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This attraction was reviewed on October 19, 2019 by Team Giraffic Shark.

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Final Score: 9.39

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CHAMBER OF TERROR returns with a vengeance for the 2019 season presenting their attraction, GOONS IN GREASEPAINT: ARCANE AMUSEMENTS. In a new location (and their first time in a while on solid ground), CHAMBER OF TERROR makes a strong return to the haunt scene of Florida. As they continue to develop in the coming years (they already have plans for expansion and growth), they have a chance to be a very strong competitor for all haunts in the Southeast.

From incredibly-detailed sets, to an extremely interactive and aggressive horde of clowns, CHAMBER OF TERROR is a feast to the senses, ready to make you scream with delight (or terror).

Cast: 9.39

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CHAMBER OF TERROR has a stellar cast of characters, leaving the question of where the creative team found all of these whacky, creative performers. Performers are placed according to skill strengths (whether it be jump scare locations or the highly-interactive queue area performers), and this attention to performer placement really pays off. Those characters meant to grab fast scares are aggressive and thorough, whereas whenever there is an opportunity for interaction and improvisation, those performers seize the opportunity.

Actors are given suggested script and, in some locations, are free to wander around the scripted lines, and talk more within character. Similarly, the cast gauges their interaction based on the group (they will not be as foul mouthed around children, because even clowns, apparently, have manners). Of specific note are HECKLES and BUBBA, being HIGHLY interactive, exploring some established ‘bits’ that seem frequently used, and customizing interactions for the specific guests in question. They display high levels of improvisation, comedy, as well as dedication to character, never stepping outside character and breaking that illusion.

Costuming: 9.56

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CHAMBER OF TERROR’s characters provide a master class in costuming, especially in attention to detail and distressing. Costumes have an unbelievable amount of texture and details, especially noted in those outside the haunt. If HECKLES the clown will let you have a close enough look at his costume, you will notice all of the great pins and buttons on his vest – some themed to the carnival/clowns, others he’s collected through the seasons.

In contrast, other costumes are rather simple, yet allowing for extreme action (most notably the aggressive pink-haired clown running around with a sledge hammer), while still being detailed and distressed enough to be interesting, original, and unique.

All of the masks are similarly very well done and high quality, especially effective in letting the characters talk through them (for the most part, some characters would try to deliver lines, with the only response option being, ‘Huh?!’), and we were glad to *not see the cookie cutter clown mask that a lot of haunts have purchased for their clown character(s). CHAMBER has managed to find (and/or create) some really unique masks that allow their clown characters to stand out from the rest.

In the future, it would be great to see some more performers with makeup (or makeup/mask hybrid) to help continue the realism and further vary characters’ looks.

Customer Service: 9.4

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CHAMBER OF TERROR provides a good customer service experience, from the arrival with Boy Scouts working hard to effectively manage the parking lot, helping Guests enter and exit with ease, to the ticket booth workers, to the front of line employee dispatching Guests into the attraction. It seemed like some concessions were available for purchase, also being run by the Boy Scout troop, and a portable restroom was available on-site as well.

For being an outdoor haunt, the ground is extremely level and easy to traverse (there are some uneven thresholds when moving between scenes, be prepared for a slight step up or down when entering/exiting some structures, in logical places). The entire team was friendly, helpful, and professional, adding to a great experience overall.

Atmosphere: 9.2

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CHAMBER OF TERROR certainly has an interesting location in a relatively residential area (making it very convenient and central in Tampa) behind a business building. That said, they were left with no inherent atmosphere to assist them in their design for the attraction. The theme of the attraction is a traveling carnival, which even makes the non-traditional location make sense.

Arrive at the attraction (with cluttered, though very well managed parking), step beside the building into the themed ticket booth area, and then step beyond into the courtyard of the carnival. At this point, Guests are immersed into the story with clowns filling the area, each interacting heavily with Guests, and setting up the atmosphere for the haunt.

Unfortunately, since the haunt is so immersive and enclosed, it may be too easy for passersby to not realize what the quality of the attraction is from the road, so perhaps a more-themed sign could be considered (if feasible) in the future to add to the true ‘curb appeal’ they deserve and gain more local business. But, this observation is not to detract from the impeccable theming that is witnessed beyond the entrance gates

Special Effects: 9.3

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At times, one could argue that CHAMBER OF TERROR is more ‘old school’ in style, relying less on special effects for eye candy and scares, but more on performers (and with a cast so talented, they should) and clever design. The scenic detail is quite possibly some of the best we have seen, especially for an outdoor trail, and hopefully the CHAMBER OF TERROR team will ensure that the quality of these elements holds up in the weather from year to year (we have no doubt they will as they seem incredibly passionate about their work).

The distressing detail is incredible, as it makes a brand new attraction seem extremely worn with age and decay with extensive techniques used by an obviously-skilled group of artists. The design and construction of the scenic elements is nearly flawless with clever layout, designs, and finishing techniques.

The layout is very efficient and clever, utilizing the property to its maximum potential, as well as allowing performers to easily access different points in the trail, along with locations within their scenes to allow for increased scare options per performer.

This is not to say that the CHAMBER OF TERROR team does not have special effects, but they are more subtle in their use. Some of these include well-designed lighting, scents, fog, etc. to create and enhance their atmosphere, leaving you to wonder’ ‘Did I actually smell that cotton candy, or was that my nightmare?”

Theme: 9.95

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CHAMBER OF TERROR visits one of the most expected and cliche horror genres, CLOWNS. While this may seem like another 3D blacklight haunted maze style, CHAMBER OF TERROR breaks the mold with GOONS IN GREASEPAINT, taking clowns to a darker, more raw and aggressive place, not solely relying on clown fear to garner scares.

From the second the ticket is purchased (themed carnival style ticket featuring ‘Arcane Amusements’ as the location), suspension of disbelief never stops, as the attraction is so well themed and never deviates, allowing all of the scenes and story elements to tie together seamlessly.

With the limiting clown theme (though again, extremely successful with this fresh, dark look on Clowns), it will be interesting to see where the CHAMBER OF TERROR team goes from here, whether developing the clown theme into potential future other attractions, or exploring new and additional themes / stories to tell at the same location.

Scare Factor: 9.19

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CHAMBER OF TERROR has created a gritty, realistic, run-down carnival where their clowns come out to play to scare everyone who passes through. There are a multitude of nooks and crannies where the clowns can hide and pop out of, and you never know which gap in the fence will have an aggressive clown behind it.

These clowns don’t stop at a single scare either. With multiple scare locations for each Performer, they are sure to maximize each and every one of them to get as many scares as possible, creating great team scares, as well as distractions for other clowns. At times, clowns would shock us at how fast they could traverse the attraction to get to another scene to grab another scare.

Being haunt aficionados, it is hard to truly catch us off guard with a scare, but there were several scares in the attraction that we did not see coming at all, and other times where a performer joined the scene with us having no idea where they silently popped out of. While there were a multitude of great startle scares throughout the attraction (causing even our hard-to-scare team members to jump much more than the average haunt), there were no true stagger back extreme ‘mess-your-pants’ scares, at least for our team’s walk through. Perhaps this is something that could be developed in the future to help with the scare pacing of the haunt (likely enhanced with special effects, sound, etc.) to get a large scare, amidst all of the other great scares.

The finale of the haunt is disorienting and intimidating to navigate, especially for the first member of the group, but could use some additional elements to create a truly scary, climactic finale (sound effects, special effects, performers, etc.). Also, some actors need to continue to work on scaring the entire group, as the last member in our group got several less scares (or attempts) than the front-most members. This however, is not to say that CHAMBER OF TERROR is not scary, as the team overall got probably the largest amount of scares and jumps in a single attraction than most other attractions visited this year!

Entertainment & Value: 9.45

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CHAMBER OF TERROR boasts an incredibly competitive ticket price (check website for details, price varies based on date and option), especially considering nearby theme parks and other haunted attractions. While CHAMBER OF TERROR does not provide a full night of entertainment (there is one trail and atmosphere entertainment), its pricing reflects that, making for a great addition to a weekend evening out.

The quality of entertainment received certainly won’t disappoint, so get down to the carnival, and enjoy your time!

The clowns sure will’.

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