Tuesday, September 17, 2013

[Haunt Review] Hundred Acres Manor - A Mind Bending Trip into a Labyrinth of Insanity

Well, how do you follow up one of the largest Halloween Events in the country? With a local  haunt of course! This time Carrie and I were invited to check out Hundred Acres Manor in Bethel Park, PA and we couldn't refuse.

When you think of a haunt that raises money for charity, you're first thought is of your local 4H, Jaycees or Volunteer Fire Company. Small budgets, cheesy effects and not much else. Well, you can toss that idea out the window right now, this is not your typical charity haunt. Not by a long shot. 

As I've said before, it's been a couple of years since we've been to Hundred Acres and the differences are like night and day. So much work and effort has been put into the house for just this year alone, every single detail inside the claustrophobic confines is simply mind-blowing and you really do feel like you've been transported to a whole new world.

A world where terror and fear lurks behind every corner, Hundred Acres Manor is a massive labyrinth of insanity, over 45,000sqft of monsters and mayhem. There's so much going on with this one that I really don't even know where to start with all this. So, let's get the simple breakdown out of the way, shall we?
  • Date Visited: 10/15/13
  • Review Team: +Carrie H.C. and +Kitsune Hazard 
  • Rating: Excellent
  • Recommendation: If you're anywhere remotely near Bethel Park, PA or Pittsburgh area...just go! Run. Do not walk. You won't be disappointed at all by this incredible spectacle of terror.
  • Likes: The level of detail is simply amazing and their "core actors" are 110% into their roles, almost never breaking character and completely at home within the insanity of it all.
  • Complaints: Um, yeah...I can't think of any.
  • Pro-Tip: Go on a Thursday or Sunday if you want to avoid long lines. If not, the VIP tickets are definitely worth it since the crowds can get insane. Though, some prefer the show on the slower nights...either way, it's going to be good no matter how long you wait.
Disclaimer: We were invited out by the crew at Hundred Acres Manor to walk through and then do a review/write-up of the show. This in no way has influenced our opinions or thoughts on the haunt as a whole. It was also a "slow night" so not every scare was in place either.

Alright, so let's get on with it already...

After driving down the winding roads within South Park's normally friendly confines you're immediately jarred into feeling "This does not belong here...something has gone horribly wrong" as you pull into the parking lot. Music Blaring, spotlights spinning and the eerie glow of the facade of the manor confront you in a dizzying blur of madness. There's only one thing left to do...succumb to the dark side and go for a walk into insanity.

Upon entering you're immediately confronted with a slightly unsettling scene, a funeral has apparently taken place...recently? The casket laying in wait with flowers flanking you and then the talking bust and hostess prepare to let you enter the confines.

Though, not quite just yet. Turning the corner you're met with what I loving refer to as "The Chicken Man" and his delightful yet slightly disconcerting sidekick. After a quick and entertaining little spiel you're led up a ramp to the elevator bay. Deadlift is your first reminder, things aren't alright...

It's quickly made apparent that you're on a one way trip into a nightmare fueled world, quickly dropping into the bowels of the estate. Once the doors open, a twisting labyrinth of fear awaits within the second part of six, Damnation. Nowhere is safe and everywhere is packed with amazing detail and larger than life animatronics. Even if there were fewer actors on the night we attended, the whole place felt alive. As if the zombies, ghouls and demons were just out for a stroll...but they'd be back and soon.

All manor of insanity is present within Damnation. My favorite bit? Absolutely had to be the doll room. Well, more like "rooms". So many things to see, so many twisted visions to be realized...so little time.

The acting here was phenomenal, working with props and other set pieces really made me feel as if they were truly home. I'm not sure if that's a good thing for their personal lives, but it's definitely good for everyone that comes through this section of the haunt! 

I'll probably be saying it a few times, but the level of detail and care put into every scene is just astounding. Tons of effort has been put into everything, the doll room for instance, took a week and a half to put together alone. It's truly mind bending what they've managed to create here and my hat is definitely off to them for doing it.

Anyway, let's continue on with our journey, shall we?

Exiting out of the tortured world that is Damnation, we find ourselves face to face with South Valley Hospital. Outside a lone patient wanders, tormented and likely off her meds....definitely one to watch out for. You know, could be a bit...unpredictable with her behavior.

Judging by the state of things at this hospital though, she's likely not the only one that you'll have worry about.  In fact, I'm sure of that. This fine institution of medicine had gone horribly awry and it's now run by the tortured patients and doctors from long ago...

Again, it's the details. Everything from insane surgical procedures to the PA system calling for doctors at random intervals...it's all in here. You could easily spend forever just looking at everything and trying to take it all in. Top that off with over the top scares and some truly unique scenes, you've got a winner on the whole haunted/twisted hospital theme.

From here we head back outside...towards a cave that may or not be a safe thing to wander too closely to. What's waiting for us inside? Only time will tell, but I have say that the water elements that are going on here are just awesome as we made our way through the twisting caverns and "underground" waterways.

Huge demons and the eerie sound of water flowing all around make this area, while quiet during our visit, one that guests will definitely have to watch out for...

At one point there's water coming from above and it's got to be one of the craziest set pieces I've seen yet. I can only imagine what it's like with more actors around...the screaming carnage has to be wondrous. That and you definitely have to keep your eye upwards at one point in this area, the water effect that you'll see is probably one of the most unique things I've come across in a haunt ever. You won't want to miss it at all.

So, what's waiting for us as we dive deeper into the depths and leave the dank, watery madness behind us? The Family is of course...apparently the chaos that we'd just walked through was the entrance to their secret bunker of carnage.

If this doesn't scream "Redneck Torture Family", I don't know what does. These folks have seriously lost touch with reality and you're trespassing on their land. Definitely not a good move...they're out for blood and possibly a second course for dinner. Which, is likely to be you if you're not careful.

Slowly we made our way out of the demented world that The Family has crafted for themselves and into a dark, and very tight hallway that only got more and more cramped as we had to fight our way through the expanding walls. Where were we headed, what was this pitch black path leading us to?

The Maze, 7500sqft of pure terror with no clear way out. Luckily for us, we were able to find our way through in only about 15-20minutes. (Last year it took us nearly 45minutes!) Some aren't so lucky and it's easy to get lost and trapped by the roaming hordes of crazy rednecks, ghouls and demons for well over an hour. Try your best, but this one's definitely a challenge...even more so if you're a touch twitchy and scared by the minions of the dark who inhabit this labyrinth.

Once outside you'd like to think you're done, but you're not. Upon exiting we came face to face with the newer Brine Slaughter House. Great, our reward for surviving the desolation of the maze? To become sausages or some other fine meat product, most likely for The Family that we just encountered too no less.

This turn of the century processing plant and slaughter house is chock full of scares from every angle. Nothing is safe and there's no escape from the horrors that lie within.

Seriously, there are scares in the ceiling out of things that you think to yourself "There's no way someone can even fit in there!" and oh so much more. We weaved our way through chicken coups (complete with cannibal chickens...I'm not kidding), packing rooms, processing areas and more on this twisted journey to the front of the once relied upon butcher shop. No stone is left unturned, everything bears the haunting reminder that the Brine Slaughterhouse that once was, is no more...and now Mr. Brine and has turned to processing more than just meat...it's you he wants.

From here we rushed out of the exit and back at the front of the haunt. At first you're just thankful to be free of the nightmare fueled carnage, but then you start to think to yourself "How did we end up right back where we started?!" One of the greatest tricks up the sleeves of the Hundred Acres Manor crew is their ability to transport you to another world entirely. Not once do you believe you're in just some old disused building or other such place. They've managed to create a world full of truly memorable characters that's so full of detail that you can get lost in them for weeks if they'd let you.

Overall, this event has set the bar for this season and it's still early. How long they'll hold onto the position of our favorite haunt in 2013 remains to be seen, but you can bet they'll be near the top no matter what the outcome. Hundred Acres Manor is truly a unique and special attraction that deserves to be experienced by anyone that can, the thousands of people who go every year can't be wrong, right?

What the crew and mostly volunteer staff of actors pulls of is truly memorable and the Halloween season is that much better off for it. There's no question in my mind on that one and it'll take a lot to change that. 

My final verdict on this one? Run, don't walk. Run to see this one if you're anywhere near the Pittsburgh area. You won't be disappointed at all. Oh and when you do, make sure say hello to Alexander McWiggins for us, will ya? I just know he'd love it...

For more information about tickets, hours and their 2013 schedule, check out the official Hundred Acres Manor website.

Also be sure to follow along with us on Twitter @KitsuneHazard and on Google+ for all the latest updates, news, reviews and more from haunts all over the US as Haunt Tour 2013 continues!  

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