Category: New Jersey

2015, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, Horror, New Jersey, Reviews

Passaic, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Brighton Asylum 2015 Review

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Oni and I visited Brighton Asylum on October 18th, we went through both of it’s attractions and also did it’s brand new “Escape Rooms”. We were amazed at the wide range of changes that had occurred since last year, and dramatically since we first went to Brighton Asylum in 2012–we’ve always found it to be an excellent attraction to visit.

This year was no exception. If you’ve been to Brighton Asylum before, you might as well consider this a new first time–practically the entire set up and design has been reworked, except for the nice facade of the Asylum itself when you enter the second attraction.

A new beginning area has been added called “The Tunnel”. This starts your journey into the depths of the building, with a very creepy hospital theme set in a forgotten sub basement–which allows for all of the scares associated with being in underground tunnels and steamworks style set pieces. It was a great beginning and was very original in it’s set up and scares (and beyond it’s regular array of good scares, had one stand out really great scare that we’d never seen before that was very effective).

Moving on you then enter the asylum itself. Again, this area has basically been entirely redone–to great effect. There were plenty of exceptionally great visuals added, with plenty of over the top set pieces (and one set piece trying to break in….). We had a great time the entire way through. Everything worked well together and it had some nice uses of above and below scares–something we all say is a hallmark of a well thought out haunted attraction design.

After doing the haunted attractions we went in to their 2 Escape Rooms “Dead Escape” and “Lab Lockdown”. These are a brand new addition to their line up, and are part of a new trend to adding extra events to haunted attractions. In these cases you are given 4 minutes to scavenge a room to discover clues and work out a puzzle (either language style puzzle, or a combo math/visual puzzle). I’m pretty crap and those sort of things, so Oni took the lead, and we got very close in both of them to working things out before we ran out of time. If you like these types of things you’ll have fun trying it out, and they are only $5 each, so they’re a pretty inexpensive add on.

Brighton Asylum was absolutely worth the trip, and I’d suggest it to anyone in the New Jersey area as one of the better attractions to visit. The Haunts and Escape rooms are indoors, so you’ll be safe from the weather–they have covered waiting areas, so that’s a bonus as well. They were packed the night we went, so it’s a very popular attraction–so you might want to consider adding on their inexpensive VIP upgrade if you’re pressed for time.

2015, New Jersey, Oni's Life, Reviews

Review: Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown, New Jersey is a vintage paradise for vinyl collectors, music fans, and vintage toy collectors

Harknell and I had the opportunity to go to visit Randy Now’s Man Cave in Bordentown, NJ this past weekend. This shop is a great vintage toy store with an extensive selection of vinyl records and CDs.

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I am not originally from New Jersey so a lot of the local scene is still a mystery to me even though I have lived here for over 15 years. My life had been very busy during college and when I started working after college I had even less time. It’s only just about now that I have any ability to do anything in my home state.

Randy Now’s Man Cave is a can’t miss for anyone looking for a great selection of music and vintage toys. It’s not corporate in just the right amounts and run well in just the right amounts. I saw that everyone who came into the shop was legitimately welcomed. It really seemed like it was a center of culture for the area. We got the opportunity to talk to Randy on our way out and he was super friendly. I consider friendliness to be a huge deal in local shops because I like to shop local but I don’t like being treated like an asshole.

We spent at least 3 hours shopping in here and scored this gem on laserdisc:

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I am now only missing the original Star Wars movie on laserdisc. These were the last releases before they re-edited the films.

We will be coming back here quite often. I highly recommend this shop to anyone into cool stuff. The selection of vinyl is wide with a good split between vintage and reissues. There’s a lot of random vintage stuff that you may not find at other vinyl shops.

Apologies that I do not have more photos – I didn’t want to photograph any customers who may not want to end up on this blog. :)

Here is my haul of kickass vinyl that I got here:

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2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, Reviews

Passaic, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Brighton Asylum 2014 Review

Brighton Asylum in Passaic, New Jersey stands out from the rest in the way that they conceptualize their haunt. First off, they actually have haunted house events operation year-round. Not constantly, but for many holidays and special events there is a version of their show running. So if you are looking for a haunt in the off-season this one is a good bet.

They way they build their attraction is a bit different than many others. It feels like they really put some thought into it and did not simply do what everyone else is doing. If you go to a lot of haunted attractions like we do you won’t be bored with what you see in here. It’s also worth noting that the videos and images on the site were created by them inside the attraction and aren’t your standard stock photos that some other attractions use.

This year’s show was different than when we experienced them in the past because they built upon that foundation. They redid the beginning. It is no longer a museum before you enter the main complex but an additional area of the attraction. I thought this was great, however we would suggest looking at the sound proofing of that area. When the actors spoke it was not impossible to hear them but slightly muffled due to the big area. All in all it was well done with some great actors.

The attraction had many great scenes built into it and a lot was different this year since 2012 when we last went. They did a great job with the scenes which had actors syncing up actions with for example, a gun.

I won’t spoil it for you but I’ll just say that Brighton Asylum is a brand unto itself that has great actors and ideas implemented well. You should do this one.

Brighton Asylum New Jersey Christmas Haunted House

Your next chance to check them out is for their Christmas show on December 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th from 8:30pm-10:30pm.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey

Wharton, New Jersey Haunted Attractions: Haunted Scarehouse 2014 review

Wharton’s Haunted Scarehouse is a massive indoor haunted attraction in New Jersey. They have 2 levels. Each level is very large. I lost track of time but I think we may have been in there for close to an hour.

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They have a lot of high tech set pieces and animatronics. Out of all of the haunted attractions that we review they seem to use technology the most. Even the staging of the scares and rooms incorporate technology.

It’s not used as a crutch. You have likely seen many of the haunts who buy an expensive set piece and use it like a garden fountain in the center of the room with no thought behind it. I felt that the technology was placed well within each room and complimented the scares very well. In some cases you could see yourself while being scared, which was unique.

They have the best photo set up I have ever seen. You know how most attractions now offer photos with your friends? These guys designed a picture taking system that does regular attraction photos as well as 3D and animated photos depending on how large the crowd levels are. There’s also a video that gets taken of you in the attraction getting scared. At the end you have the option to buy these at $5 each. It is sent to your email or social media. We bought all of them plus the video made inside the attraction because why not?! Here’s us, and our friends John and Tara:

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Since 2008 we have been asking why more attractions don’t do it like this and adhere to this pricing level. There’s no reason in the digital age to charge $35 for a photo like many theme parks do. You can make more than that up in volume if the price is right – AND it’s almost free advertising for the haunt with the Facebook/social media integration.

Finally someone with some brains did what we would have done if we owned a haunt.

As far as the haunt is concerned, last year we felt that it had some things that it had to work on.

I am glad to say that they improved on a quantum level this year. Every issue we called out was fixed. There was no backup in the meat room near the claustrophobia chamber. The actors were standing in better places related to the props. The constant screaming in the ear was mostly gone and replaced with more skilled scares.

I knew they could do it. Two of the scare actors from Hotel of Horror moved over to this place. You might recognize them in the attic as the guy with the staple gun and the woman in the shiny black catsuit. They are in my professional opinion the 2 best actors they have. Many other actors are up to par as well. The guy downstairs in the meat room is one of many who were giving it their all. Full Disclosure: I am Facebook friends with these guys. Still, everyone (including them) knows that I would have said something negative if they deserved it.

I actually asked them how the haunt was doing before I went. I have no desire to go to a bad haunt. I would have zinged them if it were bad. I didn’t want to, but I would have due to my commitment to ethics and transparency with my readers.

They did a great job this year.

Matt (the staple gun guy) was on fire the night that I went. I hope that in the coming years more people follow his lead and utilize improv and interaction with other actors to create the scene. I enjoyed the downstairs area a lot. The rooms are more elaborate and have more effects that work well with what’s going on. I felt the attic was the stronger of the two.

Changes were made this year – all good ones. The queue was redone this year to accommodate a VIP line and the above mentioned photos. Honestly – most of my friends have busy schedules. I know many of them would not go to a haunt without a VIP (RIP) line. I just pulled another 70 hour week so I can say that if I were a casual customer I would be the same way. This is a phenomenal addition and a great way for them to make some passive income to fund all of that innovation they are doing.

One thing to note is that this place has become so popular that there is a significant wait just to get in and buy tickets on very busy nights. I recommend that you get a RIP pass online for this reason if you can afford it. Otherwise come with friends and prepare to hang out for awhile.

New Jersey doesn’t have many haunted houses of this caliber. It was bound to catch on. They innovate with technology in here harder than every other haunt in my tour. The best part is that the application of such actually works and isn’t a gimmick.

Haunted Scarehouse upped their game this year. I think that if they keep doing what they are doing they will level up each year in the years to come. I am genuinely excited for them. They should be proud of what they have accomplished in just a few years.

Do this one.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New Jersey, New York, Oni's Life, Press

Oni and Harknell on FIOS1 News this week talking about Haunted Attractions in New Jersey and New York City

A segment about Haunted Attractions will air this week on FIOS1 News. Thanks to CJ, Jennifer, Wade, Gloria, and team for having us in the studio to film this. This was so awesome to be able to talk about this and educate people on the various genres of haunted attractions. I believe there is a haunt for everyone – even people who don’t like to get scared and I hold to that claim.

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I’ll let you now when it airs / when I get video.

Here I am in the green room before we went on:

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I was so sleepy! Early in the morning, guys. That’s how the news does it. Earrrllly in the morning. It was worth it! :)