effects. The chainsaw isn’t loud enough and doesn’t have the impact a real one does.

A new scene this year is the Chainlink Maze. You go through a dimily lit room that uses high chainlink fences. It’s interesting, but more could be done with it instead of using one actor who constantly walks in front of you. This scene is lackluster and doesn’t belong at USS Nightmare. It feels like an after thought since there’s nothing that really stands out. Having an actor beat a weapon on the cage creating sparks would make this room more intense.

USS Nightmare has some incredible props from companies like Distortions Unlimited, Oak Island, Scarefactory, Fright Props and other well known companies in the haunt industry. But the night I visited, some of the props I look forward to seeing every year weren’t there or they were even covered up. The mummy that rises in the cursed temple was nowhere to be seen. Shock Skinz that are used to give people a slight shock weren’t being used in the dark hallways. The attacking werewolf that can be seen on the outside was even covered up. But I think this was because it was raining out. Even if that’s the reasoning, it should still be shut off if no one can see it. The ghoul who rips his face in half was even behind glass where He could barely be viewed and the crazed lunatic who barfs in a barrel on the other side of the catwalk has been removed from the haunt. With a little tweaking these small problems could easily be fixed. There are other scenes and areas USS Nightmare can work on to make it better, but even with a few faults it’s still an incredible haunt.

Customer Service:
Before even entering the boat, you’ll be asked to have your picture taken and will be able to purchase it inside the Family Fun Center after exiting the boat. The Family Fun center is a section of USS Nightmare that was added in 2009. It features arcade games like Carnevil and a great concession area with tasty food ,thirst quenching drinks and the I Survived USS Nightmare T-Shirt. But the highlight of the Family Fun Center is of course Laser Rage. Laser Rage is a fun game of laser tag that family, friends and everyone in between will enjoy.

The price for USS Nightmare is $16 which is a pretty good deal for nearly 30 minutes worth of frightening entertainment. There’s a $3 off coupon available at as well as some incredible deals.

On Saturday, October 30th USS Nightmare will have their first ever unrated show. It will be darker, foggier and include more actors than ever before. Please visit USS Nightmare’s website for all the details.

Final Thoughts:
There’s nothing quite like exploring a haunted boat on a moonlit night. USS Nightmare is a very unique haunt with an incredible setting that no other haunt can replicate. There are areas that this haunt can improve upon, but every year USS Nightmare changes something to make it feel somewhat fresh and new. USS Nightmare is well worth your time and you would be a fool not to visit this haunted boat during the Halloween season.

Note: We visited on a Wednesday night. I suggest you do the same since the actors have more time to scare a few people instead of large groups coming through the haunt. If you visit on a Friday or Saturday night you may have to deal with waiting in a large line and catching up with other groups inside the boat.

Length-10    Design-9    Props/Animatronics-9    Acting-10    Scare Effect-9
Official Score – 9.4

Fun Facts:
*There are many surviving crew members that believe that the real trouble started when dredging during the maiden voyage uncovered an apparent ancient Indian burial ground. Then, later that same year, dredging operation halted when the pump became clogged with what was later identified to be a mast from an

ancient sailing vessel.

*There are few haunts that take place on a boat or ship. One of the most famous is Queen Mary’s Shipwreck in Long Beach, California. This haunt takes place on a real haunted ship that’s been featured on Ghost Hunters and other shows.