USS Nightmare 2019 Review

USS Nightmare (Newport, KY)
“The Captain’s Curse”
By Noah Wullkotte:

USS Nightmare is back and they welcome you to their frightening ghost story. The spirits inside the William S. Mitchell have some unfinished business and they’re ready to scare the living daylights out of you. 2019 is USS Nightmare’s 27th season haunting the banks of the Ohio River. People from all walks of life love to head down to the USS Nightmare this time of the year. It’s fun, it’s bone chilling and it’s what great Halloween memories are made of.

Enter the Mitchell Museum where the museum director is small in stature. He’s an expert when it comes to strange antiquities and the history of this spooky haunted steamboat. I sensed evil as I entered the boat and a feeling of dread overwhelmed me. Suddenly the window in front of me began to shake as a man tried to free himself from the clutches of a flesh eating zombie. His luck ran out and his head was crushed between the zombie’s hands. I couldn’t avoid getting hit in the face with a blast of water from this impressive CGI animatronic. The water simulates blood and brain matter from an exploding head.

USS Nightmare has some impressive special effects that you aren’t going to see at every haunt you visit. The crash simulator is my favorite. Feel the boat rock back and fourth as you try to make it out alive. A violent storm is making USS Nightmare almost capsize. The Crash Simulator is like a Hellevator on steroids and you’ll learn the dark history of the boat while you hang on for dear life. An animatronic I’ve never seen at another haunt is called Psychovision. A crazed mental patient is strapped to a disk that spins around and around as strobe lights flash and the man in a straight jacket laughs uncontrollably.

There’s plenty of eye candy at USS Nightmare. This includes a vomiting ghoul, a flying grim reaper, a classic electric chair and much more. The vortex tunnel tilts back and fourth and the most impressive sight is the 13 foot Impaler Monster. Just ignore the victim this creature holds in his hand. All that’s left of him is a bloody torso that violently twitches. This giant monster will gobble you up if you get too close and his loud roar can be heard throughout the boat. You’ll see him multiple times and you don’t want to make him angry anytime soon.

USS Nightmare has a good mix of high tech animatronics and detailed scenes that will make your heart skip a beat. The sleeping quarters is a scary place at night. The Lady in Red is out to get you and she swears that she didn’t crash the boat. The kitchen has some disgusting food that will make your stomach turn. The steam rising from the cooked food was a nice touch. The swamp is full of haze and features green laser lights. There’s something hiding. It wants to reach out and touch you. This is an intricate haunt with a great soundtrack.

You’ll meet many crazy characters that want to eat you; I mean meet you. The captain’s daughter Anna has some twisted story books. One describes how to hide body parts. Anna might be a small girl, but she’s scary as hell. Don’t let her turn you into one of her dolls. The Captain is very intimidating and he hasn’t aged well. He looks like he was freshly dug up from the local cemetery. He doesn’t like people going into Anna’s room. USS Nightmare has a few clowns that do a good job in the circus/carnival maze. The clown holding a severed hand was one of my favorite actors of the night.

There are little details here and there that we appreciated. The water below the catwalk glows a beautiful green. There are hanging fish and there are various special effects that help make the experience more realistic. The steel pipe with smoke coming out of it was so neat. The Laboratory featured a two headed monster with a strange creature growing out from the monster’s body ans the new animated port holes were unexpected and very eye catching.

USS Nightmare has just about any type of scene you can imagine. There’s a hospital, a dirty bathroom, a haunted forest, a body bag freezer and much more. This is one of the longest haunts we tour. We were in and out in 27 minutes. There were a few areas that could benefit from improved lighting. There were also a few props that were a little hard to see. USS Nightmare is known for their Rat Lady, but she was nowhere to be found.

USS Nightmare has great set design and really utilizes different parts of the boat to help create a very authentic experience. There was a dark hallway before entering the haunted forest. Adding some shock strips to the walls would definitely catch people off guard. Just imagine walking down a dark hallway and being zapped as you touched the walls.

USS Nightmare introduced their RIP Experience in 2017 and it’s been a big hit ever since. The Rip Experience is USS Nightmare taken to another level. Just imagine if you combined elements of an Escape Room with a haunted attraction. The actors are hands on and you become part of the scenes. Anna made me one of her dolls by putting lipstick all over my face. The RIP Experience is a blast and it’s a much longer haunt. It took us 43 minutes, but you could be in there even longer depending on your interaction with the various characters.

You’ll be given a necklace with different lighting effects. Make sure that it’s turned on since this alerts actors that you purchased a RIP Experience ticket. You’ll be given access to secret rooms and you’ll need to complete certain tasks in order to escape. I had to find a crew member’s eyeball, send out a distress signal, perform a vampire ritual, clean a toilet, play a game in the bar, do some pushups and much more. I loved the decontamination room that was filled with poisonous gas.

If you plan on visiting USS Nightmare this season then the RIP Experience is the way to go. There’s nothing else like it. General admission for the regular show is $20, Fast Pass is $30, Front of the Line Admission is $35 and the Captain’s Season Pass is $75. Tickets are $5 more on Saturdays in October. The lights on Matinee takes place on Saturday, October 27th and tickets are just $8. The Rip Experience is $30, Fast Pass is $40 and Front of the Line Pass is $60. Tickets are $5 more on Saturdays in October. Click here for information on renting the Mess Hall.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Captain’s Extreme Tour which takes place on November 2nd and 3rd. It’s no holds barred and features harsh language, touching, extreme special effects and more. It’s not recommended for those under 17 years of age. There are concessions available including Sour Patch Kids, peanuts, potato chips, merchandise and more. Don’t forget to pick up your picture that was taken before entering the haunt. Prices vary. Please note: The score is based on the regular tour, not the RIP Experience.

USS Nightmare is one of our absolute favorite haunts. It doesn’t get much spookier than a haunted steamboat on the Ohio River. The William S. Mitchell beckons you to enter. Will you perish and become one of the spirits that haunt what’s known as the “Death Dredge”? Head on down to Newport, KY this Halloween season for one of the most unique haunted attractions in the United States and have the ship scared out of you.

Length-9  Design-9  Props/Animatronics-9  Acting-9  Scare Effect-9 

Final Stab: 9.0