Field of Screams- 2017 Review

2017 Field of Screams Review

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Location: 191 College Avenue, Mountville, PA 17554
Web Page: 
https://www.fieldofscreams.com

Introduction

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Field of Screams (FOS), is an iconic “scream park,” one of the must-see attractions on the East Coast, incorporating adrenaline-pumping special effects with diversity in attraction themes to create a complete horror show. FOS is celebrating its 25-year anniversary and featured as a part of “Transworld’s Legendary Haunt Tour.” Each season FOS focuses on creating a first-class horror inspired entertainment show, with emphasis placed on adding detail and new scenes to each of the four core attractions. Furthermore, this season FOS has focused on revamping the “Nocturnal Wasteland” appeal, adding in an extensive addition that allows guests to transcend above the hayride attraction bringing a new visual perspective and scope to each attraction.

FOS still maintains a top position as a leader in haunted attraction design featuring world-class attractions that cater to the diverse interests of haunt fans of all backgrounds. However, we have noticed a growing trend over the past two years that show by and large has remained the same for the past three seasons. Regular visitors may feel as though the show is slightly stagnant, but despite this perception, FOS still is one of the best shows you experience this year.

image021Drastic changes to any haunt come at great expense, and even the smallest of changes sometimes require long-term planning. Extensive energy, budgetary resources are placed into operating a show of this magnitude, but veteran haunt fans expect only the best regarding production and presentation. Furthermore, some of the scare actors in a few of the attractions were out of place and failed to fit in with their scenes. Scare actors are volunteers, with some being younger than others which have an impact on show quality. In some cases, actors seemed out of place, which caused line back-up and scene development issues. For example, in the “Frightmare Asylum” attraction, scare actors would frequently tail the group ahead of us, then try to “reset” back to their original scene. “Nocturnal Wasteland” which suffered from a lack of scare actors despite its impressive, innovative design. Quality scare acting makes the difference in presentation and while this may seem like a minor complaint, but this can make or break a customer’s perception.

image041Despite the lack of overall significant changes, FOS is still one of the best scream parks you can visit each season. The level of detail and creativity placed into each attraction is impressive as guests are completely immersed in each attraction. Effective use of lighting, special effects, smells and sounds attack the senses and diverts attention from a variety of surprises.

Field of Screams Entertainment Area

Field of Screams features an extensive midway with a variety of games, food options, live music and interactive scare actors. Guests can purchase VIP upgrades, and special events are held throughout the year. In general, this is the “teen” hangout area at FOS, and we typically avoid this area. However, quality music acts and events can add to your visit, as well as good food if you can tolerate screeching teens running from clowns.

Den of Darkness

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“Den of Darkness,” is an indoor haunted house attraction which starts off with a creepy, somewhat humorous séance scene followed by a quick push into the ominous basement of the “Den of Darkness.”image029.png

“Den of Darkness” effectively utilizes tight spaces and creepy set designs to create a sense of cautious exploration which builds tension. Not much has changed over the past two seasons, but the little tweaks added to this attraction make it one of the most physically challenging attractions at FOS.

Each room of the attraction is distinctly themed, features a variety of different scares all submerged in a level of darkness which prevents guests from knowing what is next. Some of the more familiar set pieces have received upgrades this year, while other sets were unchanged from the previous season. A new “doll room” is unsettling, to say the least, as the attraction differentiates between the “living” and the “dead” as guests challenge to escape the claustrophobic confines of the “Den of Darkness.”

 

image028“Den of Darkness” features fantastic horror art, and many of the scenes featured have a picturesque yet scary vibe. A 1920’s vaudeville era dinner party, creepy “checkered room” disturbing imagery in the “doll” room and an interactive morgue are a few highlights leading up to a rather memorable finale.

image026“Den of Darkness” is the most sensory based attraction at Field of Screams. “Den of Darkness” features periods of complete darkness, augmented by disorientating lighting effects such as slow strobe lights. Furthermore, the attraction forces guests to complete various physical challenges such as crawling over “dead” bodies in tight crawlspaces and escaping a dimly lit basement filled with violent monsters.

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“Den of Darkness” upped its intensity level for the 2017 season, with scare actors appearing almost out of nowhere, and a constant barrage of sensory triggers create a sense of constant paranoia. “Den of Darkness” is gritty, a dark and violent attraction that caters to a mature adult themed haunt audience.

 

 

Frightmare Asylum

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“Frightmare Asylum” is beginning to lose its luster as many “asylum” attractions are featured at a variety of scream parks. However, the design of this nefarious attraction still keeps it ahead of the pack presenting a gritty, rather vile representation of psychotic torture.

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“Frightmare Asylum” utilizes multiple floors, tight spaces and an all-out onslaught of disturbed scare actors to create startle or jump scare, and memorable scenes filled with copious amounts of blood and gore.

image035Violent surgeries performed on helpless victims, and bizarre encounters with the insane are the norm at “Frightmare Asylum.”While we found many of the scenes to be like last year’s show, the memorable encounter with the resident dentist, made for a powerful climax and finale. What is important to mention is that “Frightmare Asylum” despite its overall lack of change from last season, is still highly detailed, and downright gruesome and with a few tweaks can be a terrifying experience. Veteran guests of FOS will likely be able to pinpoint each scare, which indicates a need for change. Perhaps FOS is ahead of the game, as asylum attractions are the norm, which is why we hope FOS continues to innovate with fresh themes in future seasons.

FOS utilizes “smell” as a strong sensory trigger in each room. Grotesque stenches fill the rooms of this twisted asylum an add a level of immersion to the experience. In scene scare actors, in general, did a fine job of portraying their demented roles, but some of the more interactive actors spent too much time “tailing” other groups, stalling which caused line backup within the tight corridors of the asylum. Refined pacing and guest movement can help reduce backup and better allow scare actors to reset and get back into their places.

Nocturnal Wasteland

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“Nocturnal Wasteland” has been entirely revamped for the 2017 season, with a massive addition that can be best described as a “jungle gym”  set within the context of a post-apocalyptic world in which survivalists share the world with the bane of humanity.

image044The lengthy trail features a variety of encampments, such as those overrun by hillbillies, and mutant infested junkyards. Various animatronic props, authentic sounds, and interactive pathways make for an experience that is non-stop action. Unstable walkways and rickety bridges are found along the trail, and the level of detail put into this attractions construction is second to none.

 

image040As we escaped through a “sewer” system, we were once again left impressed by the gritty structure of this attraction as “Nocturnal Wasteland” is one of, if not the very best outdoor/trail based attractions in the industry. FOS uses its design to transform the entire forest into a moment of nuclear hell and allows guests to experience the horrific aftermath. While it was exciting to complete the brand new maze-like structures and actually “walk over” the hayride attraction, more scare actors are needed early on to build suspense and action.  It did seem as though we were “alone” most of the time during our journey. “Nocturnal Wasteland” can thrive with additional scare actors and truly shine as one of the strongest attractions at Field of Screams.

image043Despite these issues “Nocturnal Wasteland” is generally, intense and bringing to life the horrors of a post-nuclear fallout.

 

Haunted Hayride

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“Haunted Hayride” at FOS, is one of the best hayride attractions you will ever have the privilege of riding. This season the “Haunted Hayride” attraction was the strongest attraction. “Haunted Hayride” master’s the art of creating an effective outdoor attraction by utilizing large-scale sets to transform the entire atmosphere. Massive set designs and enclosed structures allow guests to interact closely with aggressive scare actors that work tirelessly to engage each guest. The strongest scare actors at FOS are featured in the “Haunted Hayride”, as they truly convey a sense of insanity in presenting their scene specific characters. Demented psychotic clowns, vile butchers, and post-apocalyptic warriors focus on acting out scenes that are enhanced by special effects, and a custom soundtrack.

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Each set design is massive, features movie-quality special effects and interactive elements that are unlike any other. Actors are aggressive; pig faced maniacs stalk after guests, twisted clowns battle with each other on the wagon, and are relentless in their efforts to scare each guest passing through the large-scale scenes.

 

image019The large-scale set designs and animatronics found throughout the hayride are some of the most impressive in the industry as we enjoyed our trip through an evil carnival, and finally, visit the infamous tunnel of terror.

The soundtrack utilized along the journey effectively adds to the atmosphere of the hayride, continually setting up each scene and building a sense of anticipation. The “Haunted Hayride” again features a unique  “vortex” tunnel, which leads to the climax that still falls flat, as we do not think the “vortex” tunnel concept is effective. However, the grand finale of the hayride, featuring insane chainsaw-wielding maniacs is still one of the industry’s best.

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Final Word

Field of Screams is a leader in the haunt industry that continues to present a world-class, yet familiar show each season. Each attraction is almost flawless in its design yet can use upgrades, and tweaks to freshen the show. Each attraction is constructed to cater to haunt fans of diverse backgrounds and interests To enjoy all of the attractions to their maximum potential we suggest you visit early in the season or purchase VIP upgrades.

Photo Credit: Field of Screams

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