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This attraction was reviewed on October 10, 2021 by Team Terror Techies.

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Final Score: 6.01

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The Oaks Park Scaregrounds, formerly Clark County Scaregrounds, hosts three walk-through haunted attractions on weekends for October. Located in Portland’s historic Sellwood neighborhood, Oaks Park provides a great festive atmosphere with its many concession stands, rides, and carnival games. The year 2020 marked the first year for Scaregrounds at the year-round amusement park with drive-thru attractions. However, 2021 is the first time in 14 years that there has been a walk-through Halloween attraction at Oaks Park.

This year, Oaks Park Scaregrounds is hosting: The Condemned, a redneck killer attraction; Grimthorne Manor, their cursed and haunted manor; and Evilution, a sci-fi horror-scape. Along with the attractions and the amusement park, there was the House of Horrors Scare Zone, Graveyard Pumpkin Patch, and Scream Parlor Photo Op. This was the first time that we visited Scaregrounds at the new location and enjoyed the relaxed environment with its many diversions. Given the price of admission, it felt like this would be a great way to spend an evening on a date or a place to bring a younger audience that isn’t quite ready for some of the more intense haunted attractions.

Cast: 5.57

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In The Condemned, it felt like there weren’t quite enough actors for the space it covered. That being said, the actors that were in there did a good job of timing out their scares and interacting with us as we went by. We particularly liked the butcher, who presented us with some fresh cuts of Jonathan, aged 26 years. We also were attacked by a chainsaw maniac through a window when another character was distracting us. The talkative members of the cast provided us with some entertainment, but they were overall lacking the requisite energy and aggression to scare us.

We then entered the mines to take a gander at the rock ‘everybody wants to look at.’ As we continued down to view the rock, a miner told us to ignore the OSHA violations (we keep forgetting our hard hats at home.) The cast of Evilution relied a lot on lurking and sneaking up on our group. While the space was well set up for it, it was unfortunate that the cast didn’t capitalize on their opportunities. More than once, we had someone successfully sneak up on a member of our group, but when we spotted them, they sulked back to where they came from. Had they instead taken those opportunities to scare us, it would have been a much more enjoyable experience.

Grimthorne Manor was the standout out of the three attractions. The cast here seemed more cohesive when we visited. Once you enter the decrypted building, a woman, dressed in dusty red and purple with a coin belt, told us how she placed a curse on the inhabitants of the manor. The cast did a good job of surprising us with their timing and energy, as well as the occasional sneak-up scare. Even when we caught some of the actors off-guard, they did a good job of recovering.

Overall, it felt like the cast were still cutting their teeth with the opportunity to grow as the month progresses. Within each attraction, more actors would have helped break up some of the dead spaces and possibly boosted energy.

Costuming: 6.55

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The costuming details varied between the attractions (and even characters). Each attraction had a main character in the beginning with a more detailed costume and makeup than the rest of the characters that we encountered. All attractions leaned into having mostly characters in makeup as opposed to masks. We would have liked to see the makeup of the hero characters carried throughout.

Costume and makeup in The Condemned were very much on the basic side, but fit the theme of the attraction. The Condemned characters were dressed in distressed overalls and layered flannel. They had lots of dirty, bloody makeup applied which, again, worked. One standout was one masked character who looked something like a burlap doll with huge, black button eyes.

Evilution started similarly with simple but functional costumes. Instead, the characters started as miners before morphing into sinister aliens towards the end of the attraction. This fits well with the theme, in that, we got more monstrous looking humans as we got further in – using prosthetics and contacts to enhance their looks.

The Grimthorne Manor started with a well-costumed elderly woman and overall the costumes were more elaborate than the other two attractions. While they leaned towards basic costuming, you could see more details and could tell that more work was put into customizing the outfits.

Customer Service: 7.7

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Our GPS did a great job of leading us to Oaks Park which was tucked back from the arterial street. The neon lights from the rides are impossible to miss and there were plenty of paved parking spots. There wasn’t signage about the haunt attractions where we entered the park. We ended up taking the wrong entrance into the park.

After walking down the main corridor, we found signs posted directing attendees to the scare attractions. However, we weren’t the only group who got lost. Fortunately, the park is sized where it is easy to walk around. Staff was posted near the entrance of The Condemned, but by that point, we had already spent several minutes navigating the ride corrals. Even when we were led directly to the scare zone that hosted Grimthorne Manor and Evilution, we ended up walking down one of the exit paths until a staff member caught and directed us over to the correct area.

Overall, the park is safe and wheelchair accessible. Part of The Condemned is located outside off the paved walkway that might be challenging. However, we didn’t come across anything that would be considered a trip hazard.

The Oaks Park Scaregrounds website has event information available that you would expect to find like hours, pricing, and a FAQ. However, we needed a map. There is a map located on the Oaks Park website without the seasonal attractions.

Atmosphere: 5.67

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As we mentioned earlier, there isn’t much of a spooky atmosphere as much as there was a carnival vibe from being at Oaks Park just as the rides were starting to stop for the evening. The scare zone was carved out of the parking lot and divided with sections leading into Grimthorne and Evilution. An actor was milling about the photo op area in a tented area to the side as well as a small DJ booth. There wasn’t a DJ playing the night that we visited. The lack of line entertainment could have been because it wasn’t particularly busy the night that we visited.

The entrance of Grimthorne Manor had this unkempt two story house fa������ade that had a lot of great details from the warped siding peeling away to the tattered curtains that adorned the windows. The porch lights would flicker and fade as the costumed character scanned our ticket. It is easy to see why this same fa������ade was featured in the local news covering Oaks Park Scaregrounds.

Evilution, which was located in the scare zone, and The Condemned had more lackluster entrances. There wasn’t anything that felt like a haunt or set you up with the theme. It would have been nice to see the details of Grimthorne Manor carry over.

Special Effects: 5.85

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This was another category that was hit or miss across the different attractions. Overall, there was enough set design to suggest where you were and to carry a theme. There still were dead zones in each attraction that pulled us away from the narrative that they were trying to tell.

The Condemned had a couple of decent drop panel locations and props set up to distract from the actors. This was where we experienced the chainsaw drop panel which was highly effective for the moment. The scenes did not have much decor except for piles of bloody bones or limbs. Poor Johnathan.

Evilution began with a nice excavation mine where we encountered the rock, then it evolved into a series of laboratories performing experiments on alien lifeforms. The scenes did provide actors hiding spots and looked good overall. However, the fog machines were turned up, which obscured some of the sets. We could see the potential but were left wanting by the execution.

The details of the exterior of Grimthorne Manor carried over into the first part of the haunt. We entered a lobby decorated with flourishes of the Victorian age. There were a decent number of animatronics, though there were a few that had portions of them failing to function properly.

Theme: 5.94

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As mentioned earlier, each attraction led with a chatty main character that peppered in the where, what, and sometimes who. After that initial contact, the story just disappeared. Grimthorne Manor and The Condemned did a great job of maintaining their themes, reinforced by the sets and costumes. Evilution, on the other hand, had an awkward transition from miners in a cave to mutated-alien science experiments gone wrong. It happened fairly abruptly and left us a bit confused when we encountered the change.

Scare Factor: 5.3

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There were a couple of times where actors were able to coordinate scares but most of the scares were predictable and low energy. A lot of the scares were targeted to the first person with a couple of times where actors scared against the patron flow. There were attempts at lurking and intimidation, but, without any follow through, they ended up feeling pretty flat.

Grimthorne Manor, on the other hand, had actors bring some good energy to their scenes and timed their scares well. They were able to get a couple of jumps out of us, but all in all, they were fairly tame. It felt appropriate given the fairground atmosphere of the area, but we wished there was a bit more to the experience.

Entertainment & Value: 5.9

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General Admission to Oaks Park Scaregrounds is $19.95 per person. (Primetime admission is $24.95.) VIP tickets cost an additional $19.95 and are only available on-site. It took us 4 minutes to escape from The Condemned. It was another 4 minutes to navigate our way through Grimthorne Manor. It took 3 minutes to come back out of the mines of Evilution. The total amount of time that we spent in a haunt was 11 minutes which calculates into 0.55 minutes per dollar, below the national average of 1.

While the tickets that we purchased only allowed admission to the haunted attractions, you can purchase a combo ticket that includes all the other rides in Oaks Park for $54.95. There were also food trucks and carnival games that were a part of the daytime festivities. The Oaks Park Scaregrounds has potential and we are excited to see what they will do next.

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