The Carving – Full Review

The Carving is a Haunted Attraction located in Orlando, FL.

9801 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
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Haunt Type(s):

Haunted House


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Paid Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Handicap Accessible, You may be touched, Original Characters, Indoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on October 28, 2023 by Team Floridead.

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Final Score: 8.6

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The Carving is a brand new pop-up haunted house featured at Spooky Empire’s 20th Anniversary convention. Conceived by Studio 31 Concepts in Tampa, FL, this haunt is a separate ticket event from your admission to Spooky Empire. Impressively, the haunted house was loaded into the convention center on Thursday morning at 8 AM and was fully built and assembled by 5 PM the following day. Within the next hour, The Carving was approved by the fire marshal, and the haunt opened for business by 6:00 PM. The haunt is open throughout the convention and is an experience worth taking.

In The Carving, ‘Irving Maxwell was a locally known pumpkin carver, but his town stopped celebrating Halloween after a boy disappeared, and the mother went mad and began killing children. His business dried up, and no one wanted his work anymore. Bitter and delusional, he started traveling to fairs and roadside Exhibits to make ends meet. Late one night, while carving his most delicate work, he was interrupted by a drunk who would end up ruining the sculpture. In a fit of rage, he split the man’s head in two and used the remains to correct his work. In his eyes, it was a masterpiece. Now he is on the hunt for the perfect pieces to carve and turn into works of twisted art.’

We were impressed with the sheer scope of the haunt, the detail in the set design and costumes, as well as the personalized interactions from the actors, especially considering the quick turnaround time to open the haunt in time for the convention. Studio 31 Concepts plans to host haunted houses at Spooky Empire in the future, and we look forward to seeing what additional experiences are offered in 2024.

Cast Score: 8.98

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Cast Review:

The cast in The Carving left us thoroughly impressed. The attraction was well-staffed, ensuring there were very few dead moments. The actors were exceptionally interactive, going the extra mile by touching and even sniffing our hair. What truly stood out was how they personalized their interactions with each group. As we met Irving Maxwell at the entrance, he seamlessly mixed humor and horror, reminded us not to touch any of his pumpkin creations, and that he’d cut our faces off if “we were dicks”. Throughout the haunts, the actors engaged us on a personal level. One actor in the pumpkin forest invited us to “rot” with them while another actor at the finale asked the ominous question, “Do you know what I do to people like you?” This personalized and light touch experience made for a surprisingly chilling haunted house experience.

Costuming Score: 9.6

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Costuming Review:

The costumes in The Carving were exceptional, extending beyond the confines of the house itself and into the queue line. As we waited, the actor greeting guests was in orange and black face makeup to resemble a pumpkin, carried a bloody axe, and wore distressed clothing covered in pumpkin guts and blood. Once we entered the attraction, we noticed a seamless integration of the costumes, and each of them complemented the storyline; none of them felt out of place in this pumpkin patch. Moreover, the masks worn by the actors fit snugly around their faces and blended well into their overall wardrobe.

Customer Service Score: 9.8

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Customer Service Review:

The ladies working the ticket booth at the entrance to The Carving were very nice and greeted us warmly upon arrival. The door greeter also welcomed us with a smile while explaining the rules of the haunt. As soon as we exited, the same staff members thanked us for attending and asked us how we liked it. Information on The Carving can be found on Spooky Empire’s website under Events and Schedule. Since this haunt is part of a convention, it means having to navigate through the host hotel and convention itself to locate the attraction. However, there are convention maps all through the convention center, and if you get lost, a helpful Spooky Empire staff member would be happy to help you find your way.

Immersion Score: 8.27

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Immersion Review:

While there was not much scenery to prepare you while waiting for the haunt (reminder: this is at a convention), the actor out front set the tone for the experience, even for guests not experiencing the house. They could be seen growling, smiling ominously, and jumping out at passersby. From the moment we walked into the ballroom where The Carving was built, we immediately forgot we were in a convention center. The facade of the house was fully detailed and transported us into Irving Maxwell’s world. In fact, the facade was so tall that it reached the bottom of the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Because of the constant interactions with each actor, we never had a moment to drop out of the story. Speaking of the story, it was featured on the Spooky Empire website and inside the program for the convention. In future years, we would love to see the story also featured near the entrance of the house, just in case you had not looked for the story ahead of time.

Special FX Score: 8.23

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Special FX Review:

A huge highlight of The Carving was the set design and props featured throughout. Some standouts include a pumpkin forest, where the trees had glowing jack-o-lanterns hanging from the branches and surrounding the roots of the trees, and the entrance, which resembled a convenience store full of pumpkins for sale. Pumpkins, weathered and in various states of decay, filled this haunt from top to bottom, and a majority were carved, each different from one another. Rotting bodies hung from the ceiling and blocked your path unless you moved them out of the way. Ominous background music played throughout the experience, and the house was well-lit, giving you just enough light in some scenes to find your way and hide the actors lurking amongst the pumpkins.

Scare Factor Score: 8.38

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Scare Factor Review:

Groups are sent into The Carving individually, which means the actors are able to provide scares to each member of your group. As mentioned earlier, the actors in The Carving personalize the experience for each group, and some of the verbal interactions we experienced were based on how we reacted when we were scared. The actors were unafraid to utilize the props and scenery around them, including the scarecrow who jumped up on a box and suddenly appeared larger than life. The actors would taunt, occasionally lightly touch, and follow us through to the next scene. Overall, the scares were strong, and each of us had at least one good scare through The Carving.

Entertainment & Value Score: 7.5

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E&V Review:

At only $10 a person, The Carving is well worth your money to experience. If you’re attending Spooky Empire as a VIP guest, tickets are only $5 when you show your VIP badge at the door. Since the haunt is part of Spooky Empire, you do need to pay for parking ($37 for general parking in the garage, $20 for the lot behind the hotel, or $50 for valet) and your ticket for Spooky Empire, which ranges from $40 – $60. The Carving was operating on a level similar to several well-established haunts in the area, and that’s after a 34-hour load-in period. The haunt runs October 27 – 29, 2023, and will be back at Spooky Empire in 2024.

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