The Forest of Fear is Northeast, PA’s newest “haunted attraction” located just outside of Scranton, PA, and is best classified as a “first-year” attraction that we hope makes some necessary changes and finds its niche in a highly competitive area. A first-year show, there is an evident passion and love for the season and while there is vast room for growth and improvement, Forest of Fear, is getting its “feet wet” so to speak as a new attraction in an area where the haunt industry could use more unique shows. Outdoor “trail” attractions are challenging to master, and while the attraction has room for improvement, there is an “old-school” classical feel to the show, which haunts fans will appreciate. With yearly improvements and a more stable build/development time period, the Forest of Fear can grow into a strong, entertaining haunted attraction that uses its creepy atmosphere and passionate crew to create a memorable show. In many ways, we felt Forest of Fear was inspired by “haunts” of the past, and it has the right components for a solid show and infrastructure it just needs to make some needed changes and perhaps focus on larger building projects that create a more immersive experience in the dark forest.
When we first arrived, a horror movie was playing, and a variety of food options are available, but as usual, our focus is always on the “show.” What impressed us immediately was the quality of the overall “soundtrack” of this forest walk-through that does have the potential to be a unique attraction in the area. The Forest of Fear is a guided walk-through a variety of small “scenes” that feature a wide array of themes that are to be expected at haunted attractions. Themes include “Camp Crystal Lake,” “Butcher/Chainsaw,” “graveyard,” “zombie containment,” “Hellraiser/possession,” and “circus” among others. While thematically sound, each scene really does not have any significant quality in terms of large-scale building or set design. We are not knocking the attraction just because it is a “first-year” show, but if one is going to charge $20.00 per person (and $2.00 to park), please put more effort into designing more significant outdoor scenes and sets. Some of the scenes are effective in a “gritty” old school way and those are ones featured on social media. However, in comparison to local competitors, the attraction still needs to go along way to compete and we understand this takes time. In addition, the “scare-acting” ranged from mediocre to decent, with most actors making random noises, yelling “you’re going to die” etc. Butchers yielding chainsaws gave their spots up quite quickly (but did act the actual “scene” of cutting a “body” up effectively), and there is no need for a narrator to tell guests what they are going to see “before they see it.” For example, the narrator pointed out the obvious “this is a graveyard, where the undead will rise” and of course few actors stumbled out in hoodies and masks. Another scene featured “Jason” at “Camp Crystal Lake” and had a scene-specific soundtrack (that was played out of a radio/cd player totally ruining the experience). Narration is used by some haunted attractions usually on hayrides and can be useful and we understand there is likely a need to make sure guests don’t fall in the forest. However, telling people what they can already “see” hurts the performance and a modest balance between narration and scene development can help improve the “scare” factor of the show.
Now not all is negative at this attraction, and there is excellent potential for growth and improvement. The trail itself is designed to be creepy, and if longer, can be a compelling “outdoor” haunted attraction. Furthermore, some of the actors really worked hard to get a reaction, for example, the evil clowns who held a demented “puppet” show and others who crawled on the ground and did their best to garner any reaction. Set design and atmosphere is essential for any performance, and the clowns did their best to really generate a reaction. We also enjoyed the rather short but interactive “zombie containment” area (which lost its impact because of the pointless narration), and psychotic “Easter Bunny” that stalked us through the show. Hopefully next season, the attraction will build some larger-scale scenes, lengthen the experience, improve costume/makeup design and continue to focus on the good (the quality acting featured in some scenes, creepy atmosphere, and immersive main soundtrack).
Overall enjoyable experience for most, the price point does not match up with the overall show quality, but they have offered numerous discounts and deals which are valuable. Hopefully, the attraction will continue, grow, and next season presents a more refined, professional-looking show. The haunt industry is challenging, and first-year attractions need to take feedback and implement change quickly to survive in a marketplace dominated by one major attraction. We love to see new ideas and new concepts and hope this attraction is focused on next year and beyond to bring a brand new and needed experience to Northeast, PA!