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Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on October 6, 2012.
Final Score: 8.59
2012 marks the very first year that Dreadland Haunted Woods has been in operation and Team Zombillies was privileged to be the first haunt review team to visit them! Dreadland advertises themselves as the ‘game changer’ by terrifying their customers without the use of ‘fancy animatronics and chainsaws.’ Instead, they rely on intense, in-your-face assaults as well as attacks and entrapments unlike anything that you’ve experienced at other haunted houses. Another part of Dreadland that they feature is their ‘Dreadzone,’ which is advertised as being an optional task for anyone that purchases a ticket for the woods. While this ‘task’ is a closely-guarded secret that you’ll have to experience for yourself to discover, we can tell you that it’s definitely something you’ll at least want to try! As of our review date, only two groups had successfully made it through the Dreadzone and, unfortunately, Team Zombillies is NOT one of those two! Winners get their pictures taken with a banner which are posted to the haunt’s Facebook page for bragging rights. For more information on Dreadland Haunted Woods, make sure they’re on your list of attractions to visit for the 2012 haunt season, but enter at your own risk!
There are about 40 paid actors delivering scares on the 8 acres that is Dreadland Haunted Woods. This seems to be enough actors, although they could be more evenly spaced to fill in voids in the haunt if more actors isn’t a possibility. Several of the actors have carried over from the owner’s previous attraction (Buford Haunted School) that many visitors will remember attending. All of the actors maintained context with the theme and many of them had good, but obscene dialogue, believability and interactivity towards our review group, but stronger dialogue, acting skills and intensity from more of the actors working in a haunt that advertises themselves as a ‘game changer’ would increase the score in this category. A few of the characters that left an impression on us were the guy in the torture scene that threw a leg at us, the man hanging by (what looked like) his neck, and the guy in charge of the Dreadzone area.
Most of the costuming inside Dreadland are purchased and then altered, distressed or otherwise modified to match their respective characters and scenes while maintaining context with the haunt’s theme. The majority of actors were blood-splattered and looked like something you’d see out of a ‘Wrong Turn’ or ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ movie, only without the mutated body features with the exception of those who wore masks. Masks used are typically purchased as well, but a few of them are custom-made for originality. While most of the characters were dressed in appropriate attire, such as bloody overalls and Carhartts, we were disappointed to see how most of them looked very similar to one another and the masks that were used had a tendency to seem out of place for what the haunt’s theme is. The same can be said for the actors’ makeup. A few of them were more prominent and noticeable, but the majority of actors didn’t have much makeup applied to them at all, which made them seem more like regular people trying to scare us instead of scary and intimidating characters.
Customer Service: 8
Multiple small signs were spotted on our way to Dreadland Haunted woods. A larger one, lit by a pickup truck is located at the end of the haunt’s grass driveway and parking lot which is unlit, so be careful making your way to the ticket booth. The friendly staff members were able to help us with everything we needed and two very clean portable restrooms were available for customers’ convenience. Queue line actors were absent when we arrived, but we were informed that 5 or 6 actors are pulled from the haunt to keep the crowd entertained during busier times. Two farm wagons were also noted as being used on select days when live bands are on location performing for visitors, but no band was present during our visit. The queue line is dimly lit by landscaping accent lights and one or two fire barrels that help keep customers warm during the cold October nights. Once inside, flooring seemed to be fairly even except for places that are intended to be otherwise, but wet and muddy in some other areas. Dreadland advertises themselves as an extreme haunt so be prepared to be not only touched, but pushed, shoved, pulled and maybe even lifted off the ground! The Dreadzone is another area that is quite muddy so try to maintain your footing as you try to complete your ‘task.’ Lastly, the exit of the woods leads you back into the dark parking lot with little to no lighting except for what emits from the concession stand area, so be careful once again.
The sign by the road let us know we had reached our destination. But besides the natural, dark eeriness of the woods, not much else was happening in the way of decorations, entertainment or roaming actors to let us know we had reached a haunted attraction… until we reached the queue line. As we waited our turn, we could hear loud engines running, gunshots, screams, banging sounds and all kinds of commotion going on inside the haunt which got us pumped about what we were about to experience! However, once inside and besides the sounds we just listed, we didn’t notice very many sound effects with the exception of some hard rock music being played in one or two of the scenes.
Special Effects: 9
Dreadland Haunted Woods gets props for their originality and effectiveness of their special effects! Almost everything that was in place was obviously solely-purposed for taking and keeping customers out of their comfort zones! From a tunnel to crawl through and air horns to gunshots, a bulldozer, a semi truck and even something as simple as barrels and a cattle gate, navigating Dreadland’s Haunted Woods was a chore in itself!
The theme behind Dreadland Haunted Woods is based on ‘Wrong Turn’ and ‘hillbillies.’ This was pretty obvious for the most part, with their ravenous hillbillies, torture scene and heavy equipment and trucks being present throughout the trail. But more diverse and well-detailed actors/characters would help raise the score in this category. This is mainly due to several of the actors looking very similar to one another, being dressed in basically street clothes, and lack of dialogue in situations that could have been very hectic, intense and intimidating.
Fright Effect: 9
Even with the aforementioned lack of enough appropriate dialogue and costume detailing, Dreadland Haunted Woods proved to keep our review group on edge throughout the attraction! We were constantly being startled, surprised and otherwise scared by actors popping out of completely random hiding spots, props and special effects being hurled towards our group, or by being grabbed, pushed and pulled by actors we didn’t even know were near us! All of the preceding elements combined to keep our hearts racing for the majority of our visit. However, reforming a few of the concepts and ideas listed in this review would help raise the score in this category even further.
General admission tickets for Dreadland Haunted Woods are $15 each with VIP tickets that will allow you to use a shorter and faster line will cost you twice as much… $30. Our tour of Dreadland took our group around 15-20 minutes to complete including our go at the Dreadzone. For standard tickets, this price is very competitive with many of the other haunts we’ve visited. However, very few other haunts charge double their general admission costs for VIP tickets and at their current length, $30 seems a bit high although this could pay off big time during busy nights if you’re on a tight schedule. As with most other attractions, our Value score is closely related to our Scare Factor rating, in that both scores generally rise together as the scores of other categories also increase as techniques within the haunt improve. All-in-all, Dreadland Haunted Woods is a great first-year haunt that we recommend anyone 16 years old and up attend due to graphic and obscene scenes and language being used inside the haunt.