Over the past eleven years, Reaper’s Revenge Haunted Attraction and Hayride have boasted it is “America’s Best Haunted Attraction.” With countless industry accolades and enormous growth in such a short period of time, it is impossible almost to argue against this bold statement. Nestled quietly in the woods of Northeast Pennsylvania, Reaper’s Revenge is no longer a “growing” or “developing” haunted attraction, it is perhaps the premier show in the country, a growing empire of horror that has shown no signs of slowing down.
No other attraction has devoted so much energy into all aspects of show production to create a real “monster” so to speak of a show that is the result of constant growth efforts, tireless work by multiple departments and an unrivaled commitment to presenting a first-class “show” every single evening. Showmanship is Reaper’s Revenge strong point, as perhaps no other haunted attraction invests as much into “scare-acting” and “performance-art” as well as operational efficiency as Reaper’s Revenge. While most reviews focus on “what they see,” we have had the privilege for the past ten years to go behind the scenes and learn how Reaper’s Revenge comes to life, and it is an exhausting (and worthwhile) endeavor.
For 2019, Reaper’s Revenge is offering a few limited to chances to go “Behind the Scares” and get a glimpse of what it takes to present the show each night, and we highly recommend this opportunity to see this special event. No other attraction places so much detailed thought and research into every aspect of operations. No detail is too small, and every single staff member is focused on giving the customer the best experience possible. At the end of the day every decision made is in the best interest of the customer, and the team assembled has grown together and learned from each other in a collaborative, yet competitive environment in which each department works together yet also strives to outperform each other in an intense effort to raise the bar in haunt industry excellence, professionalism and show presentation.
Reaper’s Revenge spends many of its resources in developing the best “team” possible, which is responsible for all aspects of operations, from safety and security to make-up design, and extensive modern marketing. From an operational standpoint, management wants to attract as many customers as possible to see a spectacle of a show, that relies heavily on quality scare acting. Extensive training, creative development, and precise analysis underly even the smallest of creative decisions, character placement, and guest experience. An almost scientific approach has been applied to all aspects of operations, utilizing feedback, and research to develop timing systems that ensure all 175+ scare actors are in place for showtime, and that guests get to go through each attraction in smaller groups, ensuring an immersive, quality show that does not fall into the pitfalls of pushing customers along just for profit.
Managing such tasks is not easy and requires year-round planning, substantial investment in infrastructure, and a shared focus on being the best overall entertainment package in the haunted attraction industry. Perhaps no other attraction has mastered the “art” of Halloween-entertainment in such a unique way as Reaper’s Revenge, as you will laugh, you will smile and feel genuine fear. Perhaps Reaper’s Revenge is the “best” in the country because, as the attraction is an almost living entity as it continuously strives to grow and reach new levels of excellence. Roughly three years ago we felt that it was already the “best” in the country, but there is no rest for the “reaper” and the future is even more exciting for what has become an amusement destination unlike any other.
Reaper’s Revenge features four interconnected haunted attractions and numerous entertainment options to enjoy after and before each show. While waiting in the queue line, guests can watch classic episodes of the “Twilight Zone” and enjoy a variety of food options for a reasonable cost. Reaper’s Revenge is a top-rated haunted attraction, and we recommend you check out their webpage for dates/times that may fit your time schedule. However, once in the attraction itself, be prepared to become immersed in a pure spectacle of a show that is on a level beyond one’s imagination. Performance art in the haunt industry is typically driven by large-scale props and gimmicks, yet the heart of Reaper’s Revenge is quality acting, and while scenes and sets are incredible, they serve as a platform for quality acting. Diversity in attraction design is also a significant strength of Reaper’s Revenge as no two attractions are alike, and characters are designed and trained to be scene and attraction specific. Generic costumes and random masked characters in hoods are not going to be found at Reaper’s Revenge, and each attraction stays true to its theme, style, and presentation.
The importance of strong scare acting is quickly being noticed throughout the industry, as numerous media outlets, review groups, and professional haunts visit this attraction on a nightly basis. There is a sense of pride that can be felt in every performance, and each team member is focused on presenting the best show every single night.
“Haunted Hayride” at Reaper’s Revenge is unlike any other hayride we have ever visited and continues to grow and improve each season. What Reaper’s Revenge has accomplished is the fantastic structural and creative ability to truly “transform” an entire mountain, creating numerous displays that go beyond the basic set and scene design. A larger picture in terms of framing the customer’s viewpoint or sense of immersion creates separate environments that are unique, stacked with special effects, atmospheric lighting, and scene-specific sound effects that are unique to Reaper’s Revenge. Hollywood-quality scenes such as an enhanced (and very demented) “Alice in Wonderland,” scene to a terrifying visit with a cannibalistic family straight out of the “Devils Rejects (look for a rather disturbing puppeteer)” are just two of the massive scenes that have undergone significant improvements this season. For those who have visited in the past, each scene just captures certain feelings and creates genuine reactions, that range from amazement as one gazes into the haunting “Pumpkin Forest,” to fear as violent chainsaw maniacs throw chaos to the wind and create an atmosphere of panic. Some of the most engaging and funniest actors at Reaper’s Revenge are featured on the “Haunted Hayride” (horror + humor is the perfect combination!) Many of the major scenes return this year including tributes to “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th .” However, what is really the most intense scene is referred to as “Pallet Tunnel” which is a combination of the old “Walking Dead” inspired scene and a nightmare inspired by House of 1000 Corpses. A violent hillbilly family torments guests, grasping for limbs while bodies hang from the tall structure. A demented “puppeteer” plays her “doll” (dead body) and “Grandpa Durt” warns guests to “get off his “lawn.” The entire experience is intense and one of the vast improvements made to the “Haunted Hayride” this season!
“Haunted Hayride” masters the art of immersion using massive set designs, intense pyrotechnics, chilling lighting effects, and movie-quality sound effects to give the actors the perfect platform to display their skills. It is impossible not to be almost blown away by the dark humor, level of detail, and psychedelic immersion created by scenes such as “Alice” or to be creeped out by the infamous “suicide forest.” Immersion is key to the “Haunted Hayride’s” success, and the massive changes implemented starting last year have only been augmented this season with enhanced effects and even more scare-actors around each corner.
Each scene/set piece is designed to be diverse, generates a different reaction, and embraces a variety of themes. Scare-acting in the hayride is top-notch, from the famous “thriller zombies”, realistic movie tributes featuring franchises such as “Friday the 13th,” “The Ring”, “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”, as well as insane chainsaw maniacs and downright creepy zombies that have the odd ability to vomit on command, every actor and character is simply a spectacle that is a must-see for any fan of the season. Some of our favorite “scare-actors” are featured in the hayride, from authentic representations of “Jason Voorhees” and “Freddy Krueger” to the maniacal chainsaw family, and hilarious yet demented “Tweddle Box” strong characters are given a chance to shine once again in the iconic “Haunted Hayride.”
The Lost Carnival
“The Lost Carnival” has traditionally been one of the “scariest” attractions featured at Reaper’s Revenge and truly an immersive experience that is unlike the traditional “clown scene” or “circus scene” attractions which are an industry staple. This season, “The Lost Carnival,” has added numerous new surprises, revamped designs, and characters that create an even more “authentic” experience of being lost in a truly haunted, and abandoned carnival. Unlike many attractions that seem to mimic this theme “The Lost Carnival” feels “real” with broken-down rides, a creepy atmospheric carnival soundtrack, demonically thrilling games along a midway, a mini-funhouse filled with creepy clowns, numerous circus props and reality-based scenes that are straight out of a circus-horror movie. Authenticity is key to “The Lost Carnival’s” genuine fear factor, and the extensive additions and changes made to the variety of sets featured along this journey just add to the already realistic and horrific atmosphere. No other “circus” themed attraction or clown theme has ever truly embraced the reality of its creation like “The Lost Carnival,” and one can spend so much time just exploring what truly feels like an abandoned amusement park or carnival left to die in the haunting woods of Reaper’s Revenge.
We cannot stress enough how even the most minor of cosmetic changes and additional set pieces have further enhanced this attraction. At times “The Lost Carnival” feels like an entirely new, fresh experience yet still familiar, which is a great creative strategy utilized to generate a variety of surprises and shock scares along the journey. While not particularly terrifying, there is a particular “creepiness” factor that permeates throughout each corner, and a constant desire to “explore” is a great way to utilize misdirection and induce jump scares. Some aspects of the attraction can use some changes to feel fresh for veteran visitors such as the funhouse, which has remained relatively the same for the past several seasons, yet recently has undergone new changes to add an “edge” to the acting and an intense soundtrack. Furthermore, additions such as “backstage” at the carnival and seeing the ”Lady of the Night’s” dressing room at a new sense of immersion and in some cases promote a “creepy” factor associated with the attraction this season.
Not enough can be said about the quality of “scare acting” at Reaper’s Revenge. Scare-acting once again is a strong point of this attraction (as is the case in each attraction at Reaper’s Revenge) as actors from a hilarious off-color carnival barker to disturbingly violent clowns do a fantastic job of not only generating guest reactions but also controlling the flow of the show itself. Scare-actors are trained and have the ability to manage groups through their performances, controlling lines, and preventing numerous guests from charging through each scene. Masterful time management allows guests to experience the immersive nature of such a genuinely creepy yet entertaining environment that almost dares guests to explore its reality-based, yet surreal nature. Additions and even the most minor of upgrades added to “The Lost Carnival” have once again established it as perhaps the most “authentic” experience at Reaper’s Revenge, a representation of one’s greatest nightmares of being lost amongst the carnival freaks, demonic clowns and lost souls that are all focused on keeping you as a permanent guest.
“Pitch Black” has evolved from a terrifying “dark maze” to a “factory of fear” that features intense special effects, a downright disturbing abandoned factory atmosphere, twisted characters, and, most importantly, an assault on one’s senses. “Pitch Black” is easy to define as it is designed to overload each guest with constant paranoia, fear, and intensity to the point of exhaustion. Scare actors yield chainsaws against fences, grasp at your legs, and seem to appear out of thin air as one tries to escape this endless maze of psychological fear. It is the “unseen,” which drives the fear factor to the next level at “Pitch Black” as what you feel, hear, and touch can throw almost anyone into a sense of complete panic.
“Pitch Black” is not your traditional “dark maze” that just aims to confuse but instead is a sinister design that has always been one of the terrifying experiences at Reaper’s Revenge and an attraction so feared that many chose to skip it. Once again additional elements and changes made to this already expansive attraction have augmented the level of fear created within the darkness to the point where we have witnessed people break down in complete fear, and others garner a sense of accomplishment upon escape. An underrated portion of the attraction that IMMEDIATELY builds fear is the rather unassuming speech given by the attraction supervisor prior to entering “Pitch Black.” Stressing the “fear factor” and essentially daring guests to enter the attraction (while protecting the safety of guests) adds a whole new level of seriousness to the sinister design itself and either causes guests to enter with cautious anticipation or to skip the attraction entirely.
The post-apocalyptic nightmare that is “Sector 13” has undergone several significant improvements and changes that have increased the level of interactivity, and overall scope of the attraction for the 2019 season. An already imposing prison of twisted metal, and “Mad Maxx” inspired horrors, “Sector 13” starts off with a brand new level of aggression as guests get to explore above the “prison” building an ominous sense of dread as the sounds of helicopters glare and marching orders are given by twisted doctors that are focused on “decontamination” of each guest. Inside this dungeon-like structure, freakish monsters, violent doctors, and nurses and infected monstrosities focus on scaring each guest, producing inhuman like noises, and mostly using the blinding scenes/special effects to create uncomfortable situations and a burning desire to “escape.” “Escape” itself from “Sector 13” is not an easy task, as hulking monsters, force guests into cages, into body bags, and even on the doctor’s table to be immersed in an attraction that perhaps is best described as “controlled insanity.” We found “Sector 13” to be at times more “psychological” in terms of horror this season, using moments of isolation and separation to create a visceral sense of fear and foreboding apprehension of what was to come next. Intensity coupled with moments of pure isolation creates a unique feeling of dread that does not allow one to think and process the horrors in front of them yet forces each guest to want to explore yet escape at the same time.
Freakish displays of post-apocalyptic horror have always been a highlight of “Sector 13” and vial mutations and creations out of one’s sickest nightmares are practically everywhere roaming and creating moments of tension and horrifying encounters. The science fiction inspired post-apocalyptic, nuclear-style fallout theme to the prison is utilized to its fullest, and each guest will likely become a part of the “show” along their journey. Special effects, attraction specific sound effects, and laser infused lighting to create an atmosphere of chaos that allows the freakish ghouls and inhuman creations to come to life. When we visited, we noticed some issues with timing and some characters that failed to really embrace their environments as a tool to scare, but overall these issues were minor in comparison and already addressed for future shows. What you will experience in “Sector 13” is moments of isolation, periods of complete insanity, periods of odd loneliness which segue into moments of all-out fear as you transverse through the halls of infected victims, surgical anomalies and escape from boiler rooms, and containment areas that are geared towards those seeking a mature, intense, and highly interactive experience. Hulking monsters such as “Mongo” will man-handle you, and the “doctors” have complete control of the “chaos” that is “Sector 13!”
The Final Word
Reaper’s Revenge Haunted AttractionandHayride has once again outdone itself and indeed has achieved excellence in all aspects of industry operations and show quality. While long-term patrons will be familiar with the core attractions, extensive upgrades, new surprises, and even more interactive/immersive acting bring almost indescribable energy and unique feel to each show. So many talented individuals from those who manage lines to those scare-actors that embrace their roles so diligently are responsible for breathing life into this must-see spectacle that we give
Reaper’s Revenge receives our highest recommendation. What cannot be stressed enough is the level of work and dedication placed into the show each season and how every single aspect of the show is analyzed on a constant basis for improvement. Guest reviews and feedback are used by management and supervisors to enhance the show, and there truly is no “off-season” in terms of development. Every single department is staffed by some of the most dedicated and passionate haunters we have ever met, and the result is a first-class show that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past eleven seasons. The customer experience always comes first at Reaper’s Revenge, and no matter how long your wait, you will leave with a feeling of satisfaction as this “haunt” has truly evolved into a must-see destination each season.