13th Hour Haunted House-2022 Review

Introduction

13th Hour Haunted House (Wharton, NJ) has received extensive upgrades and changes to its already incredibly intense and detailed “two floors of fear” that bring to life the story of the twisted “Hayden Family.” Featuring some of the finest in set/scene design, the performers stand out as being genuinely disturbing and creepy and going beyond the traditional “jump” or startle scares. 13th Hour is scary; it is intense and has continued to focus on a philosophy of tailoring performance to the responses of each respective guest. So many haunted attractions feature performers that yell the same old “tired” lines such as “get out,” “play with me,” etc. which is generally annoying. You will NOT find this level of acting at 13th Hour as the performers do everything; they can modify their performances based on the reactions of each guest; some make creepy sounds in the darkness, others stalk ominously, and many simply do some of the most strange/grotesque and disturbing actions to make one’s skin crawl. It is a tribute to the performances of these actors and actresses as they can be quickly overshadowed by an attraction designed to scare, featuring detailed set designs that immerse the guest in a two-floor mansion of horrors.

Careful planning and thought are placed into the design of all three interconnected haunted attractions. The scenes depicted exceed industry standards and are, in some cases, unique. 13th Hour ensures that the scenes actually “make sense” and are designed to generate visceral reactions rather than just be a barrage of impressive props that may be only impressive to see. 13th Hour is meticulously planned from start to finish to create fear, embrace numerous themes of horror, and provide the stage for disturbing actor-driven performances which make the entire experience genuinely distressing.

This season 13th Hour has heavily revamped its “first-floor” attraction with an entirely new “haunted mansion” inspired walkway, pumpkin scenes with giant animatronics and props that (ACTUALLY MAKE PUMPKINS SCARY!), and revamped classic scenes such as the blood-soaked “Merry-go-round” that is far more sinister, gory and downright nastier than ever. Even the smallest scares are amplified by 13th Hour, as we often found ourselves startled by “sheet ghosts” often soaked in blood. 13th Hour is not just a run-of-the-mill haunted attraction with impressive scenes but is designed to scare, utilizing scenic design, sound, and quality acting to create scares.

13th Hour relies heavily on scenic design with immersive animatronics, special effects, and sound, giving the scare performers a stage to engage each guest. While sometimes we felt some rooms could use “more” performers, the performances of each “actor/actress” were strong and as disturbing as ever. From “reapers” to “hillbillies trying to get us to eat their dead roadkill,” a twisted “cross-dressing” “superstar,” human butchers, operators of a “flesh-filled” carousel, and satanic nun, the performances, as well as the gritty yet modern nature of each attraction, create a hellacious experience. Some rooms are downright disturbing, boasting chilling imagery and genuinely strange sets; twisted human dolls, infected monkeys, werewolves, and a psychotic circus await those brave enough to transcend the two stories of the “Hayden” household. Demonic/satanic themes are intertwined throughout, and there is a constant focus on fear and making the guest feel disturbed.

Attractions

13th Hour Haunted House features three core haunted attractions and various “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.” Despite its industrial location, the entire attraction 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 industrial building. Outside the attraction is an expanded “midway” with merchandise, food, and photo opportunity options rounding out an entire “scream-park” experience within the confines of a warehouse complex.

“Hayden House of Nightmares” is the first floor of the core structure, has received extensive upgrades for the season, and is a throwback to the ’60s and ’70s, a mixture of the indoor “farmhouse” “haunted mansion” and outdoor scenes featuring rich detail and intense scenes of “grindhouse” inspired horror and bloodshed. Bizarre family members and their victims are around every corner and command attention. For example, a conveyor belt of human parts is designed to simply disturb, a plunge into the “Hayden Swamp” results in a less than pleasant encounter with a twisted family member, and even a “shopping cart” will make one feel uneasy and crippled with fear. The first floor also features one of the most twisted scenes in any haunted attraction, which has been revamped for 2022, “The Carousel,” a semi-pitch black, gory/bloodstained merry-go-round experience filled with guts and gore that adds a sense of torment to the attraction, in which the twisted family enjoys playing with their helpless victims!” A majority of the first half of this attraction is brand new for 2022, featuring new hallways, terrifying Pumpkin scenes, animatronics, and classic scenes such as a library ghost and butchers’ den that serve as the backdrop for intense, character-focused scare actors. An attraction that is dark and sometimes strange, human dolls come to life, the victims’ bodies are sewn together, turned into lampshades, and every corner appears to be another reminder that 13th Hour is focused on building fear.

“Attic.” the second floor, “The Attic,” has received extensive upgrades over the past several seasons. “The Attic” is designed to create nightmares and highlights the darker, more sinister overtones infused throughout the attraction this season. Scenes such as an encounter with infected monkeys/animals, a hallucinogenic sideshow circus, and one of the most disturbing “human” doll scenes we have ever witnessed are housed within the confines of the “Hayden” family. Brand new scenes of Satanic Sacrifice/Worship (featuring Satan’s Goats) and an animatronic/interactive “exorcism” left us, unlike anything we have witnessed at ANY haunted attraction, both large and small. Combined, both attractions create a house of horrors that challenges its guests to finish. It has become a far more sinister attraction, focusing more on the “horror” and targeting a wide array of phobias cultivating genuine fear. As a package, both attractions complement each other while maintaining a “storyline” associated with the “Hayden Family” and their sadistic acts of depraved horror.

“The Darkside of the Hayden Household” is an effective “dark maze” challenging guests to escape the pitch black, sensory assault of this lengthy “finale” attraction. Unlike many of these similar “dark” mazes where 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 of running. It is almost impossible to see what is in front or back of you except for the occasional animatronic prop or actor with a light/loud noise (startle scare). Pure isolation and tormenting actors that appear out of thin air create an atmosphere of tension. Unlike 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 vital to escape (actors will flash bright lights with horns from time to time to keep pacing). 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 entirely alone. 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. All the attractions featured are designed logically, tell a “story” without defining the details and allow the “guest” to experience horror created by interactive scenes, world-class animatronics, and scare actors hidden effectively within the madness created throughout one’s journey.

Final Word

13th Hour Haunted House is one of the most interactive, innovative indoor “scream park” style event-based attractions that continue to add new scenes and scares each season with an emphasis on quality “acting”. New surprises and sets you will not find anywhere else are the norms at 13th Hour. The sheer diversity in design and themes, coupled with quality scare performances, make this one of the premier attractions in the region.

Every season upgrades never fail to impress, and plans are already underway for additional new scenes next year. The element of surprise is mastered at the 13th Hour as what is “above” and “behind you” is sometimes as startling as what is right in front of your face. Performers work within each scene and bring to life a story of a horrid family, “the Hayden’s,” that thrived off sheer brutality, cannibalism, and the phobias of each victim.

Strengths

  • Attraction Design, Themes, Scenes/Set Design
  • Actor Performances are Brutal/Creepy and Interactive
  • Diverse horrors and scares
  • Constant Drive for Improvement

Room for Improvement

  • Attic attraction can use some upgrades, and these are planned for next season

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

Website: https://www.13thhour.com