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Location: 105 W Dewey Ave Suite 5, Wharton, NJ 07885

Web Page: https://13thhour.com/

Introduction

13th Hour Haunted House (13th Hour) has evolved into one of the ultimate indoor “scare parks” one could visit hosting numerous, diverse entertainment options including three core haunted attractions, numerous traditional escape rooms, off-season events, “extreme shows” and virtual reality experiences. Over the past several years, 13th Hour has relied heavily on set design and technology to create a unique twist on a traditional walk-through haunted attraction design, and this season turned up the “intensity” level with some of the finest “scare-acting” we have encountered that is “hands-on” and borderline extreme. When we visited, we once again focused our attention on the three core attractions, which we still feel are the foundation of 13th Hour, all linked together loosely by a “legend” of the infamous “Hayden Family” that allegedly committed numerous atrocities and murders on this now industrial property. Each attraction has always featured some of the most interactive, detailed, and authentic set designs in the industry, and this season, we found that finally after previous complaints the quality of “scare-acting” brought a level of fear and intensity to the attraction that left us in shock. 13th Hour’s creativity extends to the numerous additional special events held throughout the year and first-class escape rooms. Furthermore, a partnership with “Shock Theater” allows guests to “live out” a horror movie in the “Your House at Night” Ultimate Terror Experience” events. 13th Hour is committed to becoming a year-round destination for horror fans of all backgrounds and interests, and we look forward to visiting during the off-season!

From a design standpoint, 13th Hour has always been one of the best, but we always found the attraction to focus more on the jump or startle scares, relying heavily on its structural design to drive the fear. Even when the attraction became an opt-in “touch” haunt we previously found the overall acting to be less than stellar. However, the 2019 show put to rest any of those notions, and we were almost begging for the scare-actors to relent in their tireless efforts to engage us as well as to terrorize us around every corner. While at 13th Hour, there is a good chance you will be touched, held against walls, perhaps separated from your group, and subjected to some of the most creepy interactions one will ever encounter in a traditional “haunted house.” 13th Hour is scary, all three attractions are diverse in themes, yet the core function is to leave guests feeling as though they have escaped a dark legend come to life.

Attractions

13th Hour Haunted House features three core haunted attractions and a variety of “escape rooms,” off-season, and special events. The three core interconnected attractions are the “Hayden House of Nightmares,” “The Attic” and “The Darkside of the Hayden House.” The entire attraction, despite its industrial location, is entirely immersive, with massive scenes, large-scale animatronics, and props and special effects that help guests forget they are within the confines of a larger building. “Size and scope” from a design standpoint are essential in each attraction’s design, and it is easy to get lost in this attraction, which feels “real” and “gritty” at times. The journey begins with a “Disney Inspired” introduction, a telling of the infamous “Hayden Family” legend of murder and bloodshed, within a “time machine” controlled by a maniacal doctor. The theatrical performance coupled with the “legend” of the Hayden family, quickly transforms one’s perspective from an industrial setting to the long-lost home of this insane family. “Hayden House of Nightmares” is the first floor of the core structure and really is a throwback to the ’60s, 70’s theme-wise, a mixture of the indoor “farmhouse” and outdoor scenes featuring rich detail and intense acting. Unlike previous years where most of the acting simply was “startle scare” fashioned, the “Hayden Family” residents are aggressive; they will whisper in your ears, pin you against walls, hang from above, etc. and each features scene-specific costuming and makeup (when needed). Bizarre family members and their victims are around every corner, and the first floor also features one of the most twisted scenes in any haunted attraction “The Carousel” a demented merry-go-round experience filled with guts and gore.

“The Attic” is less actor-driven but more “fantasy” based but still heavily detailed and at times, intense. From a dark-circus nightmare to vampires, the “Attic” is designed to mimic a “nightmare” and successfully achieves its goal. With a few more actors, and perhaps some design changes to the second floor, “The Attic” can feel fresh, but we found much of the attention was given this season towards improving the first-floor experience. As a package, however, both flow almost entirely and compliment each other while maintaining a “story-line” associated with the “Hayden Family” and its horrors.

“The Darkside of the Hayden Household” is perhaps the most effective “dark maze” of any haunted attraction visited this season or last. Countless haunted attractions have adopted “pitch black, or blackout” style mazes that generate effective scares and some use different sensory techniques to generate reactions. What 13th Hour does well is not going overboard with the sensory assault aspect of such maze and allows for the maze itself to generate a sense of panic and fear. Unlike so many of these mazes were simply following the “wall” will lead you to escape, 13th Hour prevents this “easy” way out, leaving guests in wide-open spaces in complete darkness with little to no hope at times at escaping. Actors can see guests whom each has a glow-bead neckless, but it is impossible almost to see what is in front or back of you. Pure isolation and tormenting actors create an atmosphere of tension, and unlike so many of these similarly styled attractions, isolation is the key to fear. “The Darkside of the Hayden Household” is almost designed to trap guests and the actors unless necessary do not give hints or give away a position which is vital to escape. An unforgiving take on a familiar attraction theme, “The Darkside of the Hayden Household” is a scary, lost in the darkness attraction where you feel completely alone and at the mercy of the “Hayden” family. ” The Darkside” attraction is unique from most “pitch-black mazes” as it embraces openness and isolation, at times pure silence to create fear.  Actors (which are insane this season and very “aggressive”) use the darkness and feeling of isolation to create genuine tension and special effects are used to create reactions rather than just for show.  All of the attractions featured are designed logically, to create realistic reactions in a surreal time-warp of horror.

Final Word

13th Hour Haunted House continues to be one of the most enjoyable attractions one can visit each season. While from a design standpoint, the three core attractions are familiar, the enhanced level of interaction between guests and scare-actors creates a tension-filled experience. In addition, 13th Hour hosts numerous innovative special and off-season events, and we look forward to revisiting them this year!  Visit this attraction for its first-class acting and set design that helps it stand out in the industry. So many improvements have been made over the past four seasons that this attraction is a MUST visit each year!

 

 

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