Laboratory Mirrors Successes, Shortcomings of Haunted School House

Once we were free of the grip of the Haunted School House we walked the short distance to the Laboratory but not before Jason and John made a quick pit stop into some dense brush. Jason carried himself with shockingly little grace and probably had more than a few other haunters convinced that Big Foot, and not a man, was about to burst forth from the shrubbery. It’s moments like these that help make haunt outings so memorable. Shortly, the group reassembled and we finished the walk to the entrance of the Laboratory.

Just as we had at the Haunted School House, we ascended to the top floor before entering the attraction, and at the Laboratory the first leg of the journey is in 3D. I’m not a fan of the 3D gimmick in haunted houses. It’s rarely done correctly and it doesn’t add much to the attraction, usually the glasses simply fog the edges of your vision and leave you feeling a bit dizzy. I’ve given the whole thing a fair shake and I’m ready to see it become a thing of the past. Aside from that, the Laboratory much like the Haunted School House featured greatly detailed scenes and monstrous props. In one lair of scares we traversed a lengthy rope bridge which Richard tilted from side to side with child like amusement. A few other areas of note included the carnival area where several seriously creepy clowns resided. Opposite one, a large harlequin head bobbed dementedly atop a thick coil. The hallway leading to this room was lit with colorful, swirling lights. The direction in which the lights were fixed helped to blind haunters to the snarling freak hiding at the end of the hall — simple, effective haunting fundamentals at work. Elsewhere, a wonderfully detailed dentist scene revealed a haunt hottie — I was sure John would volunteer for some oral surgery but perhaps he was distracted by her mutant partner who ripped the jaw off of what used to be a patient.

There are two truly special scenes at the Laboratory and each will amaze most haunters because what they have to offer isn’t likely to be seen anywhere else. In both instances haunters are forced along a narrow path that circles the perimeter of the room. In the first, a dazzling laser show sends green prisms of light up through several stories — peering over the edge reveals large portions of the floors below to be missing; a mesmerizing sight. The second room is no less awe inspiring as it featured a huge Tesla Coil and this was no mere prop, cracking jolts of electricity exploded in the air. This was not an illusion, the distinct smell of ozone permeated the air — it was as if we were in the midst of a colossal summer storm.

The Laboratory was soon at an end but not before we ventured through an extremely disorienting vortex, one of the absolute best of its kind. The path then led us outdoor where we were routed into an old school bus. We exited through the emergency door at the rear, after a lone deadite gave Jason a fright of course, and wound our way through a path strewn with discarded artifacts from the Laboratory and Haunted School House but little else transpired in this area.

As with the Haunted School House, we agreed that the Laboratory was quite enjoyable but also capable of much more. I’ve already detailed some of the detractions that were present in the Haunted School House but are two in particular that I’d like to touch upon now. Due to the structure of the buildings haunters are required to use stairwells to access each level. These areas aren’t decorated and do not feature actors like the rest of the attraction for obvious safety reasons, and while all of this likely cannot be help it does break up the flow of the haunted houses. Just as your mind and body acclimate to the surroundings, you’re briefly pulled out of the show and the happy spell is somewhat diminished. The second feature I’m not crazy about is the design of the attraction. By and large, haunters traverse a clearly defined path with scenes generally to the left or right, or both. At times this approach took on the feel of a zoo or museum attraction and by never crossing those barriers the workers effectively suppressed whatever fear factor could have existed.

Both the Haunted School House and Laboratory were highly enjoyable haunted houses — the length was fair and as I’ve mentioned many of the scenes were highly detailed and immersive, but neither haunt truly used its building or theme to maximum effect — this was especially true of the Haunted School House. I have no doubt that managing attractions of such size and age is a unique challenge. Furthermore, I cannot help but wonder if years of prop acquisition and endless set modification hasn’t hampered rather than help the respective attractions. Then again, the major detractions at these haunted attractions may be more due to the structures in which they are housed and if that is the case there may be little the operators can do to rectify such. Only a fool would suggest that haunting is easy.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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