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Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on October 31, 2013.
Final Score: 8.27
Team Zombillies’ first review of Nightmare on Ash Street was during their 7th year in operation. The haunt normally has other attractions at this location throughout the year that locals have become accustomed to visiting in the off-season, but because these venues have limited the time and space available for building the haunted house, the owners have decided to do away with them in order to make the haunt bigger and better for the 2014 haunt season! The owners also have plans for opening at different times throughout the year so be sure to keep updated on these dates. Ash Street has a very unique theme, unlike many attractions that TZ visited this year which sets them apart from the competition. ‘This is your ONLY warning! What appears to be alive may be DEAD and what seems to be dead may truly be ALIVE!’
Around 25-30 volunteer actors were present during our visit of Nightmare on Ash Street, but the owners informed us that the attraction is capable of operating with as little as 16! This number seemed to take away most of the dead spots, but some of the characters were seen in multiple locations. The actors and staff hold seminar-type meetings before the season begins to watch online training videos that they have selected and deemed as being the most informative for their needs. Physical and verbal interaction from the actors was noted during our visit, however the actors weren’t allowed to actually touch us. Our group was sent walking in circles, sitting on a surprising couch, and misdirected several times during our tour. Dialogue consisted of screams, growls, intimidating threats and pleas for help to list a few. The use of more theme-related dialogue would help make the actors more believable and increase the score in this category. The cross-dressing actor was particularly memorable to our group because of his ability to speak using a squeaky, high-pitched voice and then immediately change his tone to a deeper, more-intimidating level. Other memorable actors include the clowns, faceless actors, and the unicorn (yes, we said unicorn).
There are 3 primary makeup artists at Ash Street, but several of the actors are trained in this area as well in order to help expedite the makeup process before each night begins. Several masks were used of varying types, from silicone masks and others that were purchased from vendors to custom-made masks that vary in complexity. Costumes are created in-house or from a local shop that custom-designs the outfits for them. Most of the costumes fit their scenes well, but some of them seemed to be more character-appropriate than others. The most memorable costumes were those worn by the clowns and the cross-dresser, faceless actors, the girl with glass shards in her face and, of course, the unicorn because of their originality.
Customer Service: 8.4
Signs by the road directed us to where we could park (for free) in the grass/gravel lot, where the queue actor peered at us from the entrance. Portable restrooms can be found before entering the queue area. Friendly staff members greeted us at the ticket booth, but we didn’t notice any concessions or souvenirs that would’ve raised the score in this category, although we were informed that concessions are in the works for next season! Once we made it inside the haunt, we noticed several exit signs and flooring was easily traversed, however there were a few stairs and uneven spots so be mindful of your footing during your visit.
Nightmare on Ash Street’s building has an exterior that looks like an old-abandoned warehouse and is decorated with haunt-themed paintings. When combined with the fog that we saw spewing from the roof of the building, the color-changing light at the entrance and the actor we saw near the ticket booth, we knew we had arrived at the right place! We could also hear the faint sounds of music and screams coming from within the building and the color-changing light added a disorienting effect, which further enhanced the creepy atmosphere in the parking lot area. Although we could hear the music very well in the ticket booth area, if the music would have been more audible outside the building and more queue actors would have been present, the score in this category would have increased even more. Right after we started our tour, we couldn’t hear any recorded sound effects that could have increased the tension in some of those scenes, but we did hear quite a few that were theme-related as we got deeper into the haunt. One of the sounds in the clown area was a real accordion, which struck us as being quite original and theme- and character-appropriate.
Special Effects: 8
We noticed many custom scenes and effects in Nightmare on Ash Street and most of them were designed and created in-house. Some of them include fog, strobe lights, strategic lighting, a shrinking hallway, lasers and lots of distracting objects hanging from the ceiling! The accordion and the holes in the walls were noted as being unique and effective, as were many of the scenes that we came across. Most of these scenes and props, though they were detailed well, could’ve been used more effectively by the actors. Working on this and allowing the various scenes and props to help explain the theme may help increase the score in this category.
The theme behind Nightmare on Ash Street is ‘Ash Hollow,’ a small town/backwoods area that is full of serial killers, chaos and sideshows! Because Ash Hollow is a unique little place in itself, the various characters, props and scenes that we came across also seemed to fit the theme pretty well. However, this theme selection, although unique in its own way, contains many scenes and actors that are similar to what can be found in several other attractions, which results in less originality and a lower score for this category. However, it should be noted that we have never visited another attraction to date that has an accordion-playing clown, a voice-changing cross-dresser and a unicorn, which adds points for originality and creativity.
Fright Effect: 8.05
The above categories combine to make Nightmare on Ash Street and ‘Ash Hollow’ one creepy, weird and unique haunt! Some unpredictable hiding spots were noted throughout the attraction and scare levels ranged from creepy stares and low-level giggles and growls to startling, ear-piercing screams! One of the areas was embarrassingly difficult to escape and had us pushing on the walls wondering where the exit was. Many of the hiding spots were difficult to predict, as mentioned, but some of the actors in the second half of the haunt needed to work on their timing and techniques in order to make our experience lean more towards the scary side.
Nightmare on Ash Street has the lowest-priced tickets that Team Zombillies has visited to date! At $5 per ticket with a 10-minute tour length, customers receive about 2 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent! The main downfall to this category is the short length and the weight from the other categories, but we were told that the haunt has plans to expand in the future, so we look for this score to rise in the years to come if the ticket prices don’t go up too much. Don’t forget to check back from time to time to see if/when they’ll be opening for other holidays. But remember, ‘Once you’re in, [they] may never let you out!’