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Author Topic: Dent Schoolhouse in Cincinnati (9/13/13)  (Read 1146 times)
Badger
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« on: September 18, 2013, 10:15:59 AM »

I was at Scarefest in Lexington Ky and like last year, decided to take a quick trip across the river to Cincinnati to visit one of my favorite haunts, The Dent Schoolhouse.  Here are my impressions.

Scare Factor: 3.75/5 - (Almost repeated from last year) Dent is an actual schoolhouse built in the 1800's and has a history of being truly haunted.  Many of the actors and others working there have experienced 'unexplained' things while working.  The building looks creepy, even in the daytime, but at night it's truly disturbing.

Actors: 4.25/5 - Their new attraction was not open yet (opens Sept 27th) so those actors were wandering the  queues and had free run of the grounds.  Many of them were not necessarily 'scary' but that's more because they were not in their real characters.  However, inside the haunt the actors were dead-on.  I went through with a group of females and the screams were hard and heavy.  I saw some great dialogue and interactions between actor and customer.  There were a few spots where actors missed a good opportunity but I have a feeling that was more because it was opening night.  I fully expect them to hit their stride in a couple more days.

Set Design/Props/FX: 5/5 - It's a school built over 100 years ago.  That in and of itself is super-spooky, but many of the furniture and props look as if they're original.  They re-did about 1/3 of the haunt in the basement and the props are stellar.  I never expected to see some BIG animatronics in such enclosed areas, but it really works and scared my group more than once.  Overall, it's still a schoolhouse theme but there is so much more than the first time I went through it in 2008.  The library pay homage to the original 'Ghostbusters'.  Make sure you don't miss it.

Length: 4.5/5 - It takes a good 30 minutes to get through and could take much longer if you're with a skittish group.  Unfortunately, the secondary haunt was not open so I can't give it a 5/5.

Value: 5/5 - For $20, you get one of the BEST haunts in the country, hands down.  The concessions are tasty and cheap (Cincinnati chili anyone?) and even their merchandise is reasonably priced. (Note: This is the same thing I mentioned last year)

Overall: 4.5/5 - Yet another night that proved that The Dent Schoolhouse is one of my favorite haunts in the country.  It was a perfect night for a haunt with clear skies and temps in the upper 50's.  the parking was convenient and free, and the actors and sets were great.  I wish that the other haunt had been open but I will have to see it another time.  if you EVER find yourself in Cincinnati during haunt season, I strongly suggest you try to make it...
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13moons
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 01:00:39 AM »

Visited 9/13/13 – The Dent Schoolhouse portion only

Scare Factor: 3/5 – The Dent Schoolhouse was one of the best tightly-wound congruently-themed haunts I have experienced. Inside this (real) old schoolhouse, everything played out on the same tone; including the modern animatronics and techno special effects like illusions of extended rooms with ghostly figures; highly detailed props; and elaborate sets using every nook and cranny.  Plenty of mood and atmosphere pulsed inside (and outside) this truly ghostly, creepy haunted schoolhouse, especially in the basement where the star villain, Charlie the Janitor, was lurking about staring us down with beady eyes and an insidious persona. It was not extremely dark, but the creep factor and feeling of being in a real haunted place was potent. The atmospheric effects and tight theme down to the actors’ shoes kept me busy ooh-ahhing with suspense. I got some great startles, but not as many as I imagined; nor was the haunt nearly as spectacular as I imagined. But it was Day 1, Friday, September 13, 2013, before the haunt even opened for the real season. A new section of the haunt, “an intense military themed maze called Detention Hall” was not even up and running yet. What was most impressive was the special way that Dent delivered its characters, events, and story in full alignment with a unique poltergeist-y tone overall. Although it was not super scary, it was creepy - like being in a sepia-colored silent movie at times, less the screams of my friends ahead and several from me. 

Actors: 3/5: The actors were invested in their roles and to the guests in different ways. Going with a group of five, it seemed as though actors paid attention to my friend’s 16 year-old daughter like fresh meat in a shark tank. At times, I saw several actors hovered over her crowding her in a corner while she screamed wildly in panic. Two of us straggled behind the rest of the group because they were running and keeping up with the daughter’s experience. Actors brought some well-timed startle scares, especially the librarian. She goosed me good while I was watching a prop – right in my face, screaming when I was totally off-guard. I screamed back like autopilot. She would not go away after that first scream like actors usually do: scare ‘em and leave ‘em. She stalked me up until the nasty bathroom set. Actors in many sets did this silent stare-scare up close and personal, kind of towering over me trying to block the pathway especially when they got spotted. However, it seemed like several sections were missing actors completely, but I could hear my friends a room or two ahead screaming their heads off and laughing nearly constantly. The 12’ tall parking lot actor quietly stalked the lot in impressive garb and the parking lot actors got me several times out of the blue which was unexpected and screamingly fun.  

Set Design/Props/FX: 2.5/5 – The haunt is within an old brick and mortar school building. It seemed like not all the floors were utilized in the haunt because it looked bigger on the outside than it felt on the inside. The sets were so crammed with detail, they told mini-tales within themselves like sepia-colored eye candy.  Animated props kept us engaged when there was no actor coverage. There was not much mood sound going on in the background inside the haunt, which I think would add to the overall creep factor. And, perhaps due to the timing of the pre-season visit, several sets like the school bus had nothing going on at all and were strangely empty. What I did see was in tight alignment with the whole Dent concept, but it was really too early in the season to get a take on what this haunt delivers at all. I was bummed because it has collected a super long list of honors and awards from different industry rags as being a national Top Haunt repeatedly http://www.frightsite.com/reviews.html over the years. Since I didn’t get to see the whole haunt, I scored this as half points until it is possible to review the whole experience including the Detention Hall maze.

Length – Value - Overall: 2.5/5 - For $13 this particular night, we got most of the House. When the whole gig is open, it’s $20 but again, scoring what I didn’t get is moot so I went with a half-score because I got half the experience, if that. I am really curious about visiting this haunt when it’s in full swing to see what the glory is all about with these national honor and ranking systems.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 01:06:35 AM by 13moons » Logged

I tried to think of a logical solution that could explain what I had just seen — a solution that excluded the assumption that I was insane.
Bella Swan, Twilight, Chapter 3, p.59
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