Category: New York

2015, Attractions, New York

New York City Holiday Attractions: Santastical: A Very Merry Twistmas is Christmas from the Nightmare NYC team

This is a guest post by Missy L of A Geek Girl’s Castle.

[I am out on medical leave. – Oni]

Today my friend and I went to Santasical: A Very, Merry Twistmas. This is a winter wonderland brought to you by Psycho Clan, the artists who bring you New York’s iconic Nightmare Haunted House and Full Bunny Contact Extreme Egg Hunt.

[I love these guys because they always have a unique, theatrical, out of the box take on holiday events. – Oni]

The description on the website had me a little leery at first. It sounded weird but interesting, using words like “distorted” when explaining what type of wonderland you’ll be wandering through. But honestly, it was cute and a fun time.

Creator Timothy Haskell says, “It’s as if the gaudiest Midwest Christmas lawn display exponentially exploded inside a NYC auditorium. This is nostalgic, irreverent fun for adults who remember fondly (or not, we don’t give a sh*t) taking pictures with Santa at the mall. Except this time you can choose from 6 different types of Santas to take a picture with and you’re now about 2 feet taller and a hundred pounds heavier than you were.”

The event is intended for adults but there were a few young kids inside who seemed to enjoy themselves nonetheless. Upon entering the big open space, you follow the red carpet around the room. First encounter is an option to purchase Santa hats for $3.


Next is the mistletoe area which has a giant piece of mistletoe hanging there for you and your loved one to stand under, with a curtain of string lights and strings of faux leaves to act as some romantic ambiance.




On your left, you see the karaoke stage which is “wrapped” as a big present. A few folks did participate in it. Like any karaoke night, some were better than others. :D


On the right, you see a tiny “skating pond” where you take off your shoes and slide around it.


Continuing on our red pathway, we came to a small display of blown up lawn ornaments of Santa on his sleigh and his reindeer pulling him.


Past this was some treats to entertain us with; brownies, cookies, and cider. We partook in some of these yummies.


After snack time, you can be part of a live nativity scene by putting on some robes or pieces of costumes like beards on sticks.


But the best part of the nativity scene is a headless doll sitting in the manger and you put your head there to be baby Jesus.


The big part of the show is the Santa photo op. There are six Santas to choose from: Bernie Santas, Sexy Mrs. Claus, Black Santa, Hunky Shirtless Santa, the evil Krampus and of course, Hanukklaus.




Black Santa was unavailable but all the others were there on the day we went. My friend and I opted for Bernie Santas and Hanukklaus. Sexy Mrs. Claus was dancing kind of seductively to the music playing and Hunky Shirtless Santa was laying on a chaise lounge waiting for you to come sit with him. Hanukklaus was dressed in an all blue Santa outfit.

There are professional photographers that take your choice of photo, which is included in the price of admission, $20 for the basic experience. While you wait for the photo to be printed, you can continue on the red pathway to another display of lawn ornaments and a
wall of emoji’s that you can stick your head into. You can choose to be a reindeer emoji or even better, a poop emoji! I chose both for the sake of demo. Haha:



Finally, there is one last, display of lawn ornaments all lit up of classic shapes and figures you might recognize from your own childhood.


This event is a walk through that took us about 20 minutes to see everything. Note that printing out the photos takes a while so you may want to go there first and then do the rest of the event while you wait for the photo to print. Santastical is a cute wonderland unique to NYC that is nostalgic enough to get you in the spirit of the holiday but also modern enough to be fun.

Tickets can be purchased @ $20 for General Admission which includes all of the attractions as well as a photo with one of the Santas. VIP tickets are $40 which gains you unlimited entry on the day of purchase, jumped to the front of the line, a Santa hat, one photo with Santa, and a digital photograph of you in the VIP Only skating rink e-mailed to you.

Follow Missy L over at A Geek Girl’s Castle.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New York, Reviews

Poughkeepsie, New York Haunted Attractions: Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion 2014 review

Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion is in my opinion the keystone of the haunted attraction industry. These guys are who many other haunts in the country subcontract to make their most amazing scenes. At their attraction this commitment to creative integrity is clear.


Every year I make the 3 hour drive to see what they’ve built and every year they impress us.

Yeah buddy:

oni and harknell

The first attraction was “The Successor” where you get to participate in a storyline where one of you get chosen as the one with a dark heart. They have large animatronics that speak – but the actors are doing vignettes with them so that these aren’t just blingity bling – they are a truly integrated part of the show. Each room is staged elegantly with actors, set pieces, and a small amount of animatronics are in select rooms. They are true professionals at building set pieces and special effects, but they actually don’t rely on them as a crutch. Everything is applied in the exact right amount such that it leaves the heart and soul of the actors as the star of the show.

Most impressive this year was a magic show scene which replaced last year’s most excellent fireplace scene. They took it up so many levels with this. I kind of want to tell you about it but I really shouldn’t reveal secrets from inside the haunt unless they tell me I can. Let’s just say that it is a magic show that goes incredibly wrong. You get to sit in the audience. The entire scene is built into a stage that can be manipulated (sometimes violently) to make something crazy happen. Also they created fake outside weather effects that would give even Disney a run for their money.

Other rooms utilized multiple actors who would move in sync with certain cues. Everything in here was a true joy to experience.

Next was “London After Midnight”. When we saw this last year it was unfinished. This year it was much more polished. You basically get to be in the Jack the Ripper storyline. Of course he chases you around quite a bit. They did a great job of recreating London and executing this.

Finally was “Fright Trail”. This is a zombie trail throughout the forest. This was also a lot of fun to compliment the first 2 attractions which were theatrical. This one is more of a standard haunted trail but it was a great thing to pair with the other 2 attractions to round out the night.

Kevin McCurdy’s Haunted Mansion is one of the most underrated haunted attractions in the country. Haunt fans absolutely must see this one. This kind of artistry and execution is a rare find and when I find it I believe that this is what makes my tour worth it.

They have a Christmas show that I hope to be able to check out this year.

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.

oni news

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

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

oni green room

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

2014, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New York, Reviews

New York City Haunted Attractions: Nightmare New York 2014 review – Urban Legends

Nightmare NYC is one of the most unique haunted attractions that I know of. They do a show that is more theatrical than most. This haunted attraction is not your standard boogity boogity chainsaw chase – and that’s precisely what I like about it. When you go to Nightmare NYC the entire point is to watch, listen, and participate.


Nightmare NYC is the one place that I can count on every year to do something different in a sea of haunted attractions who are doing the same stuff. They are risk-takers. I will always be amused. It takes talent to make a haunted house. It take even more talent to do one that no one else is doing.

Literally no one else is doing this because the entire thing is custom. You will not find animatronics in here bought at the haunt show that I see in everyone’s haunt like a copy paste.

This year the show was based on NYC’s Urban Legends.

You’ll get to navigate the NYC of the 70s. You know, when stuff was batshit loco. You’ll get to meet other urban legends like Typhoid Mary but it’s all within a NYC theme. The alligators in the sewer, the rat king and mole people, a crack house, and a very intense performance on a recreation of a NYC subway. The subway car is truly one of the best pieces of acting I have ever seen in a Halloween seasonal attraction. Ever.

Also this may be the only haunted attraction that I know of with boobs in it. This is NYC in the 70s so there’s swearing, boobs, and butts and everything. It wouldn’t seem right without it.

Most importantly they fixed the sound issues that I had had problems with in past years. You can now hear everything people are saying clearly. This was such an improvement to the show that I felt that this may have been their best year yet as far as theatrical execution. I did feel that the finale lacked some punch this year, especially when compared to the finales they had in the past years where it devolved into a chaotic chase, but it was still fine.

In previous years if you opted in to being touched you could be called upon to perform a task, get put in a box, or something similar. I felt that the interaction level was a bit lower than in previous years. We only saw 1 person in our group get grabbed twice.

This year it felt like Nightmare NYC was pushing toward a more traditional haunt in certain aspects. My fear is that they are listening to their detractors who are pushing for conformity.

I actually think that, much like my own work, Nightmare is best as the odd mofo that does different stuff. I wonder if perhaps it would be creatively freeing to them to go the way of The Steampunk Haunted House (now year-’round and called Then She Fell) and break away from the haunted house concept by elevating it into its own genre. Still be a haunted house structure – even call it that – but release some marketing tag line that indicates that this is an immersive theater haunted house and not “boogity boogity chainsaw chase” Take away the pressure to conform, embrace what they do well that no one else does, still be a haunted house show, but change the conversation so that traditional haunt fans know what they are getting into and are educated on the beauty of it.

From where I am sitting it’s phenomenally refreshing to go to a haunted attraction that takes so much work and care to creating literally everything from the ground up. If you appreciate immersive theater and people who make stuff that is unique and remarkable you should definitely do this one. Every year Nightmare NYC never fails to impress me with their ingenuity and conceptual execution.

Nightmare NYC is $30 online, $35 at the door. VIP tickets are $50 online, $60 at door. Student Rush tickets are $20, valid 1 hour prior to listed start times only. Details are here.

2014, Attractions, Halloween, Haunted Attractions, New York

New York City Haunted Attractions: Nightmare New York: Urban Legends

Trailer is possibly NSFW. This year the theme is Urban Legends.

Nightmare New York is not your typical haunted attraction. They are one of my favorite theatrical haunted attractions. There is an important distinction here. You should not go to this expecting your typical boogity boogity. In my opinion if you want boogity boogity you should go to one of the farm haunts in New Jersey. I have a deep appreciation for things that are different and that’s certainly what you are going to get here – a scary theatrical show that you won’t find anywhere else. Check out my reviews to find out what I thought in past years.

Nightmare New York opens on September 26th.