Hundred Acres Manor
1 100 Acres Drive, Bethel Park, PA 15102View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Special Events, “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express reviewed this attraction on October 6, 2016.
Final Score: 9.72
If you’re from the Pittsburgh area, and have a sweet tooth for Halloween Havoc, Hundred Acres Manor (1AM) has probably found its way onto your radar. If you’ve actually visited before, you probably realize that the Manor is a highly-detailed mega-haunt, boasting a massive legion of scare-warriors within a horrifying environment amplified by a professional level of special effects; or, simply, 1AM is really friggin’ good. Unwilling to rest on already-accomplished laurels, however, the Manor has undergone a SUBSTANTIAL upgrade: adding TWO COMPLETELY NEW ATTRACTIONS. Damnation, Torture Tank, Dead Lift, and Vodou return, now accompanied by The Breach and Hallow’s Eve, and Hundred Acres Manor has never been better. Head on out to Bethel Park, PA to experience the horror for yourself. Any doubts? Read this review and become a believer.
1AM packs an enormous amount (well into triple digits) of actors into their haunted halls each night. We didn’t experience any noticeable, unintended actor dry spots (as discussed in “Special Effects”, Breach often let’s its effects do the talking). We encountered a lot of great performances; most of the cast were exuberant and feisty, clearly primed to deliver boisterous hauntings. Three characterizations stuck out to us most prominently, in ascending order: the housewife who introduces you into her home, and the horrors of Hallow’s Eve; the salivarically-challenged mutant near the end of Hallow’s Eve (that he was able to make an impression against the backdrop of his fellow room-inhabitants speaks wonderfully about his performance), and, above all others, the Wolf Man from Hallow’s Eve (see Fright Effect below).
Despite a few stiff performances at the beginning of our journey, and early in the Breach, the plentiful cast were, as a unit, motivated and effective in conveying their intimidating, monstrous depictions.
With such a variety of themes across attractions, so, too, came an assortment of haunted attire and makeup. Part of what makes 1AM great on this count is that they provide adequate cosmetic attention to ALL actors, not simply their featured performers. The absence of inept blood splatters or “Jason mask and t-shirt” aesthetics is not missed, believe me. Instead, we were greeted by a colorful assortment of mutants, monsters, fiends, and all manner of foul beasts, with most of the costumes in play unique to the Manor. Similar to last season, the most outstanding fashion designs were worn by actors who had worked themselves into their surrounding environments, blending into the detailed scenery (see Special Effects). The best examples of this, of course, must be seen to be appreciated, as any description provided before entering the Manor may spoil the “fun.” Suffice to say: the quality of costuming makes the other aspects of the haunt work that much more effectively.
Customer Service: 9.9
Finding the Manor is easy enough – if you find yourself in a completely pitch-black park with no signs of civilization: hey, you’re almost there! Should all else fail, the bright lights, signs, and spotlight are impossible to miss. There is free parking across the street from the Manor, with an ample supply of parking spotters to direct you to an open lane. As one of the most popular attractions in the Pittsburgh area, lines for 1AM can become quite substantial. Fortunately, the Acre-ers haunt the waiting area with multiple in-character actors every night. The actress we encountered was FANTASTIC: creepy, clever, and entertaining in a gleefully off-color fashion. Additionally, the “gate-keeper” (as I like to call them) actress at the front of the line was wonderful as well – admittedly this reviewer’s favorite cast member of the night. We exchanged playful banter for several minutes as we prepared ourselves to enter the Manor, and I found myself properly put in my place repeatedly. These pre-haunt interactions really can make all the difference on a busy night, buoying sagging spirits of anxious patrons trapped in endless waiting ques. A few seconds of interplay with a capable performer eases much of the anticipation and tension, and the two that we met were capable, indeed.
Additionally, a concession stand is available with a variety of culinary goodies to quell grumpy bellies. We were too busy having fun in the Manor to sample any edible currency this year (to my legitimate dismay), but if their wares are on par with the fare from last season, more intelligent patrons will not want to miss them.
A new souvenir building has been added, placed conveniently near the exit of the attraction, and offers an assortment of 1AM swag.
The staff of Hundred Acres Manor are some of the friendliest in the industry. Regardless of who we find ourselves interacting with amongst their number, we are always impressed by their professionalism and willingness to assist their patrons. We need to extend an extra special, heart felt thank you to Ethan and Tyler for being such gracious hosts, and really swell chaps in general. <3
Hundred Acres Manor is a horse-drawn carriage ride on a quiet October evening with a death metal-blasting boombox in tow. Their location could be one of quiet reflection or subtle, gothic eerieness, but that just isn’t in 1AM’s blood. You first hear the music from your car as you drive toward the parking lot. The building’s facade is emblazoned, colored lights beaming forth. The entire exterior of the Manor is a challenge, insisting “Get ready, we are coming for you.” The approach is not subtle – far from it, but it matches the tone of the attraction. 1AM hits hard and fast. They don’t mess around; from the moment you enter the first attraction, they intend to throw the kitchen sink, the dinner table, and even a stray bookshelf or two at you… I mean at least one of those literally.
This year, the line has been reconstructed, given a much more environmentally-appropriate appearance, befitting of a haunted attraction. It is well-constructed and has improved the ambience outside of the attraction a good bit.
Special Effects: 10
I sang seemingly hyperbolic praises in this category last season about 1AM’s props, effects, and set design. I waxed philosophical, as I am wont to do, about the ideal of perfectionism vs the reality of what is ACTUALLY physically attainable by human hands. Anyone visiting the Manor last season understood my appraisal of that high-quality effort; others may have assumed the legitimacy of my claims implausible. In short: I made claims that the “Special Effects” (as we consider them) at Hundred Acres Manor were about as good as they could reasonably be.
I hate you guys; no, really, 1AM, I bite my thumb at you. You’re going to make me do it – you’ve left me no other options. Friends, saddle up and strap in, this is happening.
1AM has forced me to give my first perfect score. Scoundrels.
First, the veterans: Brine seems to have undergone the most substantial upgrades, clearly reintegrating elements of the former Brine Slaughterhouse to good effect. The Dead Lift has actually been revamped and improved, creating a much better “hell-evator-style” experience. Damnation and Vodou were on par with last year’s iterations, thankfully, as those were the two strongest segment of 2015.
So, as to the new kids on the block: The Breach is, essentially, one continuous set piece – a fully-research laboratory that begins calmly enough, but quickly descends into blood-soaked chaos. The effect-ticians seem to have been almost gleeful with the ability to showcase a “high-tech-style” design – cramming all sorts of video, lighting, and tactile subtleties into the display. The universally most acclaimed segment felt like the masochistic big brother of Vodou’s “unsettled” room. This section of the Breach is wonderfully-conceived, featuring a frighteningly well-constructed center piece surrounded by a unique environmental hazard most other attractions would be afraid to attempt. Overall, the Breach is light on actors, and lets the environment handle most of the scaring. The lighting effects, particularly its blue-light hallway are absolutely top shelf. As mentioned in Theme, below, it is essentially a cross-section of a science fiction horror film, allowing you to be on the set as the film (and the terror) is developing, and it works perfectly.
The set design titan this year, though, can only be Hallow’s Eve. The level of detail etched into the very first scene, alone, is incredible. Each horror vignette is treated with the same fixated attention to design. The number of elements crafted into each scene are so immense, we are certain that through TWO walkthroughs we still missed some. It feels a bit uncomfortable to refer to the elaborately eerie environments as “beautiful” but, in this context, that is an apt descriptor. Each scene felt like the artist had painted a canvas, stepped back, and thought to himself “not good enough!”, returned to the tableau, applied a new swath of coloration, and repeated the process half a dozen more times. Upon completion, he realized that he hadn’t painted 7 or 8 different portraits atop one another, he had actually created ONE painting requiring 8 levels of detail. Each of the broad strokes of “color” within Hallow’s Eve blend together into a cohesive, frightening mural. Added to this, Hallow’s Eve is then overlaid with an excellent variety of animatronics and effects – including, I believe, the most imposing beast this side of the Transylvanian countryside.
Fear not, with new attractions come new scents – a whole new palette of olfactoral odium to enhance the experience. 1AM makes better use of that oft-forgotten path to fear, the sense of smell, than any other attraction.
Understand, the same factors that make Hallow’s Eve so impressive are present (and persistent) throughout the rest of the attractions – detailed set design, creepy sound effects, massive animatronics, great light effects, air blasters (oh, the air blasters) etc. Hallow’s Eve just seems to have assembled them all together into the most effective horrific kaleidoscope that we have seen. It, combined with the top-notch set design and effects of Breach, have, I must admit, pushed 1AM into “perfect 10” territory to my despair, and complete joy. Such is the life of a haunted attraction reviewer.
(Oh, and Ted : Ethan was right about set design.)
Four attractions remain from last year: Dead Lift, Damnation, Torture Tank, and 1AM’s 2015 blockbuster, Vodou – still thematically-strong, granted, but this season’s additions, The Breach and Hallow’s Eve, have upped the originality ante. The former, which begins as a tour through a scientific research facility focused on studying alien life, quickly degenerates into a cinematic-level battle for survival when specimen becomes predator. Hallow’s Eve is a wildly creative throwback: an homage to classic horror icons twisted through the Manor’s own unique prism. These two newcomers were definitely unlike anything we had seen in a haunted attraction before.
Each attraction flows directly into the next, though the lines of distinction between eerie realms are never blurred. Every horrific region has its own unique flavor and feel, with the environments and monstrosities within maintaining those contexts quite well.
Fright Effect: 9.71
What do you do when your attraction has over 100 actors with nothing better to do on a Saturday night? Scare, scare, scare. Thinking about it now, I’m hard-pressed to identify an angle that SOMETHING wasn’t infiltrating our personal spaces from. Truthfully, two of the effective frights came from above – and when we least expected them. Even for the haunt fan elite, we smug terror-connoisseurs in our ebony towers, it is difficult to find fault in 1AM’s assault. They blend environmental hazards, jump-startles, distraction-scares, character interactions, and animatronic aggressors into a thick, panicked stew that can please any taste, bud. They do have a unique penchant for disguising actors as animatronics that lent itself to several truly profound scare-attempts. Heck they put forth some of the most successful air blaster startles that I’ve seen – whoever arranged and managed the deployment of those mechinations is a true artisan of the craft. The left half of my mouth still twitches when a door closes too loudly. There were so many fright-attempts occurring all around us, that we never felt safe; never felt that we really knew where the next assault would come from.
Throughout the first few attractions, there was a tendency for fright-attempts to target mostly the front of our group, but, eventually, the scare radius did extend, until our entire party was evenly engaged for the second half of the haunt.
There were a lot of great actor-based scares, but one particular actor, the Wolfman from Hallow’s Eve, executed one of the most prolonged, determined scares that I have seen in my life. He emerged from his haunt-location, did his bit, and we began moving on. Several rooms passed by before I realized that he was STILL with us, on all fours, completely retaining character, snarling and biting and howling, unwilling to disengage from his prey unless the hand of God, himself, smote him away. That degree of determination really exemplified the best of what Hundred Acres Manor has to offer.
Hundred Acres Manor removed what was, in my opinion, the weakest link: Brine Slaughterhouse, as well as the maze, and replaced them with two of their best attractions. I’ll admit that when initially hearing about the demise of the maze, I was distraught. Yes, it’s a maze, and in the haunt world, mazes tend to be woefully lackluster, but the 1AM maze was excellent. I anticipated navigating its winding concourse every year, and a surge of righteous fury nearly birthed from my lips at this lamentable revelation. I wasn’t alone in my displeasure: that maze was a mainstay of their attraction, a well-loved icon. The pitchforks, they were a-sharpenin’.
Then I actually went through 1AM.
Maze? What maze.
Seriously, though, yes the maze will be missed, but the two attractions that have risen out of its ashes are so far above the quality of even that perennial favorite, that this tear-soaked wake has hastily been rescheduled as an exultant celebration. There will be balloon animals.
It took us nearly 40 minutes to completely pass through the Manor this year. Tickets are still a paltry $20; thus the SCA-LUE is 2 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent. VIP tickets are $30; SUPER vIP tickets, $40. The Enigma Project, 1AM’s escape room, is back this year as well for $25.
If you’ve actually read this review and still need convincing that Hundred Acres Manor is worth visiting, I give up on you. If you like haunted attractions at all… even a little, teeny tiny bit, go. It’s the best time you can have on a Friday night with a drooling hell-mutant, and that’s saying something. Highest recommendation.
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Scariest Haunt in Pennsylvania (Given by: Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express)