Land of Illusion
8762 Thomas Road, Middletown, OH 45042View All Details
Paid Parking, Restrooms On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, Special Events, “Hi-Tech” Attraction, Original Characters, Celebrity Appearances, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on September 2, 2017.
Final Score: 7.97
Land of Illusion (L.O.I.) is a gold mine for Halloween fun where you can experience 4 separate haunts, a zombie paintball ride and a full midway area! This scream park offers live entertainment, a mechanical bull, a 40-foot “Demon Drop” tower that you can jump off of, a huge fire pit, food, drinks and more.
The Middletown Haunted Trail is celebrating its 20th season this year and is LOI’s flagship attraction. This haunt includes multiple themes, from “Area 49” (an Area 51 spin-off) to their newest area called “The Hatch,” which is spawning some sinister scares for 2017!
The Voodoo Bayou Shanty really took it home for our team and was the attraction we enjoyed the most this year. Here, you’ll come face-to-face with a family of horrific hill-jacks that have been cursed with an unspeakable, dark, voodoo magic. We can assure you that you’ll be “Board, Gatorized and Shanti-fied” before you leave!
Killer Klowns is a clown- / funhouse-themed haunt that aims to warp wickedness into the unsuspecting minds of all who dare to enter. Will you make it past the sinister sideshow freaks that reside within?
Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate tells the tale of a deranged man who studies people’s fears and exploits them with excruciating experiments. If you find yourself walking into this abominable abode, you’ll soon discover that there are far worse things to fear than fear itself!
The Temple of Terror takes you (seemingly) deep beneath the Earth’s surface into an archaeological dig that has unleashed some sinister secrets. If the snakes and spiders don’t get you, the ancient, Egyptian spirits and monsters will!
Finally, the Zombie Sniper Patrol (zombie paintball) ride, has you climbing aboard a real military truck and travelling deep within the woods to slay the undead in one of the best zombie paintball excursions around! Without giving too much away, you won’t find many zombie paintball rides with hordes of the undead that are smart enough to drive (yes, DRIVE) at you with other vehicles! Don’t skip out on this unique attraction when you purchase your tickets.
We visited Land of Illusion on their 2nd night open for the 2017 season. In addition, they were offering a special deal for guests in honor of their 20th year, so the park was unusually crowded for being this early in the season. Because of that, the waiting lines were incredibly long and lots of groups were bunching up inside the haunts. The short group spacing didn’t give many of the actors a chance to “reset” properly, so there were several places where we caught them off-guard or not in the right scenes. If you have a chance to visit LOI on a Sunday or early in the season, try to take advantage of the smaller crowds so you can get a more personal experience. All in all, we still really enjoyed our trip to LOI and recommend a visit if you’re looking for a full night of frights!
Temple of Terror: 7.56
Dr. Psycho’s: 7.9
Killer Klowns: 7.74
Voodoo Bayou Shanty: 8.51
Middletown Haunted Trail: 8.31
We counted around a dozen actors in the Temple during our visit. Considering its short length, that isn’t really a bad thing, but there were several pretty long stretches where we didn’t see any actors at all for a while. A lot of them used generic dialogue, such as “Come play with me,” “Are you scared,” and so on, which didn’t help to maintain the whole “Temple” theme, but the archaeologists were sure to warn us of our impending doom and one of the mummies got a moan or two in when we crossed his path. The conga line of customers made it hard for most of them to interact, but some of them did manage to exchange a few comebacks with us before we had to move on to the next scene. The “ghillie suit guy” is always a favorite and, as with every year, he nailed one of us while being hidden in plain sight (kudos!).
Dr Psycho’s: 6.11
The actors in Dr. Psycho’s were enthusiastic and many of them interacted with our group well (particularly the kitchen staff), but there were still quite a few that used generic, universal phrases like “Wanna play?” and “Get out!” Dr. Psycho did deliver one of the best performances in our short time with him, as did his assistant… who showed us how pretty she made herself by using a custom facial treatment!
There seemed to be a lot more harrowing harlequins in Killer Klowns this year compared to our 2016 visit. Among these, the chainsaw- and knife-wielding clown in the cage maze continued to remain a top performer, quickly switching weapons and making sure everyone was high-stepping their way through his area. “Gutta” was also memorable and made sure everyone at the end of the attraction was thoroughly traumatized. Another one we won’t soon forget was the clown that pulled a booger out of his nose and let us get a nice, close look at it (he could’ve rolled that sucker around in his fingers for hours!!).
Most of the rest seemed to rely pretty heavily on their looks and “quirky” humor to keep groups entertained… and did so with varying levels of success. Despite having more actors this year, there were still a lot of “dead spaces” where there weren’t any clowns keeping the action going too. However, the one thing we were most disappointed to see was that one of the clowns walked directly across the bottomless pit, which effectively ruined the illusion and showed a lack of interest in customers’ experience.
The actors in the Shanty ranged from mild, “welcoming” hillbillies to wild, chainsaw-wielding madmen! The voodoo cultists added a dark and evil element to the haunt and rounded off the Shanty’s theme nicely. Be warned that this is a pretty interactive bunch! Even when the actors’ dialogue consisted of indiscernible mumbling (presumably from the voodoo curse that had been placed upon them), the vast majority made sure to spend at least a few seconds with everyone in our group. We could tell that each of them were dedicated to their roles, as they remained true to their characters and delivered some VERY believable performances! Some of the best moments were when the voodoo people started chanting some kind of ancient language (which gave us the heebie jeebies) and the chainsaw attackers, who were incredibly energetic.
The Trail had the largest variety of characters, ranging from creatures of LOI’s own creation to a few classic creepies and even a well-know movie villain!. Some of the most memorable include the guy in the wheelchair in the underground testing facility, the bloody bearded guy near the conveyor belt, the writhing “hatchling” and its nearby victims, the guy that sent sparks flying towards us and the actors near Bubba’s Shack (who were especially believable and interactive). Each of the Trail’s actors seemed to stay in character well, but some gave much better performances than others.
The Temple consists of a lot of low-light areas, so most of the costumes were designed to take advantage of that and blend in with the darkness. While some were detailed well enough to let us know who the characters were supposed to be, others were simple black cloaks with bloody makeup to serve as the scare when they popped out at us. However, the ghillie suit and mummy matched their respective surroundings perfectly, so be on the lookout while you’re dodging the snakes and other catacomb critters!
Dr Psycho’s: 7.71
The characters in Dr. Psycho’s matched their scenes pretty well, but – with the exception of Dr. Psycho and his assistant, there weren’t very many “stand outs” that were overly impressive. Amy (the little girl near the kids room) came from an unsuspecting location and, when she did, she matched her ghostly counterpart almost perfectly… which was an effective illusion that we don’t see used very often. One lady had a nice and gory wound from her stomach and another actor had a skull version of the classic plague mask. We noticed some of the characters wearing jeans and white tennis shoes (which seemed a bit odd, given their grungy and bloody surroundings), but nothing seemed overly distracting.
Each of the clowns in this attraction were appropriately dressed, although some were a little more exuberant than others. The vast majority were sporting typical clown attire, mainly consisting of fluorescent-colored, baggy clothing and similarly-styled makeup or masks to stay inline with the funhouse theme. One exception was the actor in the black- and white-checkered morph suit. While most of the outfits were relatively standard for these types of characters, the red-headed clown in the cage maze, “Gutta” and the shirtless clown at the entrance were a few stand-outs that were particularly well dressed.
Each of the Shanty’s costumes were appropriate for the hillbillies, rednecks and voodoo people within. Also, their intensity seemed to increase in detail and uniqueness as the haunt progressed. What started with curse-ridden, darkened eyes and grungy hillbilly clothing soon turned into blood-covered backwoods brutes and, finally, a pair of cloaked, voodoo cultists with vibrant accents and evil-looking accessories. High-quality masks were used that resembled goat heads and other animals to add an extra touch of down-home horror.
With such a wide variety of scenes and actors, it’s no wonder that the costuming on the Trail is equally diverse. From hideous monsters to deranged scientists, you just never know what you’ll run into around the next corner. Now, we were a bit confused when we saw a girl in a grungy, pinkish/white dress down in the sewer system area, but aside from that, almost all of the costumes seemed to “belong” in their respective scenes. The new creatures in “The Hatch” area were especially unique and unlike anything else we’ve seen at other haunted houses, but we still felt like their morph suit designs left them with some room to improve in the creativity department. Lots of blood, grunge and body parts were used in the school/cafeteria area, which made those characters (debatably) the most detailed and authentic ones on the Trail.
Customer Service: 9.44
There aren’t many signs leading the way to LOI, but our GPS got us there with ease. The spotlight in the sky let us know we were getting close and the large “Land of Illusion” sign by the road confirmed we were at the right place. Lots of parking is available in their huge, gravel lot, but be sure to bring $5 in cash to get yourself a spot. Multiple flaggers and friendly attendants did, however, make finding said spot a no-brainer.
The extravagant facade makes it very easy to find where to go to purchase or redeem your tickets. After you get through the turnstiles, a large park map in the midway will help you find the entrances to each attraction. New this year is a large sign and a multi-colored, lighted walkway that leads the way to Zombie Sniper Patrol (Ray Charles couldn’t miss this thing). All of the other attractions had signs at the entrances and each line (General Admission and Fast Pass) was clearly marked.
LOI is really a haunted house amusement park… not just because they say they are or because they have so many haunts, but because of the way they are set up. You walk through a turnstile as they scan your ticket to get in, most of the park is now paved and sidewalks are in place where there’s still gravel. There are plenty of picnic tables to sit at so you can catch your breath after running from the monsters, there’s plenty of food, drinks (both alcoholic and not), and they even have nice, permanent (and clean) restroom facilities! Extra porta potties are even stationed on one end of the park in case you just can’t make it to the building. They had multiple bonfires going to keep guests warm, roaming queue entertainers, live stage performances, an awesome gift shop and ATM’s are on site in case you forget to bring cash. Lot’s of friendly and helpful LOI staff and security members can be found roaming the park as well, both on foot and with golf carts, should you need assistance at any time. We want to give a special shout out to our hosts on the Zombie Sniper Patrol ride, as they were very entertaining and made our experience much more enjoyable! Before you leave, you will pass through the Ghostly Gift Shop where plenty of LOI swag, memorabilia and other horror-related items can be purchased.
Most of the paths through the haunts are wide and easily passable, but there are some uneven floors, a couple of swaying bridges and a few slick surfaces on occasion, so use some caution when navigating the inside of the attractions.
Aside from the midway monsters, we noticed at least some form of queue entertainment in each of the haunts’ general admission lines (except for the Shanty)… whether it be actors, small TV’s or a large movie screen. The Fast-Pass lines, however, usually lacked entertainment… probably assuming that the wait will be shorter and boredom won’t be as much of an issue. However, on busy nights like we encountered, general admission lines can be several hours long and our Fast-Pass line for the Trail was still over an hour. Wear comfy, closed-toe footwear that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.
The towering, well-decorated facade was a sight to behold when we pulled in! We couldn’t stop watching the color-changing lights and windows, waiting to see what they would display next. At one time, there was a giant eyeball gazing over the crowd and, the next, a spectral shadow. New this year were the large signs at the end of the parking lot that displayed the names of each of their 5 attractions, which helped get us excited to see what all they had to offer! Even though the facade and spooky music flowing through the parking lot were the creepiest parts (before going into any of the haunts), the overall atmosphere in this place is simply awesome! It’s like one big overwhelming party as soon as you walk in. There’s so much to do that it’s hard to decide where to begin. The live music that echoes throughout the park is generally modern and whatever is popular at the time (lots of Bruno Mars, in this case), so it doesn’t really help get their “creepiness” factor going. But, the scary stuff starts to kick in as you near the entrances to the attractions. We saw at least 5 roaming queue actors; one of which was very interactive, warning us that we wouldn’t come back if we went in the Trail!
Special Effects: 7.93
Temple of Terror: 7.06
When you enter the Temple of Terror, the rock walls and hieroglyphics make you feel like you’re really in an ancient temple. It’s very dim in many places and there are lots of coffins, mummified skulls, a bridge, creature nests and rock formations to create the ideal setting. The sound effects were a bit scattered, but the ones that we did hear matched the scenery well and helped immerse us into a realistic experience (except for the Rob Zombie music). We must say that, at times, it was really hard to hear if there were any sound effects at all because the other groups around us were screaming so loudly. The lighting in the attraction also helped in setting the tone for the haunt, although some of the UV painted monstrosities seemed a bit out of place for an archaeological dig, but who knows what those Egyptians were really up to, right? Other effects that we encountered include a ceiling surprise, sliding floor panels, HUGE spiders hanging from webs and several large animatronics.
Dr. Psycho’s: 7.65
Dr. Psycho’s showcases a wide variety of special effects in both the outdoor and indoor parts of the attraction. We heard quite a few sound effects, but the ones we noticed the most were the ones accompanying the animatronics, along with the sirens, lab sounds and the pulsating. A ghostly merry go round that moves by itself is among one of the most striking special effects in this attraction. There was also a new addition in one of the hallways this year that turned out to be quite effective! Realistic fog filled the quarantine area, making us wonder if we should be breathing it (just in case it was really some sort of toxic gas)! A large saw also caught our attention, as well as some air tools, real flames, a zombie fence, an overhead surprise and a snake-infested hallway. When you go through, see if you can spot Dr. Psycho’s grave before eerily meeting him in person!
Most of the scenery in Killer Klowns reiterates the funhouse theme with multi-colored walls, sinister clown paintings, creepy writing/phrases, etc. There are also multiple vortex tunnels, some unique lighting effects, hard rock music, a cage maze, a bottomless pit and several carnival booths to behold as you attempt to make your way through. This year, white material has been added to the cage maze walls to make it more difficult to see the path ahead of you, but we felt this made it seem like we had fewer path options to choose from, so we’re not sure if it was an improvement or a detriment. Most of the haunt should be fairly familiar to returning customers except for the new carnival booths. It seemed like we encountered a lot more black walls this year, along with some others that were a little plain, which gave the place an “unfinished” vibe and less detail compared to other similar attractions that we’ve visited.
The Shanty seemed to be the most thoroughly- and bizarrely-decorated haunt at LOI this year. The house was full of “lived in” junk, clutter, laundry, etc. and really made us feel like we could’ve been walking through someone’s grungy, old cabin. Lots of perplexing and panic-inducing sounds made it easy to understand why this family might be so deranged (If we had to listen to those sounds all the time, we’d be crazy-eyed too)! Lighting was placed well and made it harder for us to see the crazies and cataclysmic critters coming at us! It’s evident that something in the Shanty is killing off humans, as there were mass amounts of human skin covering the walls and hanging all over the place. Maybe it’s food for the animals? An unexpected horn, a swaying bridge and sudden blasts are just a few of the other things you can expect to run across in the Shanty… sometimes literally.
The Trail offers the widest range of special effects at LOI. You might even need to go through this one a second time to really catch everything! Sounds of dripping water, bubbling, sirens, chirping birds and hard rock music helped in bringing the various scenes to life… but we did encounter several areas without any sounds at all. Lighting was also used well on the Trail, including some blinding strobes and flickering, vintage fixtures. “The Hatch” was very unique and decorated quite a bit differently than anything we’ve seen before. A machine gun, a tilting and vibrating bridge, thick fog, a “smashing” surprise and cockroaches crawling all over the walls are just a few of the many special effects that exist on the trail. Oh yea, there’s also a vomit-inducing vortex tunnel… don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Each attraction at LOI has it’s own, unique storyline and/or reason for why you can find them within this Scream Park. The names give away the short version for each attraction, but the full stories can be found on the “attractions” page of LOI’s website. If you haven’t been here before, we strongly suggest checking out their storylines to get the full experience. The trail is a bit different, however, because it doesn’t focus on one single theme. Instead, it covers a wide plethora of phobias.
Even if you don’t read them, the themes are still fairly obvious for each attraction… although, the characters’ dialogue didn’t vary much between them, so there’s still an element of immersion that’s left to be desired. This was especially evident between the Temple and Dr. Psycho’s.
Temple of Terror: 7.95
Dr. Phycho’s Haunted Estate: 8.25
Killer Klowns: 8
Voodoo Bayou Shanty: 8.7
Middletown Haunted Trail: N/A
Fright Effect: 6.73
Temple of Terror: 6.21
Many low-light areas, coffins and crevices provided some great places for the actors to hide in the Temple… even though only a select few characters took advantage of them. But, not only do they prey on the fear of the dark here, they also target those who are afraid of tight spaces, large creatures, spiders, getting squished and more! We really enjoyed watching the group behind us get nailed by several surprises that we noticed before they did. The actors mainly served up your typical “pop” scares, but their costumes and camouflage still allowed them to catch our group off guard several times.
Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Estate: 6.83
This Haunted Estate and the property surrounding it contained some downright creepy scenes! On top of that, they offered some unexpected surprises, eerie music, a bit of threatening dialogue and a very unique hallway surprise that we hadn’t seen here before! Torturous acts were made apparent during our stroll through the house, which helped keep us on our toes. After all, we didn’t want to become the doctor’s next victims! Most of the experiments seemed to be roaming about as we approached them, rather than trying to startle us, but this was likely due to all of the customer groups being bunched up so closely.
Killer Klowns: 6.08
If you’re afraid of clowns, then this attraction will probably petrify you from start to finish. Even if you’re not, they still have some tricks up their sleeves that may “get under your skin.” The most effective scare we encountered in this funhouse was towards the end of the attraction, when one of the clowns used their perfect timing skills. Some of the other types of frights you might encounter in this carnival consist of a sparking chainsaw, several good hiding spots, heights, artwork distractions, and tight spaces.
Voodoo Bayou Shanty: 8.04
The Shanty definitely succeeded at delivering the most scares during our visit. From good hiding spots, sudden loud noises, an air cannon, other unexplainable sounds and an effective distraction technique, they did a great job at making several of our group members jump. In portions of the Shanty, the sound effects alone can make your hair stand on end! At one point, it was suddenly so suspenseful and creepy that one of our team members let out an “Oh sh!t” while another quickly grabbed his shirt to make sure he was still in front of her.
Way to freak out a review team, ya’ll!
Our group consisted of 9 people on the trail (2 different parties), but we were impressed at the great job they did at targeting different parts of the line and not just repeatedly going for the front or the back. This attraction has one particularly suspenseful area… so much that it makes you question whether you should keep walking into the fog or not! In many cases, we felt as if the actors didn’t have time to reset to their normal positions, so instead of trying to scare us, they were mostly verbally interacting with us. There were a few hidden behind doorways that managed to get us, though, and one with a rather “sparky” surprise, so we didn’t escape unscathed by any means.
General admission for the four haunted houses and the trail is priced at $36.99 this season. Fast Pass admission tickets can be purchased for $53.99 and both ticketing options include unlimited access to all five haunts and all concert events! Not many haunts offer unlimited access to a haunt with one ticket price, so we recommend taking advantage of that if time allows. Keeping in mind we were forced to walk through the haunts at a slightly faster pace than normal due to the conga lines, here’s how much time we spent in each of the attractions:
Temple of Terror – 7 minutes
Dr. Psycho’s – 11 minutes
Killer Klowns – 10 ½ minutes
Shanty – 10 minutes
Trail – 25 minutes
Combined, that’s over an hour of eerie entertainment!
The cost of general admission has Land of Illusion offering about 1.72 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent, which is a fair bit above the average of 1.5. That value won’t be as high with the Fast Pass option, but remember that you’ll get much faster access to all the haunts on busier nights. It was definitely a fair trade on the extremely busy night that we visited LOI.
Be aware that side attractions (Zombie Sniper Patrol, the Bucking Bull, carnival games, etc.) all have additional prices that are not included with General Admission or Fast Pass tickets. One of our team members did the Demon Drop and thought the adrenaline rush was well worth the extra $10.00. You can thank us later for saving all of you from being eaten by ravenous zombies on Zombie Sniper Patrol, which we would happily do again at $12.99/person ticket cost. Speaking of paintballs, if you run out of ammo, you can buy more during your ride for $5 per refill. If you want to visit LOI just for the paintball and nothing else, you can do so for $19.99 per ride. Also, don’t forget that parking will cost you $5.00 per vehicle, so be sure to bring cash and factor that into your budget.
Each time we visit LOI, they never fail to have something different to offer and we always look forward to visiting them each season. We travel several hours one way to get there and we can’t wait to do so again next year. There aren’t many places where you can sit down, have a drink, listen to some good music, and then decide to just get up and go get in line to be scared. LOI has everything you need at one location and we are sure their performances in the haunts will only get better as the season progresses. If you’re looking for a full night of fright and entertainment, then start planning your trip to Land of Illusion this season! Just remember, “No whinin’ or cussin’” at the Shanty!
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Most Tormenting to Victims - Middletown Haunted Trail (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Suspenseful Scene - Middletown Haunted Trail, Myers Walkway (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Klowns: Gutta (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Shanty: Amos (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Temple: Guys in Elevator (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Trail: Dr. Beak (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Trail: Lunch Lady (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Entertaining Clown - "The Cage Maze Chainsaw Clown" in "Killer Klowns" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Scariest Duo - "The Catacombs Couple" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Memorable Scare - "The Shadow Spirit" in "Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Twisted Haunt - "The Voodoo Bayou Shanty" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - "Dr. Psycho" in "Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Andrew Rasnic, A.K.A. "Bubba" in "The Middletown Haunted Trail" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Arthur Gehring, A.K.A. "Snagz, the Clown" in "Killer Klowns" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Mike Carmichael, A.K.A. "Arlen Dubois the Butcher" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Tonya R. Murray, A.K.A. "The Widowmaker" in "The Middletown Haunted Trail" (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Best Pyrotechnical Scare (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Entertaining Clown (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Memorable Moment (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate: Redneck with Shotgun (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - Middletown Haunted Trail: Flesh Eater (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out Award - The Shanty: Voodoo Guy (Given by: Team Zombillies)