The Mortuary Haunted House – Full Review

The Mortuary Haunted House is a Haunted Attraction located in New Orleans, LA.

4800 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119
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Haunt Type(s):

Escape RoomHaunted House


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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Handicap Accessible, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Original Characters, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on September 28, 2019 by Team Second Line Scream.

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Final Score: 7.93

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At the end of Canal Street, among the quiet yet eerie cemeteries that cover the area, stands the 150+ year old Mortuary Haunted House. With its gorgeous white columns and classic New Orleans Greek-inspired architecture, you would never think such a place could be the home of one of New Orleans most popular haunted attractions. But when you step off the streetcar, that conveniently stops right in front of the building, and hear the screams pouring outside you then get a great example of the phrase: ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’

The Mortuary celebrates its 13th year with the bold and twisted show aptly titled ‘Cult of 13.’ Without giving too much away, the basic plot revolves around a group of deceased serial killers whose crimes were so horrific, they are unable to pass on to the afterlife and are bound to the Ethereal Plane by an ancient artifact. In order to see these killers, you must look into the Nightmare Realm, using the Ivory Masks of Ether. Once you put on your Ivory Mask, given after entering the maze, you are encouraged to keep on the mask, for one so you can see into the killers’ realm, but if you take it off, the killers can then see you!

So, I’m sure you are asking yourself, ‘wait, do you really put on a mask and then have to make your way through a haunted house?’ Yes, you do, and it is worth every minute of it. Out of all the haunts I have experienced over the years, I have never seen a haunt make such a bold move to have each guest put on a mask before experiencing the show. Even though it has adequate eye holes, it still manages to take away your ease of being able to see everything around you, and because you get to keep your mask once you exit, it provides a great at home scare for your loved ones. (I know because my fianc������ has scared me with that mask at least 3 times already since we got home, so thanks a lot, Mortuary!)

Cast: 7.2

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When it comes to the cast of the ‘Cult of 13’, I have a tendency to want to play Devil’s Advocate a bit. The haunt is very short of actors, so much so that I had time to gather my thoughts and take a breather while going through the haunt. NEVER GIVE GUESTS A MOMENT TO RELAX! Think about it, the concept of a haunt is so I can pay money to scream my lungs out and it be completely okay. So, if The Mortuary fell short of anything, it was the number of actors throughout the haunt.

HOWEVER, the few actors that do work the haunt are some of the best I have encountered. They used their bodies and voices to execute perfectly timed scares. In a lot of haunts, you can get actors that use the same tactics, such is not the case with The Mortuary. I have to give a special shout out to the actor playing the doctor (in a terrifying mask and wielding a machete) that appears towards the end of the haunt. This actor got me so good, that when I opened the door, instead of my usual scream, I found myself unable to muster up any noise from being so frightened. All of the actors were fantastic, enthusiastic with their original roles, and overall did a great job… just give us a few more!

Costuming: 8.15

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The Mortuary excelled with their costuming, makeup and use of masks. From what we learned in our pre-interview with General Manager Tony Stumpf and Lead Tech J.C. Arnold, the actors are put into hair and makeup trailers (similar to movie makeup trailers) at a nearby location, and once they are ready, everyone is bussed over to the building itself. If any touchups are needed throughout the night, and I’m sure they are needed with this hard-working group, they pay a quick visit to the very talented Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Zibilich. Before the haunt opened, Liz was kind enough to give us a sneak peek at the onsite makeup room, where actors were getting their last looks before heading to their location in the haunt. We were able to see two female actors in the well lit room, in full makeup, and the detailing Liz did was incredible!

In terms of costuming, they were very original and fit the theme/character perfectly. And I will never forget that terrifying mask worn by the doctor, at first I thought it was makeup because it fit the actor so well! I have nothing negative to say about the actors’ appearance, which is a job well done.

Customer Service: 8.3

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If only all haunts had the quality of customer service as The Mortuary! It was very well staffed and if any guest had a question, the staff was easy to find and knowledgeable. While The Mortuary does not have a parking lot, the neighborhood that guests park in the area is patrolled by over ten marked NOPD vehicles, and they patrol until the haunt closes. There are also two onsite security personnel to help with crowd control and general safety.

One thing that sets this attraction apart from the rest is how easy it is to get to, even if you do not have a car or choose to not take one. The Canal St. Streetcar Line stops right in front of the haunt and comes by every 20-30 minutes, so even tourists in the French Quarter can experience this one of a kind haunt. As they say: location, location, location.

So why is the score for this section not a bit higher? Because in the basement there is a small set of concrete stairs that have no actor to warn you about them (like they have with the other sets of stairs), nor is there any sort of bright tape on the steps. I only take off points for this because your average guest, especially for New Orleans haunts, has probably had a cocktail or two. And while my teammate and I were stone cold sober, we still almost stumbled down this set of stairs in the basement. It’s a quick fix for a potentially big problem, just some warning of any kind would suffice.

Atmosphere: 8.6

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Even though they were kind enough to give us VIP tickets, which take you to the front of the line, we opted to go through general admission to see what sort of atmosphere they offer before entering. A good portion of the line to get in has a front seat view of the group about to go in, and everyone participates in the countdown shown on the TV screen before each group enters. I love that aspect about the line; it helps build up your adrenaline and makes you even more excited when it is finally your turn to countdown for your group. The line also has an actor or two that roams throughout the crowd, giving you a little taste of what is to come inside. It also is a great photo opportunity! The actress working the line when we visited had the best makeup prosthetics I have ever seen. I won’t describe it so to not ruin the surprise, but you will know what I am talking about when you encounter her. Just don’t expect much conversation out of her (wink wink).

Special Effects: 7.48

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One thing that a lot of haunts overuse is the use of loud metal music throughout the haunt. Not so with The Mortuary, who understands that silence can prove to be even more effective. It helps that loud jump scare land so much better.

What you have to understand about the building itself, which is roughly 14,000-15,000 sq. ft., is that because it is a historical building, there is only so much you can do in terms of moving walls, doing large changes to the route, etc. But with that being said, you also get to walk on the original wood flooring, the basement has a lower ceiling, the smell of an old building; all of these things subconsciously remind you that yes, this building was once an actual working mortuary.

The rooms and scenes have a sturdy through line that continues throughout the whole haunt. There is not a ‘doll room’, for example, because there is no need for it, and it would not fit the theme in any way. The technical aspects are top notch, and Technical Director, J.C., deserves another mention for creating such a well lit, well dressed and realistic set. Speaking of set, I should also point out that while the theme revolves around a cult, there are no Satanic or occult symbols, chanting or anything alluding to a specific religion. No pentagrams, no goat heads, nothing that would insult or offend a guest, whatever their beliefs.

Theme: 8.65

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Again, I loved the amount of time and effort put into the theme of the ‘Cult of 13’. The full story, which you get in the first room upon entering, is so well thought out and creative. The story gives you reason why you see certain scenes later in the haunt. Whoever actually came up with the backstory behind the ‘Cult of 13′ should consider writing outside of the haunt world, I’d read it! And in terms of it being located in an old mortuary, it supports the old, but still true cliche’ that ‘dark’ things happen in places that have seen death in all it’s forms.

Scare Factor: 7.69

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So, was it actually scary? I would say yes, and a lot of that decision falls upon the actors’ performances. Do I scream when I get scared at a haunted house? Of course, but my male teammate who ‘never gets scared’ even admitted that there were a handful of times when he was truly frightened. Ladies, you know the ‘ok, ok, they got me’ you hear from the guys in the group. That phrase is rarely uttered, but when it is you know they mean it. The scares came out of nowhere, they were executed using different tactics. And while you are not chased out by a chainsaw, you still find yourself flying out of that beautiful building like a bat out of hell.

Entertainment & Value: 8.2

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The Mortuary: Cult of 13 is an all around fun time, it’s not too short of an experience, yet you still have time to grab a bite or drink afterward. I would recommend buying your tickets in advance online, and/or showing up early to get in line. The Mortuary only grows in popularity and attendance as the years go by, so if you do not want to stand in line too long, definitely get there early or opt for their VIP ticket.

While the Mortuary can give you chills to your bones, the amount they give back to the community is truly heart warming and is worth the ticket price. For example, any empty Fanta product brought in automatically gets you $5 off (they are sponsored partly by Fanta). You can also get a free VIP ticket if you donate blood, which you can do on site in a state of the art bus provided by one of the local hospitals. The Mortuary also provides at least one night where they allow different organizations to bring teenagers and children who are handicapped, and would have some difficulty getting around a haunt, and they are given free tickets and complete access to the elevators throughout the building. Everyone deserves a good scare during Halloween! The Mortuary really knows how to show love to the local community…while also scaring you to your core. I applaud them on such a well balanced experience. And so, for their 13th year in operation, they have truly hit the jackpot and Team Second Line Scream cannot wait to go through next year’s show at The Mortuary.

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