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News: Visit a haunt in Virginia this season!
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Author Topic: Major Graham's Haunted Mansion  (Read 6745 times)
Completely Haunted
Posts: 707

« on: October 04, 2015, 09:37:08 AM »

Major Graham's Haunted Mansion
Date visited: 10/2/15

Scare Factor: 5/5
We didn't make it through the queue line without screams and having to duck underneath a clown crotch.  You don't make it more than a minute or two here without someone or something jumping out of the shadows at you.  The house features a sinisterly creepy vibe with actors using light touch to elicit screams.  While recovering from the house and headed towards the graveyard we experienced a completely unpredictably placed actor who got more than a few in our group to pierce the night with their shrieks.  The graveyard respite is brief, however, before descending into the outdoor trail that utilizes a well balanced mix of props and actors.  Sound becomes more essential to the scare with pounding, scratching, howls, and the like upsetting the perceived calm.  The last two indoor walk-throughs are relentless assaults of scares.  Persistent actors, well decorated sets, disorientation, and zero chances to catch your breath.  There was screaming, crying, a little urination, running, and a few pleas to quit from our group.  Really who could ask for more?

Actors: 5/5
MGHM is loaded with both quantity and quality.  I don't recall any bare areas in any of the attractions.  The actors *will* touch you but this is mainly in the first house and light in nature.  Very few actors settled for the pop scare.  They'd make their initial presence known and then stalk you until they had to return to their set.  Speaking lines are handled quite well.  Too often folks settle for "Boo!" "Get out!"or the ubiquitous just screaming.  The actors at Major Graham's up the ante with more sinister verbal interactions with guests.  The outside dog/wolf actors do a wonderful job of skittering around on all fours and howling.  There were a couple areas where actors showed off contortionist movements.  Of particular note was a gentleman in the carnival area who was completely arched over in a cage when we entered his room.  I should note we got a little extra attention from a couple of clowns due to a friend knowing them but I feel safe to say that all patrons will feel that the folks here are top notch and pleasantly demented.

Sets/Props/Fx: 5/5
I literally could spend hours walking through this place *just* looking at sets and props.  It's that fascinating.  The mansion grounds themselves are sprawling and look amazing lit up at night.  Entering the mansion I'm always taken aback that a full on haunted house is taking place.  It's a civil war era mansion that is bedecked in gothic decorations.  It's dark with the perfect amount of fog.  At times it makes me think I'm actually in a Hammer horror film.  Actors are often dressed in period costumes that smack of class and old school horror.  The outdoor walking trail features a quaint old town set-up.  I loved the werewolf / dog costumes used here.  The nuclear silo of the past has been changed up to an effective little maze.  The two other walkthrough attractions are chock-full of painstakingly detailed sets, a variety of props, and basically a plethora of macabre playlands.  Medical sets, dolls, zombies, army set-ups, swamps......and then the carnival.  The clown/carnival set-up is fantastic with some of the best make-up / masks I've seen in awhile.  I literally could spend an evening simply taking in the nuances of each set.  I'm sure there is a ton of stuff I missed as my friend pushed, pulled, and made me run past awesome looking props, masks, and sets. 

Length: 5/5
I think it took us about an hour to traverse all of the offerings on the mansion grounds.  You have the mansion itself, an outdoor walking trail, and then two further indoor walk-throughs.  Every time you think you might be done there are more sights to see and more people trying to scare the bejesus outta you. 

Value: 5/5
The first two weekends of the year this haunt is $15.  That's just insane.  At $15 this is a 10/5 value.  Later in the season prices increase to $20 per person but again this is still a tremendous play.  The way the haunt is laid out it is almost four separate attractions for that price.  Crazy!

NOT free parking.  $5 to park with minimal guidance to / from the parking lot.  MGHM has a concessions wagon and a full gift shop.  On top of logo merchandise the gift shop sells candles, jewelry, etc. There was a large covered shelter set up with picnic tables next to the parking area.  It was unclear if this was an area for staff or for the public to use.   

Overall: 5/5
I honestly just can't say enough good things about this place.  The setting itself is unique and spectacular with the star being an actual historic mansion.  Sets are top notch top to bottom from appropriately understated gothic rooms to gritty and bloody backwoods butcher areas to the ubiquitous but well staged clown area.  Actors are everywhere and have excellent timing skills as well as the desire not to settle for just the easy scare.  They go that extra mile to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up.  Whenever I wasn't being dragged around by my friend I constantly marveled at the visual parade of sets and clapped in child-like glee at the various scares.  My only quibble is that the last two walk-throughs didn't have a "gatekeeper" this year to break up group sizes and the conga line effect but it was a minimal issue due to weather induced small crowds.  It's early in the season but I have a hard time imagining a haunt could top our experience at Major Graham's.  It's the early yet runaway #1 on my list so far this season.  If you are in NC don't let the fact that this place is in Virginia deter you from going.  There are at least two other excellent haunts within an hour drive but this alone should be a destination attraction for the haunted house afficionado. 

"You can't piss on hospitality.  I won't allow it!"
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