2011 Review: Pittsburgh’s Scarehouse has been maligned by Yelp.com? – My Blog

2011 Review: Pittsburgh’s Scarehouse has been maligned by Yelp.com?

The long and the short of this review is that The Scarehouse in Pittsburgh is awesome and you should go to it this season.

Check out their new attraction, Pittsburgh Zombies:

The Scarehouse Bunny:

The Scarehouse is up this hill to the right:

The neighborhood:

OK, let’s talk about this topic, gaiz.

Last year, I didn’t go to Pittsburgh’s Scarehouse haunted attraction because I had seen poor reviews on Yelp. It’s a damn shame that I didn’t realize that Yelp has been reported to delete and manipulate the reviews on their site if a company doesn’t pay them. Read the comments of the article I just linked. You will see some business owners who have had mostly positive reviews who are confused as to why they were all deleted and replaced with the one negative review they received. Here is a screenshot:

The Scarehouse in Pittsburgh, PA also appears to have been maligned by the issues at Yelp.com.

I went to The Scarehouse last night. I have never met Scott (the Creative Director) or anyone else who works with this haunt. I paid full price to enter just like everyone else. I also paid to drive 6 hours from New Jersey to my old hometown of Pittsburgh.

The reviews that claim this attraction is 4 minutes long or 10 minutes long are absolute total bullshit. My group was inside the house for at LEAST 20 minutes, probably a lot longer. It was a really long attraction!

I am not sure why competing haunts don’t understand that by planting fake information on other attractions (I have to assume this is the cause), they are encouraging the general public to write off the entire industry. A casual consumer probably doesn’t care that much for haunts. I know a lot of people who experienced a bad one when they were younger and have unfairly judged all haunts based on this. If you train your consumer base to think all haunts are bad or plant fake reviews that claim your bad haunt is good, it’s just bad for everyone.

But I digress. What was inside The Scarehouse?

The Scarehouse is made of 3 attractions this year: The Forsaken, Delerium, and Pittsburgh Zombies. The queue is nicely themed with old movie posters and disturbing film clips. Some scare actors (including the evil Bunny) were outside messing with people. They weren’t conga lining people through the attractions – they were pulsing groups through slowly. This is the best way to put people through a haunt so that they don’t miss anything.

The Forsaken: This haunt is an amalgamation of horrors. I encountered monsters of every type, great set pieces, claustrophobia chambers, you name it. The execution (no pun intended) was great!

Delerium 3D: Delerium is a 3D attraction that really delivers the most unique scenes I have ever encountered in a haunt. I’ve been to many 3D attractions and a lot of them seem to be a “haunt by numbers” deal. That was not the case with this one. It seemed that the designs and set pieces were made from the ground up. I haven’t seen any demonic cupcakes and a TRULY shaky floor at any other haunt.

Pittsburgh Zombies: This one was very well done and just as full of local history as it was scary. Having grown up in Pittsburgh, I was amused by the nods toward the Steel City’s more prosperous past. There is a really great fake ending that surprised all of us, too.

I can’t remember which section this was in, but at one point there was what appeared to be a 20 ft tall robot attacking us. There was also a giant monster that was pretty impressive.

I do have some constructive criticism!

– I hope they develop a more definitive storyline around The Forsaken in the years to come. I know it was awesome because I went through it, but I’m not really sure why they were forsaken or who the Bunny is.

– The small part of the attraction where everything is absolutely dark didn’t work. It caused a blockage because people would just stop dead. This negated the pulsing they were doing to load people into the attraction. I hope that they add some low lights on the floor like Eastern State Penitentiary does in theirs. That way, it still looks scary as if it were dark, but you aren’t disoriented enough to stop dead.

– I liked the haunt enough to buy a T Shirt or Hoodie, but the designs they had (a picture of the evil rabbit) didn’t appeal to me. I tend to like more subversive/stylish T Shirt designs like this. That is just me, though.

Should you go to the Scarehouse? Most definitely! These guys have extremely high-quality set pieces and many scare actors working inside them. I would put them on par with the amazing set pieces that Busch Gardens Tampa creates. (English translation: VERY good.)

I most definitely intend to make the 6 hour drive next year. I am never listening to Yelp again.

The Scarehouse is freaking awesome.


Even since I made my first post about the trouble Scarehouse was having with Yelp.com, I have received a lot of emails, tweets, and other forms of communication. My post was picked up on a few haunt sites and other bloggers have also started tracking this.


Scarehouse Yelp #Fail has been documented. A call to action was put forth, to no avail. @scarehousescott tweeted that he kept getting positive reviews, but Yelp kept filtering them and preventing them from showing. The negative reviews still remain on his profile.

Yelp responded that they were contacting him, but he just received another copy and paste email. Scott still has no solution to his issue. Yelp continues to display bad reviews – some that (I know for a fact) state factually incorrect things and were probably placed there maliciously.

It seems that Yelp does not care that what they are displaying on their website can hurt small businesses like Scott’s. Scott does an excellent job with his haunt. I hope that people see my post about his haunt first and aren’t put off by the misleading Yelp page.

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21 responses to “2011 Review: Pittsburgh’s Scarehouse has been maligned by Yelp.com?”

  1. I love the Scarehouse too! I think Forsaken is just filled with “dead” things. “Forsaken” can mean “abandoned” so maybe just things forgotten about to die and live in a dark basement or such. I agree about the dark room though, I think it REALLY slows down the line because people get lost in it, I know I did!

    • Ah yeah – I figured that was it. 🙂 I had to think of some criticism for the post…and I honestly had a difficult time thinking of anything to crit! 🙂 It was awesome.

      If I lived closer, I’d get a group together and go back in again. I think we may do a fan meetup next year. I’ve already gotten some interest from the tweets I posted.

  2. Thanks for the great review – and also helping with our constant battle with shady reviews.

    As you mention, Yelp continues to hide and filter any positive reviews we receive. Plus, our Google Reviews are stuffed with bogus reviews filled with misleading information.

    It’s hard, as a business owner, to fight against these reviews without looking like you’re just whining about a bad review or two — but more than a few of the reviews are clearly bullshit designed to hurt us. There are reviews claiming that our place is only 10 minutes long, nothing but black walls, no actors, etc.

    It’s not an ego issue, it’s legitimately hurting us. You’re not the first person to tell us that they avoided coming out because of the bad Yelp reviews or score on google. The ScareHouse is a family-owned business that is 100% controlled and financed by the 3 of us – with considerable expenses and 150 employees… so the bogus reviews don’t just hurt our ego, they often can cause financial hardship.

    As for the dark areas, we actually tweak that a bit as the month goes on. A few of our sets have variable light levels that we adjust as the crowds get larger to avoid the traffic jams. I probably should have adjusted it on Saturday – we were starting to get some jams.

    The downside to rebuilding so much of your haunt every year is that you have to continue tweaking traffic flow over the first few weeks. We spend a lot of time analyzing light levels and throughput.

    And you’re right about Forsaken – it doesn’t have much of a plot, even thought it is somewhat linear. We like to think that it’s an haunt filled with the people who have been forsaken by humanity/God/hope/etc … the people who lost their souls and are essentially left to wander the earth as everything falls to ruin: demented clowns, cult members in a church that was clearly smitten, murders in the backwoods, etc. It’s a kind of mash-up of Something Wicked This Way Comes, PumpkinHead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Abandoned….

    I’m rambling – but thanks again for the great review.

    • You rebuild every year?

      Oh my god man you rock.

      The crits I posted, I really had to think long and hard on because it was so minor. I try and put crits in every review I write so that people who aren’t familiar with me and my work won’t assume I work for you guys. 🙂 I know that when I read some guy gushing with no negatives, the cynic in me assumes he might be a plant.

      You guys with your awesome haunts making my job tougher! 🙂

      Anyway, we just met on Facebook today after I posted this! Very cool of you to take a proactive position online. I think that putting yourself out there as much as possible is going to be your best weapon to cut through the fake reviews and BS out there.

      When I have encountered falsehoods being told about me, I ended up saturating the Internets with as much truth and honesty as I could and eventually it prevailed.

      • We always change stuff around, some years more than others – and this year we really went nuts. Forsaken is, honestly, almost identical to last year – but we significantly upgraded the costuming. Delirium 3-D was massively changed – it’s in a totally different part of the building now, and we essentially rebuilt and revamped 85% of it.

        And Pittsburgh Zombies has just a few scenes from our last haunt (RAMPAGE) – but 90% of it is entirely new, meaning completely new construction and floorplan.

        I think you would have dug RAMPAGE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_YLIZdms8Y

        • Oh, suggestion – this is nothing you guys did wrong, but some asshats were in front of us in the house clogging the flow up. They seemed fascinated with stopping and playing the piano. I wonder if there’s a way to asshat-proof the piano?

  3. Worked for ScareHouse in 2008 and 2009. Have to say that Scott and Barb put on one helluva good show! Having worked in everything from small back woods hayrides to Universal Orlando’s HHN…I have to say that ScareHouse is definitely one of the best!

    In other news, myself and Carrie are doing our own round of reviews of haunts (we always do it seems) in Ohio and Lancaster the next 2 weekends…not sure what we’re hitting after that.

    Either way, always good to hear others’ take on places and ScareHouse really deserves the good word!

    • That’s cool! Keep me in the loop about your reviews! I can’t get too far west this year (will do Ohio: Haunted Hoochie etc next year) so I’d love to hear about them! I’ll even link to you. 🙂

      • Definitely will! I think this is the first year we’re not doing HHN…we did it for HHN 19 and 20…both were great events. I worked there for HHN 13 and 14.

        We may even do a raid on the Athens Halloween Block Party. We hear it’s a bigger, crazier version of Wilmington’s Halloween Loop. Either way, the pictures should be inundating my G+ page like the plague starting this weekend.

        Not sure where we’re headed yet…could be either Cincinnati or Cleveland.

        • I’ll post a lot of HHN pix so you can see how it went this year. 🙂

          Never did Halloween Loop or Athens Halloween Block Party. I am intrigued!

          I always wanted to work for HHN or HoS. I even considered trying to vacation for 3 weeks there to do so!

          • Sweet! Always love seeing what the guys at Universal cook up every year. next year we’ll be hitting up HHN and HoS for sure though!

            Would need a bit more time than 3 weeks for HHN…they typically don’t look at many folks who don’t have the full 6 weekend availability and auditions are 2-4 weeks before that! It’s pretty intense but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

            Definitely should check out either, they’re both huge parties and pretty insane as far as things go for Halloween celebrations. The Loop may be easier since it’s in Wilmington…usually about 10-20k people show for it.

            Looks like this is our schedule this year, though we always add more…

            100 Acre Manor (again, the maze at the end is just crazy)

            Pennhurst (never been)

            Field of Screams (never been)

            Jason’s Woods (been a long while)

            Valley of Terror (been a long while)

            Phantom Fright Nights (been a couple years)

            We may be hitting up:

            Dent School House (Cincinatti)

            7 Floors of Hell (Cleveland)

            Factory of Terror (Canton)

            Trans Allegheny Institute of Fear (WV)

            Moundsville (WV)

            ScareHouse (Etna)

            In the past we’ve done:

            100 Acre Manor (Bethel Park)

            The ScareHouse (Etna)

            Rich’s Fright Farm (Uniontown)

            Phantom Fright Nights (Kennywood)

            Haunted Hills Estate (Uniontown)

            Scareworld (Delaware)

            Frightland (Delaware)

            Terror Behind the Walls

            Bates Motel

            Sleepy Hollow (Bucks Co)

            Night of Terror (Mullica Hills)

            Fright Factory (Philly)

            Nightmares (sad to see this one go when it did)

            Junkyard of Terror (Somers Point area)

            HoW Williamsburg

            HHN (too many to count)

            HoS (too many to count)

            Terror on Church Street (Gone but not forgotten)

            Skull Kingdom (Gone and thankfully so! lol)

  4. Great and fair review. I’ve been hitting Scarehouse for a few years now and was there opening night. While I’m not a believer in all those lists from the Travel Channel or the haunt magazines, it’s really one of the top haunts around, and I’ve been to a pile of them all over.

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed that some of the top 10 lists in the media seem to be just who paid-or something? Scarehouse definitely belongs in there, though!

      It’s good to hear from other haunt fans. 🙂

  5. I think it’s super cool that you drove in to give the Scarehouse a shot. And it’s awesome that you loved it and shared your take with your readers.

    To update: The Scarehouse isn’t the only one to have Yelp issues. I have a story coming in from another business owner who had the same problem. As soon as I get it in my inbox, I’ll share it.

    Lesson for us all with this? Don’t always trust one source with the facts- search out several and make an informed decision.

  6. […] I have to admit to being cynical. I didn’t intend to go to any haunts in NYC. As much as I love NYC, events held in here tend to be crowded and expensive. You can spot someone from NYC in any club in the country because they have a unique dancing style that involves keeping to the smallest space possible. Needless to say, I assumed any haunted house in NYC wouldn’t be worth my time. Google revealed negative reviews for this haunt, but I wen anyway because we have already established that you can’t trust everything that you read online. […]

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