Location: 1911 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Dickson City, PA 18519
Circle of Screams is by far one of the most improved haunted attractions visited this season. We traditionally found Circle of Screams to be extremely lacking in comparison to its competitors in the region. The haunted attraction has undergone a multitude of different directions, management teams etc. over its short life, none of which seemed to understand how to maximize the haunt’s potential. Season after season we wondered if the Circle of Screams would survive in an ever competitive Northeast Pennsylvania focused haunt industry, with attractions such as Reaper’s Revenge leading the way. We once again made our way to the attraction last night, with the lowest of expectations, and at the end of the evening were in absolute shock over the haunt’s new direction. Massive improvements have been made to this attraction, guiding Circle of Screams in a mature direction that is driven by extremely talented scare actors.
While Circle of Screams is still not at the structural level as haunts such as Reaper’s Revenge, the new direction has us excited for their future. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Circle of Screams this year, were genuinely disturbed by some of the more aggressive/mature scare acting and believe that they have finally found a direction that will make this attraction stand out amongst local competitors. Plans are in place to develop an “extreme” haunt for the 2017 season, and the management team is focused on creative development, actor training and improving the infrastructure/ set builds of the haunt throughout the off-season.
Hayride of Torture
“Hayride of Torture” is an extensive ride through the dark forest behind the Circle Drive-In theater. This season, “Hayride of Torture” recreates several classic movie scenes, some of which are rather dark and far from the “family friendly” approach of years past. Impressive recreations of scenes from iconic movies such as “Children of the Corn”, “Friday the 13th” and a “Nightmare on Elm Street” are found along the hayride’s journey and there are scare actors cleverly hidden throughout the darkness. The scare actors truly shine in this attraction, utilizing their classic movie settings and improved set designs to create scares. Twisted hillbillies taunt guests, a demented clown stalks the wagon branding a sledgehammer, “Jason Voorhees” brutally assaulted a helpless victim at Camp Crystal Lake, “Freddy Krueger” recreated an infamous nightmare sequence, and “Chop-Top” lured guests into the den of “Leatherface”. The climax of the hayride featuring a visit with “Leatherface” is genuinely unsettling, using chainsaw’s in an aggressive manner that creates panic and fear. The chainsaw-yielding “Leatherface” and a twisted member of his family had guests running fleeing the woods in an action-packed climax to the vastly improved hayride.
“Hayride of Torture”, has started the long-term development process of creating new set pieces and designs. Hopefully, over the offseason Circle of Screams will focus on its build process to construct scenes above eye-level, providing guests a perspective of a show that is truly larger than life. An emphasis on quality acting, physicality and bringing iconic characters to life made this attraction extremely enjoyable. We could feel the passion of each scare actor who brought each scene to life, and this commitment to quality entertainment will continue to drive the evolution of the hayride attraction.
Maze of Torment/Asylum Vortex
“Maze of Torment” has been repurposed to highlight scenes featuring iconic DC Comics characters “Harley Quinn” and the “Joker” who utilize entertaining banter and rather violent take on scare acting to breathe life into the classic maze. The structure of the attraction is similar to previous years, featuring a rather easy to complete the metallic maze, filled with fog, strobe lights, a path through the woods and a vortex tunnel. While the structure of the attraction has not changed, the maturity and aggressiveness of the scare acting have been taken to a new level. Both characters play their iconic roles almost flawlessly and use their commitment to acting to tailor the show to particular guests. “Harley Quinn” used a variety of psychotic insults to carry each of her scenes, and we witnessed the insane “Joker” commit various acts of violence, throughout the attraction. Mature themes are featured in this attraction, from the psychotic violence of the “Joker” to adult language, the scare actors carry the “Maze of Torment” and we hope future structural improvements will continue to enhance this attraction.
Carnival of Fear 3D
“Carnival of Fear 3D” is a tent walk-through featuring the brilliant use of psychedelic imagery, creepy clowns, and fluorescent lights to provide for an entertaining haunted attraction experience. The attraction is still rather short, and not exactly challenging to complete but is visually impressive. The clown actors in this attraction are especially disturbing, they seemed to switch from friendly to psychotic within seconds, did a great job moving from scene to scene and made this attraction enjoyable.
The Final Word
Circle of Screams is the biggest surprise of the 2016 haunt season, as the commitment to providing a more mature, tailor-made show, highlighting impressive scare acting is a major step in the right direction. A commitment to professionalism is also felt throughout the attraction as scare actors do not break character. In previous seasons we would see untrained actors on cell phones, scenes that fell flat and a lack of professionalism in operations. These issues are no longer present, and we were thoroughly impressed by the haunt’s operations. Improvements and changes made this year have built the foundation for future seasons that is geared to haunt fans of all backgrounds with a renewed emphasis on creating a “scary” haunted attraction event. This is by far their strongest season, and we hope they implement their larger scale plans to bring an even more large-scale show for the 2017 haunt season. Circle of Screams is headed in the right direction, they have a talented, passionate team in place guiding the haunt, and we look forward to visiting again next season!