Todd - This was probably the best year at Asylum I've experienced. While neither attraction was entirely new, each had been revamped for the better making for one fun evening.
I'll start by discussing Zombie City, my now favorite part of Asylum. It's still set in the zombie-infested Blackwood City and the questionable corporation Paragon is still responsible for all that has gone wrong. This year's goal is to obtain the cure and successfully deliver it to the doctor at the lab who claims he will freely distribute it to all of the city's survivors.
We were fortunate enough to have the same amazing guide that we had last year (I don't know her name but she can hold her own keeping up with my improvised one liners - "SCIENTOLOGY!"...ok, you had to be there). Along the way you'll encounter mercenaries, cultists and of course zombies. Eventually you'll find someone who has the cure and it'll be up to you to safely transport it to the end at which time the doctor will coerce you to hand it over.
He went on and on about how we aren't really free - we're slaves to "the system" and we pay thousands in tuition so we can earn our money, just to give it back to big government. The whole thing had an eerie (and perhaps intentional) parallel to debates of today's political arena. His claimed plan was to distribute it widely, but perhaps in a manor that would contribute to anarchy. You see, he has found a way to train the zombies to attack on command and obey when instructed. We were then surprised by a representative of Paragon (the evil corporation) who said if we handed the cure over to him, they will ensure it is replicated and distributed properly. Crazy doctor guy countered that Paragon only wanted to profit off it and those who are destitute would be unable to afford it.
The choice is then yours (for us, it was ultimately my choice since I carried the vial) - do you trust a corporation to fix the catastrophe they caused (but perhaps block access to the cure from those less fortunate) or give it to the man who says he can now control the zombies, eliminating their threat and distribute the cure to everyone. It was a highly engaging ending to this staged experience that really left me thinking afterwards. It seems each decision may lead to a different final ending, however the scene takes place almost at the very end of the trail so its hard to imagine what may have been different. I'd be interested to hear what your choice was in the comments below.
Darkness Falls is the outdoor trail in the woods. Some changes were evident this year. For the most part some of the various sections were brought closer together, making the trail slightly shorter in length but eliminating downtime between scenes. It worked quite well and allowed some of the actors to stick with us longer, pretty much harassing Gayle. We were told that there are plans to extend the trail next year and there's apparently a lot of acreage available. The slaughterhouse-like maze had seemingly been removed but other memorable scenes - the bus, shanties, furnace, cemetery - remain. The actors were very entertaining and often times goofy and bizarre. The doctor in the beginning was pretty fantastic as well. The pathway itself was relatively dry considering it had rained to the point of closing the previous night. Many areas of the ground have coverings to help absorb or wick away moisture. It's always good to note though that this is out in the woods so don't wear your Sunday shoes and always watch your step. There are a lot of tree roots and uneven ground throughout.
Xterminate is still the indoor laser tag arena, however the theme has been changed from zombies to crazed clowns and I actually prefer it. Unlike in the past, there was no set time you had to run around and rack up your frag count. You go in with your group and pretty much make your way through the maze, gunning down the clowns as you push your way through to the end. In the beginning you are given an objective but it wasn't made clear. We were told there was a single switch somewhere inside we needed to flip, although at the end, we were asked if we got both of them. We weren't told there were two. There are also a few hubs inside that seemingly support the guns, but it was unclear whether or not they had any part in the experience or not. Originally I thought they were just repeaters for the guns, but one had a sign that said INTEL above it which then made me think it had a purpose. If it did, it wasn't explained at all. If there IS more to Xterminate than just running and gunning, it would be great if it was explained up front since it would likely provide a better experience.
The other two attractions are Zombie Hunting and Carnivale of Lost Souls. We skipped Zombie Hunting this year to save some time as we still had 2 more stops for the night. While I'm unsure if it has changed, in prior years, a bus took you through a paintball field with structure facades placed around it. Paintball guns are mounted on the sides of the bus and you have a set amount of time to unload on anything you can see (including a few live zombie actors). The Carnivale is an impressive stage show of fire-breathers and other daredevil acts. It is centrally located in the middle of the other attractions' lines to keep those waiting entertained.
While we were at Asylum we were fortunate enough to meet up with Travis from The 7th Street Haunt which was not in operation this year due to it changing locations (and name). Travis and Rich (owner of Asylum) are partnered on the new haunt set to open next year and we are told the new location is great and easily accessible and visible from the highway. Both sounded very excited about what is to come.
Aslyum was immensely fun this year. I've never had a bad experience here, but this year everything just seemed to click. In fact, our experience here is a great example of why we plan to include a "fun factor" component of our scoring next year. Where a haunt may not be utterly terrifying, it may be tremendous fun and Asylum was fun indeed.
Paul - Asylum is a huge 42-acre multi-haunt attraction on the South side of Louisville, KY. They have five attractions to scare you with and you will undoubtedly have a good time.
The five attractions inside include The Carnivale of Lost Souls, Zombie City, Xterminate, Zombie Hunting, and Darkness Falls on Asylum. The attractions can be fairly expensive if you only want to do one or two, so you're much better off buying the all-access pass where you can do all five of them for less than the price of getting two separately.
We started out this year with Zombie City. In this attraction you start out in a waiting room at a zombie research facility. Very quickly you find out the **** hit the fan and they weren't planning on just having you make a quick visit. That's when the chaos ensues and you spend quite a while making your escape from lots and lots of zombies!
Zombie City is one of the more unique haunt experiences in that you're led through the entire place by a guide who is helping you with your escape. There are some really well-done scenes in the voyage, my favorite of which is the swamp. There was one big prop from last year that I missed seeing this year, but it's still a good time.
After we escaped Zombie City we took a trip through Xterminate. This is a fairly fast-paced trip through a mutant clown-infested maze where you get to blast the goons with laser blasters. This is the attraction at Asylum that I have the most fun in. You get to go through pretty quickly with the mutant clowns jumping out from all over the place. It's much darker in here than it was last year, which I think it improves the scare factor quite a bit while still being a lot of fun.
In-between haunts is where you get to check out the Carnivale. This is a circus-side-show kind of attraction where there a bunch of performers doing some pretty wild acts. Lots of things involving fire too! It's a really cool thing to check out while calming down from the last attraction you visited, though you'll still have to keep an eye out behind you... You never know what might sneak up.
We ordinarily would have done Zombie Hunting about now but we were on a tight schedule and had to skip it this year. This is a Zombie paintballattraction where you board a bus and get to blast zombies while they drive you through an infested area. It's not that scary but it's fun. After all, who doesn't enjoy blasting zombies with fast-flying balls of paint?
The last haunt, and the one that ends up being the scariest, is Darkness Falls. This haunt takes you on a mile-long voyage through some of the creepiest scenes around. It's a huge attraction that combines both indoor and outdoor, and will have things jumping out at you from every direction, including up! There are some fantastic scenes in here, one of my favorites being the church. The pace in this haunt moves fairly quickly, but they have the timing down well so you don't ever catch up to the group in front of you. Really impressive crowd control, especially for an attraction this big!
Asylum is a massive place and you can spend a huge amount of time here seeing everything. They have some very unique attractions, a huge amount of scares, and it's a great place to spend the evening running from zombies!
Teresa - Asylum Haunted Scream Park has 5 attractions. There are two walk-through haunts: Zombie City, which is indoor/outdoor, and Darkness Falls on Asylum, which is an outdoor trail. The third is Xterminate: Mutant Clowns, where you get to shoot clowns with laser guns. Fourth is Zombie Hunting: Urban Paintball Experience where you get to shoot zombies with paintballs. Finally, there is the Carnivale of Lost Souls. This one consists of booths with food, games, the scare bus, souvenirs, a photo booth, and a stage with live performers. There was a guy spinning all kinds of flaming things around when we were there. It was rather mesmerizing. You can get tickets for each attraction individually, or you can save lots of money by getting a Scare Pass or an All Access Pass, depending on what attractions you want to do. This is definitely the way to go. You can also upgrade to VIP for an extra $20, which lets you skip the lines. Depending on how crowded it is, this may be worth your while. Some of the lines can move pretty slow, because some of these attractions require lots of spacing between groups due to their interactive nature.
We went into Zombie City first this year. In this attraction, Paragon Technologies Corporation has caused an outbreak of Pandora's Rage virus, which has turned the people of Blackwood City into zombies. The company has quarantined the city for clean-up, and has created a cure. Things seem to have gone a little wrong though. You have to navigate the city, interact with its inhabitants, find the cure, and escape. This is very theatrical, requiring your participation. It really makes it immersive and fun, like you're part of a live video game. The actors are fantastic, and they really have you running through the city, from building to building, avoiding angry zombies while things explode around you. It is scary, humorous, and you have to follow instructions and make important decisions. Who do you trust? It's a lot of fun if your group really gets into it. Oh, and I'm pretty sure I ate some kind of larva. If you're wondering, it didn't taste like much of anything, so don't be too afraid to try it! There aren't many haunts like this, where you get to be a part of it. Will you be able to escape?
Next we went to Xterminate to shoot mutant clowns. When it is your turn, your group will receive guns and you will be given instructions about your mission. Then you get to run through and shoot clowns. They pop out of everywhere, so this really gets the adrenaline going! Be aware, the guns can only stun them, so they will get back up and come after you. This is so much fun! The clowns are entertaining, and running through shooting things is a blast! We only accomplished part of our mission. It is rather distracting (and exciting) with more and more clowns after you as you get closer to the end. I look forward to this every year because our group has so much fun with it. Maybe next year we will actually complete our mission?
Next we went to Darkness Falls on Asylum. This is an outdoor trail that leads you through all kinds of atmospheric scenes. There's a foggy cemetery, lots of cannibals, chainsaws, creepy glowing mannequins, butchers, lots of creepy noises, some cool strobe effects, some really frightening things happening overhead, a metal priest, a slide into a trash incinerator, and one very funny actor hiding behind a tree. And another thing about Darkness Falls...they are very good at remembering names, so you really get that personalized experience!
Unfortunately, we did not have time to see the Zombie Hunting, as we were on a really tight schedule. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, shooting zombies with paintballs = fun. The thing that really makes Asylum special is the amount of interaction. Here, you get to play a part in the haunts. Even Darkness Falls, which is their most traditional haunt, has more interaction than most. Go with people who can really enjoy participating and you will have an absolute blast!
Gayle - What makes this haunt unique is it offers a variety of attractions from which to participate. The midway is simple, yet fun and not found in any other haunt I've ever visited. The fire dancers and performers are always entertaining and mesmerizing. I absolutely have a blast in Xterminate: the lazer maze...shooting evil clowns (who wouldn't?)! The interactive Zombie City is ALWAYS a big favorite of mine. I love the engagement and the actors here never waver from their characters, which allows for a more intense and fun experience. Darkness Falls is always one of my favorites here as well. The trail is long and full of engaged actors, the slide, the creepy old church, the ghouls ziping above your head, distracting you from the creepy crawlers at your feet...it's FANTASTIC fun! LOVE IT!!