Todd - The USS Nightmare continued to offer something new and different again this year. Last year we welcomed the new RIP Experience - so much so that we awarded The USS Nightmare with our top Frightmaster award! This year's additions and continual interaction make it a strong contender once again.
The haunt itself, at its core, remains mostly unchanged from last year. Just about all of the scenes are the same. Since this is the year of Michael Myers, he'll be accompanying you in the beginning. It felt like a bit of the pathway was reconfigured on the first floor in the beginning but nothing else overly evident throughout the boat. However, with other additions included within the RIP Experience, it hardly matters.
The RIP Experience brings another dimension to your walk through. The actors will now be able to touch you and interact with you even more so. They'll surely see you since you'll now be wearing a lit up beacon around your neck. With this enhanced interaction comes a deeper story line to the boat. It will add responsibilities you must carry with you while inside...it can even lead to winning actual prizes!
I'm not going to give away any spoilers here but this added experience also will give you access to rooms closed off to the general admission INCLUDING 5-minute escape rooms! This was by far my favorite addition to the haunt this year. The escape room objectives are relevant to the presented story line and fit perfectly thematically.
Most of the actors performed quite well, especially those in deeper character roles relating to the ship's lore. We went on a Wednesday night and while I expect the actors should always be "on," I can only imagine they're even more fired up on big crowd nights. That's not to say they did a lackluster job for us, though.
There are still a few portions of the haunt that do not fit the otherwise strong theme. The largest offender would be the clown area. The designated clown area is actually relatively small, however it's pretty much a small maze of very corridors that wind up putting you into a circle over and over again. No matter how many times I've been here, I always lose my bearings. While I find getting through to be a personal challenge, it really has no place in the story. There's also a mad scientist section that feels a bit random as well.
The USS Nightmare is blast, regardless of any of these minor points. The boat is cool by itself and the haunt experience at it's core is really fun. Throw in the perks of the RIP upgrade and it results in a very fun and entertaining experience, offering a variety of elements rarely found in a single haunt.
Paul - The USS Nightmare is built on a retired dredge ship called the William S Mitchell that once roamed up and down the Ohio river making the channels deeper for boat traffic. The vessel is mostly intact with an enormous amount of the original equipment still there, now just surrounded by a bunch of haunt decor that plays very well off of the original super-industrial environment. It would be a really creepy experience on board even without the haunt being there, so it's an amazing place for scares! The history of the ship is fascinating and is well worth reading about on the haunt's website.
Our experience this year included the RIP Experience which added touch to the haunt and some added content. I would estimate it added around 20 minutes to the length of the tour and made the experience even better by giving a few more rooms to experience and even more intensity from the actors. The experience is already pretty crazy, so this just added more fuel to the fire so to say.
As you walk through the haunt you'll find yourself in many different original parts of the ship that didn't need much addition to the theme anyway, as well as a lot of areas that were totally changed to make them into something else entirely. The boilers, engines, and all of the equipment needed pretty much no help at all, and the kitchen, freezer, and bathrooms were all done amazingly well. As a matter of fact... they're so realistic we still aren't sure if they're original to the ship or if they were added for the haunt. There are a number of scenes that definitely weren't part of the original design of the ship as well, but they're mostly well-done enough to not take away from the authenticity of the surroundings. The lighting and sound effects are on-point, and even the few props in there that I've seen sold at the seasonal pop-up Halloween stores are well-integrated enough to make them fit very well.
On top of the things I've already mentioned, the actors were on their game! There are cast members who are just there to hide and give jump-scares, and others who are integral to their scenes, but not one of them was disappointing in their performance and several of them were phenomenal! The number of hiding places on that boat seem endless and the crew was happy to use every one of them that they could. I don't remember the last time I was actually surprised by as many jump scares as I was this trip through the Nightmare.
If you've never experienced the USS Nightmare you really should. It's one of the best all-around haunts I've experienced anywhere, and it's one of the few that I really look forward to visiting every year. You'll find it docked on the Ohio river right across from downtown Cincinnati, in front of Newport on the Levee. Park at the Levee, grab some dinner, try to brave the Nightmare, and make a night of it!
Teresa - This was my first return to USS Nightmare in several years. I remembered it was a lot of fun before, but this year was phenomenal! It completely surpassed my expectations. We got there before dark, and this ship is pretty unsettling-looking in the dying light of day. Apart from the signs and the big skull on top, it looks derelict, like the roof is caving in. We ate some dinner in Newport, and returned after dark for our tour. Now, the ship was in full haunt mode, with creepy lights, fog, sounds and all. There are various ticket levels available, and we opted for the upgrade for the RIP tour which allows for a more hands-on, immersive experience as you enter the Mitchell Massacre. If you opt for this ticket, you will be given a bright, blinky necklace to wear, letting the crew inside know they can get a little more close and personal. We were there on a Wednesday night, which is presumably a slower night, but it was by no means dead. Well, OUTSIDE, at least. As we waited for our turn, we learned a little about the history of the ship, which is a type called a dredger. It was used to maintain the depths of the water-ways, so they remained navigable. You can read more about this on the website, along with finding out about the 112 crew member deaths, about Captain Mitchell and his daughter, and about the eventual massacre.
Inside is incredibly creepy. You don't get much more atmospheric than this! We met a number of ghostly crew members, with fantastic costumes and old-timey accents, who touched our faces and hair, gave us things to eat and drink, made us play games, gave us missions, assessed our crew-worthiness, locked us up, infected us, decontaminated us, and all kinds of other things. One locked me in a box. Besides the ghostly crew members, I also saw vampires, Michael Myers, and some crazed killers and clowns. We walked through all kinds of rooms, from ship offices and bunks, to the kitchen, to the radio room, to the mechanical areas, to the portion taken over by the clowns, which was a maze of fog and mirrors. All through these rooms were characters we had to interact with, including the Captain and his daughter, Anna. We were given missions and tested in various ways, having to deliver objects, escape a room, play games, and find a key. This goes so much above and beyond a normal haunted attraction. And it was so much fun! The actors are very good at jump scares, too. It is really hard to surprise me these days, and they got me one after another. Good work! I think all-in-all we were in there for almost an hour. That's some serious return on your dollar! And even the parts of the ship that appeared to be almost left alone were so creepy. Picture walking along the metal walkways, with water all around you, and one of the tarps is flapping open in the wind to reveal the river flowing outside...but inside it is dark and things are hiding.
I simply cannot say enough about what a fun time this was. I highly recommend the extra money for the RIP ticket. The actors do touch you, but it isn't too aggressive. It's more sinister than scary. And the amount of time, interaction, and hands-on things you get to do is totally worth the extra cash. Although, having said that, they do have one night where they offer The Captain's Extreme Tour, which is a more aggressive, adult-style haunt, recommended for ages 17+, and I really want to go! Someone please go and tell us what you think! Even if you opt for the basic tickets, the ship is so atmospheric and unique, I think your whole group will have a wonderful time they will never forget!
Donna - I loved the USS Nightmare experience this year because of the interaction with the actors who were just so genuine they scared even me! The walk-through also seemed "different" as more of a maze then just a straight "conga-line" direction. I got the feeling of being lost more than once. This is a genuinely well done haunt and I have been reviewing haunts for almost 30 years. This is one of the best overall haunts that I have ever seen. Bravo!
Gayle - USS Nightmare is definitely one of my Cincinnati "Must Do's". There are so many things to love about this haunt...the fact it's on a boat, the fact it's deceptively larger than what it appears, the actors engagement, the new experiences...all of it combine into a frightfully fun time! The RIP Experience alone is interactive, engaging, and different than any other experience you'll get in Cincinnati. It offers an entire story line that stays true all throughout your tour of this haunted vessel. There are extra rooms, extra activities, extra actors...just EXTRA! It's amazing and one I definitely look forward to every year. So. Much. Fun!