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Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on September 13, 2013.
Final Score: 7.79
2013 marks Chambers of Horror’s 34th year in the business of terrorizing Middletown, Ohio. The haunt continues to revolve around the same theme of a boy (who the owner lovingly refers to as himself) whose passion for fear became an obsession. As the boy became the disturbed man that he is, he began conducting experiments on those who dared to enter his realm in an attempt to discover their darkest fears. As they succumbed to these experiments, new chambers were created where the victims were forever doomed to live out their wildest nightmares and execute the same fate on those who enter… The Chambers of Horror!
Chambers of Horror employs 30 actors whose training begins weeks before the haunt season even begins! The Chambers utilizes a creative way of ‘loading’ and ‘unloading’ the attraction so that every actor gets to experience what every other actor is doing. Afterwards, a brainstorming session helps the cast work out all of the bugs in their locations and roles so they’re ready to go on day 1! However, a drop in score from last year is the result of a few ‘dead spots’ and multiple actors with identical roles and dialogue. More diversity and originality in this area will help increase the score in this category. Our shout out goes to the actors/actress in the butcher room/freezer areas for their energy and interactivity as well as the butler in the first room for his superb realism in fulfilling his role. Some of the other actors you may come across include skeletons, butchers, an elevator attendant, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and multiple disorienting trolls.
Most of the actors’ costumes consist of clothing that has been purchased over the years and modified to fit each character’s needs. Quite a few masks are also used throughout the attraction, but makeup is implemented as well. Some of the actors help with applying their own prosthetics and blood but the airbrush work is performed by one of the haunt’s staff members and helps bring those characters to life. While most of the masks appeared to be of good quality, many of them, as well as some of the makeup, could’ve used more detail and originality. We also noticed that many of the actors were wearing street clothes under their cloaks, which also reduces the score in this category. Most of the costumes matched their scenes and made sense with the theme considering some of the more unrecognizable characters are results of the experiments that have taken place in the Chambers!
Customer Service: 8
A searchlight and multiple actors with black and orange signs lined the highway and helped guide us to the attraction once we were within a mile or two of the Chambers of Horror. Free parking is available in a large, dimly-lit, paved lot next to the attraction and portable restrooms are located behind the building near the exit of the haunt. While the ‘Last Ride’ coffin simulator was inoperable at the time of our visit, we were assured that the problem had been found and it would be returned to operation in the near future. Be aware that tickets for Chambers are purchased AFTER you’ve waited in line and entered the attraction. Several ramps and stairs were encountered throughout the Chambers, but they were all adequately lit and no scares were in these areas for safety reasons; the entire haunt remains handicap accessible for those with disabilities. Fire and electrical codes have been satisfied and friendly staff members could be found in the concession area as well as the ticket booth who can answer any questions you may have. Speaking of concessions, Chambers of Horror has plenty of snacks, beverages (sodas and energy drinks), souvenirs and masks available for purchase at the exit of the attraction. If you have any questions or concerns, helpful staff can be found in the concession area or at the ticket window inside the attraction. Don’t forget to stop and fill out the guest log at the end and write down your favorite Chamber; the actors compete amongst themselves for prizes throughout the season!
While the silhouette of Chambers’ brick building can be spooky by itself and the hearse lets you know you aren’t at Walmart anymore, some roaming actors, decorations and creepy music would be beneficial to help get customers prepared for what they are about to experience within the Chambers. Some sound tracks were heard sporadically throughout the inside, but some intense music in strategic locations could definitely increase the energy level and score in this category.
Special Effects: 8.03
Most of the effects you will come across in the Chambers are made in-house which explains their originality. This year, Chambers of Horror discovered a cave right at the end of the Pet Sematary! They didn’t have much time to explore it before opening their doors for the 2013 haunt season, so beware of what may lurk inside! Special effects that can be found inside the Chambers include air cannons, the Hell-evator, a chainsaw, vortex tunnel, and a few other pneumatic props and effects that we won’t give away. We did notice a few different effects throughout the Chambers that weren’t working as they should; making them much less effective, however it is early in the season so they may get them fixed. As mentioned earlier, sound tracks could be heard in a few of the chambers we encountered, but many others could benefit from the use of music or sounds as well. Along with sound and air effects, some fog, strobes and accent lighting were also used to make the individual scenes and passageways more dramatic and disorienting.
Chambers of Horror tends to stick with a universal theme which allows them to utilize a variety of different characters in their attraction. 2013 is no different. The background story, which you can also listen to when you enter the attraction (as told by ‘Jigsaw’), starts with a young boy whose passion for fear becomes an obsession. As time goes by and the boy becomes more and more enthralled with scaring the daylights out of people, he began conducting experiments on all the brave souls who dared to enter what has now become the Chambers of Horror! These experiments targeted peoples’ worst fears and became so extravagant that they started to take on a life of their own. The mastermind himself eventually fell victim to the Chambers. The story goes that he, and anyone else who enters, is forced to live out their darkest fears for eternity and impose these terrors on future visitors, who inevitably will have the same fate. One downfall to this theme is that, without being able to hear Jigsaw tell the story, it is difficult to know exactly what the story is just by touring the attraction. Perhaps increasing the volume on the TV’s or having the butler in the first room tell the story would increase the score in this category.
Fright Effect: 7.9
You never know where the next scare will come from at Chambers of Horror! Lots of excellent hiding spots are utilized throughout the attraction and many of these rely on decorations, props, and other actors as distractions. Scare levels range from creepy to chaotic throughout the various chambers and derive from tactics like intimidating stares and dialogue to threatening commands and chainsaw attacks. Scares are delivered to the entire group as well, so don’t fool yourself by thinking that you’ll be safer in the middle of the group, rather than the front or back. One thing we noticed about these actors is that, even if we weren’t initially scared by them, most of them made valiant efforts towards at least making sure we were entertained while we toured the Chambers of Horror! As we mentioned in our review last season, the actors within the chambers continued to make sure we never ran into another group while they experimented on us!
Last year, we estimated that it took our group about 30 minutes to tour Chambers of Horror. This year, we recorded 20 minutes of ‘live’ time inside the attraction. The drop in score from last year is a result of this combined with score drops in other categories, and the removal of the $1 off opportunity for bringing in a canned food item. However, ticket prices remain very competitive at $12 for general admission and $17 for VIP tickets, which allows you to use a shorter line on busy nights. We’ve found that most haunts average their prices at around $1 per minute of entertainment, so $12 or even $17 for 20 minutes is still a great deal, especially for the 40+ years of entertainment experience you’ll be subjected to at this attraction. If you’re in the Cincinnati/Dayton area looking for variety, confusion, and some classic scares, then make sure the Chambers of Horror is on your list of haunts to hit in 2013!