Nightmare: Ghost Stories is a walk-through haunted house by the creators of last year’s shriek-out hit Nightmare: Face Your Fear. Now doubled in size, the house boasts 23 different interconnected rooms of ghosts, psycho killers and gory, dismembered limbs – the sight of which prompted one girl in our group to declare, “No Red Lobster ever again!” An extra fee gets you entrance to a separate but much more frightening side-show: a dark labyrinth haunted by barely-visible specters flitting through the shadows. The maze – a more subtle, psychological scare than the main tour – is well worth the extra five bucks; we highly recommend getting separated from your friends and being followed by a clown through pitch-black corridors that culminate in a dead end.
Maybe we’re too horrified by the real world these days, but we found the 25-minute long main attraction conceptually clumsy, repetitive and remarkably devoid of tension. Tip: try not to get stuck in the back of the group like we were because you’ll end up missing a lot of the surprises. For us, the most frightening parts of the evening were the long lines, the powerful paint fumes inside and the errant hazards like a metal rod poking out of a mannequin that nearly tore a new dress. (This is a massive production, so it’s likely that such kinks will be exorcised soon enough.) The unitard-clad ghouls do their best to startle, but the word unitard should tell you all you need to know about their fear factor. And if the producers are going to plant people to act like scared audience members, they need to be a bit stealthier; on our way in a young man popped out of backstage to join us and screamed enthusiastically throughout the tour, lingering behind after we exited.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for something to scare the kids this Halloween season, Nightmare: Ghost Stories is perfect for the pre-teen age bracket, though the $25-$30 ticket price might give you a bad night’s sleep. Buy advance tickets here.