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Ohio Valley Haunts
Ghostly Manor Reviewed  9/28/12
view photos taken at this year's FEARFEST
Lake Eerie Fearfest
click logo above to visit their website
(5 Haunted Attractions)
3319 US Route 250 (Milan Rd)
Sandusky, OH  44870
(419) 626 - 4467
$25 ($15 for Ghostly Manor ONLY)
$5 discount coupon at area Wendy's
7:30 PM - Midnight Fri/Sat beginning Sept 28
7:30 - 10 PM Sundays & Halloween
Eerie Chateau Ghostly Manor Darkmare
Quarantine Caged
GHOSTLY MANOR A banner façade welcomes patrons into a lengthy, strobe-lit corridor inhabited by a handful of cretins serving up some immediate scares in advance of entering the remodeled Manor itself.  The prolonged stroll eventually introduces a fog-filled room of glowing worms highlighted by a pirate-like creature in a coffin, then exits back into more maze-like darkened hallways as sirens sound, and initiate a few more run-ins with dark-figured beings, and eventually into a monster-laden encounter where growls and snarls fill the air, and an animated corpse suddenly shoots out of a nearby casket.  Severed heads hang from the ceiling, and maggots rain down from overhead chasing disgusted patrons into a claustrophobic tunnel, then through numerous body bags, and into a crypt-like dungeon harnessing numerous corpses, mummies, out-of-casket surprises, etc. before escaping through the mouth of an enlarged skull.  Skeletal remains escort the path past more caskets, then another claustrophobic enclosure guides the course to the attraction's original entrance guarded by Fluffy, the dog, and into a spiritually active living room where zombified inhabitants spring to life, and a legless corpse moves about by means of a walker!  Shutters bang loudly; doors open and close on their own, and are covered with bloody hand prints; and drop-down portrait windows charter unexpected ghoul attacks all of which persists into a restless bedroom that finds a chest of drawers rattling about of its own volition, and some poor soul that's suffered the fate of being gutted, and having his intestines hung from the ceiling above!  Exploding air cannons bring about a filthy, unkempt bathroom offering up an immediate startle, then its on through a sheet maze, and into the clutches of enraged clowns accompanied by a high-pitched, eardrum-piercing siren; a baby bed surprise; and a clown meeting his demise in an electric chair.  A spooky chandelier mysteriously swings above a wretched looking dinner table, as vibrating floors and various undead family members pound from within glass enclosed panels along the way into a murderous kitchen where pots and pans come crashing down in the presence of bloody carcasses, dismembered body parts, and monsters leaping out of cupboards and freezers!  From there it's onto a library that provides an escape route of sorts, mired by a quick vampire encounter, then along a cornstalk covered fence concluding the Ghostly Manor experience.

LENGTH - 7½, 14 min.
ACTORS - 8, Characters are well hidden throughout, but few have any interesting to say.  First three actors simply stood in the dark corridor as we passed by without out interacting with us at all.  Best costuming is exhibited in dining room and kitchen areas where majority of the dialogue took place.  Others were mostly attired in dark garments and robes.  Make-up seems uninspired as well.  Total Characters = 31.
SCARINESS - 8½, This is a tough call.  Remnants of the original manor deliver the best scares, but background music is practically non-existant until scary themes are finally heard beyond the library.  Only other noises originate from the various monsters and surprises, and a couple of sirens.  Soundtrack requires major attention!  New beginning and end are uneventful, and unfortunately lack many scares.
DESIGN - 7½, The Manor itself is good while it lasts, and as always, showcases numerous mechanical startles, exquisite décor and detailing, and provides a number of quality scares.  But most unfortunately, the integrity of the house and the flow of events have been lost.  It's now inserted between lengthy, dull corridors.  Original front door entrance has been abandoned, and is sorely missed.  Beginning is far too uneventful, and finish is way too weak.  Both are merely darkened, strobe-lit walkways, not mazes.  And there are two other stand-alone attractions now on the site offering that same theme.  Concluding leg is nothing like what exists inside the house, thus anticlimactic.  Clown siren is uncomfortably too high pitched, and therefore offensive as opposed to scary.  Best new feature is claustrophobic hallway that inflates while you're making your way through, but not sure that's better than having it remain fully active at all times.  Several of the animatronics were not in working order, and clowns don't belong in Ghostly Manor.  Covering the fence along the exit route with cornstalks is clever and appreciated, but needs to enclose some action.  Overall duration somehow slipped by 3 minutes in comparison to our last visit in 2010, when expansion was the goal.  The add-on sections sadly do more harm than good.
PROPS - 9, Another difficult decision due to the way things have changed.  Inside the house, immaculate detailing and numerous animatronics exist that could easily retain their previous perfect score in this category, providing everything worked.  But the beginning and end are practically devoid of props, and the overall score suffers by consequence.  Voice enhancement/distortion is no longer seen... or heard.
VALUE - 9, Price of admission presented a huge bargain just a few short years ago costing only $11 - way below the industry standard for one of the best haunted houses around!  That's now increased to $15 so try to grab their coupon at a local Wendy's location when visiting.  Value applies to what's left of the original Ghostly Manor.  New beginning and ends are worthless.  Attraction would score higher without them being there, even if it only lasted 10 minutes.
RATING:  8, This is one of the most complicated ratings Ohio Valley Haunts has ever had to do.  It's like combining two different attractions into one by inserting an impressive haunted house into the middle of a mediocre "maze" that really isn't a maze at all.  The 5-haunt facility is new for 2012, and one can only hope that the event grows and improves over the years.  The best bargain lies in the combo ticket which equates to only $5 per attraction.

CAGED The former Ghostly Gauntlet attraction is contested in an extremely foggy fence maze complimented by frightening music.  Random encounters with monsters lead to the quiet outdoors along a fence lined with cornstalks, then back into the enclosed labyrinth for a few more loops, dead ends, and run-ins with imprisoned ghouls  5½ minutes.  Total Characters = 8.
EERIE CHATEAU Impressive portraits and loud, scary music invite visitors into the Chateau where a mysterious chandelier lights the way into a room comprised of skeletons.  Hanged and chained vampire vixens impede navigation into a mausoleum of caskets, coffins, graveyards, Egyptian tombs and mummies, many of which hide unexpected surprises.  An overhead spider guards the entrance to a trophy room that proudly displays the heads of a deer, a goat, and boars before moving onto a bedroom surprise, and the creation of Dr. Frankenstein's monster shortly before the curtain falls on Eerie Chateau.  4 minutes.  Total Characters = 7.
QUARANTINE This gathering of the insane begins in the presence of a crazed jailbird hammering and madly banging on the encompassing bars of his incarceration!  Painful looking protuberances stick out of the head and face of a demented doctor as hanged bodies thrash wildly about!  Another psychotic physician lies dead ont he floor alongside a contemptible victim having scissors stuck in his eyes, and yet another ghoul devours the rotting carcass of a dead canine!  Electrocutions take place as fenced enclosures direct the course past more distraught prisoners and disgruntling sights that include an overgrown rat's tail moving back and forth from inside a tipped over garbage can, and inmates escaping their entrapments!  Body-bags and dead ducks point the way to a blood-soaked room where everything in sight has been butchered, and is strewn about tables as plasma runs and drips everywhere!  Sirens sound in advance of a spinning vortex finish to Quarantine.  3½ minutes.  Total Characters = 11.
DARKMARE This lightless maze is basically a straight walkway through blackened hallways occupied by a handful of unseen monsters.  A sudden burst of intense light blinds visitors to an even greater degree as the course progresses past occasional bursts from air cannons and a few more brief engagements with hysterically laughing ghouls prior to completion of Darkmare.  3 minutes, Total Characters = 7 (some of whom may have been the same ones making second appearances).
LAKE EERIE FEARFEST - OVERALL EXPERIENCE This facility has been recently remodeled to better compete not only with neighboring Cedar Point, but many other locations that now offer a collection of short, little haunts. At Lake Eerie Fearfest, Ghostly Manor is the anchoring leg of the attraction, and the "mini-haunts" are only designed to entertain customers by supporting the main event.  They're far too brief to rank on their own - that isn't their intention.  Their purpose is to create an atmosphere, and prolong the Ghostly Manor experience, thus they have not been scored on an individual basis. 

Overall Analysis:
A lot of similarity exists among the varying attractions. Caged and Darkmare are both lightless maze-like in nature.  They should be combined into one, or given separate personalities.  Intermittent flashlights once used in an extension of Ghostly Manor are no longer present on the site, but are rarely seen elsewhere, and might be a good way to give Darkmare its own identity.  Eerie Chateau simply picks up where Ghostly Manor left off, and is basically a annexed remnant edited away from its predecessor, which doesn't do either one of them any good.  Fence mazes are present inside both Quarantine and Caged (although Quarantine's is of the chain-link variety, while the one in Caged  is of the wire-like type). Quarantine also inexplicably houses a spinning vortex which violates its central theme, and one of it's actors wears a Michael Myers mask, but is attired in a white lab coat which isn't movie accurate, in addition to raising the question as to the purpose of The Boogeyman in an "infected"/hospital themed attraction.  GREAT scary music is present in Caged and Eerie Chateau, but needs more of a presence in Ghostly Manor which is where most of the efforts need to be concentrated.  Glow-in-the-dark arrows plainly identify the correct path through Caged and Darkmare which defeats the purpose, but is an unfortunate necessity mandated by the fire marshal and local building codes, thus out of their control.  Strobes can be seen overhead in the latter bleeding over from other attractions, therefore compromising the darkness it's designed to portray.  "Stay and play" has no business in Chateau.  Acting as a whole is poor throughout, consisting mostly of crazed laughter, and an occasional "wooooooo!" which is certainly out of place in a frightening attraction like Ghostly Manor
OVERALL RATING:  8, Considering the overall picture, the "mini-haunts" are included for only an additional $10 ($2.50 each) on top of the main draw, which costs $15.  Are they worth it?  Probably as a way of lengthening a night of seasonal entertainment.  Even so, a lot doesn't make sense from a design standpoint.  Things are all over the place.  Developing the site into a multi-attraction venue is understandable, but Ghostly Manor should not be compromised in the process, and sadly that's what's happened, at least temporarily.  In all fairness, we visited on opening night, so hopefully  these issues can be resolved in time, and restore the legacy of Ghostly Manor.