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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Nightmare on their yearly "Extreme Night," make it an annual tradition!
There's nothing in the Cincinnati area like it!