Date of Visit: 9/2/22 (Opening Night) Reviewer: Lindsay
Skies that were bright and blue just moments ago have begun to fade into quiet night over the old town. The forming moon is a sliver piercing through the clouds, glowering over this place like a narrowed eye. As darkness settles in and street lamps flicker on, the air grows thick and hazy, and the bands of red and gold around the wrists of those roaming its streets glow ominously. The gloom is occasionally broken by the sharp crack of a whip, shouting, threatening voices, or a booming gunshot, eliciting nervous whispers and darting, watchful eyes among the people. Things may be more or less quiet for now, but what will the night bring? And more importantly, what has happened to this town to make everyone so uneasy...?
This is the scene that plays out night after night in the troubled little town of Bravado, the setting for All Hallows Eve's TERROR TOWN, an Old West themed haunted attraction tucked away in the wilds of Williamsburg, Ohio. First opened in 2019, 2022 marks the fourth season for this unique brand of haunt - one that may be unlike any you've ever experienced before. Terror Town is backed by a storyline that changes and evolves with each new season; the season prior introduced a number of demons set to wreck havoc on the town and corrupt its residents, starting with a mysterious entity known only as The Prophet. But only the most daring to enter Bravado will be deemed worthy of uncovering this being's secrets... as well as those of the cult that follows it.
Admission to Terror Town varies depending on the type of experience you wish to have. Tickets start at $30 (+ tax) and include access to all of the town's features, along with entry to their signature haunted trail. Looking for a place to park? You'll be happy to know that parking is free on site, and there's plenty of it in the big grass lot just outside of the haunt's entrance.
And now, with all of that out of the way...
One of the best aspects of this haunt is the option to upgrade your experience to a higher level of intensity. For an additional $10, guests aged 18+ can opt for the Red Bracelet ticket. This involves putting on a red glow bracelet, which gives the actors visible consent to not only get you wet and dirty, but also physically immerse you in their scenes. Please be advised that this option is NOT for the faint of heart - you can never be sure of what may happen to you, and actors could strike at *any* time. If you're thinking of participating, come prepared! (Hint: don't wear your Sunday best.) With all warnings aside, going red can be as fun as it is rough, and I partake every time I visit Terror Town. (Under 18 or not a fan of strangers touching you? As of 2021, the Gold Bracelet is now available for guests who want none of the contact, but all of the messy fun.)
Upon being released into the town, it's a good idea to head over to the Dodge House and sign up for the haunted trail. One member of your party will supply a phone number, to which you will receive a text message when it's your group's turn to queue up. The awesome thing about this feature is that it leaves you free to check out everything else Terror Town has to offer its visitors... which is a lot! Vendors, two saloons, two places to eat, games, and a fortune teller are among the many things you can enjoy around town. On select nights, you might also find SCARY-oke going on, or a live band performing. There's almost always something happening in Bravado!
Of course, that 'something' may not be a good thing... especially if you've got an incriminating red or gold band glowing around your wrist! The Mayor and Sheriff do their best to keep a clean town (or so they claim), and well, they don't care much for the likes of us bracelet bearers. Watch your back as you explore Bravado, because at any moment, things could quickly go south for you. You might be grabbed from your party and thrust into a number of unpleasant situations, including being jailed, soaked with fake blood or water, put in the stocks and made a spectacle before your fellow patrons, or even being buried alive! One of the most memorable interactions I personally had involved being dragged off by Pockets the Monkey, who sat me down next to one of the food vendors. He then proceeded to steal their ketchup bottle, and basically turn me into a human hot dog... I was thoroughly coated in tangy red goop by the time he was done. (He went for the mustard next - I got up and ran. No! Bad monkey!)
In addition to the torment that red and gold visitors can be put through, there are other spontaneous experiences in the town. Scenarios are acted out throughout the night, like witches being captured and hung, werewolves being gunned down, and more. I managed to catch about half of a new funeral scene they came up with for this year and loved it, very funny and well done.
Did you manage to get through most of the night without incurring the townspeople's wrath? Don't celebrate just yet - you've still got a long, dark, and treacherous haunted trail to get through. And if you thought Bravado's residents were mean, you're about to meet people- and creatures- who are a hell of a lot worse! Bordered by the menacing woods and snaking through a vast field, the atmosphere of Terror Town's torch-lined trail is spooky enough on its own. But it also takes groups through a variety of scenes, including "Torture Town" (whose residents just HATE the colors red and gold), a rickety wooden maze, two laboratories, a witch hut, and an insane asylum.
The trail is also where those wearing bands are going to get the worst treatment. If they missed you in the town, they are 100% going to get you out here. Lucky me ended up being the only marked one in my group, and they roughed me up pretty darn good... I was grabbed, wrestled with, kidnapped, pulled backwards down the trail by my hair (ouch!), and made to crawl through the field more than once. They went out of their way to get me messy, too - I had to roll in deep, muddy water and oink like a pig, eat some of Mama's "tasty" cooking, had a goopy severed heart rubbed against my neck and face, and was shut in the stocks of Torture Town, where I was doused with buckets of watery, sour smelling blood. To anyone reading this, I can't stress enough: if you choose the bracelet, these people don't play! (With that said, if the experience becomes too much for you, you can remove your band at any time and the interactions will immediately cease.)
One last tip for the trail: if you think you can handle it, getting a bracelet is worth it for the final scene alone. Only the marked are allowed into the church at the end... and I won't spoil a thing about it, but it's one of the coolest haunt endings I've ever witnessed.
Taking into account the mishaps that can occur with opening night, I thought things went well overall, and the All Hallows Eve team made some good changes. The trail had new scenery and characters, like the creepy Bunny Girl and the period appropriate nurses in the Asylum (great costuming!). It had a decent cast size, too, with just enough dead space to create buildup to the next scene... or ambush. Bravado itself could have used a few more actors, but I liked the ones I did see roaming about. The one major issue with my visit was a lack of interaction happening in the town. Other than the acts they do, I spotted ZoZo (their demonic clown) snaring people and taking them away to unknown fates, and one actor occasionally chasing down fleeing guests. But beyond that, I didn't notice much else going on, and it was a bummer because I love all of the random things that can happen to you out there. Those marked with red and gold have never been well received by the people of Bravado, and no one wearing a band should walk openly through its streets without fear.
There are several attractions I do my best to hit up every Halloween season, and Terror Town is most definitely on that list. Not only do they open incredibly early- this is the third season they've been first on my schedule- they also provide an experience that is scary, immersive, and uniquely their own. Unless you choose to do so, this isn't a haunt where you passively walk through and have things happen - it's one where *you*, the customer, can become a part of the story. Will you attempt to pass through Bravado unharmed, or do you dare to join the ranks of the banded and uncover the cult's secrets? I fully encourage you to come visit Terror Town and make that choice, and above all else... choose wisely.
ENVIRONMENT: 7/10 - Unique Old West town atmosphere with lots to do! I do hope they can fill a few of the vendor gaps, and reopen Minerz Cafe- one of their food spots- later in the season.
ACTING: 8/10 - Talented cast that's fully committed to their characters and the setting they are in. Increased interactions around town would boost this score.
SCARE FACTOR (Red Bracelet): 8/10 - Again, I would like to have seen more scary things happening in Bravado. However, the trail is the main scare, and continues to be a brutally fun experience!
OVERALL: 7/10 - Strong start to the season for what has become one of my all-time favorite attractions. I always look forward to my annual visit to Bravado, and hope to return to this town of terror to see what's changed before the season ends.