Overall Score - 8.3 / 10
Individual attraction ratings below
Overall Score - 9.1
Scare Factor - 8.4
Actors - 9.6
Visuals - 9.2
Value - 9.2
Donna - The thing that stands out to me the most about Stillwell Manor is the overall value. If I could give it a ten I would. This is an entire evening of entertainment! Three haunts in one location, firebreather's, roaming actors outside, even food trucks in case you get the munchies after spending what seems like an eternity inside the haunts. The first haunt we went through was the namesake Stillwell Manor which is an old haunted house stuck in time 140 years ago. It is very well detailed with residents roaming around who are there to do anything but welcome you to the past. This is a very very long haunt taking upwards of 45 minutes to go through.
Gayle - This haunt was visually amazing. So much attention to detail, and had the look and feel of an old, haunted mansion straight out of an old Vincent Price flick. I thought the engagement was super awesome with the actors, who seemed to follow ME throughout my entire time there. Great fun, and a nice homage to the classic haunt!!
Paul - Stillwell Manor is a haunt consisting of three attractions: Stillwell Manor, Isabell's Beyond, and Tantibus. All three attractions are included for their very reasonable admission fee, which is $20-$25 for general admission, depending on which night you visit.
When we arrived at the haunt we were greeted with several roaming actors outside including a couple of gentlemen who were blowing fire! The roaming cast had about 6 or 8 characters who made sure you knew you were at a haunt! There were also a couple of food trucks outside cooking up some amazing smelling food to snack on once you worked up an appetite from all of your screaming.
The ticket booth and queue are both right inside the front door and offer one of the better haunt waiting areas. The set and lighting in there make it almost impossible to tell that you're in what used to me a multi-screen movie theater. In fact, that's one of the biggest changes I noticed this year; they hide the 90s-era theater hints better every single year. Last year I remember several scenes where I would look up and see this massive open room that we were in, and it was hard to miss that you were in one of the massive theaters. This year I don't remember seeing that openness once. I think it improved the creepiness of the experience by a pretty good amount.
The first attraction you enter is the original Stillwell Manor. The trip through General Stillwell's home starts in the yard outside, then you wander into and out of his house for one of the best traditional-style haunted houses around. The actors are engaging, the sets are extremely detailed and creepily-lit, and the General's house is BIG. It takes quite a bit of time to make your way through. There are several really memorable areas but my favorites this year were the outdoor/graveyard and the crazy cat lady room. As we wandered through it sure seemed like there were a lot more dark areas and you walked through substantially more swinging doors this year than last. I liked that aspect because it made it harder to see what kind of scene you were walking into until you were pretty much already there. These small things just end up making a better and better experience.
There are only a couple of areas I noticed that could use some improvement. The first is the lighting. Most of the scenes have very appropriate lighting, but there were a couple that I think we missed the full experience of because we couldn't see the set. I don't think they need more room lighting in most cases, mostly just more accent lighting. The other thing is really beyond the control of the haunt, but we definitely noticed they were understaffed on the night we were there. After speaking to the management we found they just had a higher than normal number of them that scheduled off or called in that night. Teenagers...
This really is an excellent haunt. You spend a huge amount of time inside and you really get drawn into the atmosphere of the house. Get yourself over to Stillwell Manor and visit the best haunt in Anderson!
Teresa - This was my second time coming to Stillwell Manor. I had such a great time last year I was pretty excited to see it again. As we got close enough, you could see the giant search lights drawing attention to the building. They added some creepy decor including a huge grim reaper and fog to the outside as well as a large tent to provide cover in case of rain. The queue actors were absolutely fantastic. They did a great job of getting jump scares out of people standing around outside (and inside - more on that later). We also met some fire-eating clowns outside. There was food available, so it's a great place to hang out on a nice night. Inside, the ticketing and waiting area make you feel like you're waiting in a haunted castle. Then you enter the Manor of General Stillwell. You start with a pretty cool video, very Haunted Mansion-like, giving you the backstory and rules. Then we were off. This is a nice, long, old-school haunt. There is just so much decor to see. I love just looking around and taking it all in. I noticed it was more enclosed than last year, which adds to the claustrophobic ambiance of a run-down manor. You notice things like the slanted floors in parts of the haunt, which remind you that it is in an old theater, but honestly, I feel like it works. It makes everything seem a little off. I love that. The lighting and sound effects were really good. I especially loved the laser and fog effect that makes you feel like you're wading through a swamp. My only complaint was that we went through all 3 haunts in a large group, of which I was last. I understand a lot of props go off when people enter the room, so being last, I'm going to miss some things, but I expect the actors to interact with everyone and most will even follow and intimidate the person bringing up the rear. For some reason they didn't do that here, and I missed a lot of the scares, which was disappointing. Again, they were very short-staffed and the actors were a lot of subs and volunteers. They could have just been really busy trying to cover the entire haunt. A few of them were really top notch though. I mean, completely over-the-top awesome, which is what I expected after last year. And even the ones I didn't get to see do their spiel may have done a great job and I just missed it. I did love the crazy cat lady and the butcher. Some of the sets are really impressive, too. My favorites are the shack with the creaky floors, the library, the crazy cat lady room, and the graveyard. Also, I get a kick out of going through the closet. There's also a very impressive giant animatronic that I'll just leave as a surprise. The length, decor, and theming make this lots of fun. They offer an add-on to your ticket where you can go through again on the same night. I would consider doing this just to be able to get some food, hang around outside, then go through and see what I missed the first time around. And don't forget, you get two more attractions for your money!
Todd - Stillwell Manor is the primary attraction within this haunt of the same name. If you're not familiar with this attraction, it's housed in a gutted movie theater. The continual improvements we see year after year are stellar. Two years ago, you could definitely tell it was a movie theater. Now, you may not even notice.
I must first point out the craftsmanship required to build scenes on the slanted floors. Again, two years ago it was very noticeable, while today, hardly at all. Despite the highly unconventional venue for a haunt, it works incredibly well.
Stillwell Manor is a traditionally themed haunted house where you'll walk through various rooms, along with some outdoor scenes. Since it's in an old theater, roof clearance is not a restriction. This allows Stillwell to have larger props and scenes than some other smaller haunts could accommodate. There's some really cool stuff in there.
Speaking of stuff, I just have to say - there is a TON of stuff inside this haunt. Everywhere you turn there's something to look at whether it be an oddity, a piece of furniture, a trinket, etc. Most of the scenes are filled to the brim, eliminating any open space that you may consider your comfort zone.
The actors are highly energetic and some of the best we've seen. Not only is it clearly evident they love what they do and believe in it, they are very entertaining as well. Not all of them are cast to be scary. Some are goofy, funny or just generally creepy but they all do a great job.
==I'm going to insert a break here to talk about one particular actor which I'm fairly confident in saying will probably be the most memorable one of the year - Reverend Silas. I couldn't tell you one thing about the real man behind the character because as much time as we spent around him, he never once broke character in the slightest. As for his character, he was amazingly brutal. He's a floating character, meaning he pretty much goes where he wants. You might find him outside with visitors in line and then again somewhere within one of the haunts.
We first encountered him outside when we arrived and he immediately fed on the fears of Gayle who does not hide her scares well at all. Once Silas learned Gayle's name it was game on. He "forced" her to go first in the 2nd and 3rd haunts, crawl on the floor and would threateningly call her name from afar as we went through the haunt. That's amazing dedication!==
Last year we rating Stillwell Manor as the best up and coming haunt. I don't think they are contention anymore because they're "here." Stillwell has proven their potential and pulled off a great experience. I, personally, can't wait to see how it continues to evolve year after year.
As a whole, the entire experience is quite lengthy and carries high value for the price of admission.
Overall Score - 7.3
Scare Factor - 6.4
Actors - 8
Visuals - 6.8
Value - 8
Donna - The next haunt is Isabellas Beyond which is a carnival freak show themed haunt complete with a fortuneteller who interacts with the group and does tell your fortunes. Some of these you may not want to hear!
Gayle - Again, the actors engagement here was above and beyond! This is where actors can make or break a haunt. They brought you into the scenes, engaged throughout, entertained, and startled every chance they got. The haunt itself had some physical aspects that were pretty amazing as well! Around every turn, there was something cool and someone even more terrifying. Loved this haunt!
Paul - Isabell's Beyond is a carnival freakshow and the freaks want to give you a performance you won't forget. You start out in the entrance tent where the ringmaster goes over how things work and sends you on your way. The attraction takes you up and down stairs, through a maze of tents, and along the way you meet some VERY interesting characters. This was the attraction that seemed hurt the most by the amount of staff missing that night, but we didn't mind so much because one of the roaming actors from outside made his way in and really changed the atmosphere. The Reverend seemed to make it his mission to make sure we got the most out of our visit and he did an excellent job of it!
Teresa - When you come out of Stillwell Manor, you have a chance to grab refreshments, or buy a souvenir from what appears to be one of the old concession stands. Then you wait in line for Isabell's Beyond. It is clear from the line decor that this one has a carnival theme. Once you go in, a carnival barker character welcomes you and tells you about Isabell and her band of freaks that you're about to meet. He was outstanding and very entertaining. He started teasing one of our party right off the bat, making her go into a little cubby of shame.
And then one of the wandering queue actors, Reverend Silas, made us laugh throughout. I think he really helped out during parts that may have been slow due to the actor shortage. I really think the carnival theme is fun. I like all the red and white striped curtains. The fortune teller was back this year and very entertaining. I also enjoyed some crazy lighting effects. I really missed the seance scene that we got to do last year. I'm not sure if it was cut, or if there just wasn't anyone to work it. This one is shorter on decor and actors compared to the manor, but we still laughed through the whole thing, thanks to some entertaining actors.
Todd - Isabell's Beyond is the second attraction you'll go through. It's themed as a freakshow of sorts. As last year, I still find this to be the weakest link in the Stillwell chain. We were forewarned that they were lean on actors when we visited, but I think there's still opportunity for content.
Our friend Reverend Silas found us inside to torment Gayle about half way through (this is when she had to start crawling on the floor and barking like a dog). Poor Gayle. Unfortunately, this was the most memorable part of Isabell's Beyond for me. It felt very short and vapid.
However, I feel there's a HUGE amount of potential here. Out front when we arrived, a few fire eaters were performing. While I understand they can't perform inside, it did spawn the idea what Isabell's Beyond could showcase actual side show artists. The carnival theme is already there (white and red striped panels) but the environment could be enhanced as well. If the level of detail that exists in Stillwell was applied to Isabella's Beyond, I believe the experience would be enhanced tremendously.
Overall Score - 8.4
Scare Factor - 8.4
Actors - 8
Visuals - 8.8
Value - 8.4
Donna - The last haunt is Tantibus which means nightmare. This haunt depicts all of your worst nightmares from escaped insane asylum patients to deadly virus spreading mutants to zombies. You name it it's all here in your nightmares. There's also a fun twist towards the end but I won't give away the surprise. I also have to mention the incredible actors throughout the haunt that made it fun and entertaining along with being scary and creepy. Some of the best actors we've seen in any haunt this year! Great job!
Last year we rated Stillwell Manor has the best up-and-coming haunted house. I have to say without a doubt that this year Stillwell Manor has definitely arrived! Must see in Indy'!!!
Gayle - What more can I say? These are a fantastic group of haunts that without a doubt were WELL worth the 2.5 hour trip from Cincinnati. From the actors engaging people entering the haunt, to the fire breathers outside, to the lighting, sounds, and visual effects...this place was adrenaline overload!! I was literally jumping every 5 minutes...or maybe I was getting a bit more attention than the rest of my group because I'm an easy target, but it was AMAZING. Silas definitely made my trip more terrifying in that he seemed to find me no matter where I was! Great job guys!! You truly gave me nightmares! YES!
Paul - Tantibus is Latin for Nightmare and this haunt lives up to its name. You go through a bunch of scenes that are straight out of peoples' worst dreams. There's a zombie outbreak, spiders, clowns, and my favorite scene was the girl in the padded room- super creepy! This haunt is pretty detailed and I liked how the nightmares just went from one right into the next. It always seems like my dreams jump randomly from one to the next, so I strangely appreciated how there wasn't much of a transition from one to the next.
Teresa - Tantibus is full of nightmares. We saw everything from clowns to zombies to spiders to deranged doctors. This one definitely ups the scare-factor over Isabell's Beyond. There were some very creepy scenes and I really noticed the sound effects in this one. Also there was a portion where the floor made me uneasy. It looked like it was made of milk crates. And there is a crazy-long, wide slide. It was so long that I started going sideways, which is not what you want when you're sliding into...who knows what! Be sure to secure any personal items that could fall out of your pockets! I really liked the spider scene, the quarantined area, and the doctor at the end. He took one of our group and put her in his chair and was trying to harvest her organs! He did an outstanding job chasing us out with his bone saw. Considering the three attractions, you get a lot for your money here. Our whole group had so much fun. The actors, especially the queue actors, really stepped up to fill the void caused by the regulars being out. I really look forward to seeing them again next year!
Todd - Tantibus is the final experience concluding your Stillwell Manor visit. It's a collection of nightmarish scenes to journey through. The epic 2-story slide remains intact once again this year. I picked up so much speed I was sideways by the end of it and I lost my phone (briefly) in the ball pit. Secure your items!
While Silas was still lingering around to harass Gayle, we encountered a memorable, deranged doctor that also picked on her. He did a great job coming close to taking a circular saw to her head. Lots of fun!
Some scenes in Tantibus are a little smaller in parts due to the space restrictions upstairs, however, they're still well detailed. Last year, there was a more interactive experience in the padded room, which I missed this year. Now it's a short, yet more chaotic scene you pass through briefly. The spider infestation was fairly well done and the clowns were pretty creepy. I felt they could have been showcased a little more - after all, it's the year of the clown!
In conclusion, Stillwell it a great haunt and a lot of fun. Not only is their passion evident, so is their philanthropy. Stillwell Manor is a member of the Don't Be A Monster organisation which campaigns against bullying. Additionally, they accept can goods as donations for a discount on admission. They also have special charity nights on which ticket sale contributions are given to charity.
Now knowing that Stillwell Manor will remain in place for at least the next 5 years, I can't wait to come back year after year to support this great haunt.