Category: Attractions

2016, Attractions, Guest Post, Theme Parks, Virginia

BUSCH GARDENS WILLIAMSBURG: BGW Announces Variable Pricing for Christmas Town 2016!


This is a guest post by Kara Dennison.

So it probably goes without saying that myself and everyone else who writes for the Onezumiverse site is thrilled for Christmas Town this year. And yeah, I’m trying to keep the hype at least slightly at bay until Halloween has passed, but there’s no denying it’s a big deal every year. With eight million lights lighting the park up after dark, Ghirardelli hot chocolate stands every few feet, and festive shows and music to excite even the Scroogiest member of your party, Christmas Town is catnip to a holiday fiend like myself.

Plus, with their new pricing system, it pays (literally) to get a jump on the season this year.

This week, Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced that they will be doing flexible pricing for this year’s Christmas Town event. Starting November 1, visitors will be able to purchase tickets to the park for as low as $16. No, seriously. Yes, that is a 55% discount off the already low at-gate price of $38. Yeah, I thought it was a typo, too. But this year, the sooner you buy, the less you pay. That means more money in your pocket to pick up Christmas presents at the park — or some seasonal snacks for yourself.

Oh, and they’re really going to have us working hard to cover all the coolness this season. Not only are they currently boasting more lights than any holiday event in North America, they’re adding more to the festivities. They’ll beopening Tempesto to riders during the event, making two roller coasters you can experience during Christmas Town. Sesame Street® Forest of Fun will be decked out for the season. And they’ll be opening Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland, where you can meet Rudolph the Red-Noised Reindeer and his friends.

We’re really going to have our work cut out for us this year, Oni. Are you ready?

Christmas Town runs on select days from November 25th, 2016 to January 2nd, 2017. Visit their website to find out more and start picking up tickets at the beginning of November.

2016, Attractions, General, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Pennsylvania

Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania Haunted Attractions: Hotel of Horror / Altered Nightmares 2016 Review

Let’s just cut to the Real Talk. Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares are back this year and they are in fabulous form. They made several changes to their haunts this year and the actors are giving the great performances that these haunts are famous for. A large part of these attractions have been redone. There are completely new rooms. Pre-existing rooms have been totally re-staged. New pathways have been created. Much of what you know from the last 2 years is different.

I know that the first question I am going to get is “How does it compare to last year?” This year’s show is several levels above and beyond their show last year. If you didn’t go last year or were thinking of sitting this year out you should re think your life choices. This is the year to go. Let’s talk about what’s going on this year and why that’s the case.

Hotel of Horror’s theme this year is Judgment Day. “Be witness to medical mishaps injustices and their consequences.” For example, this guy:



Altered Nightmares theme this year is Dark Magic. “Visit a world where spells and curses rule the kingdom.”


I am not going to give away the surprises or tell you what rooms are totally new and how the pathways were redone. Both attractions are more intense and more focused than last year with a higher skill level displayed by all of their actors. And no – they didn’t really know I was coming. I swooped in quickly and paid to go this year because my schedule and mental ability to handle advance organization got eaten by Hurricane Matthew.

I loved almost everything that I saw in both attractions. Most of the actors were on their game this year. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that a very small number of new actors were relying on only pop n scare. 1 used words such that I thought his room would be a theatrical room. When we paid attention to him thinking that there was more he didn’t have more. Some of the newer folks weren’t tag-teaming with their neighbors in the other rooms so in very small places the flow seemed a bit inconsistent, but these instances are few and far between.

It should be noted that I am holding these guys to a higher scare actor bar than I would hold other attractions to because their strength has always been the diversity and improv of their actors. It’s almost kind of silly to say because the staging and layout of both haunts is also A+. The key is that their actors are what makes these guys unique on a national scale in my personal opinion. There is a lot of good work out there. These guys have the most unique scare actors who are allowed to customize their rooms and create their own story for you while they will also scare you. Most haunts don’t put much time into this. This is art. Seriously. This is a completely unique point of view that could only come from Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares.

Both attraction are top tier and consistent favorites of mine. All of the actors that I noticed weren’t as developed were new, so of course that is to be expected. I know that as they work at this haunt they will learn the improv. I am already hearing reports that the skill level has improved with the new folks every weekend from some of my friends who have gone on their own a couple times.

This place is a true delight. Snort Gore was wandering around the front, which is always one of my favorite sights to see.

Snort Gore

How can you resist that face?

AS USUAL I have to call out one thing that is way beyond anything else you will see on a national stage. And that is this guy in Altered Nightmares:


Not every scare actor will ACTUALLY LEARN JAPANESE over the course of 2 years in preparation for a scare actor role. Anthony HoH did. The sheer amount of preparation, accuracy, and devotion to the craft demonstrated in just this 1 Altered Nightmares room blows away everything else I have ever seen in my writing career. To make it even more impressive, I was an Asian Studies student who was conversationally fluent in Japanese. I still understand Japanese. I could easily understand him. He was so good that I was surprised. My Japanese ended up being bad and heavily accented American – because WTF I did not expect that. This is a culturally accurate kabuki character.

This is Toukatsu:

I often say that Netherworld is worth a plane trip. Eastern PA is also worth a plane trip. Here you have Hotel of Horror, Halls of Horror, Field of Screams, and The Freak and Funhouse all within close distance of each other so that you can make a weekend of it. (Use my reviews here to plan.)

This year Hotel of Horror and Altered Nightmares pulled off a tremendous triumph that brings them back to what they were most strongest in. The attractions are great and so are the scare actors in only the way that this particular group can achieve. Toukatsu is worth a plane trip on his own even if you see nothing else. I can’t guarantee you that this character will be here next year so you really should call out of work, sell your arm or kidneys or whatever if you have to and DO THIS ONE.

2016, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Reviews

Pennsylvania – Plymouth Meeting Haunted Attractons: Lulu’s House of Horrors final year of operation, 2016

For an in depth review of Lulu’s House of Horrors in Plymouth Meeting, PA click here and read this. The heart and execution of this haunt has not changed much from that year to this year. You’ll still get a mix of high and low tech scares in a real house that has been altered for your haunting pleasure in Eastern Pennsylvania.

What has changed is that this is their last year of operation. I highly recommend that you go to this haunt and see what is a classic, small scale, charity haunted attraction. It is one of the delights of the world and I am sad to see it go.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets – before it is gone for good.



Thank you for an amazing run to everyone involved with this haunt!


2016, Attractions, General, Georgia, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Reviews

Atlanta, Georgia Haunted Attractions: Netherworld 20th Anniversary 2016 Review

My opinion on Netherworld has changed a little from last year when I sang their praises from here to hell and back. (Read that review here.)

oni netherworld

Last year they were very good such that I did not think it could get any better. This year they took what I thought was the best anyone could achieve and blasted that expectation through the ceiling. JUST LOOK AT THIS:

They have created an entirely new definition of visual fear that succeeds on every level. BELIEVE IT. This is only my second time going to Netherworld. If this is any indication of what I can expect year to year I am going to have to start taking up drinking or something. OMG.

I enjoyed looking at and walking through all of the creepy custom designed sets and seeing the amazing makeup on their actors. The craftsmanship, lighting, staging, and positioning of each actor in each room is over the top. Forget what you know. These guys don’t just have the game on lock – these guys have THEIR OWN GAME. Very few of their animatronics inside the haunt appear to be off the rack. It’s all altered/custom. The only noticeable off the rack animatronics are the ones outside for photo ops but the actors out front still all have amazing custom costumes.


“NEW horrors and scares abound at NETHERWORLD Haunted House in 2016! The massive Soul Eater swoops over your heads in MONSTERS our upstairs haunt at NETHERWORLD! Get Your Tickets Now at and join us as we celebrate our 20th Season of Screams!.”

They made that, you guys. This will not be anywhere else. Here’s some more:





Most haunts have similar props and animatronics throughout. If you don’t go to as many haunts as I do you will not notice this. But I do. This place is the only place that I have seen so far that seems to be operating on another level far higher than everyone else I have ever encountered. This is why I don’t compare all haunts to each other for my awards. It’s just not fair to compare various scales of haunted attraction together. If I did, these guys would always win every single year.

I know of 3 places worthy of a plane trip for haunt fans. Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights / Howl O Scream / Disney, Eastern PA for Hotel of Horror, Halls of Horror, Reaper’s Revenge, and the Freak and Funhouse, and Atlanta for Netherworld. (Read my reviews to get reviews of all of these places. If there’s no review for this year, use last year’s. Use CTRL or CMD+F to search the page. If i have skipped a haunt this year it usually means that it has not changed enough to warrant a re-visit.)

Notice how all of my other recommendations are clusters? You don’t even need any other haunts to make this one worth the plane trip. BOOM.

The sheer scale, organization, and custom nature of Netherworld’s rooms are off the charts. They have rooms in here staged and positioned such that you get a peek of a later room. It’s like a jenga accordion puzzle from hell that never falls over. They do work to make the walls and floor do things while you go through and you can tell the amount of love put into this haunt – they dig deep into the Lovecraft universe and other places and have handcrafted several monsters from his works.

FINALLY!!!! Someone got Lovecraft right in a haunted house! If you are a fan of ORIGINAL CREATIVE WORK go here. This is the place.

This year they ABSOLUTELY BLEW US AWAY. Last year we enjoyed it but they didn’t scare us that hard. That’s normal – we are very hard to scare. This year they scared us several times. This year they went from very good to VERY GREAT. (Is that even a phrase? It is now because I say so.)

So what is happening for Netherworld’s 20th Anniversary year?


“Horrors released from the unknown threaten our world and only the return of ancient MONSTERS can defeat them! Celebrate 20 years of NETHERWORLD Haunted House with a nightmarish adventure you will never forget!

This Year Featuring: The Flying Angel! The Lair of The Sea Witch! The Feasting Vampires! The Goloth Invasion! The Attacking Harpy! The Transformation Chamber! The Cavern of The Werewolves! The Blood Beast of the Arena! The Boogeyman’s Return! The Chapel Of The Gargoyles! The Cyclopean Soul Eater and The Doom Stone Unearthed! Experience an incredible avalanche of never ending horrors sure to shock during NETHERWORLD’S 20th year celebration! “

Vault 13: Meltdown:

Can You Escape a Nuclear Meltdown?

The crazed artificial intelligence PROTEUS demands that the Mangler create him a “bride” or he will destroy the world with the massive arsenal of VAULT 13! Can the chaos be stopped or will mutations, aliens, robots and nuclear destruction be unleashed on an unsuspecting planet?

This year featuring: The Xenomorphic Terror! The Collapsing Missile! The Blast Off Inferno! The Bride of Proteus! The Melting Core! The Radioactive Roach Infestation! The Mega Slammer! The One Million Volt Tesla Coil! The Spinning Kill Floor! Machine Gun Zombies! Crazed Automatons and the return of the Toxic Foam Room! Total Terror and SCI-FI Thrills Reign during NETHERWORLD Haunted House’s 20 Year Celebration!

They also had a fun escape room–that was actually designed for you to do things within the room, not just solve some random number or word puzzles. They had a great set up that prompted you through it if you got lost–or you could just go crazy and jump in and mess with everything (you’ll need some purell afterward though….you do touch some squicky stuff).


Netherworld made significant changes this year which took their always great haunt to a level way above that. They achieved beyond what Harknell and I could have ever expected. We particularly liked how deeply they delved into the Lovecraft world and the Sea Witch with her pet hell fish. They took great care to construct and manipulate the world around us which created a sense of dread that no one else has ever achieved in this unique way. The walls move. The floors move. They use fog and lasers STRATEGICALLY and PRECISELY which greatly add to the narrative flow of the scares in each room.

Guys, they have me so hyped up I am making words in all caps in this post. That rarely happens anymore.

These things I am listing are not gimmicks as they so often can be in the haunt industry if not used well – these are tools used in the right place at the right time. The concepts executed with such precision in each room are nothing short of revolutionary, astounding, and totally immersive.

That’s what these guys excel in – doing LEGIT horror with a true creative vision. You never feel like you are being pandered to by a stupid boogity boogity chainsaw chase that someone bought 2 for a dollar at the trade show because starting a Quik-E-Mart was too inconvenient for them.

Netherworld. Is. Art.

Netherworld is where you go when you want to see TRUE ART. They don’t just create a haunted attraction – they redefine and lead the entire industry every year that I’ve had the pleasure of attending. They will be one of my first primary targets next year. I don’t care how brutal the drive is for us.

DO THIS ONE. OH MY GOD. Call out of work or something. Get in the car now.

Click here for details and ticket info.

2016, Attractions, Florida, General, Halloween, Haunted Attractions

Haunted Attraction Preview: Orlando, Florida: Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 26

Harknell and I attended Universal studios Halloween Horror Nights on Saturday, October 8 2016 in Orlando, Florida.


Disclosure: This is not a review. Harknell and I toured the event with Creative Director Michael Aiello for free and skipped all lines. My experience does not reflect the experience of an average customer so I will be talking honestly and transparently about the event’s features instead of reviewing it. My aim here is to help you guys can understand what’s here and empower you to make a decision on if the event is right for you. I always have and always will keep it legit with you.

I do genuinely think that they made some great improvements this year. But first, some background is needed!

My biggest complaint from last year is how I was made to feel at the event by their 2 checkpoints of aggressive security. If you have never been to this park you need to understand that there is a garage where you park to enter the park. The walkways before you get to Universal Studios is called CityWalk and it features shops and restaurants. There’s no knife or gun shop in CityWalk so I found it peculiar that they needed a security checkpoint just to get to this area. Previously you would have to enter the park through Universal Studios CityWalk, go through security there, then walk past the shops, and then go through security again at the park turnstiles.

This second security checkpoint’s implementation was problematic in the past. You’d need to funnel yourself into a horde of impatient (and possibly drunk) park guests. There was no queue or line management as such. It’s likely you may have gotten shoved, kicked, or hit by other park guests intentionally or unintentionally trying to make it to the front of the line to go through the security scanners. If you are claustrophobic, worried about being groped/touched/hit this would probably be of concern to you. The only other place I’ve encountered a line handled like this was at Six Flags Great Adventure Fright Fest in 2007 – right before I never went back to that event because of how badly managed the crowds were. I enjoy Universal Studios and was irritated because I think highly of the park in general. Any comparison with Six Flags is just…it shouldn’t be possible by me or anyone else. Universal Studios is a top tier park and should be run like one.

They completely fixed this this year. You now just go through 1 thorough security checkpoint at the beginning of Citywalk and wait for the event to start in the Guest Services area at the Universal Studios gate. Harknell and I both thought this was great right from the start and a major re-think on the part of Universal.

The Houses:
This year they have 9 Haunted Houses, so let’s go through it:

American Horror Story:


This house was made up of Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. The staging, lighting, and execution was phenomenal. I’m a fan of this show but even if you are not this house delivers. I was told that this is the most popular haunted house in the event’s history and I have to agree that I can see why. On the night we went it had a much higher queue line all night long–go to this first if you can, the rest will be much easier to get through.

I did notice where the line in their depiction of the show probably was though – you won’t see any aborted babies in Dr. Charles Montgomery’s area, but you will see the Infantata, and I noticed that there were multiple scares for each character so that if you miss a scare you’ll be hit by their alternate scare. I am not sure I noticed this implemented this well before, but this year every house had great alternate scares.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: I am completely unfamiliar with this film so I can’t comment on how accurate it is to the film. (I seriously doubt they didn’t nail it because that’s never been something that’s been an issue with this event.) I can tell you that we enjoyed going through, the rooms were laid out well and there were various types of scares in here. I like when rooms tell a story and sure enough there were scenes with 2 actors menacing each other. Coolness!

The Walking Dead: Guys, I don’t dislike TWD, but I personally sure am sick of it. It’s very popular so I get why it’s here again. That said, I felt that this year’s TWD house was so much better than last year’s. Every year they have done TWD the houses flowed pretty well and told a story such that even those who don’t watch the show could figure out what was going on – except last year. A good gauge of this is Harknell. He doesn’t watch the show and I had to explain to him what the different rooms were last year. (“What the hell is that van doing playing random club music?”)

If you are a TWD fan you will enjoy this one. It goes over the greatest hits of the previous seasons and they got most of the memorable scenes from the show in here. This year the narrative per room was stronger and it didn’t require cliff notes for those not familiar with the show.

The Exorcist: These classic films HHN never has trouble executing and this house is no exception. What I remember from my walkthrough is it being more visual than being scary, but do note that I am really hard to scare. :D

Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield: Every time HHN does Mike Myers – just like what I said above about their execution of the classic movies – they do a good job at it. This house was no exception. There were a lot of distraction scares and they nailed all of the iconic scenes from the film that I still remember. They also told a story as you go through. I appreciate cohesive narrative. This was their version of the second movie.

This was one of my favorite houses. I haven’t seen this film yet, but holy crap. They built upward and created a true 3 dimensional sense of the world this lives in. I enjoyed the design of the characters, the little gingerbread men, and the dark comedic nature of the house. I’m going to see the movie now because of this.

Lunatics Playground 3D – You Won’t Stand a Chance


I LOVE LOVE LOVE their original IPs. My issue with HHN has never been the creative aspect of it. My issue has always been that I feel the folks working on this event do such great original work that I prefer to see what happens when they run wild over the IPs. That’s my bias spelled right out for you. I don’t have hatorade for IPs, but I’d jump at any opportunity to see what original works these folks can do. Their icon this year is Chance, a Harlequin style character. The story of this house is that Jack left her behind to take the fall and she’s in custody having all kinds of weird fantasies and freak outs. Using her was a smart choice given that Suicide Squad / Harley Quinn is popular right now. I’ve seen people cosplay her at cons, so it appears she’s been well-received. I definitely appreciate and enjoyed this one.

Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch: This is about a town that only appears when lightning strikes during a storm. If you are here when it strikes you are stuck there forever. There’s a lot of ghostly gold diggers in this one. If we are talking movies, westerns are a big foundational genre in America so I thought it was cool to play with western lore.

Tomb of the Ancients
This is another one of my favorite ones. I can tell you why. The key to my heart is building upward / downward and deviating from linear lunge n scream. I dig storytelling and world building because it’s something that nationwide quickly gets cut. There’s also a GAT in here (Guest Activated Trigger). So if you see a rope hanging down that looks like it should be pulled – PULL IT!

Interactivity. Win.

Scarezone Overview:

This post is getting really long, so I’ll link all the scarezones here and talk a bit about the 2 that I felt were my favorites: Vamp ’55 and A Chance in Hell. The former was a 50’s themed vampire homecoming with a lot of detail put into the story. It reminded me a little bit of the original Buffy: The Vampire Slayer movie. A Chance in Hell was Chance, their icon’s Scarezone where park guests can interact with her.

I have always felt that a unique, original icon is a simple way to put a unique point of view on the event each year and was glad to see that they truly supported the idea front and center!


My issue with HHN was never the creative work or execution. It was always that I loved what they were doing but had issue with how it was presented from a crowd flow / park experience point of view. Their changing how security is handled this year I feel will go a long way to addressing that for everyone. Would I like to see less IP based houses and more original works? Yes. I feel that if left completely unfettered we would see the most insane, cool, off the wall shit coming out of Universal A&D. But I do know that the general public may disagree with me, and that’s OK. In the same way that I am one of a smaller demographic that truly enjoys Prog Rock and can spend an hour discussing poly rhythms most people are probably thinking I’m an idiot for needing anything more complicated than a power chord. I accept that I am not the only demographic that they have to be concerned about, think that they are doing a great job with the IPs, and while I’d like to see more original works, the original works they do have this year were enjoyable.

I highly recommend using ExpressPass or utilizing multiple days if you go to this event, though. The week that I went it was actually not super crowded, but it was right after the hurricane, so I think that this may have affected the crowd levels to my benefit.

If you attended this event I’d really love to hear your perspective! Thanks to Mike Aiello for his kind hospitality! He’s a good example of someone who loves what he does and truly elevates the NBC/Universal brand.