Oni and I have visited Shady Brook Farm’s Horrorfest on a previous occasion, but apparently did not do a review of it. At that time we liked the event being it was an average quality event for it’s type. Unfortunately this trip did not have that same quality.
Horrorfest has 4 attractions:
Hayride of Horror, Barn of Horror, 3-D Alien Encounter, and Carnage.
Barn of Horror:
This attraction was actually not bad. It had a decent number of scare actors, and they were not just doing lunge and scream. The biggest issue we hit though was they were overly focused on chasing a group of younger kids back and forth through the attraction, and ignoring us.
We all know that some scare actors like to focus on people who freak out–with the idea that this makes the haunt seem more scary to others. In most cases though, this is a negative since it basically throws other people in the event out of the equation. If they hadn’t done this I think this attraction would have been a nice walkthrough experience, as it was we sort of just walked through most of it without much interaction.
Hayride of Horror:
The standards for hayrides in the PA/NJ area are pretty high: Bates Motel, Field of Screams, Shocktoberfest, and many more have huge budget rides that have elaborate and expensive set pieces. Horrorfest does not look like they have that type of money to spend on their ride, so they basically scaled down many of the scenes you’d find at these other locations to their lower budget (to be fair, most hayrides have the same type of general scenes–I’m not implying that Horrorfest is simply copying the others). The biggest issue though, is when you can’t match up in raw power (i.e. throw money at it), you need to do something else to add back in the spectacle. This sadly wasn’t true at Horrorfest.
The ride itself simply felt like it was less and a boring repetition–like buying a knock off toy version of a real doll with a sound alike name (not “Batman”, but “Knight Man”). When you don’t have the budget for effects and sets, what you need to do is either have great actors, make it funny, or throw a ton of people at the ride. That would be my suggestion–with the easiest being just go from 4 people in each section to 10 or more (yes, I know, budget–but you either do something or it basically is a boring experience as it is).
You can’t just have a few people jump out and scream, it just doesn’t work to make a fun ride.
3-D Alien Encounter:
Part of the issue I see with Horrorfest is that they aren’t seemingly making any changes or updates to their set up. Most of the industry has dropped the “3-D” stuff since it really doesn’t add to attractions (the glasses are irritating, and most attractions relied on the 3-D as a gimmick with nothing else really going on of interest, and it actually slows down throughput as people stumble around). This particular attraction has some of the most unfortunate elements of what the industry did with 3-D; the 3-D painted walls basically look like weird 70’s side-of-van drawings that don’t really inspire much fear or interest and have little to do with the theme.
As Scott Swenson of Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream said to us–you have to make your attraction great first, then add to it with 3-D–which isn’t really the case here.
Looking back on things this attraction is basically unchanged from our last visit 3 or 4 years ago.
Carnage is Horrorfest’s Corn maze. This, like the Barn of Horror, had more potential than the other 2 attractions. There were a few nice bits, with an area (essentially a small building that attendees had to walk around that let actors come out or over the structure in multiple places) that I haven’t seen done in a maze before.
The only big disappointment was that the maze was exceptionally short compared to other corn mazes–when we were done we were quite surprised that it only took a few minutes to go through.
I was overall a bit disappointed with this return visit. In addition to this, the loud karaoke in the midway made being at the event unpleasant. The midway had some great relaxation areas with bonfires but undercut all of that with the auditory onslaught in the middle of the event.
To be clear, Horrorfest isn’t terrible, but compared to other events of it’s type, it’s a bit below average in quality.