Saturday, October 19, 2013

[Haunt Review] Fright Farm - Three Times the Terror

If you're from Pittsburgh, or more importantly the Eastern edges of it, or Northern West Virginia you've most likely heard of Fright Farm at Rich Farms.. For the past 24 years this haunt has become a juggernaut that's synonymous with Halloween.

There's no doubting the insanity that these guys bring every year and they literally never stop working. Things change up daily, I'm not kidding either.

Every year, every week, they're constantly striving to make things better and more over the top. It's an insane level of dedication that spreads over three separate and wildly different attractions that call Rich Farms their home. A Hayride, Haunted Mansion and the Terror Maze. For $25 you get the whole lot of them, cheaper on Thursdays, Wednesdays and Sundays with various discounts. Toss in the live music and everything else going on and it's one crazy atmosphere.
  • Date Visited: 10/19/13
  • Review Team: +Carrie H.C. and +Kitsune Hazard 
  • Rating: Good (almost Very Good, soooo close!)
  • Recommendation: If you're in the Morgantown/Pittsburgh area, you really can't go wrong here. These guys put on a helluva show and it's worth the price of admission for sure.
  • Dislikes: I'm digging here, but a few areas were short on actors. Could've been some call outs or something, who knows. Just what we saw during our visit.
  • Pro-Tip: If you don't want long lines, go on a Weds, Thurs or Sun night. Friday and Saturdays can get crazy. Also, they have a VIP Tent City...if you've got a group it's the way to go for sure!
Disclaimer: We were invited out by the crew at Fright Farm to experience this year's event and were given complimentary entry. This in no way has influenced our opinions or thoughts on the haunt as a whole.

So, let's get into the nuts bolts of the thing shall we? There's a lot to cover with everything that Fright Farm offers, let's not waste any more time, eh?
Our night started out pretty early as we got in just after the doors opened to this wonderland of fear and after checking out the brand new stage and photo area, we quickly made our way to the hayride portion of things.

Now, I said that they have three separate attractions and that would be very true. They are all very different, but to get to the mansion (more on that in a minute) you need to take a lovely little ride through the woods first on the Haunted Hayride. I love hayrides, I started working one back in the early '90s even, but let's move on...

Upon boarding, we noticed right off the bat that these wagons have no sides. If you're sitting on the edge, and I definitely recommend the driver's left side towards the back end, you're feet are dangling off. A little unnerving, eh? Yeah...we thought so too but it just adds to the whole thing. Also, they really pack these things full so make friends with your neighbor...they won't bite, much. 

After entering the gates to this hellish world that's been opened up by Lady Franklin, we were greeted by the sounds of chainsaws in the night. I won't say where they are...but there's just something about that sound and the screams that follow. 

I won't spoil too much here because there are some really great and innovative scenes (including a couple we'd never seen before) going on, but when the wagon stops and the lights go out...you'll probably be wishing you hadn't boarded this one way trip into hell...also watch out for the giant fire breathing beast from hell!

Now, before I move on...there were a couple of areas that seemed to be a little sparsely populated with actors. I'm not sure what was going on exactly but a few scenes that could've been really over the top were lacking because of it and there were some pretty long areas with nothing really happening. I'm sure by the time you read this, they'll already have changed or fixed that issue though, these guys really don't rest when it comes to this, ever. (UPDATE: They have and if you're there tonight, get ready for some real insanity!)

Overall, the hayride portion is a great way to start the experience out, but things could really get cranked up a bit with a few more folks out there in the woods. Especially with some of the great acting that they already having going on out there in a few scenes.

That said, once you think you're safe...you start to approach the imposing glowing red facade that is the Mansion. You've seen it in the distance, but now it's inescapable and you realize it's an actual full blown building, not just some prop!

This place is a diabolical labyrinth of madness. The best part? There's no way back as the wagon heads off into the night. It's huge, confusing and so twisted it would make Lady Winchester proud in it's manic construction. Top that off with the fact that every year it changes and you've got a confusing maze of twisted insanity.

Once inside you find yourself going in so many directions that you really have no good bearing on where you are or where you've been. Think that's enough? Too bad, they don't have any intent on helping the matter as you travel deeper into the insanity. You'll find yourself going through dark and fog filled basements to cemeteries complete with mausoleums, even swamps as you make your way around and through.

Just when you think it's over? You're back inside to face the horrors that lie within once more. It really is a mind bending trip and the outside portion is always one of the greatest parts of this attraction. As always there's one huge room that theme out to the nines and while not as crazy as the infamous Chocolate Garden (complete with waterfall) from Willy Wonka from year's past...still pretty good. 

Once you survive all that, you'll  be receiving a pair of 3D glasses. Why? You're about to be confronted with a fun house on acid.

Sure, it's clown based (and I just did a whole rant about that the other day), but it's not pushy and the fun house atmosphere goes all out with tilted floors and off kilter walls to throw you off even more. Now that I think about it, there really weren't any actors in here at all, kind of weird but the way it's set up...I can see why. You'll be questioning your footing and reality with every step.

In the end though, I wish there was just a bit more interaction with the scares. Some of the actors are really spot on and nail it, but a quite a few still left me wanting more from them in the "in character" arena of things. Not every scare can be that way, but a little more could go a very long way here I think.

Now that you're done with that, you're still not done yet. There's one last trick up their sleeves, the Terror Maze. 

This thing is massive, standing at a full 10,000sq ft of confusing twists and turns. Just when you think you're out, you're right back where you started.

Top that off with some insane creatures of the night that stalk it's industrial (and steampunk? Didn't really see that to be honest.) themed pathways and you're set up for an even more chilling journey.

It really is one of the better mazes that I've seen and contains a few things that were a surprise that you don't typically find in these style of attractions. We really did enjoy ourselves with this one and the newest attraction at Fright Farm definitely has lived up to the rest of the reputation of the place.

Again, the only things that I can really find to complain about were mentioned above. The slightly sparse population of actors in a few areas of the hayride and some of the scares inside the mansion. Oh, I should mention that the clown/3D/fun house area was definitely a bit jarring. I'm not sure how it fit into things with the rest of the Victorian theme of the Haunted Mansion portion of the house, it was really out of place...or at least seemed that way at the time. Then again, maybe that's what they're after...I dunno, was just a bit odd.

Overall, we had a blast attending this year's Fright Farm. The show just keeps growing, changing and becoming even more crazy than the last. This is serious business and the creative team is never content as they keep fixing, changing and even building whole new scenes daily if necessary!

So, if you're near Pittsburgh, PA or Morgantown, WV...you should definitely give Fright Farm a go. There's always something new and insane waiting for you and it's one of those places that just has to be experienced.

For more information about dates, times, directions and all sorts of other things, check out the official Fright Farm website!

Keep it here or follow along with us this weekend on Twitter @KitsuneHazard and on Google+ for all the latest updates, news and more from haunts all over the US!