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The Haunted => Fright Team Haunt Reviews - 2014 => Topic started by: NCHadmin on October 19, 2014, 01:13:25 PM

Title: Darkside Haunted Estates - 2014
Post by: NCHadmin on October 19, 2014, 01:13:25 PM
Darkside Haunted Estates
submitted by: packbacker
Date visited: 10/18/14

Scare Factor: 4/5
There are two attractions here- zombie paintball and a walking trail.  Zombie paintball is fun but not scary.  Plenty of props to shoot at and a handful of zombies.  This takes place on the old haunted hayride trail.  The walking trail
ups the scare factor significantly.  There are a variety of houses to go through- a slaughterhouse, santa's playland, a doll house, a clown area, an asylum, as well as a cemetery, bus/cornfield, and more.  There is a good mixture of scares centered on actors and on props.  We found a few empty sets where actors seemed to either not be stationed or had wandered away but the slaughterhouse area was wickedly filled with fright and a few chainsaws were well timed to send people running.  The use of a lot of children makes it less scary in areas but overall it's a very fun experience. 

Actors: 3.5/5
The actors at Darkside are a bit of a mixed bag.  There are a lot of children here.  I inherently find children creepy so that was effective but some just didn't work in their scenes.  The Chucky actor and a little doll early in the trail...fantastic as well as a little girl crab-walking through the cemetery who made everyone in our group run for the hills.  The area of the Karma's dollhouse, though, just had children that seemed bored.  The folks in the butcher shop, asylum, bus, and first house were fantastic.  The clown area found several actors caught off guards that a group was coming through.  They were entering their set via back passageways when we recovery possible.  Overall decent but lacking that constant energy needed to be on all the time.

Sets/Props/Fx: 4.5/5
Darkside has been busy in the off-season!  The zombie paintball is completely new this year.  The wagon was comfortable, the guns fully functional, and the sets were amusing.  The trail has seen several new additions with a delightful Santa's workshop, doll, room, and a very disturbing bridge effect that even had me hesitate a little.  These excellent additions are on top of a trail that already featured a good number of sets and effects.  The slaughter area was very well done with a lot of gore.  The asylum area looked amazing with all the different patient videos.  The clown area has an excellent facade but was a bit lacking on the inside.  The lighting along the trail and the exterior of buildings is fantastic and I really liked the use of artifical jack-o-lanterns along the trail.

Length: 5/5
There are two separate attractions- the walk through trail as well as zombie paintball.  It took us nearly an hour to complete both attractions with separate queue lines.  Paintball is a quick trip while the trail takes at least 30 minutes to finish.

Value: 4/5
The trail is $16, paintball is $20, a combo is $30.  There are discounts for military, teachers and students.  Personally $20 seems high for the 1/4 mile paintball trail (75 paintballs includeded) while $16 is about right to a little low on the trail.  The combo ticket is a good value or the trail alone is worth the asking price. 

Free parking!  Concessions and t-shirts are available for purchase. 

Overall: 4/5
All in all Darkside is an immensely entertaining attraction.  The trail is long and varied with some truly fantastic things to see and for me a unique set featuring all christmas decorations (for me truly frightening!). There was a lot of screaming and some running, some laughs, and a lot of "ooooohs" and "ahhhhhs" while looking at various set pieces.  I would have liked a few less children actors and some more scares in the clown area but for the casual haunt goer this place is a heckuva trail to visit.  With both attractions you can make a night of it.  One tip would be to arrive early.  By the time we were leaving the line was backed up into the parking lot!   

Title: Re: Darkside Haunted Estates - 2014
Post by: NCHadmin on October 19, 2014, 03:48:10 PM
Darkside Haunted Estates
Submitted by: Screaming_Diana
Date Attended: 10/18/2014
Scare Factor:  4/5
This is a two part haunt with a tractor ride zombie shoot and a walking trail.  The zombie shoot was fun but not scary however the walking trail was quite scary.  Darkside is easy to locate from the road with a cheerfully lit train and skeleton band out front.  Once inside the atmosphere changes a bit.   Now you see a zombie patrolling the parking lot dragging a half-eaten dead body and Jason stalking patrons in line.  For me the trail was the highlight of the haunt and had me screaming from start to finish.
Actors: 4/5
While a few actors, on the trail, were off on their timing a bit I feel most of them did a great job.  I only recall one area that lacked an actor/scare.  They use a lot of kid actors but for the most part they were really creepy.  I ran from a 6 year old.  The little girls crawling all over the ground were freaky and could move lightning fast.  Chucky’s little wife was superb.  Most of the monsters masks and make up looked professional.  Some actors had on minimal costumes while others went all out.  I would love to have taken a picture of the demon angel.   She wasn’t trying to scare people but she looked fantastic.  The zombies along the tractor ride have a pretty tough job.  I can’t imagine being shot at by at least 75 paintballs per person is fun but they were hanging in there.  A few of them even fell over after repeated shots while others couldn’t be killed.
Set Design/Props/FX:  5/5
The haunt is very detailed with some really unique sets.  They have a great location for a zombie shoot and plenty of abandoned buildings for the zombies to hide out in.   I can’t describe the detail that they’ve put into some of these sets.  The house and the butcher shop look amazing.  The butcher shop is very gory with blood and realistic body parts all around. At one point you have to cross a bridge leading you over a large rock ravine.  I got weak in the knees looking down over the edge.  That was a very crafty design.  The funeral home smelled like old people.  I’m not sure if that is intentional or not but it works perfect for this set.  They’ve got a neat elevator ride, a fun clown town, and a creepy bus you’ve got to get through but my favorite set was Santa Claws.  Santa was there with his evil elves and fat guy who clearly had eaten too much candy.  There were Christmas trees and presents and Christmas music could be heard throughout the set.  It was Halloween at the North Pole and it was fabulous!
Length:  5/5
The Zombie Shoot is short but really doesn’t need to be any longer.  The walking trail is a lengthy trek through woods and various buildings.
Value:  4/5
Tickets for the walking trail are $16 which I think is a great deal.  $20 for the short Zombie Shoot seems steep.  You get 75 paint balls with your ticket price but extra paintballs can be purchased.  They offer combo tickets for $30 and other group and Military discounts.  There is a $2 off coupon for the walking trail on their website.
I would recommend going early as we noticed lines got much longer later at night.  Parking is free.
Overall:  4.5/5
Overall I had a great time at Darkside this year.  I got to kill some zombies and I got terrorized by Santa, an elf, clowns, a butcher, lots of little monsters, and many other scary creatures.  Darkside has a mixture of fun and scares so no matter what you’re looking for I think you’ll be pleased with what you find here.