Black Orchard Haunted House – Full Review

Black Orchard Haunted House is a Haunted Attraction located in Shelbyville, KY.

704 Kentucky Street, Shelbyville, KY 40065
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Haunt Type(s):

Haunted House


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Free Parking, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Special Events, You may be touched, Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on September 20, 2019 by Team Zombillies.

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Final Score: 8.68

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2019 marks Black Orchard’s 3rd year in operation. With its intriguing tagline: ‘What’s in the Barn?,’ the attraction’s white swine-storing structure is nestled at the bottom of a rolling hillside and beckons thrill-seekers to behold what lies within’ But we can assure you, squealing little piggies aren’t the only things waiting for you inside.

Being relatively new to the Louisville-area Halloween community, Black Orchard has quickly taken root as one of the more high-intensity attractions available to Kentuckiana haunt goers. With bloody butchers, several acts of victimization and a returning-yet-increasingly-chaotic chainsaw chase, this haunt continues to earn it’s spot on our ‘go-to’ list each season.

Join us as we recap our 2019 trip…

Cast: 8.8

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This cast is undeniably one rowdy bunch. It was obvious that this crew was set on either making us uncomfortable, startling us, or freaking us out, and they managed to succeed at all of the above. If we weren’t trying to get around a screaming ‘Pork Chop’ (a half-man, half-pig character), getting yelled at by his creator or one of the many victims as they were caged or prepared for slaughter, we were getting death stares, intense threats or watching someone else get their face peeled off! The Black family – again – is not a group of people you want to cross paths with (that is, unless you want to get some scares at a haunted house).

We got our fair share of good ol’ entertainment too, outside of the prescribed ‘scares.’ Toeby (pronounced ‘Toby’), grandma, grandpa and another queue actor outside were constantly bickering back and forth in classic redneck style, which was comical on many occasions. Each were able to banter and ad-lib with little effort, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation when you see them. Oh yes, watch out for the scarecrow too’ he’s a sneaky one! Watching the introductory butcher motorboat a fresh tray of ‘sausage’ (guts?) was a memorable moment as well.

Of the variety that we met on the property, it seemed as if we came across a lot of victims, so this family is not holding back this year! They’re in need of meat and, if their truck won’t deliver it, they’ll have to get it one way or another (that’s where YOU come in). Some victims were a lot more convincing than others; some had us looking for ways to set them free from their entrapments, while others remained silent or spoke very little.

In contrast, those on the more ‘violent’ end of the spectrum had very good dialogue and sinister-sounding vocals. In between, we noted a very interactive little girl with a doll that wanted our hat and/or hair, as her doll was clearly needing some. Donate at your own risk! Lastly, we found one victim that had escaped and ‘helped’ us find the exit. We’ll let you discover what happens next on your own… (or just keep reading).

Costuming: 9.16

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We had the pleasure of experiencing a unique variety of costumes and they were all appropriate with the areas and scenes that we found them in. Most of them were also complete and realistic which helped in bringing the entire haunt to life!

Some of their attire was tattered and dirty, appearing very worn-in and lived-in. The majority reminded us of something your typical, butchering, backwoods hillbillies would wear such as bloody overalls. There was also the Scarecrow that was complete from head to toe, and it looked as if it literally just climbed down from his post out in a field somewhere.

Makeup consisted of darkened eyes, bruising, blood, scrapes, and cuts. Some of them even had crazed hair to match which was a fantastic touch. There were a few areas where it was harder to see the entirety of their attire, but what we could see of them blended with their scenes very well. We also noticed some colored contacts in use.

The characters wearing masks were some of the stand-out looks of the night and, overall, they seemed scarier in comparison to those that weren’t [wearing masks]. At one point, one character’s skin was torn off their face revealing nothing but muscle structure beneath it! There were also some animal masks in use including a pig, a chicken and a horned steer. Another character was wearing a gas-mask and a full suit to protect himself from the chemicals he was spraying our way!

Customer Service: 9.35

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Black Orchard can be a bit tricky to find for those that haven’t been before. If you’re only using Google Maps and typing in ‘Black Orchard Haunted House,’ be sure you’re destination is ‘Red Orchard Park.’ When your directions say you’re near, be sure to slow down so you don’t miss it. There was a small banner out by the road, but it was difficult to see as there were no lights out there and it’s on the inside of a blind curve. When you see the black wooden fence, you’ll know the driveway is very close.

Red Orchard Park is a year-round event venue, so there are a few different places you can go once you pull in. We knew where to park due to visiting last year, but there were no parking attendants on the night of our visit to help Black Orchard first-timers along. Just so you know, before you get to a large barn that’s straight ahead of you, you’ll turn left into a large grassy field, which is the main parking area for Black Orchard and free to use. It was slow during our visit, so we’re sure there will be someone on busier nights flagging cars in as we’ve seen in the past.

Navigating the attraction in general was pretty straight forward, we just had to follow the lights down a grassy hillside path down to the ticket booth. There were a few spots inside the haunt where we had to get in awkward positions or crouch down to pass through, but nothing was particularly ‘unsafe.’

We spoke with a good amount of the staff members before entering and they were all very helpful and friendly. Most of them were distinguishable with either ‘Black Orchard’ shirts or costumes. The opposite side of the ticket booth is open for pre-packaged concessions and haunt memorabilia ranging from t-shirts to small flashlights.

We didn’t have any problems finding their information online. On their website, in addition to the pertinent dates, hours, pricing and location info, they also have an easy-to-find FAQ page and the haunt’s story to boot!

Atmosphere: 8.05

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Even though Black Orchard takes place at an event venue, it’s still kinda creepy driving back to the parking lot! Their location (specifically the barn, being isolated from the other buildings on the property) perfectly matches the haunt’s story.

From the parking lot, we could easily spot the white barn facade to our left as we pulled in. The barn itself and the area in front of it were festively illuminated by vintage-style string lights and flame-like landscaping lights lined the path down the hill. Upon closer inspection, we could read a variety of signs as well, including a large banner on the front of the barn that read, ‘Black Orchard Meats.’ The mixture of the signs, the silo out front, the ticket booth, the queue line, and the roaming line actors definitely let us know we were at the correct location.

As we awaited our turn, some downright horrendous sounds were escaping from within the barn including pig squeals. Additional ominous sounds also filled the air and helped build our anticipation to enter. Once we made our way to the entrance, the butcher was sticking his tongue out through a screen door at us while Granny was talking up a storm: ‘You can’t teach these darned kids anything!’ Needless to say, we got a small hint of this family’s mannerisms before we even entered the door.

For those that have been here before, they have an all-new ticket booth this season that matches the scenery quite well. The ticket booth also featured a TV displaying the haunt’s ticket and special ‘Campout’ event information.

Special Effects: 8.73

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There wasn’t a lot of high-tech eye candy or animatronics at Black Orchard, but we feel like having them would have taken away from the haunt’s white-knuckle style. Instead, scenes featured realistic sets and authentic decor. Rough-cut lumber, dirt floors, authentic tools, vintage farm implements and realistic animal corpses were the norm. Scenes were also designed quite cleverly, forcing us to interact with some of the effects. Sound effects were noted as being realistic and abundant.

Right off the bat, we were greeted by a wall of ‘missing person’ posters and the not-so-distant sounds of victims’ screams, pig squeals and banjos. We don’t know about you, but when we hear banjos in a haunted house, we know it’s time to get the hell outta there!

Some of the people that were missing looked familiar; so now, not only were we on a mission to make it out alive, we had to find our missing friends up on that wall too! Along the way, we came across traces of these recent victims, such as a horde of shoes and license plates that were on display… almost as if the family was proud of them. Unfortunately, blood-splattered walls seemed to indicate a permanent disappearance of the owners to those belongings.

Some of the effects here were set up to effectively provide scares. At one point, multiple saw blades tried to cut us to pieces and we were disoriented by a red laser area. We were also attacked by a rather large rat and there was no getting away from it! Among the special effects, their unique use of a flash bulb is still one of our favorites, and we’ve yet to see it used anywhere else. You may also want to prepare to get wet as they will need to spray you down with some kind of unknown substance to prep you for slaughter!

Theme: 8.84

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Although the theme or story wasn’t explained to us before entering, it was fairly obvious. A big ‘Black Orchard Meats’ sign was displayed on the front of the building, alluding to a hillbilly / butcher type of scenario. Once we admired all of our surroundings, it definitely seemed as if we were in some sort of cannibalistic farmer- / butcher-type setting.

‘The Legend of Black Orchard’ can be found on their website, but we’ll give you an idea of what’s going on in there (pulled from our 2018 review):

‘First of all, they say this story is based on real events. Supposedly, this barn is the brutal murder site of the infamous Black Orchard Murders. Silas Black and his whole family of killers ‘ including Ethyl Black, his elderly mother ‘ lived on the property at one time. In 2015, police were getting repetitive complaints of screaming, a wood chipper running late at night and gunshots coming from the premises. Eventually, they decided to investigate. After breaking down the front door, they stumbled upon quite a gruesome scene. Dead bodies, women’s purses, and body parts in mason jars were just some of the horrific things that they discovered. To this day, no member of the Black family has been apprehended.

Police continued the investigation to the barn and the slaughterhouse. Their investigation led them to believe that the Black family had been feeding their kills to their hogs! The FBI leaked that they did find a secret room in the barn, but the pages documenting what they found inside have been classified! Although the Black family remains at large, some believe they’ve returned to Black Orchard.’

Our journey began with the butcher acting like our car had broken down and that we were coming inside to use their phone. The theme was well-executed and we felt like we had really entered the final not-so-peaceful resting place for many previous victims; there were many leftover signs of them scattered throughout. One of the characters also referred to ‘Silas,’ so we knew without a doubt that we had been nabbed by the Black family themselves.

Scare Factor: 8.88

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While Black Orchard is on the shorter side, they threw quite an abundance of scares our way. Some were also quite creative and should be totally unexpected to most haunt-goers.

The haunt does take place in a real barn. Squeezing this many scares into this space creates some pretty tight corridors at times. This forced us to get up close and personal to things that made us uncomfortable at times, which is, after all, their plan! There was so much going on and the attack on our hearing and sight senses had us on edge nearly the entire way through.

Among some great hiding spots, threatening dialogue, and disorientation, we stumbled upon numerous acts of victimization. Let us tell you, these crazy fools ain’t playin! They’re also professional slaughterers, so of course they have a huge advantage from the get go. Some of them are rather intimidating, if we don’t say so ourselves, so it wasn’t uncommon for us to be rather quiet and try tip-toeing past them’ (they always caught us though).

Heed our warning and beware of your surroundings at all times; you just never know when you might be the next body below the shovel as they bury your remains! Even if they don’t get to bury you, you should still probably watch out for that shovel!

There were only two members in our group, but they let us both have it pretty equally. There were just a few spots where the scares were a little front-heavy. If you go in and just can’t handle the fright, just say, ‘Monster be good’ and the monsters will back off off and leave you alone. We were so enthralled all the way through that we forgot to test this; of course, then again, who are we to turn away some good scares, right?

After making our way out the finale of the haunt, we had to check all of our limbs to make sure they were still attached! This was due to the insane chainsaw attackers at the end. These guys can also be seen chasing victims while you’re waiting in the queue line. As of this writing, these were the best chainsaw attackers we’ve seen so far this season.

Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, they informed us that the anatomy of a pig is similar to that of a human’ meaning they can butcher us the same way, and some of these fine folks are mighty skilled at slaughtering swine. If you decide to enter Black Orchard this season’ then tread lightly!

Entertainment & Value: 7.72

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General admission tickets are priced at $20.00 per body and, for those busy nights, Fastlane passes are available for $30.00 which offers about one-third of the wait as the general admission line. There’s also a possibility that Fastline tickets could sell out.

The length of the haunt and the ticket price remain unchanged from our tour last season. From the moment we stepped foot into the barn until we came barreling out the exit, we had spent a treacherous 8.5 minutes inside. Although this is one of the shortest haunts in the Louisville area, the intensity level remains high, which made it seem like we were trapped inside almost twice that long.

As mentioned above, about 6 different queue roamers interacted with us while we waited. They also bickered back and forth amongst themselves as mentioned above, which was rather delightful. This helped in passing the wait in line, as did watching people come flying out the exit.

For the Danger Runners out there, they have a new, 3-minute escape room on-site that you will need to ‘Break In’ to. Yes, you read that correctly. You will be solving something to test your luck and break into The Silo to attempt to make it to the finals this season.

If you’re military, a veteran, or a student, be sure to visit their website before you go. They do offer discounts for you, with proper identification.

All in all, Black Orchard is a newer haunted house to this area and it’s not showing signs of slowing down at all. The crew was very energetic and it was obvious that they enjoyed what they were doing. You won’t see another attraction quite like this one in the area. If you’re looking for more of an old-school, authentically-designed show, this just might be your bread and butter as they are known as, ‘Kentucky’s Old Fashioned Haunted House!’

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Past Awards

2019 Awards

Most Tormenting to Victims (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Most Twisted Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Most Unpredictable Scares (Given by: Team Zombillies)

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