Review of Dark View Haunted Attraction
Review of Dark View Haunted Attraction
Review of Dark View Haunted Attraction
Dark View is a Haunted Attraction located in Toronto, OH.
2257 County Road 68, Toronto, OH 43964View All Details
Free Parking, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, You will NOT be touched, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 6, 2018.
Final Score: 9.21
Dark View is not your average spookhouse. Shuttling customers through their borders between a paltry selection of sleepy boo-scares and indifferent animatronic rumblings isn’t really their shtick. A lot of haunts justifiably advertise keen attention to scenic detail, but Dark View is born of a rare breed who shares this ethos to a different subject : you. Instead of being rushed through room after room, the Dark denizens like to take their time, turn on a little mood music – you know, really get to KNOW you before doing the dirty deed – creeping you out. It’s all about entertaining “interactivity” at the ‘View and their resident haunters always satisfy.
If this sounds like a relationship that might thrill you, head on down to Dark View in Toronto, Ohio this haunted season. Just make sure you remember your safe word!
Last season, Dark View really found their niche. By loading their attraction with versatile, idiosyncratic, and flat-out bizarre personas, they established themselves as a zany, interaction-driven haunt-experience.
This season’s dynamic was the mirror image of last year : the lighter-half of our journey came first and we were very impressed (and entertained) by the circus residents. Because this portion was more fleshed out, the actors were given more room to breathe and perpetuate their affable absurdity as long as the circumstances called for. In fact, the circus location was built around these interactions as a mostly character-based attraction. Frankly, the success or failure of this quadrant of the haunt was inexorably linked to cast performance…
Which was lucky for us, because those flamboyant folks were amazing. From the initial interplay between the magician (we see through your thinly-veiled disguise, Schizo) and my spirit-animal, the incomparable Toodles, through an oddly-fortuitive tarot reading from a snarky psychic (Toodles isn’t “UGLY”; he’s an acquired taste!), a nearly-euphoric revelation in the stuffie room, and the circus’s finale with Fatso, the clown with the perfect smile, we were in a state of perpetual entertainment. Every actor that we met during that nirvanal pilgrimage was excellent. Whether interacting with us, each other, or all of the above, their oddly-charismatic wackiness was infectious and hilarious. Were they scary? Not particularly, but did it matter? Absolutely not. We were legitimately bereaved to leave them when we exited the billowed folds of the last circus tent. All this from a review team that really doesn’t like clowns… or the circus… or fun.
Fortunately, our melancholy was assuaged by some additional stand-out performances. Yes, I just bloviated about only a sub-set of the entire cast, but there were plenty of quality performances throughout the entire attraction.
Shortly after leaving the circus, we met a very personable old woman who directed us through the nearby Park View trail. A bit of an odd bird, truthfully, but really I think she just missed her pumpkin (who turned out to be a real JERK by the way; trying to gobble us up and everything – keep pushing me Pumpy, and I’m’a make you into a PIE!).
Our nervous liberator and his rambunctious assailant were the strongest duo throughout the zombie section, though there were actually quite a few noteworthy undead menaces stumbling around (particularly around the cabin). Obviously, the tiny zombies were the most fearsome!
For a change of pace, there were several extended-interactions with a darker tone. The sacrificial lamb was very believable and even began her performance long before we were in sight of her dilemma. The shady Madame Mazou directed us through the scene very well.
Pre-fright characterization like that is always hugely beneficial to the suspension of disbelief and Dark View did a good job of keeping us caught up in the haunted moment. Their apt ad-libbing capabilities really added to this. There weren’t many instances of a character “locking-up”, despite our usual off-script antics. The ‘View are near the top of the haunted heap in being dialogously-malleable.
Herein I must now provide an extra-special nod to one of Dark View’s finest residents : Dimitri. No matter what he calls himself each year, this talented, young, up-and-coming actor is about as genial and endearing an actor as any red-blooded haunt reviewer could ask for. Whether he’s regaling us with convoluted background material too dense for even the owner to keep up with, chiding Mel for chasing bubbles instead of paying attention or simply telling us God-awful jokes, it is always an absolute treat to listen to his yarns each season.
The costumes adorned by the cast of Dark View boasted a genuine originality. Sure, there were a few masks on display (including an amazing one worn by a hungry pumpkin-headed fellow), but most visage-alterations were performed through make-up and outfitting. Additionally, many of wardrobes had a unique, homemade quality. Obviously we all realize that sometimes “homemade” begrudgingly refers to hideous sweaters with our initials stitched into them, but at Dark View, “singular” is a much more apt descriptor.
Of all the stylistic apparel that we saw during our visit, “Fluffy” certainly stood out as our favorite costume of the evening, and possibly even the season. Describing the nature of the costume itself would become an unfortunate spoiler for any future Dark View initiates so instead, let me simply described it as stuffed with character. We see plenty of expensive, finely-detailed monster-hides in our travels, but nothing beats clever ingenuity in our book.
Similar to last year, the circus performers still looked great, each given their own unique visual endowment to coincide with their unique characterization. Though the clowns at Dark View are more personable and less sinister than some of their brethren at other attractions, they still get a wickedly-impressive treatment here as well. I HAVE always wondered how Toodles ended up with those savage bicuspids, though… and the moment that Fatso ever ceases to smile in stereo will be the day that I lose my will to review haunted attractions. The human-sized panda bear that stole my heart looked impressive as well.
The trail portion had quite a few well-made costumes as well : convincing scarecrows, Mr. Gilly Monster, a nice druidy-creeper, and the collection of cultist jerks all struck our fancy. The zombies were largely hit-and-miss though, and some could have benefited from a bit more extensive makeup than the mostly-green foundation on their faces. Sure, they’re zombies, but a few of them looked closer to camouflaged green berets.
Customer Service: 9.55
GPS took us into the middle of no-man’s land… which is good, because that’s exactly where Dark View resides. After ’rounding a bend, we knew to angle toward the only lights in the visible surroundings (and the only civilization as well). Several parking spotters (the first wearing a really fun mask) directed our vehicle to pasture, and we set off for the haunt.
The hub area is still teeming with plenty of additional entertainment options. The last ride simulator, bankshot basketball, Deadly Chew concession stand, merchandise building, and bathrooms have returned. Did I just classify bathrooms as entertainment? Yes, I did.
A new, mini-escape room is also available. At only 10 minutes, it offers a quick opportunity to sample the latest haunt-craze. This particular example was very simple and straightforward, being a little closer to trial and error than the standard elaborate clue-based puzzle solving.
Multiple hub entertainers prowled the grounds. Unlike some attractions, these were not particularly threatening (the colorful young lady who sat and ate with us was downright-lovable), but were no less entertaining for it. In fact, the primary interactors, a friendly bearded chap and his silent accomplice, passed from group to group with a camcorder and microphone, interviewing customers, encouraging them to perform for the camera, and inciting everyone involved into riotous laughter. Understand, even though the camcorder in use appeared a wee-bit suspect, it was DEFINITELY fully-functioning. Ignore the VHS tray.
Speaking of the silent cameraman, later in the evening, when his vocal counterpart became otherwise engaged, the actor metamorphosized (off-screen) into a new character… and then another… and then another. He transformed his character subtly and quickly enough that we have submitted his application to the “Super Hero Phonebooth Operators of America” union for consideration. Fingers crossed!
As fulfilling as all of those interactions were, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that we do feel the loss of Sad Scarecrow, though. SS, why have you forsaken us? We miss you.
You know I’m going to extol the food, too, so let’s get it over with. I don’t know which organs of who’s cadaver they keep enhancing the cuisine at the Deadly Chew with, but they are definitely being put to good use. Lordy, their grilled cheese is to die for! And the mac and cheese bites! And the brownies… I would let Toodles do my taxes for a batch of those brownies.
Sure, the haunt’s fun and everything, but allow plenty of time for grubbin’ : divine dining at its finest.
I tend to reuse my finely-crafted surveys when a haunt is able to maintain the same atmospheric veneer from season to season (why fix what isn’t broken), so allow me to remind you :
“The drive to Dark View was dark and foreboding. Dark View is located directly at the center of Scary Countryside, USA, at the intersection of Creepy Switchback and Eerie Cornfield. Our haunt-glands were already slick and dripping by the time we reached the property.”
The overall tone of the hub area and haunt facade (the manor house has been repurposed into a circus) has lightened a bit. The accompanying soundtrack drifted between fun and creepy – perfectly befitting this year’s haunt, but the most notable change, it turned out, was the arrival of an endless downpour of fog-bubbles!
This sudden, unique meteorological phenomenon may not SOUND terribly impressive, but as soon we were standing in line, we were irrevocably transfixed. In fact, a CERTAIN member of our team was simply too distracted to pay attention to the background information provided to us by Demitri. Apparently, fog-bubbles are more engrossing than fidget-spinners.
Dark View’s less-gloomy-more-playful demeanor was definitely a good fit this go-’round.
Special Effects: 8.83
Last season Darkview installed perhaps their greatest special effect : a monstrous MC who provided background and rules to the attraction. This year the poor fella has been relegated to distracting patrons while wily deviants encroach upon customers, unsuspected. It seemed like such a shame!
…Until we experienced his replacement.
We always love when haunts venture outside the well-trodden pre-fabricated paths established by the industry. Dark View’s new introduction certainly fits into that maxim. I’ll stay spoiler-free here, but, essentially, they’ve cleverly borrowed a bit of high-techery from a different industry and it made for a really enjoyable experience. Last season’s closing “photo op” was great, but their new version was really a “gas.”
While we missed a few of the effects from the manor and some of the nuances of its set design, the new circus setting was a glossy, colorful divergence. Though the big top was less detailed than it might have been, there was just enough gaudy eye candy to fill out the environment. As loud and distinct as the actors wandering its halls, the dangling noodles and plush accents helped to amplify the dangerously festive ambiance. The well-designed magician’s stage was probably the best objective set piece, though your humble narrator has a certain unspeakable love for the inanimate constituents of Fluffy’s domain.
The crypt-like scenes, the latter of which featuring a distinctively-arachnid flair, were a lot of fun, and the sacrificial tableau’s attention to detail did well toward establishing the believability of that encounter.
Outside the carnival (which featured an appropriate auditory-accompaniment), ambient sound was kept to mostly effect-based measures.
Scare Factor: 8.88
The back-half of the attraction went all-in with a zombie motif. Though they did manage to achieve a really creative, immersive-style scare (thanks in no small part to the interplay between our paranoid-with-good-reason benefactor and his aggressor), and present a clever finale, the uniformity of some stretches began to desensitize us to the undead swarming around us. Zombies can be a difficult sell thematically, because they really can’t be used as boo-startlers, and they generally can’t interact with customers directly, so they really become ambient scenery. Though many of the zombies were surprisingly good, we wish that they’d been utilized into more thrilling interactions (like the excellent cabin mishap). For an effective zombie scare, a third party generally benevolent to the customers is often needed to allow the otherwise harmless undead to become dangerous again.
That said, the first half of Dark View did a much better job of peppering in startle scares, often through clever distractions. It’s difficult to ignore a mammoth animatronic’s booming commands…even as a prop-imitating actor is preparing his scare. Several similar situations were carefully crafted and executed well.
We decided that Dark View excels at producing the unexpected – whether in the form of scares or giggles, it was difficult to prepare ourselves for what to anticipate from any given scene. When a frustrated magician expelled his prop in exasperated annoyance… well, what came next gave us a much-appreciated shock. Excellent timing on that one.
I will admit that I missed probably the best surprise… because I was busy hugging a panda. But even in the aftermath, I can definitely agree that I did NOT see that particular revelation coming. “The panda can wait!” my associates told me. Indeed, friends; indeed.
In the crypt, a gesticulating appendage peeking out from the wall seemed an interesting enough encounter, but it lead one of our group members into a different, well-hidden miscreant to excellent effect. Again, distraction + the unexpected.
The actors located in the “Park View” portion of the trail were intense and unflinching, and the ever-present “prop” in the vinyl maze did an excellent job of perplexing and then startling us. We saw the same screaming young lady approximately 47 times. She was dauntless in her pursuit! I wish I was as dedicated to anything in my life as she was to scaring us.
Again, many of the zombie actors were very good (especially Rich’s impassioned murderer – YOU SHALL BE AVENGED, MY FRIEND! – and, definitely the pen of bite-sized zombies, whose cuteness was only outdone by their ferocity!), we just felt that they were a bit underutilized.
The finale was a very unique idea that, if combined with perhaps a bit more intensity from the roving antagonists and/or a bit of well-timed interaction with the human occupant could really bolster an excellent send-off.
Entertainment & Value: 9.65
We spent 32 minutes (same exact time as last season; talk about consistency) exploring the attraction, though significantly more at the greater-Dark View estate shlubbing down food and achieving victory at the new escape room ($7). The cost of general admission remains $18 with VIP, line-by-passing tickets costing $25.
The minutes of entertainment per dollar spent, then, remains at 1.78, give or take an oral treatise by Demitri.
Additionally, veterans with proof of service get a ticket for $10, while lucky birthday boys or girls get in for free! Also, $3 monster repellent bracelets can be purchased for timid Dark View guests (though nothing can protect you from falling in love with its cast).
Bring a lot of extra scratch for concessions, though. Thank me later.
We really enjoyed last season’s show, but I’ll tell you, we think they actually outdid that iteration this year. True, it’s not the scariest haunted attraction that you can visit and any straight-laced, fright-or-bust, scare dogmatics may feel a bit ill-served here, but for the vast majority of the haunt population, Dark View’s combination of over-the-top, cackle-worthy eccentrics and just-enough thrilling interactions is a wholly-fulfilling Friday or Saturday fall evening. Haunted attractions simply do not get much more entertaining.
Therefore, we offer our highest recommendation to Dark View this season. Don’t miss it.
And feel free to let me know exactly how many times Toodles says the word “nipple” during YOUR tour. We’re going for a world record here.
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Guest ReviewsGuest Average: 6.83 out of 10
Brian – 1/10Nothing special here!!! Just a off the beaten path haunt that was not worth the drive. Spent a lot …show more
Nancy – 9.5/10Dark View was a fun attraction and its near others like Wells Township so you can hit them in the …show more
Gregory – 10/10Will definitely be back in 2018!