Submitted by: 13moons
Scare Factor: 3/5 – Midway Wicked Woods 2013 is a fantastic haunt experience. Since it’s on a KOA campground, they get to use real fire, and the tiki torches add to the wicked woods tone – but it’s not a campy haunt whatsoever. My fourth year to go and third year to review this haunt, MWW is like four parts (besides the three lines to get into the haunt). The first part is the haunted Hazcar ride getting to line #3. The second part is a crazy house jam-crammed with great startle scares, surprising moving props, and intense actors loving their jobs! The third part is the wicked woods trail with indoor and outdoor spook scenes and plenty of noticeable additions and improvements providing a steady surge of edgy stimulation along the way. A few scenes were light on actors, as they seemed to conglomerate mostly in the first two parts. However, with so much to wind around and explore – including a new 3D set, it was highly satisfying. The fourth part is the black maze which seemed less than a-mazing this year: there was light in some places, and I got a splinter from lightly touching the sharp plywood walls. There wasn’t any sound except for one actor who was giving away how to get out when I wanted to go down every row and figure it out myself. That maze needs some love, ya’ll – it has the capacity to be one of the best! After the maze was over, the long trail back seemed more defined and there was one cool prop along the way, but that was it. Yes, it’s lonely out there walking home and I still want to play! At the end, although Mom might have been a dude in a dress this year, Mean Mom only wants to rifle through my collection of haunt bracelets with big scissors and cut my MWW ones off. Please, ya’ll, stop cutting off my arm band before it’s over! It just kills my buzz and I cannot see through my tears in the very last, very awesome, but too short spinner.
Actors: 3/5 – The actors in the first parts were digging their characters, especially Nipples the Clown. Loved the new strobe room with the supersonic instructions from a mouth-less crazy actor and blaring strobes - quite the disturbing and disorienting introduction! The scaretactic acting was like ad-lib theater in the first parts including scares coming from unexpected directions, but some of the characters were in street clothes. Need more actors overall in the woods parts and maze. It seemed like, although there was more to see this year in the woods which kept me busy with suspense, it was more a prop experience than actor-owned scares in many woods sections. What happened to the awesome winged gargoyle and dirt girl? The first two parts, there were juicy actor interactions! Deeper in, the actors kind of lost their function overall. In the woods, character energy was muted along with the whole sense of lived and embodied character feeling. But, the sets/props/fx kept me on edge and highly scare-tained, so I had a haunted helluva time despite the MIA actors.
Set Design/Props/FX: 3.75/5 – Awesome near back-to-back sets out there in the woods. MWW 2013 seemed to rely more upon sets, props and fx than actors for the entire second half. It’s probably difficult to overhaul MWW in just the few months of planning and preparation time for our one month of haunt thrills, and clearly they have put some scare intention in that woods section and revamped some key areas. MWW 2013 is a true wicked wonderland of new and revamped set design delight from start to finish – except for the black maze and lonely, long walk home to Mean Mom. That maze is like the peak of MWW even though its been around a few years, someone needs take proud ownership of making it perfect-the best in NC. There’s not a whole bunch of mazes like that around and so please care for it, keep it freaky, keep it slick, bring on the moving walls and secret passages, kill the lights, amp up the atmosphere (sound, textures that don’t hurt, and actors who are wetting their pants to give us our claustrophobic scare of a lifetime). Make your niche on that godforsaken maze – it’s ready for total haunt bling, so bring it, please! For folks who have never been, it has been one of my top favorite haunt mazes and it can only get better from here.
Length: 4/5 - I love this haunt but not the lines. Three lines: the ticket line, the line for the ride in, and the line for the intro house. Even paying $27 for a VIP you have to wait in the ticket line which was about 45 minutes just to buy a ticket. We saw an entire group of about seven people just cut in and no one did anything about it even with the man yelling fire over it five people back from the window. For $27, I want my own VIP ticket booth, please. Once inside, after about an hour of waiting and paying VIP, it took about 35-40 minutes to go through. Maybe it was shorter because the maze actor was pushing us to the exit instead of letting us enjoy the splintering claustrophobic joy of the black maze. Then, the walk home without playmates and grief with the bracelet digging – I’m being accosted and questioned about which bracelets are MWW for crying out loud! I’m just going to say the haunt was 30 minutes because of that jaunt with no haunt and then the time it took for Mean Mom to pat me down out of character, only wanting to snip me off. Seriously. Stamp our hands then – it’s probably cheaper than paper and you can use different stamps/ink pads every night – with different ink pads and stamps it’s still cheaper than paper bracelets! It’s just not worth the let down from my experience as a customer. If someone is really going to come back and try to slide in without paying, they’re gonna bring different friends next time anyway, what’s the rub here?
Value: 3.5/5 – Value and length were integrated into my MWW 2013 experience this year. This haunt is close to 77 and 40, so it’s easy to get to from anywhere in NC and there’s free parking. But, it’s almost a destination with the line wait and distance from other haunts. We drove a little too fast just to get there and barely made it by the (too) early closing time of 11pm on a Saturday night the weekend before Halloween. I’m not sure if the ticket lady was having a bad night, but she seemed a little overwhelmed and not oozing happy haunt love. The first two line/s were empty of scares or fun (talking to other guests was fun, but we created that ourselves). There was some pop music going but I couldn’t enjoy it at such a low volume...was that Pink or Muse? That’s some low volume if you can’t tell Pink from Muse. There was no one to go to and ask questions, no one to scare me, and people were grumbling in that line. Some people got in their car and left. One group just decided they were going to cut 45 minutes ahead and push their way into first place without waiting like the rest of us. Although a grown man almost to the ticket window was really pissed, watching him flip out over the line cutters was scary scenery. But, no one was there to take care of his concerns or to even hear his legitimate upset. For $27, there’s no VIP value, not on a busy Saturday night nearly closing time.
Other: 5/5- The concessions are disguised as being some ordinary concession stand. Where else can one get real homemade, hand-cut French fries made fresh at midnight? A delicious dose of carbs in the darkness.
Overall: 3.5/5 – MWW 2013 is a fun haunt but not my favorite this year. In 2011, it was my #1! I recognize the hard work - it does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I can clearly see the intricate labor and steaming creativity these folks have poured into making this haunt even better than 2012 with the great sets in the woods section, especially. Sometimes it just takes more than one season to get new stuff really integrated and still pay attention to other parts that work so well. I hope the maze gets the love it needs because MWW maze has made a serious impression on me in the past and if you’ve never been, it’s one to check out. I recommend this haunt for people who are looking for a great time with scares, adventures, creative sets, and pure haunt adventure especially if you’re close to Statesville. Not much time left, so get it while you still can!