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Author Topic: Hickory Grove Haunted Trail  (Read 552 times)
jonesm
Newbie
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Posts: 10


« on: October 05, 2013, 02:48:21 PM »

Visited: 10/4/13

Scare Factor: 4/5
This is what you hope to find when you take a flier on small haunt!  The parking lot, the lack of people, the uncostumed ticket takers all said church league, get ready for mediocrity.  But how wrong that impression was!  The trail was long and dark, had some terrific misdirected scares, relentless actors, and a hell of a lot of fun.  We were hot and tired from the hike and the fear by the end, and it was all high fives as we drove away!

Actors: 4.5/5
To be honest, most of the actors were teenage boys in t-shirts and jeans with a mask, but things were dark enough to hide that, and they more than made up for it with some wicked chasing.  They clearly relished the chance to scare people, and on more than one occasion we had monsters following and harassing us from two or three scenes back!  Also, the Squeaky the Muskrat scare was the most effective of the season so far, perfectly played by the actors.  They would call you back if you went by them too quickly, and they were terrific at rolling with any interactions without repeating themselves or breaking character.  They weren't trained, and they had no high tech toys to help them out, but this was one of the best troops of monsters we've come across so far in this young season.

Sets/Props/FX: 3/5
Ok, here's where some of that church league stuff starts to show up a little.  The sets were pretty spare, and there were definitely plenty of garbage bags used in building it, but it was surprisingly complex in some of the maze areas and there was one straight, dark tunnel that seemed to go on forever!  I think this haunt is low tech in a good way, and there's a strong sense of them turning their lemons into lemonade in terms of the money that was available for sets here.  There was an excellent laser field wooded section, a quality maze, and of course the amazing Squeaky the Muskrat set.  The actors pretty much do the rest, but in this case that's not bad in the slightest.

Length: 4/5
You're back in those woods for a good long time.  It may not be Trotterville length, but it's a little above average in length.

Value: 5/5
At $12 (with a baffling sign that says kids under 6 get in free!  Huh?!), this trail represents terrific value.  We went on their opening night and only saw a couple other groups the whole time we were there.  I don't know if that means we're just early in the season or if they just aren't very well known, but we really felt like we had the run of the place.  The value comes in that instead of that meaning they were simply going through the motions it meant that they focused everything and the kitchen sink on scaring us!  At one point we had no less that five chainsaws surrounding us.  This trail is totally worth the money!

Overall 5/5
I loved this trail!  Can't say enough for what a pleasant surprise it was!  It's certainly true that the lowered expectations of my first impression helped with that surprise, but the fact is this trail is filled with quality scares, solidly designed sets, and a set of monsters who use their youthful inexperience to make it feel unbound rather than unprepared.  I strongly recommend this to area folks and hardcore fans alike.  They don't reinvent the wheel, but this is exactly the kind of haunt you look for: under the radar and just realizing their potential.  I can't wait to see what they come up with in the next couple years!
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packbacker
Completely Haunted
*****
Posts: 707


« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2013, 07:34:37 PM »

Hickory Grove Haunted Trail
Visit Date:  10/4/13

Scare Factor: 4/5
If this was scare only this rating would be much lower but it was definitely entertaining.  Small groups that aren't piled on top of each other get a lot of personal attention.  When there are four of you and it's pitch black you get your imagination cranking.  As you're wondering what is up ahead you get people jumping at you from both sides.  Pop scares are followed up on mercilessly if you react.  The one positive of the guide is that he can hold you in an area....you can't escape as there is nowhere to go.  It has the ubiquitous chainsaw chasing people into the parking lot ending....and it works.   

Actors 4/5
Relentless is the key word here.  Not the highest number, not the highest skill level, but man these guys had to be waved off a time or two.  They found a screamer and DID NOT LET UP.  In the beginning when they got a reaction I heard some giggles and high fives but as we progressed through the haunt and found some folks with speaking parts things really picked up.  The entire family with the Squeaky the Muskrat scene deserves kudos for their delivery and then follow-through.
It's really odd having a guide who doesn't speak much....character guides or ones with more interaction would be more effective.

Props/Set/Fx 3/5
It's a lot of what you'd expect at a smaller spook trail.  There is a lot of plywood and black plastic.  That doesn't matter a lot, though, when you have tight or fun scares.   The clown areas are great as is a very creepy area full of whispering.  The maze is super dark and tight.  Masks vary from great to poor but it's so dark back in those woods does it really matter?

Length 4/5
I was sweaty and tired at the end.  Shore up  a few bare spots in the long dark tunnels and you get a 5.

Value 4/5
You get $12 worth of entertainment out of this trail.

Other
Free parking!

Overall 4/5
Haunts like this are why I love this hobby.   We were visiting two featured haunts and on a whim visited this attraction that was close to the Haunted Mill.  We pulled up to a nearly empty field and honestly I wasn't sure they were open.  We bought a ticket and noticed a complete lack of screams from the woods.  The ticket takers were sitting in lawn chairs.  Hmmmmmmm.  Ok well this is gonna suck, right?  Oh we have an uncostumed guide and have to hang onto a rope?  Sigh.   It's opening night, too?  Well I guess we'll trudge through quickly and venture on.  Whoops....I was wrong.

I think small crowds and a young lady screaming her fool head off got us some extra attention but I had an immensely good time shattering all my pre-conceived notions I had before starting the trail.  Squeaky the Muskrat may be my favorite scare of the season to date and there's something about being in the middle of the dark woods and turning around to see a fifteen foot grinning clown face in the distance.  Such a surprisingly fun discovery that was already delivering on what seemed to be a slow opening night. 
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