Overall Score - 8/10
Overall Comments (individual attraction breakdown below)
Paul - Land of Illusion isn't like any other haunt in the area. It's more of a haunt theme park than anything. You can go and hang out with friends, listen to music, have a couple of drinks by the fire, and when you're feeling brave, go through a haunt or two. They make noticeable improvements to the park and attractions every year and it shows how much they care.
The actors do very well at their jobs, the props are detailed, and there are some really scary moments!
As far as negatives, I only have 2. First would be the number of people smoking all over the park. Whether you're near the firepits, the stage, the bar/concessions, in the bathroom, or in line for a haunt, there's almost always someone next to you smoking.
The second is lighting in the haunts. There are SO many really awesome props and visual effects through the haunts that you don't even notice because there isn't any lighting on them. It doesn't have to be super bright, but when you spend the time and money on all of these super detailed props, they should stand out. A bunch of little LED picture lights or mini strobes would go a long way.
Gayle - Land of Illusion is still one of my favorite local haunts because it has SO much to offer. The atmosphere has so much energy, with bonfires, live music, haunts, The Demon Drop, Zombie Patrol, Bull riding ring, and roaming actors, so many things to occupy visitors from any age!! They have made some great improvements, including the cobblestone walk ways, and it's looking AMAZING. I always recommend LOI simply because it's so diverse and entertaining. Love it guys!!
Todd - I think the most important thing to point out here is that as a whole, Land of Illusion is not just a haunted house; it's an experience. While the ticket price may feel a bit jolting at first (don't forget a season pass could be a good value for you), keep in mind that this is a place you go to for the entire night - not just a few hours.
The central hub area continues to be improved. The bonfire, powered by gas since last near) now has tabled seating around it and the ground of that area has been bricked, producing a nice, clean standing area for the stage. As always you have the amazing bathrooms, bar and concessions in the same area. There are a number of vendors on-site as well.
Staying open until 2am, with unlimited admission to the haunts and different special guests each night (GWAR!!), the ticket price for Land of Illusion has more value than it may first appear to offer. Certainly, there are more extreme haunted houses out there but very few have been able to accomplish becoming a full fledged, multi-attraction amusement park with the professional operations LOI offers. As every year, I can't wait to see what the next year brings.
Temple of Terror
Overall Score - 6.5
Scare Factor - 6.7
Actors - 6
Visuals - 6.7
Value - 6.7
Paul - I like the temple quite a bit. There are a lot of interesting props, the actors do a good job, and like the other haunts, the theme worked well.
Gayle - In years past, this one was always one of my favorites. I love the scenes, props and visuals, however, this year one of my favorite features of the Temple of Terror wasn't there. The elevator into the temple was either out of commission, or removed. I was a bit disappointed, but overall, it's still a good haunt. Actors were a bit scarce, but that is expected on opening weekend!
Todd - Unfortunately this year, while a few changes were evident (probably only noticeable to yearly visitors) the things that weren't working were more obvious. Many pneumatic props could be heard firing but no movement was made, particularly with the large skeletal monster. This is the first time I've seen this guy not working, which is a shame since it stands out so much without motion.
A few new twists and turns felt like they were added but generally speaking the decor was the same. In lieu of stand out changes, smaller details have been added (things along the walls, stuff hanging from above).
The years of traffic through the haunt have cosmetically worn it. In many areas the building materials are exposed to to scratches and gouges. I'd like to see the temple get the paint job it deserves!
I'm sorry to say the actors were a bit on the mediocre side at best. It was opening weekend so perhaps they have not found their stride. It felt like there was a lack of energy and theme among them.
The most standout experience of this haunt for me is the elevator that shakes you around as soon as you enter. Upon our visit, both the entrance and exit doors of the elevator were open allowing direct passage into the maze. I'm not sure if this was due to a technical problem or means to get people in faster.
The park attendance on that night was the largest I've personally ever seen it, likely due to Rozzi Fireworks putting on a show. The pacing felt too quick and perhaps skipping the elevator was to keep the line moving.
Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate
Overall Score - 7.5
Scare Factor - 6.7
Actors - 7.3
Visuals - 8.7
Value - 7.3
Paul - In this haunt you're trying to get out of Dr Psycho's place. He's come up with some pretty nasty creations and they're extremely unhappy you're there. Very well themed but I noticed quite a few props not properly functioning. I'm guessing that's just an opening-weekend thing though because on my other visits it all worked.
Gayle - I enjoy Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate, and feel the overall vibe of this haunt is creepy. There were more actors here, and their engagement was enthusiastic and energetic! Fun haunt!
Todd - I always have high expectations for Dr. Psycho's and I'm happy to say that again, while there were little to no noticeable changes in my opinion, it's still a great haunt.
Being the most traditionally styled haunted house, this one for me is great because not only is it fairly long, but it takes you both in and outdoors. I definitely noticed a lacking of actors throughout. This haunt has always had some really good, effective actors. I didn't feel that superior performance this time around and there were a number of areas where the scares were left to automated props due to lack of a living person.
Still though, there's enough Eye Candy alone in the world of Dr. Psycho to keep one interested. Hopefully the actors and acting strengthen as the season gets into its groove.
Voodoo Bayou Shanty
Overall Score - 8.8
Scare Factor - 8.7
Actors - 9.3
Visuals - 8.7
Value - 8.7
Paul - After the trail, this is my favorite haunt in Land Of Illusion. The theme is great, the actors do really well, and the creepiness is excellent. This one really draws you in and keeps you in.
Gayle - This one seemed to step up its game from last year. There seemed to be more engagement with actors and more energy! The props were and scenes were equally as entertaining! My favorite of the 4 "indoor" haunts!! Excellent time.
Todd - The Shanty definitely takes the award for best haunt in the park this year. All the key elements were on-target, even for opening weekend.
I noticed a few pathway additions, but nothing radical. The beauty of this haunt is that the less they do to it and the more it sits exposed, the better it works for the theme. Everything is dirty, sometimes smelly, dank, dark and disheveled - exactly how it's supposed to be. It's amazing, how authentic everything appears to be (in some cases, it is!). Almost every passage is confined and puts you in close quarters with the actors, who fortunately seemed to be in all the right places - even with chainsaws!
The energy was great in this one and everything clicked. If you're tight on time, make this one a priority.
Overall Score - 5.3
Scare Factor - 5.3
Actors - 6
Visuals - 4.7
Value - 5.3
Paul - Killer Klowns feels like it's in the middle of a big change. It's really close to being a super dark, dreary, dirty haunt, but there's still a lot of fluorescent paint all over from when it was a 3D haunt. I think that takes away from the creepy-factor.
Gayle - Although, I did notice some exciting differences between this year and last in terms of layout and prop changes, there were fewer actors, and not much engagement here. I felt I spent most of my time strolling through, looking around for something (or someone) to jump out, but left feeling it was more like a ghost town, than a Killer Klown refuge. Still fun, and I always like the cage maze, but it's definitely more entertaining with more actors...
Todd - Anyone reading my past reviews of Killer Klowns know that I was a huge fan of abandoning the excessive black lights, which turned this haunt into a much darker experience. I'm so over the black light 3D thing, so clowns in the dark to me is great improvement.
Structurally, this haunt had the most noticeable changes from last year. The games gallery which was a single, straight walking area has now been expanded to a number of areas, twisting and turning. However, there were so many opportunities for actors not utilized in these new areas. They're heavily fogged in parts, there are plenty of places to hide unseen and yet there was hardly anyone around. Most of the actors we encountered were not hidden at all but in plain sight from a distance. The scariest thing they had to offer were jokes about tasting their boogers and the like.
Recent attendees may also recall the the fence maze has been roofed and pumped with fog - a fantastic change from how it used to be. However, again there was nothing but missed opportunity within. Not a single actor in that area (that we encountered).
The theme is what it is and it can be challenging to really break new ground with clowns and fun houses. Killer Klowns was one of the first to break the clown haunt mold and transform into a dark haunt. Unfortunately now it feels to be slipping into the realm of dull. With the ultimate year of clowns upon us with the release of "IT", barring outright plagiarism, there is so much opportunity to prey on the fears clowns produce in many; Killer Klowns took advantage of none of it.
Middletown Haunted Trail
Overall Score - 9.3
Scare Factor - 8
Actors - 10
Visuals - 9.3
Value - 10
Paul - The trail is the best feature in the park. There are huge improvements every year, and the actors do an amazing job. I loved the new black-and-white rooms and the actors working them. They made me jump a couple of times. Excellent job on this one!
Gayle - I was super excited this attraction was open, and the weather didn't dampen this experience! By far, my favorite haunt at LOI. This is a mile long scare fest. There were TONS of actors and tons of GREAT scenes here. The Hatch seemed new to me, and was the BEST, most CREEPY part of this haunt. The actors here were top notch! I love this one! Keep up the great work guys!!!!
Todd - Let's get this out of the way first - the sheer lengths and variance of themes in the trail makes it high value alone. So don't miss it.
Last year brought the opening sewer structure, 2 years before the underground, experimental holding area and this year....black light spider cocoon things? I understand a civil-grade construction project can't be added every year but the new room/area added this year felt a little underwhelming and short and confusing. I guess when I first saw it I was expecting something more but before I knew it I was on to the next area feeling it was a bit out of place.
Anyhow, the major themes of the trail remain the same. Some parts of the trail have been modified, lending to a more streamlined pathway. Gone are the few areas with wider outdoor areas where newcomers could be consed on which way to go.
One welcome addition is the giant crusher you walk through - 2 large steel walls with spikes closing in on either side of you. It's fun.
Actors felt a little lean in this one as well. Granted, it's a lot of territory to cover but in past years I always remember a concentration of actors in the school and in the hillbilly area (which worked well). This year I don't know if I saw more than 2 in either.
However, for haunt lovers, the trail is good enough to walk through without any actors at all. Just take a stroll under the moonlight and admire how much haunted goodness you find along the way.
Zombie Sniper Patrol
Overall Score - 6.7
Scare Factor - 3.3
Actors - 7.3
Visuals - 8
Value - 8
Paul - Zombie sniper patrol has had some major improvements from last year. There's a HUGE new queue area and I feel like the entire attraction is better than ever. I had a lot of fun with it.
Gayle - This one is SUPER fun! I LOVED the new hanger on the waiting area, and the line seemed to go fairly quickly. Every year I get pumped about shooting these guys, yet still feel guilty...but they seem to LOVE it. Super exciting time, and makes for a fantastic break from going through traditional haunts. LOVED IT. Great improvements made here in terms of visuals! Well worth a trip!!
Todd - We probably shouldn't even have a scare rating for this attraction. I wouldn't say it's intended to be scary. The actors too are not so much monsters but animated targets.
The fun in Zombie Sniper Patrol is just getting to shoot stuff and most people likely save their ammo for those precious head and crotch shots. Scene to scene there's plenty of structures and parked vehicles to shoot at, but let's be honest - you want to get that satisfying headshot.
This year adds yet another vehicle as a target - an RV! It's almost comical to witness this large, gas guzzling thing speeding along with you. I was told it's referred to as the ""Shaggin' Wagon"". Even better.
The most impressive thing for me personally (I love highly themed areas) is the entrance. Zombie Sniper Patrol no longer appears like an afterthought. It's queue is now housed under a hangar-like structure, complete with an army jeep and other decorations to make it feel authentic. It honestly felt like I was in line for an amusement park ride.
If you're up for something different, throw in some extra cash to take a break, sit and shoot stuff.