Location: 1911 Scranton Carbondale Highway, Dickson City, PA 18519
The Circle of Screams, in Dickson City, is a haunted attraction that has undergone several changes over its short life, and each year seems to fail to live up to its potential. The attraction is located in a fantastic location, and while last year we felt it failed to live up to its advertised quality, this year unfortunately the situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. While we will explain our objective thoughts below, it is important to note that there are some positives about this attraction. The actors do a fantastic job working within the context of the attraction. The tour guide “Beetlejuice” is entertaining, does a great job playing the famous character and is a highlight of the attraction.
The actors who play the demented clowns, or the infected victims of a biological attack do their best to try to scare guests, but the attraction itself prevents them from achieving their goal. The workers and staff are also extremely courteous and we feel that everyone seems to deserve so much better. We appreciate the hard work of the actors, but they can only do so much. The attraction’s design, lack of major changes, theatrical scenes which no longer have any effectiveness, and effective set pieces from last year which seem to have vanished from the attraction. Each attraction’s design prevents the talent from shining and the cost of the attraction itself at $25.00 does not warrant a visit this year. Overall it is sad to see the wasted potential of such a great location with such dedicated actors and staff. As other haunts, with far less resources continue to improve, Circle of Screams fails to evolve and has taken steps
Hayride of Torture
The “Hayride of Torture” is set up in a manner in which the guest host “Beetlejuice” who is one of the highlights of the entire Circle of Screams attraction, sets up each “scene” as if guests were watching mini-movies. This does not help with generating scares as narration ruins any potential for jump or startle scares. Narration, despite “Beetlejuice’s” entertaining delivery, prevents the aspect of surprise which makes hayrides scary. Actors also did little to interact with guests minus their scene lines, and some would just blankly look at the wagon. We were also puzzled to see that several of the new scenes added last year were removed. The once impressive man-eating spider scene, the visit with the creepy movie “director”, an entertaining grave digger scene and rather violent visit with Leatherface were removed from the attraction. Change of scenes/sets may benefit most haunted attractions but the “Hayride of Torture” did not seem to add many new set pieces or new scenes to replace what was removed. Again most of the actors do a fantastic job at trying to generate some reaction. The attraction features “Pennywise” from Stephen King’s It in one of the more entertaining scenes and “Beetlejuice” makes the experience at least humorous.
Asylum Vortex/ Sector 25/ Maze of Torment
The “Asylum Vortex, Sector 25, Maze of Torment” confusion started as we looked at our tickets and saw only “Maze of Torment” as the next attraction. This attraction essentially is last year’s Maze of Torment with a castle-like façade, a cheap biohazard theme which is almost a poor knockoff of another attraction “Sector 13” and a zombie walk-through the attractions forest. The new additions to the “Maze of Torment” did not add enjoyment to the experience on any level. The biohazard scene featured an actor on a “screen (DVD/TV)” telling us to leave quickly as we entered into the familiar chain maze of past seasons. Again, the actors in this attraction do a phenomenal job at trying to misdirect, and prevent guests from escaping. Unfortunately, the maze itself is rather simple to complete, and without the actor interaction the experience would be forgettable at best.
Carnival of Fear 3D
The “Carnival of Fear 3D” is a tent walk-through featuring brilliant use of psychedelic imagery, creepy clowns, and fluorescent lights to provide for an entertaining haunted attraction experience. The attraction is 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 room to room and made this attraction enjoyable.
The Final Word
Circle of Screams was one of the most disappointing haunted attraction experiences of the 2015 Halloween season. The actors and staff deserve better, and the attraction has failed to make any changes, build upon previous years and has actually regressed. There are other attractions within the area which are well beyond the quality of Circle of Screams and are much cheaper. Some may argue that Circle of Screams is “family friendly” but the same can be said for Dracula’s Forest which is cheaper, has made considerable additions to its attraction this year and is a far better value. Hopefully major changes occur at the Circle of Screams, so the talented actors and fantastic location can be utilized to their fullest potential.