Review of Blood Prison Haunted Attraction

Review of Blood Prison Haunted Attraction

Review of Blood Prison Haunted Attraction

Blood Prison

Blood Prison is a Haunted Attraction located in Mansfield, OH.

100 Reformatory Road, Mansfield, OH 44905
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Haunt Type(s):

1HauntedHouse

Links:

Blood Prison Facebook PageBlood Prison Website

Contact:

Call Blood PrisonEmail Blood PrisonMessage Blood Prison on Facebook Messenger

Features:

Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Special Events, You may be touched, Original Characters, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction

Team Cleaverland reviewed this Haunted Attraction on November 3, 2019.

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Final Score: 9.16

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Summary:

Talk about saving the best for last. On November 3rd, we visited Escape from Blood Prison at the Ohio State Reformatory (a former prison facility) in Mansfield.

You might have seen the building in movies like The Shawshank Redemption and Air Force One, or on various TV shows (there’s a filmography on its website). It’s a mightily impressive setting anytime of the year, but especially apropos and awesomely fitting for haunt season. Take a look at the (not especially good, sorry) photo on the bottom of the page, and search for some better images online—it really is very cool.

Everything special about the haunt flows in some way from the titanic footprint and presence of this remarkable structure. It’s impressive in any case, but take some time to learn about the reformatory before attending.

Its history (construction began in the late 1800s, it closed in 1990 due to overcrowding and inhumane conditions, with hundreds of deaths along the way), its authenticity, its notoriety as one of the most haunted places not just in Ohio but the nation, prevail on every step taken through the attraction.

Just a few years ago, the reformatory ran hat amounted to a rather average haunt. We went to enjoy the building itself, mostly; the haunt was more of an afterthought. Then a new creative team came up with the Blood Prison theming and branding, and it took off.

The haunted attraction is now entirely worthy of the singular location. This year’s iteration was the best version we’ve seen—at the top of its game and right near the top of what we’ve experienced in Ohio over the past couple of seasons.


Cast: 9.02

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Even on the last night, that being the Sunday after Halloween, the large cast seriously brought it with attention and commitment to their roles and the scaremongering of guests. We counted 60+ cast members, with lots of variety. To name just a few, there were prison inmates, insane clowns, rowdy rednecks, a psycho killer cannibal, and a Germanic mad scientist who wanted to test our blood type with a most invasive procedure.

The whole ensemble in the dark carnival gave us every kind of clown we could want (or not want!?) to see: sinister, scary, springing, silly. Likewise, kudos to all of the car crazies, a mad mob who kept crawling (or launching themselves!) out of the vehicles in a veritable auto graveyard (more about that area in the Special Effects section below).

There was plenty of vocality from many of the characters, featuring some just plain wacky extended interchanges from performers who were clearly gifted ad libbers. A couple of our favorites: the fellow near the beginning who claimed that he “never got wetter than a slip and slide so fast” than when he saw us, and the psycho killer cannibal, with whom we somehow had a conversation about the finer differences between toe jam and toe cheese.

We went with the touch pass, and as a result got a lot of special treatment. Most of the actors went out of their way to caress our faces (yeep), pull hair, rub a bald head or a back, push us around, put us up against a wall, bar our progress, and more. Early on there was a bit of a conga line going, but the actors smoothly processed everyone forward without relinquishing the special attention for touch-guests.

We noticed that even people in front of and behind us who weren’t wearing the special glow necklaces marking them as touchable were getting the interactive treatment, just without the performers being handsy about it. Great job all around by the cast at Blood Prison to keep things moving on a busy last night, while still keeping up the quality of the experience!


Costuming: 9.11

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Blood Prison did exceptional work on the wide variety of characters here. Right out of the gate, we witnessed a beautifully hideous job on the entranceway queue actor, which seemed to be a take on Gary Oldman’s bun-haired Dracula from the ‘90s-era Francis Ford Coppola movie… complete with a horrifying set of razor sharp teeth. Chilling choppers!

There was a mix of makeup (beginning in the early hillbilly-type rooms with lots of bloody splashes and pale visages) and masks (with some gruesome clowns and a melty-faced gent flashing particularly gnarly facewear). Whichever it was, it was worn well and/or skillfully applied.

The costumes were excellent as well, from the mechanic-like jumpsuits of the car crazies to the prison garb of the various inmates and the harlequin kits on the clowns. We thought we might have spotted a pair of sneakers on one of the nutjobs in this place, but it was in a dark room and hard to tell. If so, that was about the only misstep we noticed, as the costumes proved to be uniformly (tee-hee) outstanding!


Customer Service: 8.93

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The reformatory is located in Mansfield, which is roughly halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. During the season, we observed multiple billboards in the area.

The site is close to freeways and easy to find via GPS. Once you’re off the nearby highway exit, it’s virtually impossible to miss the giant building with lights and loud music.

Parking attendants guided us into copious free parking on grass. The parking area gets a bit muddy after foul weather conditions, so wearing a good pair of poop-kickin’ boots is advised unless you’re cool with your nice white gym kicks being sucked into muck.

Go hungry, you’ll be taken care of! There were five food stations including bbq, coffee beverages, and sandwiches. We’ve eaten here in years past and found the food to be quite gnosh-worthy.

Souvenirs? Sure! There was a fabulous gift shop with haunt stuff, plus lots of general items for the reformatory itself, including of course many goods related to the Shawshank movie.

The reformatory maintains a good website, with links to all the other things going on at the reformatory, including year-round events like ghost tours. Please note, this is one haunt that is not really accessible for those with mobility issues. The ticket and queue areas are obvious; finding one’s way around the attraction is not difficult at all.

We much appreciated the two or three reset points, where short additional internal queues helped relieve the conga-ing that was happening early on in the attraction. We wish more of the larger/longer haunts would do this!


Atmosphere: 9.76

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From the turn into the location where we got our first glimpse of the monumental building, Blood Prison exuded an incredible atmosphere. From all angles, the reformatory cut an imposing figure… especially from the front, with its wide castle-like façade and windows illuminated with blood red lights. Metal music blasted over the grounds.

Over by the queue stood a huge circus tent housing a side attraction, the Hellzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue. Between shows, the carnival barker/hype man set up just outside the carnival tent kept up a constant patter, which added to the fun.

Just about the only quibble we might have in regards to “the old days” (before the Blood Prison theme) is that the queue was in the front and used to take in the amazing main view of the structure as you waited. It’s now on a side of the building that’s not quite as awe-inspiring, but at least that’s where the carnival tent was located this time.

Its gaped-mouth, fanged devil-clown face entrance and giant retro sideshow freak illustrations covered in sensationalistic, bated-breath promotional copy (“The Lizard Man, Alive on Stage!”… “The Spider Goat, on Display!”) added considerably to the atmosphere.


Special Effects: 9.09

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Blood Prison rocked the effects! It was loaded with props, puppets, great detail, fog, lighting, animatronics, squeeze tunnels (one of which came in a sporty two-tone), and much more… just packed with stuff, but it managed to not seem overloaded because of the haunt’s size and length.

The best effect was often the reformatory itself. It was hard to tell sometimes where engineered distressing ended and the naturally degraded conditions of the building took over. An eerie walk through what appeared to be some sewage tunnels was another highlight made possible by the reformatory’s (infra)structural features.

While there were plenty of tight corridors and constricted rooms, we also walked through enormous rooms for some long stretches. These were the reformatory’s unbelievably high steel cell blocks. Agoraphobics beware, navigating through these gigantic spaces created a sense of disorienting scale that’s just not possible at most haunts. The plus-sized dimensions allowed room for some very large puppets and props, and one incredible effect: a downed jet that appeared to have crashed through the prison walls.

The lengthy gauntlet of multiple cars was another marvelous set piece… and had us asking, how in the world did they get all those cars inside? Some other great, detail-loaded sets included the infirmary, the mad scientist’s lab, and the cemetery.


Theme: 9.05

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The story goes that the most dangerous convicts in the country escaped their maximum security jails and congregated at Blood Prison as a nexus of violence. Just like in a regular prison, cliques and conclaves of the inhabitants have been created: the residents of the tunnels/sewers, the hillbillies, the carnival with clowns, etc.

It’s a fairly loose theme that fits the large and long haunt well.


Scare Factor: 8.88

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We had a pretty scare-filled visit, and just like in some of the other categories, much of it was due from the building. If you really want to give yourself the willies, read up before your visit on the stories of the reformatory’s hauntings by spirits, shadows, and manyfold entities. The knowledge will make your trip through much more unsettling.

Walking past the solitary cells always gives us the chills. They kept this section extremely dark and foggy, making it hard to see the insides of the cells. Occasional lighting revealed the spartan cot/sink/toilet furnishings. Once in a while a crazy popped out of one of these cells. We never knew from which ones they’d be coming out, and they provided some of the biggest scares. As mentioned in the Special Effects section, walking through the tunnel section also gave us the same sort of hair-raising reality-based reaction.

The actors throughout were great at eliciting frights through talking, silence, bizarre behavior, and the rough handling described in the Cast section. In the bigger areas, actors ganged up on us and sometimes we pursued or harassed by four or five monsters at a time. A sniper who targeted us from a bridge gave us a very yelp-worthy moment. And a bungee-equipped clown really zinged us!

Even the effects got in on the action. We were startled several times by animatronics, air blasts, and electrical effects. We want to stress again that the simple act of walking through the reformatory was enough to get our imaginations going. Its ultra-creepy environment really set up, impacted, and heightened all the other scares.


Entertainment & Value: 9.5

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Our jailbreak totaled 48 minutes. With a general admission of $25, that’s a very healthy 1.92 on the MPD (entertainment minutes per dollar spent) meter, very close to the highest we saw this season.

For 2019, there were also options for Speed Pass at $35 and Lightning Pass (skip the line entirely) for $45. Touch passes could be added to general admission or Speed Pass for $5; Lightning Pass included the touch pass, if desired. Group sales were offered for 20 or more. Purchase tickets online or bring cash to buy at the door (ATMs on site).

Escape from Blood Prison offered an extremely good value, most especially when considering the included sideshow revue; 45+ minutes in the prison and half an hour for the circus revue equaled more than an hour and a quarter of very high quality entertainment, plus basking in the seasonal glow of the reformatory.

A word about the revue: Hellzapoppin’ Circus Sideshow Revue is a professional, touring show of performers that included a sword swallower, an acrobat, a “human torso” or “half-man” act, and more. It offered a very welcome, entertaining, funny side attraction that came free with any level of ticket.

Based on their show this year, Blood Prison must now be counted among the best haunts in the state. It stands shoulder to shoulder with the other Buckeye Beasts of the haunt world (you know the names… Dent Schoolhouse, Haunted Hoochie, Factory of Terror, etc.) and should be considered mandatory for any Ohio residents or visitors who enjoy Halloween happenings!


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Photos from Review Trip:

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Promo Images:

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 7 out of 10

William – 10/10
Had a great time with the group of 10. We laughed and we screamed. I liked the guy in the straight …show more jacket in solitary. He was terrifying, ”86” i think he said his name was. Had a great time.

Robbie – 1/10
We waited in line for two hours, and then was pushed through the prison with a group of TWENTY TWO …show more people. Each “checkpoint” in the house had workers smashing people together saying “we need to get as many in and as fast as possible”. Was very disappointing and the “touch pass” consisted of the workers poking your arm and tickling your neck. Skip this trip.

Kathy – 10/10
It is one of the absolute best haunted attractions around. I really enjoyed when I went down into …show more solitary with the dark hallway it was a bit off guard for us when we were approached by a clown a female clown singing church songs to us. She at one time was actually hanging upside down on the pole waiting for us to come out of the whisper hallway. I honestly think that she is truly amazing she didn’t continue to scare us after we made it past the first hallway of cells. I honestly enjoyed everything about the whole entire attraction. I will be coming back year after year! You guys always know how to put on a good show! Kudos to all of the actors! It’s always nice to have something good and little Old Mansfield.

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