This attraction was reviewed on October 27, 2018 by Team Zombillies.
How Do We Get These Scores?
Final Score: 8.81
How Did We Get This Score?
Fear Fair features a lot of changes for their 18th season (2018). This year they have completely dispersed of any remaining horror movie scenes and characters, replacing them with a whole new section that we don’t see very often in these parts of the region. The haunt is now broken down into four differently-themed attractions that are experienced in one fell swoop: Ascension, Black Death, Voodoo, and the all-new Rockford Riot.
For those of you that have never been to Fear Fair (FF) before, you can expect to see some well-detailed scenes, lots of eye-candy and many realistic sets, some of which including an above-ground cemetery, indoor swamplands, a plagued village, Bourbon Street, and much, much more!
For returning visitors, there is a new vampire section and the Rockford Riot area features some new scenes and interesting concepts – as well as some provocative prisoners! New creations have also been added to areas that you may have seen previously if you’ve been here in the last couple of years, so you just never know what you might find’ or what might find you!
Also new this year is the option to customize your experience. There are basically three levels of fear to choose from here, but we’ll discuss those in detail in Entertainment & Value below.
How Did We Get This Score?
We’ve been visiting Fear Fair ever since we started reviewing back in 2010 and, in comparison to what we’ve seen in the past, it hurts us to say that we feel the haunt was very short on cast members on the night of our visit. We acknowledge that keeping an all-volunteer haunt fully-staffed on a Saturday night can be a challenge, needless to say, but we must note that there were still a lot of ‘dead spots’ where no actors were seen on the night of our visit. Fear Fair has been known to have upwards of 70+ actors in previous seasons, but on this night, there seemed to be less than 30.
To be fair, we need to mention that the haunt was also very busy on this night. By the time we reached the second (Voodoo) area, groups were already starting to run very close together. From our observations, the cast did seem prepared to deliver thoughtful and interactive sessions with groups, much like what we’ve seen from them in the past. However, while we did get a few well-executed encounters, the bulk of the cast either didn’t have time to ‘reset’ properly between groups, or were completely out of their scenes (probably from chasing scared customers), thus leaving their areas completely empty when we came through. Ultimately, the apparent shortage of actors, combined with a surplus of fast-moving customers, contributed to a lot of diluted performances.
Of the cast members that we did come across, there was quite a variety in each of the differently-themed areas. Some of them did not attempt to scare us at all; there were only 2 of us in our group, so perhaps they were waiting for the rest of our non-existent group to catch up to us. Any sort of last-ditch effort to sneak back up on us from behind would’ve been better than entirely ignoring us, but hopefully the group behind us at least got the scare instead. Despite these occurrences, we still came across some exceptionally-believable and downright determined characters that were doing their best to work multiple scenes and areas.
The lady in the swamp shack was very vocal with our group, warning us that we were lucky more people were coming up behind us. The prisoners were high-energy and carried that badass attitude we’d expect male prisoners to have during a riot such as this. Tiny and Peaches were definitely the most believable in this area, and the latter did a great job at taking us out of our comfort zones by not letting any of us pass. Instead, he blocked the path with his bunk bed until someone in one of the groups did him a favor.
However, we must say that the most believable and intimidating character during our visit was the voodoo lady in the second story of the house! She instantly ran one of us down and threatened us while holding a bone to our throat. She was all over her scene, catching us off-guard more than once and flawlessly used theme-related dialogue to keep us creeped out.
Other notable mentions include the cloak-clad lad in the laser vortex, who mumbled several indiscernible intricacies at us, the plague doctor, his patient and the Rat in the Village, who kept up their acts despite a near-constant barrage of groups, and Tiny, a large prisoner that seemed awfully desperate to find some company while slipping through his shower room.
How Did We Get This Score?
Fear Fair has a history of running a tight ship in their costuming department and this year is no different. With the exception of one all-black cloak that we noticed, each of them were very appropriate for their scenes. Ranging in detail from simple jumpsuits and, in Peaches’ case, a ‘wife-beater’ tank, all the way to intricate, corseted dresses, post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-style garb and fresh-from-the-grave zombie attire, each of the monsters made it obvious to us that some time and/or thought had been invested in their appearances.
One of the stand-out looks of the evening was also the voodoo lady in the house. Aside from her elaborate dress and hairpiece, she also had a full ouija board design on her chest that gave the appearance of it being a tattoo. The statue in the cemetery was realistically painted like cracked and speckled concrete from head to toe, complete with wings, but she was unable to reset (because of the close-running groups) that kept us from getting the full effect of the illusion (she was moving the entire time, instead of standing perfectly still as we approached).
The nun in the church and the zombie in the cemetery were a couple of other characters that got up close and personal with us, which allowed us to take in all of the details that make some of Fear Fair’s characters stand out from the rest. The grave keeper was also kindof dead looking – shovel in hand and wearing a hat that hid his face as he slouched immovably on one of his tombs. On the other end of the spectrum, the prisoners were aptly wearing orange jumpsuits with minimal makeup. It’s not too hard to understand why hardened criminals wouldn’t be trying to beautify themselves (except for Peaches, who had a hefty layer of lip gloss going when we saw him), but some added grunginess or wounds from the riot might’ve added some nice touches.
Of course, we can’t forget about those post-apocalyptic guys in the Ascension area, most of whom had distressed armor and bulky protective masks and weaponry. In the Village scenes, we rewound a century or two to find tattered peasant-like outfits, a plague mask (appropriately worn by the primitive doctor that was trying to secure a writhing patient), a goat-headed guy with furry legs and a pentagram on his chest, and even a couple of bloodthirsty vampires.
Customer Service: 9.54
How Did We Get This Score?
Fear Fair is easily located either by typing their name into your GPS, or by navigating to the Freeman Field airport complex and following the haunt’s searchlight from there. We also noticed the light high in the sky from about 5 miles out, so we knew we were getting closer from quite a ways away. Free parking is spread out all around the building, but be sure to watch for large puddles if it’s recently rained. Again, it was very busy on the night of our visit and, even though we don’t recall Fear Fair ever having flaggers to assist with parking, having some of those would’ve definitely made the process of finding a spot much faster.
This year, we noticed that several small, new buildings have been added to their queue area that now house their tickets, merchandise, and the Last Ride Coffin simulator. Previously, the concessions and merch booth was recessed into the side of the building near the exit, but now that they’ve been brought out into the queue area, we thought they were much more convenient for customers to get to. Although, on this night, the huge line made getting in and out of those buildings a bit of its own adventure. Nevertheless, we were able to order and devour two full orders of nachos AND throw the trash away… while standing in the Slash Pass line… jamming out to DJ Fears’ music.
With the line as long as it was, we still made it into the building in about an hour. We estimate the General Admission line was easily 2x-3x longer.
Before entering the caverns of the Ascension area, you’ll first enter a small indoor queue before your group’s photo is taken in front of a green screen. We really enjoyed that we could see what our background would be and encourage you to have fun with it like we did (we posed like we were running out of the Village)! A bar-coded card will be given to you so you can later scan them in at the merch booth to purchase your print for $5.00.
All of the staff that we came across were very friendly. We had a few questions on where things had been moved to and how the different ticketing options worked and they were able to answer our questions. Given the size of the queue line, we were surprised to find that there were only a handful of people in line to get tickets. Though, this was likely because whoever was running the ticket booth had stepped away for a few minutes. Despite the very minor delay, they returned quickly and helped us all get our tickets..
Inside the attraction, we experienced some lit stairs and multiple uneven thresholds between scenes, so be sure to watch your footing. Several characters did warn us of them, including one that reiterated that she didn’t think we would want to fall and bash our heads open on the wall.
How Did We Get This Score?
Fear Fair’s exterior puts off a mixture of haunt and party-like vibes. The entrance of the building is under a large array of DJ lights, fog machines (including fog bubbles!) and blasting flames that all swirl through the air, and illuminate the side of the building. DJ Fear (also the director of the haunt) made sure everyone had plenty of ‘wow’ moments and party music on tap, including a mix of modern R&B, pop and hard-rock such as Rob Zombie. The jockey himself wore a Halloween-appropriate suit, several custom masks, and we saw him toss a few shirts into the crowd too.
On this night, a local cheerleading squad, performed a flash mob at certain intervals, incorporating Michael Jackson’s infamous ‘Thriller’ dance into the mix. If nothing else, this was definitely the most fun we’d had in a queue line this season.
The multiple stands for ticketing, merchandise, and Last Ride coffin simulator, along with the military bunker-like facade of the building added the extra ‘haunting’ touches to keep you reminded this is still a haunted house. However, once we entered the inside waiting area, things started to descend into a darker disposition…
The inside area had multiple, static zombies and one that literally twerks for video opportunities. The lighting changed and a giant screen showed some of Fear Fair’s characters, which gave us a good idea of what was to come, considering we hadn’t seen any of their villains at this point. After being in this area for a relatively short time, we entered a fully-encompassing cave system. In the cavern, we were stopped at three doors where the group in front of us was demanded to enter by an actor who also boarded the elevator with them. But then, as soon as he came out, he asked us if we were ready. What a way to get you prepared to enter!
Special Effects: 9.18
How Did We Get This Score?
Fear Fair has some of the largest sets that excel at immersing you into their worlds. The effects are a combination of items that have been built in-house and purchased, with a heavy emphasis on the former. If you enjoy of lot of ‘eye-candy’ and monstrous animatronics in a haunt, this is one you won’t want to miss!
Many of the scenes have been constructed from the ground up by the haunt’s in-house builders. Consistent with the past few years, this crew has been phasing out all of their traditional movie character scenes and this year marks the official completion of the transition. If you haven’t been here in the last 3-4 years, you probably won’t recognize the place.
Along the way, we passed through full-sized buildings, a cavernous labyrinth, a village, the corridors of a castle, various parts of a prison, Marie Laveau’s shop, a mausoleum, a goat stable, and concrete tunnels with arched ceilings. While we also found the occasional plain-colored wall here and there, it was obvious that Fear Fair has taken great measures to create detailed worlds that exploit their intended alternate realities.
Ascension starts you off in a cave system with some creepy crawlies that leads to a set of elevators. We aren’t sure if our’s speaker was blown or if it was the rickety transporter itself, but we managed to make it to ‘the surface,’ where we were met with all manner of large beasts, flipped-over Jeeps and gunfire. As we made our way through the facility, we noticed flickering tunnel lights, several crates and supplies, and several zombie animatronics that attacked us from all angles before the last ‘shocking’ surprise of this section.
Our narrow escape found us in the living room of a 2-story house that was well-decorated, complete with a fireplace and a couple of rooms upstairs. The next stop was through the back door of a Voodoo shop with a corpse and quite a variety of trinkets on display. Successive scenery included a walk down Bourbon Street, a visit to Marie Laveau’s shop, a couple of slippery swamp sets complete with alligators, a crumbling church and an absolutely massive above-ground cemetery! These realistic tombs, statues and more flying zombies definitely made us want to get out of there in a hurry’
Even though this is the second season of the Black Death, walking into the village and being surrounded by two-story structures that look like they were built centuries ago is still an awe-inspiring sight! We wandered around and through one of the houses, which was complete with wooden shingles and flame-style lighting, and through the livestock stable where rats and a small, winding, maze-like path through slatted walls were found. A ‘well-comed’ surprise and an angry, burning witch caught us off-guard before we made it into one of the newest additions for this year: the vampire castle. The walls here looked very much like the interior of a stone-built castle and, while we noted several possible drop panels and an actor-driven monster in this area, there were no actors operating those stations on the night of our visit, leaving our trip through the castle pretty uneventful.
Another new addition for this year is actually the renovation / completion of the now Rockford [Prison] Riot area. Returning fans will note that a former ‘Walking Dead’ scene has been beautifully incorporated here, and trying to get through the warden’s office, prisoner cells and shower room really drives home the feeling of being in a supermax prison’ but not literally (lucky for us). Some of the coolest features here was the caged-in area where some actual customers were being held and Peaches’ sliding bunk bed.
Appropriate sound effects accompany most of the scenes throughout the journey, with the most effective ones coming from the animatronics that fly out at you when you least expect them. Other effects that we noticed include fog, various types of vegetation, a laser vortex, and a walk-through mausoleum.
How Did We Get This Score?
For 2018, Fear Fair has removed all of their movie scenes as they are now implementing four of their own uniquely-themed areas. Although there are no separate queue lines to separate each attraction, the scenery and characters make it quite evident when you have entered into each one. Information about each section can be found on their website, but we will give you a quick overview.
After making our way through a cave, we were instructed to board a rickety, emergency elevator that abruptly ascended (or descended?) us into Ascension. According to their site, our ancestors fled to underground caverns to escape the war, but resources have been albeit depleted. There’s only one way to the surface and, you guessed it, it’s via the evacuation elevators that will begin your journey. When you board the elevator, you will quickly realize that, once you get back to the surface, things have drastically changed. Once we unboarded the elevator, it was quite evident that we weren’t in 2018 anymore’ or at least the one we were in moments before…
As we made our way in search for supplies or ammo to defend ourselves (we weren’t successful), we came across an old house. The house was the beginning to pure evil; evil that would eventually lead us into the dark and swampy corridors of the Louisiana Bayou and through structures tracing back to the days of Marie Laveau. They warned us, but we kept moving and, as their site implies, ‘The power of voodoo is real.’
Not only did we have to dodge the spirits and spells of those in Voodoo, next up was Black Death and we all know what that is! As we were taken back to the 14th Century, a plague doctor and a witch burning at the stake helped solidify the fact that this village had been cursed by a wrathful pestilence. The newest part of this area was the vampire castle.
Last but not least is their brand new addition for 2018, the Rockford Riot. As we’re sure you all know, it’s never a good idea to drop the soap in prison and especially not here! The prison staff are losing against the felons. As we made our way through, it was quite clear that the prisoners were up to no good with absolutely no control over them being shown by the officers. So much so, in fact, that our group and those who caught up with us were asked for a ‘favor’ before we were allowed to pass through. After all, prisoners don’t give up ANYthing without getting something in return…
As mentioned, each area was quite evident and distinct from the others at Fear Fair. The only one we didn’t quite understand the relation to was the vampire area. Perhaps this is what happens to you after you’ve been cursed? Either way, it’s a classic addition with some modern twists that’s commonly overlooked by most haunts these days.
Scare Factor: 8.01
How Did We Get This Score?
Even though Fear Fair seemed to be missing some characters during our exploration, they still managed to catch us (and those around us) off-guard on multiple occasions. There are so many great hiding spots here that it’s unfortunate they weren’t able to utilize all of them during our visit. But, some of the fiends did take advantage of those crafty hiding spots when they could. There again, we attended FF on a very busy night and groups were closely spaced throughout much of the journey, so it made it harder for things and monsters to reset on time.
There are many different animatronics and other effects that came at us from all different angles and some of them moved extremely fast. If you’re in the right place at just the right time, you may be touched by them when least expected. Some loud noises were also hard to predict, which resulted in a few startles of their own.
Other types of scare techniques that we encountered included a laser tunnel surprise, group separation, a giant creature that tried to eat us, intimidating characters and costumes, threatening dialogue, and a multitude of phobias, including claustrophobia and entrapment.
Fear Fair’s finale has been changed up this season and we must say, due to multiple factors and a complete scene change, we definitely weren’t expecting it! Normally, we can smell these types of things when we’re nearby, but the stench was covered up by something else…
Note: We took advantage of the ‘Extra Fear Admission’ route, which involves a special glow necklace that let the monsters know we were okay with being touched. While we were touched a few times, one member of our group was pulled away by themselves on one occasion, and we could tell a select few of the actors were triggered into doing something extra with us, we feel that we weren’t truly able to get the full experience due to the combination of being short-staffed and overwhelmed with customers.
Entertainment & Value: 8.51
How Did We Get This Score?
General admission to experience all four haunts inside Fear Fair is priced at $25.00 per vic’ err’ person. If you’d like to be touched, possibly grabbed or pulled away from your group, the Extra Fear admission is the same price and you will be provided with a special glow necklace to signify this participation. If you’re looking for some added interaction, you can’t beat this upgrade for the price!
On busy nights, you may want to opt for their Slash Pass admission, which is a $10.00 add-on to the general ticket price and makes for a shorter wait in line. We opted for this during our visit and we’re glad we did because FF was extremely busy. Our total wait was still a little over an hour, but we know it would have been much longer if we were in the regular line; it had over twice as many people in it.
From the moment we evacuated the cave via elevator until we ran out the exit, our journey took a total of 24 minutes. This brings their MPD (minutes per dollar) rating to 0.96 which is a bit below average, but still gives you almost a solid minute of entertainment for every dollar spent. Although ticket prices have increased, the length of the haunt has as well and there’s a lot of spooky sights to behold here!
Fear Fair is also offering something this year for those who may become too frightened in the haunted house. At any time, if the scares are too much, guests can say, ‘Monster be good,’ and the monsters will back off and focus on another victim.
When it comes to ‘outside’ entertainment that’s included with the ticket price, our wait in line was very entertaining. DJ Fear was rocking the tunes outside (and the ground) while setting off fog, flames and fog bubbles for the crowd to enjoy. If nothing else, it’s interesting to watch people scramble around just to try and pop the bubbles! We didn’t notice any native queue performers interacting with the line, but at one point during our wait, the Seymour cheerleaders (whom were dressed up as zombies) performed a dance to ‘Thriller’ as those in line videod, danced, and cheered. After we entered the indoor queue area, a few photo and video ops were set up, including a twerking zombie that was getting a lot of laughs! A large screen displayed videos to help pass the time in the line as well.
Overall, we had a great time at Fear Fair’s 2018 show! The queue area was great and there’s so much going on inside as well. It’s also unique that you can pick your level of fright here, making this a very possible outing for those who think they’re too scared or others who want to go all out with the touch pass. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2019!