Demon’s Gate 2019 Haunted Hayride Review October 5, 2019 Location: 70 Ridgeway Drive Dallas, Pennsylvania Introduction We are always excited to visit new haunted attractions and Demon’s Gate, in Dallas, PA has become quite an exciting developing attraction, now in its fourth year of existence. What started off as a simple, generic hayride, with less than stellar set design and questionable acting has used guest feedback and constructive criticism to create an entertaining, professionally managed hayride that has even more significant potential to grow and prosper. Still in its embryonic stages in terms of attraction life, guests can feel the excitement and level of passion each actor and staff member places into the show, and we have found the past two seasons to be especially exciting in terms of show quality and a vast improvement from its initial rough launch. Demon’s Gate is traditional haunted hayride that covers a variety of “theme” along a roughly twenty-minute journey set upon the grounds of the Irem Temple, and has focused its development on presenting a show that embraces the season, and also features shockingly strong “scare-acting” for a smaller, developing attraction. From a structural standpoint, most of the hayride is richly detailed, with a fantastic display of pyrotechnics and special effects coupled practical sound effects that bring to life such haunting scenes as a creepy “graveyard,” “toxic waste dump,” and rather disturbing “incineration scene.” When reviewing this attraction, it is best to perhaps breakdown the hayride into two “halves,” the first series of scenes that are more intense in terms of special effects and lighting and a second series that relies on theatrical acting and gruesome scenes. Demon’s Gate’s numerous scenes range in style and intensity, exploring the vast array of themes and depth of Halloween infused entertainment. Wisely, Demon’s Gate utilizes the performance “strength” of a haunted hayride attraction by catering to different fears and establishing a broad range of themes that are guaranteed to get a reaction from a range of guests with diverse fears associated with the season. What can be perhaps considered the “first-half” of the journey really gives an insight into the large-scale creative direction and inspiration, which is the foundation for a first-class show and event. The “toxic waste dump” and abandoned cemetery scenes are heavily detailed, featuring large-scale special effects, compelling sound and immersive set designs that rival veteran haunted attractions. A great deal of structural resources is focused on the “first- half” of the show, and the actors seem to take a secondary role but still give strong performances, avoiding pitfalls of previous years such as yelling and banging to actually “interact” with each guest. Some of the characters are downright creepy, and again, seeing quality acting in such a new attraction is impressive, to say the least. The “second half” of the hayride kicks off with an entertaining, and authentic tribute to legendary movie “Halloween” and all-new “clown-tent” that again is aimed at catering to the full range of fears that are staples of the Halloween season. It is during the “second half” of the show that the quality of scare-acting truly shines. Actors in each scene carry out movie-like displays, from chasing helpless victims to interacting with guests in creative ways, it is as close to seeing a mini horror “play” as one can imagine, and each actor pours their hearts into each role. Some of the scenes are shockingly sinister, and gory, which is a welcome departure from “family-friendly” events and the physicality of the acting itself, is commendable. Scenes in which scare-actors crawl out of a “lake” from “Jason” to a vicious butchering by a chainsaw-yielding maniac, there is a spirit of intensity that is refreshing to see in a developing haunted attraction. The “second half” of the hayride generates a feeling of intensity and insanity with again quality acting coupled with aggressive physicality yet ends with a whimper. While we understand this is a newer attraction it could use a more meaningful finale, a memorable ending to a quality attraction that is well on its path to be a must-visit event. Demon’s Gate, as it approaches year five, has reached a point where it has so much potential to become one of the best-haunted attractions in the tri-state area. While many “haunted hayrides” seem to disappear, from a creative and show standpoint Demon’s Gate is headed in the right direction in terms of embracing this style of attraction, giving customers a fun, yet scary show. What Demon’s Gate needs to do is now (from a development standpoint) is focus on the long-term development of its attraction, focus on building more massive sets that are immersive in nature (if they have a permanent build location or ability to alter the land), build year-round infrastructure and haunt specific facilities, launch a formal webpage, join trade and haunt organizations, develop a more substantial marketing and outreach program and focus on the business side of “haunting” to maximize its growth potential, attract talented scare actors as well as team members that are focused on a providing the best show possible. The core foundation of quality, fun, and at times scary show is clearly established, and with continued investment and calculated growth that maintains its focus on entertaining all guest Demon’s Gate has the potential to become an exceptional attraction. So much improvement has taken place in a short period of time, and one can just feel the spirit and passion each scare-actor has for their craft, and even on a smaller scale set designs have character and tell stories, which is really just a fantastic start to an attraction that we hope thrives in years to come. For just fifteen dollars and a seven dollar “re-ride” cost, we recommend you visit and support this developing attraction. In many ways, Demon’s Gate has already become a premier haunted attraction in Northeast PA, and now is in a unique position in its history to move to the next level of presenting scares. Demon’s Gate has grown into a quality haunted attraction that highlights the strengths of what a haunted “hayride” “can be”, a “tour” of Halloween entertainment, highlighting multiple themes, and showcasing a variety of quality scare actors that really work tirelessly to act out their specific roles and interact with guests along the journey. Demon’s Gate has hit a point where it now needs to grow, expand the length of the hayride, perhaps enhance the structures and scenes to create a more “immersive” effect that separates each scene, creating unique environments. Furthermore, a more defined, “grand finale” would end the show leaving guests wanting more. With such small improvements and more in-depth off-season growth efforts, Demon’s Gate can be positioned for endless growth as the sky is the limit! The Final Word Demon’s Gate is a great way to celebrate the season for the reasonable cost of just $15.00. Lengthwise the attraction is roughly twenty minutes but manages to cover such a depth of themes that it is impossible not to be entertained. Over the past four seasons, the attraction has improved immensely, and we are happy to see if thriving in Northeast, PA. Demon’s Gate hopefully will be able to utilize its resources, talented staff, and be able to invest in itself to grow professionally and performance-wise now, and ideally become established as one of the best attractions in the entire region. Support Demon’s Gate and provide them constructive feedback as they continuously use guest comments and feedback to improve the show throughout the season! Demon’s Gate upon a second visit vastly improved several of its scenes, using new fog and strobe light effects, as well as pyrotechnics to create scenes of horror. What we did notice on a second visit though what were obviously growing pains of any new haunt that need to be addressed. While the scenes and set designs were enhanced, and even a “finale” a rather crazy scene with strobe lights, loud noises, etc. that doesn’t really have a theme but gives an “end” to the show, was added, operations seemed a little “off.” For example, on our wagon, two young kids were allowed to and, in some cases, encouraged to spoil scenes, insult actors and overall insult the show. Some may have found their actions “funny” but for those who pay $15.00 or $7.00 the rules of the show (no yelling out or being inappropriate) need to be followed and security should have been alerted, regardless if they were ten, twelve or thirty. Another issue is associated with dealing with volunteers, as by and large 95% of the actors are well-trained and effective but the “witches” are so off base in terms of what they are trying to do it’s not funny. We are SURE they are nice people but if you want to run a professional show, (and if people pay it is professional), then actors shouldn’t be reminding each other when to “scream” or act, or encouraging nonsense behavior by a few on the wagon which hurt the show. So much work has gone into growing this attraction and improving scenes, we love for example the enhanced “Halloween” scene, the butcher’s shack, etc. that it is important poor operations don’t hinder performance.