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Author Topic: Hickory Grove Haunted Trail- Gastonia, NC  (Read 920 times)
packbacker
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« on: October 17, 2015, 04:00:12 PM »

Hickory Grove Haunted Trail
Date visited: 10/16/15

Scare Factor 3/5
Hickory Grove seemed on point this year to me because our guide knew the first two people in our group.  He'd call the actors out and say "get her", "touch Taneka" etc.  It took away the organic feel of the scare.  Hickory Grove is really good to use sound- airhorns, catcalls, beating on metal drums, etc.  Scares were rarely the initial reveal; actors are tenacious in follow-throughs.  I still think unguided would up the scare factor significantly but its fun regardless.  The chainsaw factor also seems to have been upped this year which feels a bit overdone in places.


Actors: 3/5
Good numbers with some quality folks.  On the flip side would be several that I caught breaking character within earshot.  In general they don't settle for just a pop scare- they go for the gold in terrorizing you until the guide drags you away.  Never once did I hear "You wanna play a game?" or the standard fare you encounter on trails these days. 


Sets/Props/Fx: 3/5
There are not a lot of extravagant set pieces here.  No animatronics.  A lot of the masks are cheap drug store finds yet somehow it all works.  The buildings are fairly spartan with a neat touch here or there- lasers, a great clown mouth entrance, and a claustrophobic maze.


Length 5/5
25 to 30 minutes in the woods.  The guides and actors can hold you in a scene longer if the need arises!  After the guided section of the trail is a very satisfying super twisty maze to end off your adventure.


Value 5/5
Tickets are $12.  Scary or not it's fun.  Lots of fun. 


Other
Free parking.  Concessions are available and in fact I was fussed at by a matronly lady for not buying a hot dog to eat while I stood in line. 


Overall 4/5
Low tech but effective.  HGHT is a unassuming trail that many would overlook based on its surroundings- a golf course / driving range.  Guides?  Sigh.  It actually works for the most part.  Generally guides are not interactive and the group gets no special treatment (unlike last night).  It's a darkly wooded trail that mixes in set scenes and pop scares in a very acceptable fashion.  It's hard to pinpoint why it works but it does year in and year out.  The price point makes it even more attractive.  There are multiple haunts in the vicinity and I'd have to say this is probably the most effective of the lot.

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Badger
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 10:54:41 AM »

HGHT
Date Visited: 10/24/15

Scare Factor: 3.5/5
Hickory Grove Haunted Trail has been around for over 20 years and have a VERY loyal following.  You drive down a rural road and turn off onto a narrow and dark street that leads to the haunt.  The haunt has a driving range during the off season but you don't even notice as the trail goes off into the deep woods.  It's a little unnerving to be waiting in line and hear that familiar sound of a chainsaw from several different places.  We were in a group of all females who had been to the haunt several times this season (see first sentence) and kept telling us how we were in for a scary time.  While I appreciated their honesty, I did feel it detracted a bit since they all knew what was coming.  This is a guided haunt and our group was quite familiar with the guide, talking like they were old friends.  That was fine, but a bit disjointed as the guide on occasion would try to get the actors to scare particular people in the group.  I prefer my scares to happen without requests from the guide.

Actors: 3.5/5
the actors were very enthusiastic and a good mix of interactive and pop scares.  The owner did tell me that the staff is mostly family and friends and volunteer so sometimes they have everyone, sometimes not.  There were people showing up to work after the line had already started forming and in my opinion, that's a bit...unprofessional.  However, I quickly realized that these actors absolutely LOVED what they did in the haunts.  No slackers here.  My only issue was that (as an actor trainer) I noticed many of them failed to end the scare and reset. On more than one occasion, the actors would get in your face, scream, shout at you, and then stand there waiting for you to pass in silence.  Disappearing into the murky gloom of the woods or behind a wall would make this even more terrifying as the actors could then pop out again and scare multiple times.  however, our group was thoroughly entertained and scared so it was apparently working on them.  There was a Michael Myers and I'll admit he was impressive in size and stature, but again, my feelings about trademarked characters in for-profit haunts is well-known.

Set Design/Props/FX: 4/5
As with most trails in this part of the country, the decor is a bit...primitive, but it works perfectly within the confines on the haunt.  The natural setting of the woods is absolutely creepy and the fact that the tall pine trees are planted in rows gives the impression of silent sentinels of the dark forest.  All the underbrush was cleared out and the moon shining through the trees made us nervous before we even got deep in the woods.   90% of the trail's buildings were ramshackle and made us uneasy to go inside.  They were all appropriately junky and looked like they were thrown together haphazardly.  Loved it.  There weren't any high-level animatronics or $500 silicone masks but they would have been out of place at a haunt like this.  The chainsaws were loud and the only weapons I saw.  Even the Michael Myers character did not appear to have any weapon.  Interesting.

Length: 4/5
We waited in line for about 20 minutes and the walk though the trail took about 30 minutes.  They take you from the line and put you in a sort of 'staging area' where you are introduced to your guide, read the rules, and given a rope to hold on to.  This takes about 5 extra minutes.   No complaints about any of it.

Value: 4.5/5
All tickets are $12.  You get a lot for not a lot of money.  A good value all around.

Overall: 3.9/5
FREE PARKING! A concession stand that also sells merch as well.  It's reasonably easy to get to from Charlotte, Gastonia, Hickory, or any other place in the area but you do need to know where you're going.  Parking is a bit limited and if you get there late, you might be parking along the road and walking.  Is it the best haunted trail in the area?  It's definitely one of them.  Is it a destination spot?  Since you are only 10 minutes from The Haunted Mill in Belmont and 15 from Zombie Hollow in Gastonia, I would hit all three in one night and make it part of a fun evening out.
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