USS Nightmare – Full Review

USS Nightmare is a Haunted Attraction located in Newport, KY.

101 Riverboat row, Newport, KY 41071
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Haunt Type(s):

1HauntedBoat

Links:

USS Nightmare Facebook PageUSS Nightmare WebsiteUSS Nightmare Twitter PageUSS Nightmare on InstagramUSS Nightmare on YouTube

Contact:

Call USS NightmareEmail USS NightmareMessage USS Nightmare on Facebook Messenger

Features:

Free Parking, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, Optional Games/Midway, Special Events, “Hi-Tech” Attraction, Original Characters, Covered Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Indoor Attraction

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Team Teachers of Terror Logo

This attraction was reviewed on October 14, 2023 by Team Teachers of Terror.


About Our Reviews and Rating System


Final Score: 8.91

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Summary:

How about taking a trip on a haunted boat? Docked in Newport, KY sits the USS Nightmare, once again sharing its story of disturbia and wreckage. Be prepared to meet the captain and his daughter aboard a ship aged with time and still afloat despite crashing into a bridge footer in real life! They aren’t alone, as other sinister characters are stuck aboard and need some outside entertainment: you!

USS Nightmare took the real event of being a runaway boat and created an entire story about a ship overtaken by madness. Side excursions are available for an additional fee, asking guests, ‘Can you save the ship?’

This review is based on the RIP Experience, which unlocks additional rooms and experiences that General Admission customers are not granted access to.


Cast Score: 8.66

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Cast Review:

U.S.S. Nightmare had a variety of actors that fit the theme of their haunt. They ranged from pirates, a captain, the captain’s daughter, zombie and ghost crewmembers, ladies of the night, and various creepy children. The ship also boasted makeup-wearing clowns, a faceless contortionist, and a bellhop.

Most characters were wonderful actors. This haunt uses lots of cast and customer interaction. We had the most enjoyable banter with the mystical bar wench. We tried our luck at her dice game, and one of our members even won, earning them a “special drink.” We also conversed with an angry captain and cheeky pirate. One of our members was offered a lovely snack by the dingy cook, and another was ankle-grabbed by a pale, faceless contortionist on the floor of the disgustingly frightening bathroom. Horror makeup makeovers must have been the special because we were given face treatments twice. We were given shots and medicine, too.

Cast members move about the ship; you never quite know where they will be next. We were startled by many hiding amongst the scenery. Cast members put you into different situations in the haunt. We were split up as a team at least three times. Members were put into closets, an elevator, a jail cell, the captain’s chamber, and even a maze. The cast was especially sinister in the maze, leading us astray many times. The captain’s room is an escape room we had to puzzle our way out of.

We felt that there were plenty of cast members. Some children, though, are less skilled than their adult counterparts. What they lack in skill, they make up in enthusiasm.


Costuming Score: 8.61

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Costuming Review:

We met various characters, some wearing makeup and others wearing masks or disguises. We saw different makeup applications, ranging from full makeup and prosthetics to create wounds to basic red paint wound marks here and there. The captain’s daughter had makeup designed to resemble the cracked features of a damaged porcelain doll in hues of gray. Her makeup appeared the most detailed and complete of the treatments we saw. Her costume itself consisted of a distressed and stained sailor dress that complemented the storyline and what one would expect a young captain’s daughter to be wearing. The lead clown in the maze area also stood out to us as a complete makeup and costume, accented with matching tophat.

The queue actor who met with us also wore makeup consisting of a white painted face and dark areas around the eyes and skin wrinkles, giving the impression we were dealing with a corpse. The costume here was also appropriately distressed for the story and setting of the haunt, with no errors or missing pieces. We did interact with a deck hand who had some injury applications added to their face and also wore a complete and believable costume. Other characters wore more simple costumes, like the cook and the bathroom contortionist.

Disguised characters wore dark enough clothing to accurately disguise themselves, up until they decided to jump out at us.

We could tell from looking at the costuming and makeup/masks of each character who they were supposed to be, and all did fit the narrative, even the clowns brought aboard to entertain the captain’s daughter. Most characters were completely covered. Here and there, we did see just a few ill-fitting masks and an exposed neck.


Customer Service Score: 9.87

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Customer Service Review:

Free parking is available along the roadway in front of the boat. However, prepare to park and walk a little ways if it gets later in the night or busy with lots of people. Our team came in two separate vehicles, and GPS gave us slightly different directions. Nonetheless, we made it somewhat error-free. A set of cement stairs leads down to the property where the boat is docked, and the ticketing area is directly at the bottom of the steps. Ticket lines are also roped off and well-displayed. There are QR codes available that customers can use to purchase online or buy on the property if they wish.

We didn’t note any significant safety concerns. It had been raining the day of our visit, and the metal grates we walked on to board the boat were slick. Staff members were at the walkway, reminding guests to watch their steps and that it was slippery.

The staff we saw and interacted with were all friendly and professional. They guided us through the various processes of navigating the line and getting our photos. They welcomed all of our feedback and questions.

The website is up to date and provides all pertinent information for customers.


Immersion Score: 9

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Immersion Review:

The boat itself gave a creepy vibe by just looking at it. We could hear screams, the machinery of the ship, and a spurt of fire off the end of the boat. The lines of customers we encountered are a testament to the popularity of this haunt.

On the ship, we interacted with two characters near the entrance. We were given a brief history lesson on the cause of the crash, and artifacts were dotted along a hallway, thus making the story more believable. The cast often referred to the ship’s story and tasked us with preventing another crash.

In addition to the general experience of walking through the haunt with the various props, characters, and animatronics, we were challenged to solve puzzles to save the ship and given various medicines, elixirs, potions, and questionable meat on our journey.

Exiting the boat, we passed by a concession tent that also provided opportunities to purchase posed photos of the group on the boat.


Special FX Score: 9.35

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Special FX Review:

Sound effects reflected what one would expect on a haunted ship, according to the storyline. Sounds effectively put us in the scenes (ex., maniacal laughs, ship sounds, old-time music, carnival music, ambient sounds, and screams). There were numerous other sounds heard throughout. The speakers playing the sounds were of good quality and were louder at times to increase the anxious feelings of customers. Carnival music was where the clowns were, and running water sounds were in the “submerged” part of the boat. There were no noted areas of dead silence.

The scenes were detailed and believable for each area. We knew what each room was intended to be as we entered them. The captain’s daughter’s room had dolls everywhere, and she also displayed some dolls as though they were in a witchy seance and had a dollhouse depicting scenes from other horror movies. The disgusting kitchen had dirty supplies and revolting food to look at and eat. We aren’t really sure what happened in the bathroom, but there appears to be no hope of cleaning that mess! Exposed parts of the ship further reminded us we were over the water, on a boat.

The props were realistic for the scenes they were in and complimented the actual parts of the boat. For example, the radio room had what appeared to be a real radio. The living quarters had a bed with a table, and items scattered throughout that one would expect to see in someone’s personal living space). There were numerous animatronics scattered throughout the haunt that were effective in both surprising us and entertaining us. One massive animatronic caught our eye, a giant skeletal monster appearing to be having a snack (glad it wasn’t us!)

We really enjoyed the part of the haunt where we walked on catwalks with the river exposed below us and could tell we were getting to the point of the ship that was “underwater.” We could actually walk along the indoor bridges and see the river below us with a noted green light to give that eerie feeling of thinking the boat was sinking. One area even had a green fog swamp that gave the feeling of us having to tread water to escape.

Throughout the haunt, numerous tactics were used to keep our minds overwhelmed and put pressure on us. This included confusing mazes and escape rooms. The lighting was strategically placed to move your eye in the direction they wanted us to look so something could jump out and scare us. Some of the lights noted were strobes, different color lights, and dim lights. Other special effects used included but were not limited to fog, laser swamp, a very effective vortex tunnel, and a swinging bridge.


Scare Factor Score: 8.46

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Scare Factor Review:

We did the RIP tour, so we experienced several “side” events and were touched. The general admission tickets do not include touch, but actors and animatronics are still active. The boat is quite dark, which instantly heightens the senses. There is also the machinery sound of the boat and the various soundtracks and screaming that can be heard from the street. Actors and animatronics moved about, which can catch a guest off guard. There were impressive large-scale animatronics and life-like props throughout the boat, but the actors were the main source of the scares provided.

We were exposed to classic pop scares from actors popping up from nowhere or trailing behind us. Distractions were successful as we were caught “not looking.” Some characters were loud and aggressive, while others were quiet and creepy. We experienced a White Rabbit-style scare when we were instructed to follow a clown (I know, right? Should have been the first clue something was up). The clown would disappear behind sheets only to reappear behind us as we were still trying to figure out what just happened.

Disguises were also used against us as creatures hid in their scene until the perfect time to jump out and grab us. Other characters would ask us questions, give us a side activity to complete (RIP pass holders), yell at us, or banter with us. We were separated numerous times, and one of us was pulled away for some solo time. We experienced a few grabs at the legs, but other scares were directed at the face and neck area.

With the RIP experience, we were expected to participate in a ritual and drink an offering. We met a barkeep who rigged a drinking game against us, and we were given “medication” by a deranged nurse and some sort of jerky to eat by the nasty cook. What kind of jerky do you ask? The kind you don’t ask questions about. That kind.


Entertainment & Value Score: 8.88

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E&V Review:

There are several ticket options to choose from, as low as $25 to as high as $90, depending on the ticket type and the date of visit. All in all, we were inside the boat for 47 minutes, including the escape room-style side trips we engaged with. Combined with the base ticket price, USS Nightmare provides about 1.88 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent, which is well above the standard we see most often.

We were engaged the entire time on our tour. Props and scenery were blended throughout all the working parts of the ship, so we always knew where we were. We met interesting and immersive characters and were put through some fun side excursions with our RIP pass. When we exited the boat, we all agreed we had a fun night and felt our time was well spent.


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Past Awards


2022 Awards

Most Unique Scene - Theme Intro (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Anna - Alisha McDuffee (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Vampire - Riley Krull (Given by: Team Zombillies)


2019 Awards

Most Interactive Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Best Scene Detail (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Haunt in Kentucky (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Cast (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Theme (Given by: Team Zombillies)


2018 Awards

Memorable Moment - The RIP Experience (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Special Effects (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Theme (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Actor Shout Out - Anna - Alisha McDuffee (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Actor Shout Out - Captain Mitchell - Michael Doench (Given by: Team Zombillies)



Past Awards


2022 Awards

Most Unique Scene - Theme Intro (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Anna - Alisha McDuffee (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Vampire - Riley Krull (Given by: Team Zombillies)


2019 Awards

Most Interactive Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Best Scene Detail (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Haunt in Kentucky (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Cast (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Theme (Given by: Team Zombillies)


2018 Awards

Memorable Moment - The RIP Experience (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Special Effects (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Highest Rated Theme (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Actor Shout Out - Anna - Alisha McDuffee (Given by: Team Zombillies)

Actor Shout Out - Captain Mitchell - Michael Doench (Given by: Team Zombillies)


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