Review of Demon Acres Haunted Attraction

Review of Demon Acres Haunted Attraction

Review of Demon Acres Haunted Attraction

Demon Acres

Demon Acres is a Haunted Attraction located in Hannibal, NY.

341 Co Rte 36, Hannibal, NY 13074
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Haunt Type(s):

1EscapeRoom1HauntedHayrideHaunted Farm1HauntedHouse

Links:

Demon Acres Facebook PageDemon Acres Website

Contact:

Message Demon Acres on Facebook Messenger

Features:

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

Team Skelegore reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 16, 2020.

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Final Score: 8.59

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Summary:

Situated on twenty-five acres in Oswego County, Demon Acres has been a staple of the Central New York haunt scene for ten years. The deep wooded setting makes for the perfect backdrop to this three-attraction haunt. Owner, Terry Royce, has been in the haunt industry for around twenty years, and over that time he has perfected the little details that can make or break a visitors experience.

Demon Acres showcases three main attractions this year with two small escape rooms. Depths of the Dark Forest Hayride is one of the larger hayrides in the area taking around twenty minutes to complete. Jailbreak is a walk-through maze style attraction where guests are handcuffed and shuffled onto a prison bus to begin the experience (note: due to COVID-19 guests are not being handcuffed this year). Demon’s Den is another walk-through maze with a large castle facade on the front, and a large animatronic dragon that makes an appearance every fifteen minutes. And finally, the Insane Asylum escape rooms are five-minute puzzles best suited for groups of 4-6.


Cast: 8.34

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Hayride:
The cast in this larger than life hayride are plentiful. Using 2-3 actors in most scenes, the energy level from every single actor is incredibly high. Everyone has their own character and they do not break out of it. The convict that nearly falls onto the wagon, Krampus in all of his demonic glory, and every other actor seen throughout are all doing an incredible job.

This hayride comes complete with a narrator to help keep guests entertained between scenes, and his Louisiana accent is spot on. He introduced himself as, and I admit I didn’t catch the whole name, “…Fontaine De La Dauterive” which is a clever nod to King of the Hill character William “Bill” Fontaine De La Tour Dauterive who also comes from Louisiana. He has clearly been doing this for a long time and adds a nice bit of humor to the experience.

Jailbreak:
This is the smallest of the main attractions, and as such has the smallest cast. The story you hear on the prison bus, and I’m paraphrasing here, says that an escaped convict went insane and built a jail for other escaped convicts, but the swamp spirits didn’t like that so they sent him to Hell. It’s a strong start, and the first character you meet is the prison guard that locks you in a cell. After that, you’ll meet clowns, zombies, and other generic monsters. Actors seemed clumped together in a couple of scenes with dead areas that would have benefited from a roaming actor popping out of the shadows. The clowns were very in character, and the monsters dotted around did monster things. The only real interaction outside of standard scares came from the prison guard at the beginning who did have a couple of lines of ad-libbed dialogue.

Demon’s Den:
This house attraction is absolutely packed with actors. From the very first scene all the way to the end, there is not a single set without an actor lurking in its shadows. One actor we later found out is in his first year in the haunt industry, and he is just killing it. I pride myself on making grown men cry, and it’s very hard to surprise me in a haunted house, but this actor got me not once but twice in the same scene.

The interaction and dialogue throughout is very dynamic and works with any guest coming through which is a nice contrast to haunts where an actor has a set line and doesn’t vary it for different groups. I don’t think we saw more than one of any “type” of character – everyone is very unique and adds to the show in their own creepy way.


Costuming: 8.34

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The costuming is extremely well done, and held up under close inspection. The hard work and dedication of the costume and makeup departments really help drive this haunt to the top of the field, and the creative talents of all the artists is very well showcased throughout all of the shows.

Haryride:
Everything about the character design and costume selection is 100% accurate to the scenes. The zombies glowed under the UV lights, and the bloody, demonic snowmen in the Krampus scene added to the chaos created by the actors. Every scene showcased a variety of different characters and costume designs that all fit so well.

Jailbreak:
The character design in this attraction starts off incredibly strong, with the prison bus driver, and the prison guard that locks you in your cell. After that, the characters encountered seemed much more reminiscent of cut scenes from other attractions. Other characters inside were remarkably generic, and would likely fit in a large number of dark and spooky style scenes.

Demon’s Den:
As mentioned above, this house attraction is filled to the brim with characters, and no two are the same. The psychotic family you’re now being forced to meet, the demons and ghosts, the merman monster in the waterfall, they all fit so naturally in their scenes. As was the case with the other attractions, the attention to detail in the costumes and makeup really stitch these characters into their scenes, and roles, allowing for one of the most immersive walk-through shows in the Central NY area.


Customer Service: 9.22

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Customer service is an area that Demon Acres is doing 1000% right. Everyone on the ancillary staff that we met or spoke with was exceedingly professional and polite from the ticket booth cashier to the security guards, and even the owner, Terry, who took time out of his busy night not once, but twice to speak with us.

The ticket takers at all of the attractions were engaging and friendly. We even had a fun back and forth with a queue actor at the hayride that told us we were on the wrong side of the street (in the VIP line). When we explained that some nice men out front told us where to go, she quickly asked why we blindly trusted a stranger. That’s a pretty good point, but they had such a nice white van, and they said they had candy in there. Admittedly, I don’t remember much after getting inside said van and eating the candy.

Security out front is on the ball this year, with traffic directors to get people parked efficiently and temperature checks at the gate. We were even subjected to a metal detector wand to ensure we didn’t have any knives or guns. Once again, everyone involved in this process was professional and accommodating.

If this is a haunt you’ve been to before, you have a good idea of where the parking lot is. For first-timers, you might blow past the turn like we did and have to make a quick u-turn to come back. Once you head through the main gate, and down the very creepy path to the main common area, everything an arriving party needs is well within sight, and easy to find.

Being that 2020 is the year of masks and social distancing, we figured the hayride would have less capacity, but that did not seem to be the case. The narrator said that you should be touching someone or something when you sit down and did not seem to be enforcing any sort of distance between parties. While most guests did wear their mask over their nose and mouth, there was only one actor in the Demon’s Den attraction that said anything about it. One of the silver linings to the current pandemic situation is that groups are much more likely to be very spaced out and conga lines are less likely to occur, and the constant spritz of hand sanitizer is nice to see at the start of every attraction.


Atmosphere: 9.37

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Demon Acres really knows how to put the “creep” in “creepy”. One of the first things patrons experience is the walk from the parking lot to the main common area, through a dark wooded thicket, setting guests on edge right away.

Detailed sets are in no short supply throughout the entire haunt, and are integral to the experience as a whole, and are intricate enough to shoot the next big blockbuster horror movie from within. The attention to detail extends to the queue entrances for each attraction, preparing guests for the horrors they are about to witness.

New for 2020 is a huge dragon animatronic that lives inside the outside facade of the house and makes an appearance every 15 minutes. It’s complete with smoke and all of the dragon noises you can imagine.


Special Effects: 8.46

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Hayride:
Special effects can be difficult to achieve on a hayride, but Demon Acres has overcome that challenge, using a gigantic talking animatronic about half-way through the ride, essentially welcoming you to the gates of Hell. The sound design throughout blends so well with the scenes, that guests may forget they are simply on a hayride. In at least one scene, a bubble machine is used with a high degree of effectiveness, luring the guests into a false sense of security before the strobe lights and heavy metal music kick in, and the actors wreak havoc on the wagon.

Jailbreak:
This is one of the weaker attractions at Demon Acres in the special effects department, as there are so many opportunities for animatronics. The sound design really helps this attraction with loud chaotic sounds playing throughout. Show lighting doesn’t make a very big appearance in this attraction, and instead forces guests to wander around in the dark putting them on edge anticipating the next scare.

Demon’s Den:
The monstrous size of this house attraction is the golden ticket for Demon Acres to pull out all the stops, and hold no punches when it comes to creative, and original effects. The spinning tunnel will throw you off balance and the “furry cave” will be an odd texture to encounter in the dark. The moving room, in the beginning, is an interesting take on a hell-evator, and is a creative way to route groups to the next scene. The boiler room is another well-made effect with furnaces that really look and sound like they’re working; I really wish I had stayed and played hide and seek with that girl.


Theme: 8.83

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Some haunts like to tell a story in their attractions, others leave it open ended to use sets that otherwise don’t fit the theme. Demon Acres does a little bit of both, with the Jailbreak attraction telling a bit of a story, and the hayride and house remaining more ambiguous to showcase a variety of scenes that would otherwise be hard to stitch together.

Hayride:
While boarding the wagon, the only lore guests learn about are the creatures and horrors that may be lurking in the forest, and this works for a large hayride. To tell a fluid story in this attraction would become dull, and convoluted. Instead, a wide variety of sets allow for more creativity, and originality throughout the ride. Each of the different scenes had a distinct theme that was easy to recognize and was executed flawlessly.

Jailbreak:
This attraction starts off very strong and falls a little flat on the theme. When guests enter the attraction, they are directed onto a prison bus where they take a seat. The PA system on the bus tells everyone the rules and the lore of the show. The driver then unlocks the caged door and tells you to exit through the rear of the bus, toward the prison guard. This is the guy that locks you in a cell and then instructs you to leave through the back of the cell. And this is where the prison theme stops. After the cell scene, the sets looked vague and didn’t resemble a prison very much. Instead, guests will find a variety of dark rooms and corridors with characters that you wouldn’t expect to encounter while escaping from a prison, but this is no ordinary prison. While the small number of sets were detailed, they only vaguely built the vision of a jail.

Demon’s Den:
This is another attraction that doesn’t try to tell much of a story and instead, relies on the abandoned castle with ghosts and ghouls premise. Once guests walk inside, they are greeted with a high number of detailed sets and scenes that each tell their own story and manage to keep the guests immersed and on their toes throughout.


Scare Factor: 8.22

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Demon Acres has been in the business of scaring people for 10 years, and with each new season, they get a little bit better at it. The amount of energy from the actors, and the sets that are purposely built to give you an uneasy feeling all contribute to the spooky-scary vibe everywhere you look.

Hayride:
Being the number 1 rated hayride in 2019 by local reviewers, Demon Acres pulls out all the stops when it comes to high energy, unpredictable scares in every scene. A variety of different scares keeps things fresh, and each scare makes sense for its scene. The falling barrel cage effect is always really nice to see when it’s done effectively, and there’s two variations on this ride; one being the classic cage of 55 gallon drums, the other being a live actor on a collapsing fence above the patrons’ heads. The Krampus scene with the demonic snowmen, is one of the scariest stops along the ride, as the actors here are so much more energetic, and slightly more aggressive with the physical contact. Overall, this is the level of showmanship people have come to expect from Demon Acres as they raise the bar on high impact acting.

Jailbreak:
This is another department where Jailbreak becomes the weaker of the attractions. The initial setup is strong, and splitting groups up at the start allows for better pacing which means the scares should come easier for the actors. Unfortunately, there are not very many actors inside this attraction. The few that are inside are giving it everything they’ve got, though. The dark rooms and halls allow guests to feel anxious about what’s around the next corner, and the high energy from the actors managed to catch me off guard a number of times. The downside is the lack of a big scare at the end of this attraction, leaving guests walking out talking amongst themselves, rather than screaming for their lives.

Demon’s Den:
Much like the hayride, the house attraction is full of high energy actors providing a variety of scares all the way through. The spinning tunnel effect disorients guests just before a great jump scare, and the “poo-stew” scene near the end is an assault on all of your senses. As a bonus in the “poo-stew” scene, not only does it look and smell disgusting, the texture of the stew does not look like it would have a pleasant mouth feel.


Entertainment & Value: 8.6

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As if the three main attractions weren’t enough, Demon Acres also has 2 new escape rooms this year at $6 each. Both are timed to 5 minutes to escape, and the challenge is definitely alluring. One of them requires guests to get their bearings and make a mysterious phone call using the ancient technology known as a pay phone. The other is much harder for a group of less than 4, in which you need to find clues and set pressure gauges correctly. This second puzzle is much harder as everyone needs to keep their hand held down on a big red button throughout the entire puzzle limiting the reach of anyone stuck in the middle position.

Overall, Demon Acres is an absolute bargain for the price of the ticket. With 1.15 minutes per dollar spent on the combo ticket, guests are sure to have a fun filled evening visiting this excellent haunt without going broke in the process.


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Photos from Review Trip:

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 10 out of 10

Ken – 10/10 – October 21, 2016
Great small scary back woods haunt.. A must visit

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2020 Awards

Best Mechanical Effects (Given by: Team Skelegore)