Nightmares Fear Factory – Full Review
Nightmares Fear Factory is a Haunted Attraction located in Niagara Falls, ON.
5631 Victoria Ave, Niagara Falls, ON L2G 3L5View All Details
This attraction was reviewed on October 6, 2023 by Team Skelegore.
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Final Score: 5.24
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Ah, Niagara Falls. Twin cities of romance, natural beauty, kitschy tourist traps, and it’s all better from the Canadian side. Nightmares Fear Factory is located amongst the bright lights along the Ontario strip and, surprisingly, is one of the cheaper options available. You may be aware of Nightmares Fear Factory from the never-ending articles showcasing guests of the haunt fleeing in terror. Or perhaps you remember their Flickr photostream, which gained some minor notoriety in around 2011. The photos are often hilarious and a good reminder that haunts and Halloween are meant to be fun but also terrifying.
Cast Score: 2.25
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Nightmares employs the use of four actors. And I’m not really sure I’d call them actors so much as I would staff members. I only managed to catch a glimpse of one as they waved a chainsaw at my face for a split second. I learned through talking to the girl at the front desk that each of the four “actors” runs a section of the haunt. I suspect this means that they are responsible for triggering effects and animatronics as you pass by. Many of these effects are based on timing and position, so this makes sense. The nature of the haunt, being completely pitch black, does not lend itself to showcasing costumed actors. Therefore, the folks responsible for triggering said effects are doing a great job on the timing. Given how many people come through in a day, I’d be willing to bet they’ve become very good at knowing exactly where to start a scene and how quickly they need to move to the next one based on how scared each patron is. For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure I was able to confirm the existence of a second actor somewhere near the end. Although I did not see this actor, I did hear a voice calling “this way” as I stood in the dark, looking lost and confused. It’s possible this was a recording, but who can really be sure?
Costuming Score: 2.6
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Well, this is going to be quite the short section. As I did only see one costumed actor for less than a second, I suppose we can discuss what I saw there. It was a clown waving a chainsaw around. The actor definitely wore a mask, which is saying something because, based on the amount of time I saw them, that shouldn’t be something so easily identifiable. I don’t know for sure if they wore a costume other than the mask because the lights went out faster than I could process what was going on. The mask was definitely off the shelf, and as far as I could tell, no other work has been done to make it look any different from whatever clown mask is available for purchase at Spirit Halloween.
Customer Service Score: 8
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Customer Service Review:
Let’s start with the good. The girl at the front desk was very friendly from the moment I walked in and didn’t mind having a chat after I finished my tour. While I did bring up The Scare Factor a couple of times, I didn’t mention that I was a reviewer or that I would be reviewing the haunt. If she is reading this review, I’m sorry. It was just easier to pretend I was just another patron. One thing that made me chuckle a little bit was when I got there and paid for my admission, and she said, “You’ll be going through alone,” as if that should be some sort of deterrent to me. I know she mentioned it as a matter of policy, but it was still humorous.
The website is intentionally vague on questions like “Are there actors?” and “Will I be touched?” giving answers like “Come find out for yourself!” and “No comment!” The answer about actors is not necessarily vital information, but saying “No comment!” in regard to the question of being touched is just a flat-out bad answer. For the record, I did feel something grab at my ankles and legs in one section, but that was it in terms of being touched. I’m unsure if that was supposed to happen or not, but it’s what I experienced. There is also little information on the website about where to park or how much it costs to do so. The only information is on the hours page that says, “Paid supervised parking is available.” A quick check on Google Maps shows a somewhat small parking lot on site, but that could fill up quickly on a busy night, and until you are on-site, the cost to park is not mentioned anywhere. I did find a lot within a block of the haunt that cost $5 CAD, which isn’t bad, and the lot attendant was willing to take $4 USD. Given the exchange rate at the time of writing, I might have overpaid by a few cents.
Outside of the poorly-worded FAQ section, tickets and hours each have their own tab from the home page, which is very efficient. Nightmares Fear Factory is open year-round; thus, a calendar for the haunt season is not exactly needed. There is also a section that tells the story of the haunt, giving guests some background on what they’ll encounter as they wander the maze inside. One of the strange things I read on the website is that patrons are “required” to physically hang on to the person in front of them, but once I was on site, I only heard it as a suggestion rather than a requirement. I understand why this is strongly suggested – it is absolutely pitch black inside the haunt, and it could be troublesome to keep people together if they’re not physically attached, as it makes for a much better photo in the two sections where that happens. It also probably helps the staff to keep things running, as your group will be the only one going through for the most part, and keeping groups together keeps you from bumping into another group.
Immersion Score: 5.55
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While there is something of a backstory listed on the website, the haunt itself does not reinforce it. The idea is that the building is an old coffin factory, and the owner was killed when a stack of coffins collapsed onto him whilst chasing some teens who broke in. Now, his ghost “wanders the halls for revenge on those who dare trespass on his beloved, now abandoned factory.” First of all, factories tend to be open floor plans, rather than a series of halls. Second, how cliche is the phrase “wanders the halls”? This might hold up if, literally, anything inside the haunt had anything to do with coffins or factories or any combination thereof. Instead, it’s a blackout haunt with jump scares peppered in. And why is there a clown in this supposedly abandoned coffin factory? The math ain’t mathin’ here, folks. The little bits of scenes that are visible if only for a second are so random, and it’s almost like an AI language model was asked to write a backstory for a haunt but was not given any detail about what’s actually inside.
Other than the main attraction, there’s the gift shop, which you enter and exit through. The big seller inside the gift shop is the photos, of course. There’s also the standard assortment of t-shirts, hoodies, hats, water bottles, etc. The outside of the building is quite interesting and worth shooting a picture of, too. It’s designed to look like a castle, and there’s a sort of cartoony-looking grim reaper as part of the facade. Again, I’m not sure what any of that has to do with what’s actually inside the haunt, but it’s well-made and fun to see. The fun thing inside the gift shop/queue area is the “chicken alarm.” It’s a bell that rings every time someone yells the safe word, “nightmares,” and needs to be escorted out. Anyone that uses the coward’s way out is also given a “chicken ticket” good to use at any time in the future as long as the business is still operating.
Special FX Score: 5
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Special FX Review:
In the absence of actors, your special effects should probably do some heavy lifting. Nightmares is experiencing no shortage in this field. Immediately upon entering, the first thing you will encounter is a sort of frame with a trap door on top. The door swings down towards you, probably scaring some people, but it’s just an appetizer. Shortly after is one of my favorite effects in the entire show. As you round a corner, something will grab at your ankles, and as you’re walking away, the sound of a barking dog is heard. As you keep walking, the sound gets closer, as if the dog were chasing you down. It’s a really simple effect that’s just volume panning and switching to a speaker closer to the guest, but in the dark, when you can’t see anything, it really does sound like you’re about to get attacked. Personally, I was excited to meet the puppy, but I realized there was nothing but a sound effect.
Considering the fact that guests walk through this haunt essentially blind, your other senses will need some arousal. This is where the shaky bridge comes in. Remember the wooden bridges on the playground when you were a kid? Well, imagine stumbling onto one when you have no idea it’s coming. That’s the sort of cleverness that gets employed to give patrons a scare with items that are otherwise not scary at all. Another scene is a hallway of mirrors, and there’s a strobe light that pulses every now and then while an electrical sound is played. I’m not sure why the mirrors are there, but I definitely got a little zap on my hand as I felt around for the exit into the next scene. The shrinking room is a really cool effect that makes guests feel like they’re about to be crushed into a little cube, but the door opens at the last moment for an escape to freedom. I wouldn’t call any of the effects realistic except for the dog sound, but that’s part of the charm. Nightmares is running a traditional haunted house with almost random effects, and it’s fun. That’s something a lot of haunts seem to miss, the fun factor. I love true terror as much as anyone, but it’s been such a long time since I have gone through a haunt, laughing more than I was screaming or jumping.
Scare Factor Score: 7.25
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Scare Factor Review:
As regular readers may know, one of the things we score is how predictable the scares are. Usually, this isn’t a perfect score because it’s easy enough to see where an actor is hiding or even sometimes see the scare before fully getting to the scene. Nightmares gets a perfect 10 on this item because it is absolutely pitch black, and you cannot see anything, and your group is the only one in a given section. There is no possible way to see or predict what’s about to happen or when or where. Guests are told to follow the red lights, and it is so easy to become transfixed on them because it’s literally the only thing you can see.
In terms of variety, it gets a little repetitive. Basically, all of the scares are of the “jump” variety, and I get it. You can’t really do a lot of visual scares in a blackout haunt, so most of what is possible becomes limited. There are two scenes that I did really enjoy; one is a shrinking room where the door to exit hasn’t opened yet, while the walls and ceiling start to close in on you. Being the confused idiot that I am, I backed up into a corner and just waited until I heard the click of the door being released before I felt my way through. The other is a claustrophobia tunnel, except the airbags are deflated when you enter. The door to move on is at the other end of the room, and the inflation begins once you enter the scene. Unless you panic, it’s pretty easy to get all the way to the end of the hallway before you’re completely encased and just wait until the door opens or the airbags start to deflate again. There is one scene where a strobe light kicks on to reveal a chainsaw-wielding clown. The scare is good, and it certainly takes you by surprise, but it seems a little out of place. The finale is certainly a good scare, and I want to leave it at that to avoid ruining the magic. Your photo is taken in this scene, so make sure you’ve got your scared face on when the shutter clicks.
I didn’t find most things to be scary as much as I did startling. This is an important distinction to make, I think because most haunts combine visual, auditory, and psychological elements into their scares, which can induce actual fear to some degree in patrons. Nightmares is making a lot of noise and making people jump, but there’s not really any context to make it objectively scary.
Entertainment & Value Score: 6.5
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At the time of my visit, I paid $13.21 USD, and the walkthrough took roughly 15 minutes. This gives us 1.14 minutes per dollar, which is a very good ratio if the only thing you care about is how long you spend inside an attraction. Visitors should note, however, that the exchange rate does fluctuate, and you may end up paying more or less than I did. It’s not a bad value, either. I wouldn’t travel to Niagara Falls specifically to see this haunt, but if you’re in the area, it’s a fun stop to make, and it’s actually one of the less expensive things to do in the Clifton Hill tourist district. It’s worth noting that as of the time of writing, Nightmares Fear Factory offers a combo package that gets you a ticket to the haunt, plus Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks, and Ripley’s Selfie Studio. Separately, these attractions would run about $100 CAD, but the package is $49.99.
The main attraction is pretty much all you get for your ticket price, and it’s not a bad value. For less than $20, you’ll have a lot of fun stumbling through the dark, and it’s a great place for a date night. Beyond the main attraction, though, there’s just not much included with the ticket. Guests will empty out into the gift shop, where they can see and purchase their photos and have a laugh at the looks on their faces. The chicken alarm is a piece of entertainment all on its own, too.
Overall, the price I paid for a ticket was very reasonable for the experience I got. I had a bunch of fun, laughed a lot, and finally got to see what all the hype was about. Is it the scariest haunt in Niagara Falls like, the website claims? Maybe, but that’s a very subjective thing to try to measure. I didn’t experience any real fear, but that doesn’t mean others won’t. If you’re ever on the Canadian side of the falls, make sure you stop by Nightmares Fear Factory for a fun time.
Pics We Took From Our Visit:
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