Basement of the Dead – Full Review
Basement of the Dead is a Haunted Attraction located in Aurora, IL.
42 West New York Street, Aurora, IL 60506View All Details
Free Parking, Paid Parking, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Special Events, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Covered Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction
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This attraction was reviewed on October 6, 2023 by Team White City Devils.
About Our Reviews and Rating System
Final Score: 9.16
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Spending time in Aurora, Illinois, is one of my favorite moments of any haunt season. There’s something about the cold weather, the sun setting earlier, allowing the dark Fox River to reflect the yellow hue of the city lights, and the distant music coming from behind a pub and other businesses in a hidden area. Following the music leads to people running in fear and giant monsters on the corner of West New York Street and North River Street. Following all of the screams, music, lights, and sounds leads to none other than Basement of the Dead (BotD). Every visit to BotD or its sister haunt, Disturbia, continues a fantastic tradition of celebrating Halloween at what feels like a huge party, and everyone’s invited!
Cast Score: 9.02
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The Cast for BotD is highlighted throughout the queue/ outside area. Outside, we have a variety of characters that help entertain guests waiting for their turn to experience what lies in the basement. The actors in the queue happen to trade off/ try out different characters, so at one point, you may see a killer Jester costume, and later in the evening, the Jester is gone, but the Milkman is present! Though costumes may change, the level of energy is at a stable high throughout the night. We ran into a classic BotD clown, Sammie! Sammie is always a pleasant conversation and loves entertaining. We once ran into them on the show floor during an off-season event, and Sammie ordered their Starbucks in character; it was pretty entertaining.
Inside the haunt, the actors were spot-on with how they handled their rooms as though they owned them. There were some great usages of props, such as the drill to the metal barrels to create loud sounds to disorient guests.
In Shattered 3-D, the actors were more off the hinge in their performances and had a playful madness to their characters. Given that the area has clown/circus nuances, the actors here have creepy laughs and strange, happy ways of approaching guests. It works with the scenes given and adds volume to the overall experience. Overall, the cast does bring high energy to each of their respective scenes.
Costuming Score: 9.15
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BotD has quality makeup and costume designs throughout each attraction as well as the queue area. The Jester costume we see is a great black and white classic costume with an evil-looking mask. Vax had a great look as well. Entirely grey, as if all the life were sucked out of him; they had a vest with glowing syringes that matched their glowing eyes. Inside the basement, the actors inside had appropriate costumes for their scenes. The hospital scene had ragged patients complemented with makeup applications to make them look more deranged. The nuns were also a highlight for great costuming. The attire a classic nun wears, and an evil-looking application made the scene feel as though we were in some sort of forgotten cave in hell.
The Shattered 3-D portion, of course, had neon paint application and brighter colors that popped with the glasses given for the walkthrough. These were primarily clowns, of course, and looked great under the black light, with some of the makeup popping off their faces in a 3-D fashion. Overall, there was great makeup all around, very fun in the Shattered 3-D, and very appropriate in Basement!
Customer Service Score: 9.68
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Customer Service Review:
BotD is pretty easy to spot, even though it’s sort of hidden. Follow the zesty tunes and screams! The staff here are family and, love to chat, and are super helpful with guiding guests to the correct spots. Information is listed on their website, and they are active on social media sites as well. It’s worth checking in as there are discounts and such. They even have a text line where they drop links for discounts as well!
Immersion Score: 9.17
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The overall experience during the outside portion of the haunt is a giant party! The one impressive thing is the queue doesn’t feel like a wait because there’s so much entertainment all around. A live DJ is on the scene, and at the top of the hour, there are giveaways during this time. This atmosphere keeps guests in line, feeling as though they are participating in the fun throughout, and the queue actors turn the fun up by interacting with guests and themselves.
Inside the attraction, scenes are immersive and over the top. We mentioned the nautical room before, but it remains a great example of being enthralled into a scene. Looking throughout, it’s easy to tell there is so much detail. Even the ceiling gives the appearance of a sinking ship and helps create a fully enveloping scene. Though scenes are over the top and look fantastic, there is no particular order to things, or a storyline followed. I feel this works here because of how much is thrown at you as a guest, and an average guest may appreciate rooms individually over a storyline.
Special FX Score: 9.22
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Special FX Review:
BotD is well known for having over-the-top effects that help drive an intense visit. Even the DJ booth has plenty of effects, such as lighting and fog queued up. The queue area has photo-op props that second as useable moments, such as the new BotD minicar! If you’re lucky enough to find it parked, be sure to use it as a fun photo op. However, it is usually in motion and operated by one of the many monsters around.
Each scene we walked through was amazing and creative. One of the new scenes this season is a bomb shelter complete with a countdown over the speakers that are loud and help provide a feeling of urgency. I appreciate the room before; it feels like an old 40s-50s style bunker (think of the old Brenden Frasier movie Blast from the Past). The nautical room is another returning favorite, and a newer room that’s only two seasons old. Everything here is detailed and gorgeous, to say the least. The large Lovecraftian creature in the room also looks great and is a fit reminder of what kind of creatures we haven’t discovered yet in the depths of the oceans.
The demonic nun area was one of the more classic rooms that met with an upgrade. There are a ton of upside-down crosses here that glow a bright red and give an ominous feel to it. These are found within a cave-like area to give a sort of hellish appearance. Speaking of Hell! Early on, we entered a circular room with a brimstone-like glow, and centered right in the middle were the charred remains of the damned. To leave this area is a bit of an obstacle but a fun one, to say the least.
The Shattered 3-D attraction has some great paintwork all over, which pops with the combination of the 3-D glasses, coloring on the wall, and black light effects. These paintings are spread all over and can be freakish to look at on the floor as they give depth and feel as though you’ll misstep while trying to walk through. The props here are also painted up and give effects as though certain characteristics, such as the red nose of a clown, are just floating in midair. The attraction here is super visual and pairs well with the consistent creepy music that sounds like some kind of horror carnival.
Scare Factor Score: 9.03
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Scare Factor Review:
BotD did a great job of hitting our group with scares the moment we walked in. Each scene feels like a sensory overload-type situation as it throws a ton at once, including graphic scenes, loud sudden sounds, and actors that bring a bunch of scares. Inside the namesake attraction, the actors were good at taking advantage of misdirection scares. With plenty to look at and over-the-top props, it is easy to become distracted and then get hit with a jump scare. Prop scares and air cannons and such are the primary ways guests are targeted here, and it works well. Many different props jump out or towering ones that fill the room and feel large and in charge.
Shattered 3-D has a more “old School” vibe overall. There are some jump-out props hidden behind drop panels that work well and give a great sudden scare. There is a fine line ridden here with quirkiness classic haunt walkthrough with a bit of a scary twist, so it makes for an interesting walkthrough overall. The actors here are a bit more playful in acting than scary, but it works, giving the overall feel for it. It is pretty great to have two separate experiences.
Entertainment & Value Score: 9.11
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Our walkthrough time for BotD was just over 22 minutes for both attractions. Ticket prices vary from day to day and can range from $19.99 to $35 (again, depending on the day and week), so the MPD value can range from 1.1 to .63 based on the range for tickets. Sweetening the pot, this price doesn’t even include all of the entertainment provided by the DJ set and various actors outside.
BotD is an amazing event overall, and in a bittersweet move, this will be the last year for Shattered 3-D. We are unsure of what will replace this portion, but we were told there is a concept in mind that will make its appearance in the 2024 season. We will be sad to see the 3-D portion gone, but, excited about what’s to come simply based on the fact that it’s BotD, so it’s a safe bet to expect something over the top and exciting!
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