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Find Reviews for a Haunt near You!
Find Reviews for a Haunt near You!
Statesville Haunted Prison
17250 Weber Road, Lockport IL, 60411
Reviewed by:Team Zombillies on October 10, 2015
Free Parking, Restrooms On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, This haunt will not touch you, Original Characters, “Hi-Tech” Haunt, Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor Haunt
Ho… lee… COW!!! Our 2015 visit to Statesville Haunted Prison was our team’s first and this incredible attraction surfaced as one of the top 3 highest-rated haunts in the history of The Scare Factor! With two separate attractions rolled into one ticket at one location, Statesville offers a very big bang for their customers’ bucks. With the real, Stateville Correctional Facility being (literally) right across the field, Statesville HP embraces that concept and brings the idea of a maximum-security prison that houses inmates accused of inconceivable crimes to a reality that surpasses any experience that our review team has endured in quite some time! Trust us when we say that you don’t want to cross “The Warden.” Their second attraction, dubbed “City of the Dead,” adds a sub-story twist to that same theme and winds you through the perilous passageways beneath the Prison. Here, you will bear witness to the demonic creatures that continue to rise from their tombs while “The Gatekeeper” and his minions attempt to overrun the cursed souls charged with keeping them at bay. A third, “Zombie Sniper Paintball” attraction is also available at this location, where you can climb aboard military vehicles and annihilate the infected undead! Statesville has earned its place at the top of the country’s leader boards, so be prepared for wanting to go through multiple times to catch everything you missed the first time through. Management informed us that they change around 40% of their show every year, so returning customers should be in for some new treats as well. If you’re looking to visit one of the nation’s top haunted attractions this year, then Statesville Haunted Prison is NOT to be discounted!
On an average night during haunt season, as if anything can be called “average” at Statesville, between 100 and 160 actors and actresses bring pure terror to those brave enough to breach the walls of the Prison. Starting with the queue actors, each of them were very believable as they interacted with and glared at us as if they could cut our heads off through looks alone! “Captain Flagg” was among the first that we met during our visit as he was seen herding cattle… I mean… customers, into the prison and banging himself against the walls on occasion during our walk-through. This is one VERY energetic crew! Many of the other characters zipped overhead, dangled from the walls, bounced right by us, and one even asked our advice on a final meal selection. On a side note, Statesville doesn’t allow very young people to attend their attraction… at least not without an accompanying adult. Part of that rule is due to some explicit dialogue, as we heard some hefty words during our tour, so be advised of that. Despite this, each of them used unique dialogue that directly related to their characters, scenes and even props at times! You probably won’t hear generic scare-actor lines here like, “Get out!” or “Wanna play a game?” Each of the actors are trained on the background of their character so they can adjust their dialogue use accordingly. The most interactive character that we noticed as we served our time was one particular inmate who successfully blocked our path, took one of our group members’ hat and even managed to obtain a few items from us in exchange for safe passage! It’s not often that we see an interactive chainsaw assailant, but the one at Statesville knew just how to “trim [us] up” when he realized his initial, spark-throwing scare wasn’t quite as successful as he’d planned. Being able to adapt in a situation like that is a sign of excellent training. The highlight of the creatures inside “City of the Dead” seemed to be their amazing vocal talents; they were just as unique as the characters’ identities! Among the most believable in the underground “city” were the scarecrow, the moss monsters and, actually, the multiple queue entertainers that conversed with us before we entered. Part of creating a realistic and believable experience is being able to tailor the show for each of the customers that go through. These guys and gals, along with the vast majority of the entire crew, excelled at this and really helped bring the story of the Prison and the City to life!
Around 12 makeup artists are necessary to get their huge cast “riot-ready” each night. Characters are shifted along each of their airbrush and makeup stations in an assembly-line format until each and every one of them look as close to flawless as possible! Quite a strong collection of masks were noticed during our walk-through of each haunt and many of them were never seen before by our review group. Some of them were so realistic, we still aren’t really sure if they were masks or not! Along with colored contacts, many “accessories” were utilized by the various characters and creatures lurking within the complex including, but not limited to, a saw blade protruding from one of their faces. On the subject of prosthetics, Statesville makes their own transfers just to be sure they’re 100% original. These aren’t your Halloween-store “severed head” lacerations and “broken bone” wounds. Close examination yielded copious amounts of realistic detail, although a trained eye could pick out a few minor imperfections. But don’t get us wrong… each of the characters and monsters in both attractions looked their respective parts very believably with head-to-toe costumes. Many of the outfits in “City of the Dead” matched their surroundings… literally! The Prison housed a plethora of intimidating inmates, doctors, Statesville’s own brand of clowns and grueling guards just to name a few. The same costuming detail witnessed inside the attractions extended to their queue actors as well, which helped solidify a completely-believable overall experience.
As we passed by the outskirts of southern Chicago, we started seeing billboards for Statesville that got us excited ahead of time and confirmed we were headed in the right direction! When we approached the entrance, there was a small sign depicting the name of the attraction, but the initial sight of the farm silos, pumpkins and hay bales didn’t exactly reinforce the fact that we’d arrived at the infamous “Statesville Haunted Prison.” However, upon further investigation, we noticed one of the pumpkin-painted round bales by the road with half of a lifeless corpse dangling from its jowls, which did imply that we’d surely reached our destination (or at least someplace that likes scary stuff as much as we do)! Multiple flaggers at every intersection of the gravel, well-lit and free parking lot seamlessly guided us to our spot and warned us of oncoming traffic as we made our way to the ticket booth. Multiple ticket windows help keep the crowd moving and are labeled separately in case you’ve purchased tickets in advance. Several friendly staff members, security guards and police officers also assisted customers in navigating the property and professionally helped us with any questions that we had for them; although, some of them did seem a bit short with us at times (probably due to the massive number of people they deal with in a given night). If gift shops and memorabilia are your thing, this place has got plenty of it! From their huge gift shop, pumpkin farm and various harvest-related items to multiple concession stands and “Statesville Haunted Prison” and “Zombie Army” apparel, there was no shortage of souvenirs to be had by any stretch of the imagination. As we crossed the threshold from the Seigel’s Cottonwood Farm area into haunted house territory, we were greeted by fire-twirlers and an assortment of sinister queue characters. Some of them include “Fluffy” (a straight-jacketed villain), a very creepy clown wearing riot gear and the very intimidating “sword guy” that looked like he’d just walked out of a sinister, sci-fi, action movie! Once you leave the main queue line, Statesville doesn’t like to let you stand around for very long without a change of scenery. Each of the holding areas, where groups of people were moved around to in batches, were very entertaining and interactive experiences and surely a welcome sight after a 2- to 3- hour wait in line. Speaking of the queue area, nearly all of the waiting lines are covered in case inclement weather poses a threat during your visit. On your way out, a couple of haunt-themed, carnival-style games and free photo ops are available to help round off your night! The queue actors were obliged to pose with us for some scary selfies, too.
Since this was our first visit to Statesville, we were very curious as to what we were about to find upon arrival. At first, the atmosphere seemed to be very family-friendly. After parking, and following the stampede to the ticket line, we continued to wonder where the prison was. Only after picking up our tickets and being directed where to go did we see it. My, what a sight it was! A man was dangling from high above as we walked further towards the entrance and the words, “HOLY SH!T” escaped our dumbfounded lips. Not only did the décor of the haunted prison hit us like a sack of potatoes, but the sheer number of people that were there was astounding! There were so many customers in line and roaming around waiting to visit this attraction; it was crazy! Watch towers, flame twirlers, the “Zombie Army” bus and another bus all let us know we were at the one and only Statesville Haunted Prison! The façade/watch tower looked very authentic and the culmination of everything around us had us jumping up and down in excitement and anticipation to enter! Many roamers engaged with us as we stood there, baffled, which helped prepare us to enter even more!
Where do we begin? Statesville consisted of so many original, unique, clever and downright disgusting items that you’re sure to find plenty of things that you haven’t seen before! If you’ve never been there before, you might even find yourself picking your jaw up off the floor like we did (you must be quick at this; these fiends are on body-part-watch at all times)! Some of the high-tech effects that we came across were familiar to us, but we have never seen most of them used as effectively as they were here! The opening scenes to each haunt contained phenomenal usage of effects and they produced many screams from their helpless victims… err, customers! Exquisite detail was everywhere! Everything we could see around us was elaborate and the detail even existed in places where it was least expected (or even needed)! Such attention to detail is a feat in itself, but when every square inch of the haunt is detailed at movie quality, it’s not something that’ll soon be forgotten. We noticed rats in the walls, authentic cells, many mirrors, overgrown vegetation, a restroom in major need of some cleaning and so much more! Realistic sound effects, as well as real sounds, flooded both attractions. Some of them were sirens, horns, loud dub-step (in this case “clown-step”), growls, menacing laughs and pleas for freedom. Strategic lighting effects accented the scenes throughout both attractions and we also encountered some specific techniques that were used to the extreme! If you can walk a straight line upon entering the prison, you probably won’t by the time you leave! Additional effects that we came across included multiple meat grinders, rolling barrels, live critters, a webbed vortex tunnel, giant spiders, a collapsing ceiling, an electrical/water mishap and an exclusive, overhead airbag surprise!
The background story behind each attraction can be found on Statesville’s website. However, a portion of them will be explained to you before you enter each one. The theme introductions were very impressive and gave us a good idea as to what we were about to experience. In “Statesville Haunted Prison,” the darkness has taken control of this maximum security facility and “The Warden” is welcoming all visitors! We must say they did their best to make us feel as if we had actually been incarcerated! We were placed in multiple holding boxes while being scolded to stand in single file lines, sent to the commissary for our orange jumpsuits, blankets and shoes and then given the ultimate tour of the rest of this hardcore facility! Within these cells, we came face-to-face with many inmates who showcased some of their mad habits that landed them here, thus reiterating the theme our entire way through! “City of the Dead” is the burial pit for all of Statesville’s past inmates. We were told that they keep burying and burying them and these creatures just keep coming back! There were so many unexplainable creatures amongst this tomb that we felt completely immersed into the haunted house and lost track of all reality… until we finally dug our way out! Although the prison theme itself isn’t the most original concept we’ve seen, the storyline behind it is! We do recommend that you visit their site and read up on the full details of both attractions before you visit. It’ll help increase each haunt’s realism effect as you walk through!
A multitude of fright techniques were put to the test during our visit at Statesville. It was obvious that this crew allotted a lot of time towards coming up with innovative ways to scare their patrons! We fell victim to ingenious hiding spots throughout both attractions. However, they were more abundant in “City of the Dead.” We were very impressed with the strategic and scare-friendly set designs that we battled through in multiple areas. One of those types of scenes forced us to get closer and closer to outraged captives by design, regardless if we wanted to or not! Another one of these intense areas was the prison’s finale where we had to dodge hanging bodies, which dampened our chance of quickly escaping! The scares were distributed amongst each of us (only 2 in our group) and, due to the amount of crew members that they have, we’re sure they will evenly distribute their attention amongst larger groups rather than just the front or back of the line. Another side effect of stumbling upon so many cast members was their ability to provide effective distractions. As soon as we would become absorbed in a particular prisoner or effect, something would take full advantage of it and hit us from the other way! Other types of frights that we encountered included classic phobias, disorienting rooms, grueling dialogue and plenty of unexpected surprises! One of said surprises caught one of our group members off guard so well that he nearly fell on it (which HAD to be entertaining for anyone who may have witnessed it)! Not only did they provide all of these different fright techniques, but they literally came from all directions! The “Sister’s Room” was very effective and left us wondering for quite some time which one(s) were real and, we must say, we didn’t figure it out on our own! Be sure to always watch out for the prison’s murderous clowns! They may try to obtain your body parts and use them in their efforts of resurrecting their “Circus of the Dead!”
General admission to witness Statesville’s “meat processing” first-hand will cost you $30.00 per person and includes admission to both “Statesville Haunted Prison” and “City of the Dead.” If you would like to opt for the “little-to-no-wait” route by skipping the wait under the tent, VIP passes are available for $45.00 online or $50.00 on-site. From the time “The Warden” began to give us his impressive spiel ‘till we made it out of the prison, our first haunt time came to a total of approximately 21 minutes. In “City of the Dead” we spent around 12 minutes from the time “The Gatekeeper” began his introduction trying to escape the attraction. That gave us a combined total of 33 minutes, bringing this value to 1.1 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent. This number does not include the time that we were in any holding boxes before being greeted by “The Warden” or “The Gatekeeper.” Although this number is slightly above average (1.0 mpd), the level of frights and quality of this attraction combine to make this an extremely hard value to beat! Combo tickets to both attractions AND their Zombie Sniper Paintball Ride can be purchased for $65.00 (including VIP to both haunts) if you are interested in trying out one of 22 “zombie-neutralizing” paintball guns while perched aboard an Army truck! Be sure to visit their site for group rate information; you can also fill out a short survey that will give you a $5.00-off coupon good for Thursdays.
Haunt Award – Best Use of Strobe Lights (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Haunt – Highest Rated Haunt out of all Haunts Team Zombillies visited (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Costuming (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Special Effects (Given by: Team Zombillies)Shout out Award – Actor Shout Out Award – CofD: Cave Dwellers (Given by: Team Zombillies)Shout out Award – Actor Shout Out Award – Prison: The Vaseline Prisoner (Given by: Team Zombillies)Haunt Award – Most Intimidating Character – “The Sword Guy” (Given by: Team Zombillies)Haunt Award – Most Entertaining Clowns (Given by: Team Zombillies)Haunt Award – Best Introduction of the Theme (Given by: Team Zombillies)Haunt Award – Best Use of Strobe Lights (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Costuming (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Fright Effect (Given by: Team Zombillies)Highest Rated – Highest Rated Value (Given by: Team Zombillies)Shout out Award – Actor Shout Out Award – “The Chainsaw Assailant,” at the exit of “Statesville Haunted Prison” (Given by: Team Zombillies)Shout out Award – Actor Shout Out Award – “The Scarecrow” in “City of the Dead” (Given by: Team Zombillies)Shout out Award – Actor Shout Out Award – John Laflamboy, A.K.A. “Captain Flagg” (Given by: Team Zombillies)