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Shocktoberfest aka Zombie World
94 Park Avenue, Sinking Spring, PA 19608View All Details
Free Parking, Restrooms On-Site, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, “Extreme” Attraction, You may be touched, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction
Team Scary Potter and the Hauntwarts Express reviewed this attraction on October 24, 2015.
Final Score: 8.63
The zoo, critter viewing zone and educational experience for children of all ages, have received a massive upgrade in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania. Shocktoberfest, a former haunted attraction in the Reading area, has cast out its mummies and monsters to transform into “Zombie World”, a real-life safari, bringing customers face-to-face with all manner of the walking dead. This Halloween season, Zombie World opens its gates and allows patrons to take a Hayride through the habitat of these fearsome creatures, as well as a Prison of the Dead presenting an even closer look at the undead inhabitants. Finally, in Unknown 2.0, top off your experience with a look into just what makes humans even more frightening than zombies. The entire park is completely safe and designed to provide maximum protection to customers while also allowing an exciting glimpse at these wildly terrifying predators. Come out to Shocktoberfest this Halloween season for a singular experience you will never forget.
Both Unknown and the Hayride feature extended introductory videos that are entertaining and funny. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the cast of these films pull off the best performances of the night. The security guard from the hayride video (who bears a striking resemblance to Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation) is the clear-cut winner. He surfaces several times throughout your journey as a near-sighted, greedy, bumbling fool. Admittedly, without his dim-witted intervention, the ride would be much less exciting; similarly for a “near-celebrity” cameo that also appears. The interplay between the doctor and nurse in Unknown is nearly as amusing and helps to set the stage for the proceeding attraction. As for the live acting, the hayride certainly wins the award for one of the most under-appreciated developing monster demographics – zombie pre-teens. Conjoining with “Metal Zombie”, the duo was certainly the most unexpected scare of the night, but, surprisingly also one of the more effective. That bite-sized (PUN alert) actor will have a great future in some sort of live acting position. Our overall impression, though, was that there were just far too few actors present to be properly effective. The big set pieces on the hayride were dulled by a lack of actor activity. The big pay-off scene was completely ineffective for the left half of the wagon as we squinted and peered to see what actually was happening (on this note, PRO TIP: make sure to sit on the right side of the wagon). The main speaking actors on the hayride did admirably, though. The Prison had some good “boo” zombies, mainly concentrated in the large, two-story cell room, but suffered the same overall problem as the hayride – just not enough monsters to go around. The design of The Unknown didn’t really necessitate as broad of a cast as the other two attractions, so it was adequately staffed.
Make up and costuming were adequately applied. We didn’t encounter any gratuitously out-of-place characters or poor outfitting/street clothes. Because the majority of the cast were zombies or inmates, there wasn’t a great need for intricate costuming. Nothing stood out as being exemplary or egregarious.
Customer Service: 9.4
Shocktoberfest was quite easy to find, and had parking spotters available. The design of the park was basically one long midway area, with games, concessions, a band, and several roaming monsters intermixed with the various haunted attractions. Of the two concession areas, one featured familiar fried fair food, but the other, oh friends, the other; if you are one who appreciates the sugary side of culinary life, you will be well taken care of – rows and rows and rows of candy, and all reasonably-priced. Additionally, there were many different hot beverages available (the hot chocolate was really good). This was definitely an oasis for the sweet tooth-enabled. In addition to the band playing along the midway, there was a DJ playing music for the Prison and hayride’s lines. Overall, there were plenty of munchies and activities to keep patrons properly entertained.
Walking down the midway, music playing in the background, heading towards the first attraction, we were definitely put into a proper haunted mood upon our arrival at Shocktoberfest. Upon arriving at the lines for the Prison and the hayride (which are both in the same building), we were basically just standing inside of a barn with pop music blaring all around us. This deadened the atmosphere somewhat. Fortunately, as soon as we were released toward the attractions, our vigor returned, so no harm, not foul. The video room for the hayride does a good job of establishing the mood for the attraction, and the bus ride to the Prison was also a nice touch, even though they REALLY packed people in, like an NYC subway. Similarly with Unknown, the video introduction really provided the proper ambiance for what was to come.
Special Effects: 8.47
For set designs and animatronics, the Hayride was the most impressive of the three attractions. The biohazardy area featured the most incredible animatronic of the night, but each of the main set pieces were pretty well designed. The Prison section excelled at creating a very interesting, environmentally-challenging atmosphere. When we weren’t ducking through endless tunnels or through tight passageways, we were crossing suspension bridges (a really well-constructed one) or battling to maintain our footing on unstable grounds. Additionally, the Prison made good use of both lighting and sounds. The entire experience definitely felt more like an adventure than a standard slog through a haunted house. The Unknown, though, was largely disappointing. Considering its premise as an experimental test of our potential phobias, we really expected an intense, challenging exhibition. What we got, though, didn’t really reach beyond (or even up to, in some cases) the standard trappings of a normal haunted house. The obvious “claustrophobia” section action featured one of the least imposing “birth canal” segments that we’ve seen, with the rest of the segments being only slightly more effective. The most appealing section of the attraction was the introductory video which actually caught the group off-guard several times with some very clever environmental surprises.
The haunt features a very unique, over-arching theme: Zombie World, essentially a mash-up of the Jurassic Park/World franchise and the seemingly-undying (PUN) zombie trend. Each of the individual attractions embraces this idea to varying degrees and effectiveness. The hayride embodies this theme the best, matching the arduous trek of the characters in the titular films pretty well, however, there were a couple sets that seemed somewhat out of place. Returning to the video narrative several times throughout the ride, though, really did help to keep us continuously mindful of the plot, without which, the theme would have just seemed a tacked-on, arbitrary decision. Regardless, WITH this video-guidance, the narrative made the ride feel much more cinematic than most haunted attractions, benefited largely by the quality of the acting and writing. The Prison fit into the general scheme of things well enough, with an introduction from an actor structuring the narrative to fit the Zombie World theme. Inside, it was occasionally easy to forget the purpose of our interloping, but it really didn’t detract from the experience. The Unknown seemed to be a bit of a thematic outlier. There was some attempt to bring it under the tent of the main theme, but it really felt that the attraction stood on its own. It maintained its own self-imposed theme well, but just didn’t match that of the park’s very well. The Zombie World theme does get bonus points for originality and a largely successful execution.
Fright Effect: 7.75
Overall, the lack of an abundant quantity of actors was felt strongest in the Fright Effect category. The hayride had a few creepy moments, largely generated by set pieces, and a few solid actor-scares, but most of the scares were too mild and telegraphed to really craft any genuine frights. There were many opportunities that felt squandered, especially the intentioned pay-off moment near the end featuring the super zombies that really fell flat. The actors fared better in the Prison, with some good hiding places and unexpected interactions. The general uneasiness caused by the unfriendly terrain elevated tension levels to give better access to vulnerable customers. The large cell room definitely featured the highest concentration of successful startles. As mentioned in Special Effects, apart from the initial sequence, the Unknown wasn’t particularly effective in generating the promised phobic reactions. There were a few valiant attempts, but the efforts were mostly squandered.
There are a LOT of options with Shocktoberfest. To experience the three primary attractions (the three haunts), it is $34 dollars with an optional 15 dollar upgrade to VIP. A single attraction is 20, 2 is 26. There are also add-ons for the zombie night run and zombie experience. We unfortunately didn’t have time to participate in either of these, though they both sound like incredible fun. The former is a zombie-laden 5k run and the latter gives you the opportunity to put on makeup and scare other customers inside one of the attractions! All five of these attractions will definitely require you to show up at opening and stay most of the night. For $45 dollars, a full night of entertainment is a pretty good deal, especially with the wide variety available. We spent a little over an hour in the three haunted attractions, which puts the SCA-LUE of that package at 1.9 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent, which is quite good. This ratio definitely improves even further with the five-attraction option.
I realize that Shocktoberfest didn’t fare particularly well in a few categories. The thing is, as a whole, it was actually a good experience. The attraction-overlapping storyline, particularly from the hayride to the Prison, works very well and gives a better sense of immersion and cohesiveness than you normally receive at a haunt, and the quality of the exposition presented through the introductory videos is surprisingly high as well. Overall, we would definitely recommend Shocktoberfest’s Zombie World for anyone looking for a unique and fun haunted experience this Halloween season.