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Ohio Valley Haunts
Reviewed 9/26/13
USS Nightmare
click logo above to visit their website
view pictures taken aboard USS Nightmare:  recent photos, older photos
101 Riverboat Row
Newport, Kentucky  41071
(behind Aquarium at Newport on the Levy)
(859) 740-2293 - $18 Admission ($13 on Weds)
 $22 RIP pass online ($25 at door) & $5 Re-entry
$3 Thurs/Sun coupon on website expires 10/13
$2 Thurs/Sun coupon on website valid 10/17-11/2
$40 Season Pass/$20 combo w/Laser Rage
$50 Family 4-Pack available online
$66 Wednesday 6-pack online only
Fri/Sat 7 PM-1 AM & 7-11 PM Weds/Thurs/Sun
USS NightmareUSS NIGHTMARE Celebrating its 21st season, America’s premier Haunted Steamboat formerly known as the William S. Mitchell makes its annual return to Nightmare Landing in Newport, KY!  Prior to boarding, a season photo op captures groups as they make their way from shore.  Disastrous news footage of the old ship's actual destruction entertains the queue line while visitors wait their turn to step inside one of the most authentic haunted attractions the Midwest has to offer. The adventure begins in the Mitchell Museum, where house rules are explained.  Agreeing to comply comes with a reassuring promise that, "No-THING (nothing) will touch you!"  Admiring a display of aged photographs along with several other artifacts induces the appearance of a haunting, ghost-like apparition of The Captain that readily takes an unexpected turn for the worse, when a skeleton-faced monster decides on a space invading altercation by bursting through a portrait on the wall initiating the actual exploration of the ancient, decrepit steamer.  Sandwiched in between a pair of close encounters with a giant Impaler (animatronic monster) is one of the attraction's  trademark characters - a defenseless girl lying helplessly in the midst of a horde of live rats!  Flickering strobes light the way through air cannon surprises to the sight of a tortured crewman strapped down to a life-size, wildly spinning wheel, that's accompanied by wickedly intimidating sounds.  A second seaman desperately pounds on a glass wall, while another claws down from above as focus switches back to the hideous looking monster that seemed perfectly content on the first go-round, but has now awakened from his slumber, snarling ferociously, and waving about a deadly spear from beyond a cloud of obscuring fog!  What's left of his most recent victim dangles from his deadly clutch while the bones and remains of his previous "meals" are strewn about the area below!  Corpses roast over open flames, while others spring forth out of upright coffins, and a shark attacks out of a barrel as spooky music plays, and the route bends through the eerily lit, steam spewing wreckage, and across a wooden plank-like bridge to a path-blocking encounter with a drunken mate in search of his bottle.  Dodging "machine gun" fire and a wailing siren mandates ducking beneath a casket that moves about of its own volition, while simultaneously crossing a vibrating floor that exposes more mechanical surprises, and a chained locker that likewise shakes and rattles of its own accord!  More sinister sounds fill the air encouraging intrusions from undead sailors, as one progresses through a zone of laid-out, hulk-like cadavers preceding brief exposure to outdoor elements, as see-through iron gratings are utilized to navigate between levels of the battered old paddlewheeler, and are all that protect you from the muddy waters of the mighty Ohio River down below!  Climbing onto the second deck soon reveals a room of sheet covered, bunk bedridden bodies overseen by a discontented member of The Captain's crew planning a mutiny.  The devious plot gives way through a claustrophobic passage to a gathering of misdirecting clowns highlighted by a pair of spinning vortex rendezvous, one of which digresses to a lightless, alarm sounding surprise!  Eventual extrication discloses a lengthy run-in with The Captain's daughter Anna, that kicks off in the presence of her freshly slain and skinned pet cats, and sees her appear, then disappear in a nearby mirror!  The Captain awaits arrival in his less than inviting dining room, which quickly diverts to a final and near fatal encounter with the deadly, man-eating Impaler that finds the dejected behemoth angrier than ever before, and climaxes with a startling, surprise!  Escape through The Captain's quarters witnesses the abuse of his new wife, then evacuates into a catacomb-like tomb area and crypt dominated by a bloodthirsty, nocturnal Vampire!  Mist freely flows from standing sarcophaguses as migration discovers a new, elaborate bathroom scene inhabited by a couple of frenzies, and where "murder" and "turn back now" are mysteriously written on the walls in blood!  An obligatory disgusting surprise sprays the route into a disgusting kitchen that houses an irate staff eagerly preparing a nauseating meal of severed human appendages!  Continuance through their pantry stocked with a variety of distasteful ingredients leads into a morgue, where toe-tagged cadavers are stacked, and body bags complicate navigation.  From there it's onto a wretched dentistry where an unfortunate patient's entire mouth has been bloodied by treacherous extractions, then into a deadly infirmary that finds a crazed medical malpractitioner attempting to revive a corpse with the shock paddles of a defibrillator!  Descending back to the main level dumps into a hazardous area immersed in visionless fog, where a hanged body convulses in agony and sparks erupt in the midst of an experimental laboratory setting the stage for the assault of a rabid guard dog!  A brief fence maze entanglement is still to come, followed by a jungle like surprise or two, and a maintenance room wrap up compromised by an enlarged octopus tentacle  protruding through its tank, a severed head floating in a bubbling vat, and a vicious chainsaw chase-out of the dilapidated old ship renownedly know as The USS Nightmare

LENGTH - 9½, Stopped the clock at the 26½ min. mark. 
ACTORS - 9½, Excellent costuming and make-up continues to be exhibited throughout, along with plenty of interaction and some good dialogue from the crew.  Their demeanor is darker, and delivery is more aggressive than ever.  Many are armed with various weapons that are loudly whacked on surrounding objects adding to the intensity of the performer's scares.  For the most part, last season's attempted comedy has been properly exchanged for more frightening encounters.  Revised portrayal of Rat Girl that witnesses her being victimized by the rodents greatly strengthens the effectiveness of her scene, as does seeing The Captain get physical with his wife.  Legs were grabbed at one point, which further legitimizes scares, but violates the initial promise that "noTHING" would touch you.  Additional mild contact would further supplement the overall experience.  Total Characters = 39.
SCARINESS - 9½, Soundtrack is loud and complimentary, and combines with exceptional lighting techniques to create a most ominous atmosphere.  The condemned craft provides practically an unsurpassed, legitimate environment that capitalizes on common phobias with its cramped passageways, catwalks, balcony, authentic steamboat equipment (valves, pipes, boilers, etc.), and ghastly crew.  A more threatening crew is on board this season.  Eradicating the remaining comedy, shifting the mood of the clowns from playful to threatening, and a few more acts of violence, along the lines of The Captain and his wife could perfect the score.
DESIGN - 9½, Theme holds for most of the journey with the exception of clowns, and fog density within the attraction is second to none.  Initial illusion of The Captain is appreciated, and revision of the Rat Girl scene makes for a much better scare, as mentioned above.  The overall beginning has been improved and strengthened as a result of changes that have been implemented for 2013.  This year's introductory character sets a much more sinister mood for the adventure.  Actually witnessing The Captain committing an act of violence legitimizes his reputation, and strengthens the shows performance.  The direction of the course has been reversed for a good bit of the journey, and introduces a few entirely new scenes including a frantic bathroom that impressively showcases "ghost writing" on one of its walls.  Kitchen and Infirmary areas have undergone more extensive detailing as well, and are staffed by highly energetic characters.  Flow of events is a bit questionable at times, especially as the course progresses from The Captain's quarters, into a Vampire's lair, then into the aforementioned bathroom.  Changing the direction of the route freshens the order of events, but particular scenes were constructed to be accessed from the opposite end.  The infirmary is a prime example.  Positive impacts arise from Clowns and fence maze fiend cleverly misdirecting customers down the wrong paths, thus lengthening overall duration.  The former results with a second, and conceivably more trips through the spinning vortex!  Sea monster has been lost from the finish, as has an additional chainsaw assailant, but the pursuit begins earlier and is equally as enduring as its predecessor.  The lengthy exploration encompasses 3-levels and 40 scenes including the engine room, pump well, cargo hold, boiler room, mortuary, galley, crypt, torture chamber, Captain's quarters, infirmary, etc.  All are perfectly illuminated with professional lighting and effects, and certain sectors seem darker this year, which makes them even spookier than before.  Path cleverly delivers three separate encounters with the massive Impaler, and exits into the Fun Center discussed below. 
PROPS - 9½, Unsurpassed legitimate décor.  Numerous, well-timed animatronics provide unexpected startles that are always accompanied with just the right sound or alarm.  Impaler and balcony surprise remain the most notable.  Captain illusion, octopus tentacle, and floating head were introduced a season ago.  Ghost writing and morgue drawers are among this year's supplements.   Overhead casket now moves as the course passes beneath it, and crypt coffins seep fog!  Additional high-impact scares and a new major surprise or two along the lines of the balcony debut 6 years ago could perfect the category.
VALUE - 9½, After 5 consecutive years of resisting the urge to raise prices, 2013 has brought a $2 increase on general admission.  R.I.P. admission also experiences a $2 raise, but purchasing online grants a $3 savings in comparison to walk-ups.  Season's passes jump $4, but are still an outstanding value at $40!  Laser rage combo has been hiked $3, with online 4 and 6 pack deals escalating $2 and $6 respectively, but still cost just $12.50 and $11 per ticket!  The attraction also has a $5 re-entry option, which presents an unheard of bargain, and is well worth taking advantage of as there's way too much to see the first time through.
RATING:  9½ (9.5), Annually ranked among the best haunted attractions in the country, last season's OVH Kentucky Haunt of the Year is better than ever!  We visited on a Thursday night, and the attraction was operating with a FULL STAFF of actors!  While many haunts keep customers waiting in line at show time, making excuses as to why they're opening late,  but that's  NEVER the case at USS Nightmare!  This is a first class operation that deserves to be recognized and applauded for their integrity, and loyalty to their patrons, in addition to the quality entertainment they provide each and every year!  Join Captain Mitchell aboard the renowned Nightmare and be prepared to have the ship scared out of you!  Why not purchase their season's pass, and enjoy UNLIMITED visits to The Nightmare during the entire season?
SPECIAL STATEMENT :  Looking for the ultimate scare?  Visit USS Nightmare 11 PM to 2 AM on Saturday, October 26th for their annual un-rated and eXtreme Captain's Tour featuring explicit language and intensified scares!  Ohio Valley Haunts attended this event last two seasons, and it's one you don't want to miss!
October 26, 2013 Note:  "Extreme Night" featured a far more explicit, and intense performance than is ordinarily witnessed during the attraction's normal, everyday shows.  Numerous "f-bombs" and homophobic references accompanied the adventure, real animal carcasses comprised Galley décor, fog was as thick as pea soup, several female characters were attired in revealing outfits, Dildo the Clown aroused suspicion with an explicit surprise, a real chainsaw was stationed near the exit and employed in the chsae-out instead of its usual "toy" counterpart, and there was a lot of touching and grabbing of patrons as well, although nothing too excessive.  If you haven't visited USS Nightmare on their yearly "Extreme Night," make it an annual tradition!  There's nothing in the Cincinnati area like it!

NIGHTMARE LANDING FUN CENTER: Returning to the sight for 2013 is an extra enclosed barge offering concessions, video arcade games and a laser tag arena called Laser Rage.  Check it out before leaving the USS NIGHTMARE facility!
USS Nightmare