|RIVERSIDE JAYCEES HAUNTED CASTLE
OF CARNAGE AND TRAIL: A dark carpet maze
begins the adventure, and delivers the course into the clutches of a demented
dentist randomly drilling on his patient's teeth as she screams bloody
murder. Progression through a room of glowing masks uncovers a sudden
surprise, and leads through a secret passage to a deadly electric chair
execution sandwiched in between confrontations with an enraged monster,
then Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger who caresses
the cheeks of one member of our group with his metal, claw-like appendages!
Another representative is restrained for a bit, as continuance upstairs
mandates the avoidance of rapid machine gun fire, and a frantic engagement
with a pair of crazed prisoners screaming their lungs out, and clawing
out at passersby from within the confines of their cells. Spongy
floors, living walls, mystifying lights, and "firecrackers" escort the
path into a coffin laden room, where the undead escape graves amid more
death defying screams of desperation. Another lightless corridor
gives rise to the emergence of a sudden mechanical surprise, then it's
onto rapidly spinning vortex that exits through a claustrophobic escape
onto the Trail portion of the attraction.
The outdoor segment begins past a spooky old house that
hosts a frightening strobe-lit cemetery in the front yard guarded by the
lonely flame of a flickering torch, then around a bend into a "pick a door"
segment, one of which diverts traffic across the creek, while the other
requires crawling on your hands and knees to eventually make your way into
the woods. Navigation leads past an irate jailbird encased in another
cell, and into a fog filled graveyard roamed by zombies and other threatening
spooks. Heading across a rickety, old bridge entices a troll out
of hiding, and brings about a witch seeking human ingredients to add to
her brew she's stirring in an oversized cauldron. Enraged ghouls
beg us to stay for dinner, and even go so far as to shout, "I'm Hungry!"
as we make our way past a sudden startle courtesy, of chained hostage alongside
the route, then onto the story of Billy that deteriorates into a
relentless chainsaw chase-out of the Riverside Jaycees Haunted Castle
LENGTH - 8, 15 minutes. (8 + 7).
ACTORS - 8, Cast is more intense than would be expected,
and adding the element of touch legitimizes certain encounters. Freddy's
touch and crazed loonies are best! A surplus of younger actors compromise
the score, and deafening screams are a bit overdone. Total Characters
= 24 (11 + 13).
SCARINESS - 8, Having the actors grab and touch customers
authenticates scares. But having a guide follow along behind issues
instructions as to which way to go dampens the experience. Background
music inside The Castle is barely audible upon entering, and intermittent
thereafter, then completely absent from the trail segment.
DESIGN - 7½, House annually changes its course,
but is limited by its short 8 minute duration, which is the main reason
for having the trail. The event cleverly combines indoor scares with
an outdoor segment and is the originator in that particular aspect of its
design, which is still rarely encountered elsewhere, but can cause a delay
as was the case on the night we visited, which created a 3 minute pause
(deducted from overall time). Scenes often materialize seemingly
out of nowhere as they're first covered by darkness, then illuminate at
just the right time. Soundtrack issue discussed above requires attention.
Having the vortex exit into claustrophobia is most unique, although a ramp
might prove beneficial to avoid the possibility of someone falling down
a few steps. Touching patrons is definitely an asset, but there's
a hole outside the crawl space that's utilized for this purpose, and is
dangerous because it actually resulted in one of us being punched in the
face. The indoor portion is as a whole is too dark which causes the
animated surprise to not be fully appreciated, and mandates the necessity
of a guide to point you in the right direction throughout. Other
escorts were likewise stationed along the way, which are distractions,
and inhibit the ability to build scares. There's plenty of opportunities
for expansion along the trail, and new ideas would freshen the attraction
that currently presents multiple cemetery and prison scenes. Riverside
dentist is a trademark character to the old Haunted House, but
now that it's being presented as a Castle, his presence is questionable.
A central theme isn't adhered to, as a variety of scenes comprise the attraction,
and the path within the outdoor graveyard is poorly marked, which nearly
resulted in someone stumbling over the lid of a coffin that was hidden
in the fog. Access to the outdoor section of the event is down the
street, which makes it feel more like two separate, unconnected experiences.
Segeuing into the house next door would practically eliminate the interruption,
but it's feasibility is doubtful when it comes to compliance with local
fire ordinances. Trail parallels the railroad tracks just to the
other side of the trees, and if you're fortunate enough to be there when
a train happens to come roaring along, it really adds a shocking effect!
PROPS - 7½, Realistic electric chair, living walls,
and mechanical surprise remain stand-outs. Access to claustrophobia
off the vortex is an amazing idea! Loss of spark cage is unfortunate
as it presented a legitimate scare. More detailed scenes and less
reliance on darkness would prove beneficial. Additional pneumatic
and animatronic surprises would elevate the score as well.
VALUE - 9+, Cost of admission has remained at only $8
with their website coupon since 2007, which is an unheard of bargain by
RATING: 8, This is a good, old fashioned
haunted house - affordable, and enjoyable. The Riverside Jaycees
Haunted House celebrates its 26th anniversary this season, the proceeds
from which serve as the annual community fundraiser. You may want
to take advantage of their $5 re-entry option to explore the path of both
doors on the trail.