CarnEvil 3D Waxes, Realm of Darkness Wanes

After we departed Erebus we made the very short drive to the Realm of Darkness, where we expected nothing short of a great haunted attraction. A three year wait in between visits had breathed an air of freshness into Erebus, why should the Realm of Darkness be any different?

Unfortunately, a bad taste was put in our mouths before we even got out of the car when we were charged $5 for parking. You can say that $5 isn’t much money but really what is the purpose of such a fee? Why is it necessary to charge customers an additional fee to park? Haunted attractions aren’t cheap — the past two seasons in particular have bore witness to a marked increase in ticket prices. Granted an overwhelming majority of haunted attractions don’t charge for parking and for that I am thankful, but those that do risk an eroding fan base.

As a consumer I hate any service or product that has additional fees; I deplore the practice. Haunted attraction operators can attempt to explain it away all they like but  the best argument in the world will do nothing to dent the negative correlation customers associate with such fees. I apologize for going off on a tangent, but it irked me. As someone who visits many haunted attractions every season, often traveling an hour or two or more to get there — a parking fee is an insult and smacks of a money grab.

The grounds were nearly void of guests — an uninspiring site to be sure but not uncommon for a September night. A husky, bald clown with a mustache like a caterpillar provided a couple of laughs while we waited to enter the haunt. On his hip was one of the newer additions from VFX Creative Studios — an Attack Line puppet. These innovative puppets are available in four different characters — zombie, werewolf, scarecrow, and clown and are designed to be worn and controlled by an actor. The puppets feature realistic glass eyes and are equipped with articulation points through the mouth and neck. A good source of solid entertainment for any queue area.

CARNEVIL 3D OOZES WITH PROMISE

We entered the new attraction here first, CarnEvil 3D. Admittedly, none of us has ever been very impressed by these 3D attractions — the 3D effect often leaves much to be desired and  merely creates a blurry, tunnel vision effect that I find uncomfortable. When we have encountered a favorable 3D attraction it has usually been the actors would made it worthwhile and not the gimmicky presentation.

CarnEvil 3D however turned out to be pretty cool. The setting was established from the beginning of the attraction; a carnival sideshow. As we entered one room a colorful popcorn machine propelled the iconic snack into the air. A series of benches dotted the area, this apparently was where patrons were meant to purchase tickets. Comically macabre artwork lined the walls, my favorite was a brightly colored depiction of one so called Lobster Boy.

A pair of youths sat amongst the aforementioned benches and as we passed each one held an index finger aloft and laughed manically at something only they could see. Their eyes were blank and whatever madness held sway over their minds would not be broken by our taunts or inquiries. The pair put me in mind of the Ghastly Grinner who once terrorized an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? by infecting his victims with uncontrollable laughter.

The middle section of the attraction was a blur of neon colors and kitsch artwork, the embodiment of this particular blend was the aptly named Cyclops Boy. There was also Chuckles the Clown who did passionately urge us onward, but he could’ve definitely offered more in the way of interaction and improvisation.

Finally, we came to the advertised sideshow and what a collection their was of freaks and oddities, each contained within an individual cage. Here we meet Swamp Boy, conjoined twins, the Invisible Man, and a laughing clown who also displayed a penchant for chomping.

CarnEvil 3D was fun, offered a few memorable scenes, and was one of the more enjoyable attractions of this type that we have witnessed. It was in need of additional actors and more of an emphasis on story would’ve greatly enhanced the overall experience. How about an interactive game of chance for instance? Ring toss to win a twisted trinket, perhaps? Spin the big wheel to decide the fate of your party? The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Rating: 3.25 stars

POWER OF THE WIZARD DIMINISHED

We returned to the queue line and after a brief wait were beckoned to enter the Realm of Darkness. A tall and portly ghoul waxed philosophical about the journey that awaited; he reminded me greatly of Mathias who guarded the door last year at Scarefest Screampark’s Castle of the Dead. He was theatrical, well spoken, and a worthy addition to the Wizard’s army of undead minions.

The formidable doormen beckoned us to peer into a mirror and then took his leave of us, shortly a skeleton appeared in the mirror and unleashed an angry diatribe that felt a little redundant considering the speech we had just been given. Worse, no scare would manifest as the bony fiend neared his noisy climax — truly a missed opportunity.

We found the Realm of Darkness as detailed an immersive as it ever was. A few areas of note included the doll room which featured a true to life shrieking dolly, an elaborate cemetery, and finally a funeral setting that induced goosebumps. Also of note was the snake infested cave and one wiry clown who utilized a bungee contraption to spring into action.

On the down side there is little new about the Realm of Darkness, much of the attraction felt merely scrambled. It reminded me of the shows that the Scream Machine has produced in recent years — not bad but certainly lacking and in need of a revamp.

Animatronics greatly outnumbered live actors and this lopsided ratio did not work in favor of the haunt. Furthermore, I was particularly disappointed to find most of the live crew a little stiff. In past seasons the cast here has ranged from consistently good to excellent but this year far too many fell somewhere between average to good. The pursuit of the Wizard too seemed to have been diminished. What was once an integral and exciting element of the show felt listless and contrived.

Rating: 2.75 stars

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: