Date of Visit: 10/28/22 Reviewer: Lindsay
The scene we're facing is a harsh contrast to the almost carnival-like atmosphere outside. We've been lined up ominously in rows within this dark chamber, with no idea of what's about to happen or what to expect. Even more unsettling is the army of skeletons that seem to scale every inch of the walls that surround us; remnants, no doubt, of the less fortunate souls who came before we did. I'm starting to wonder if our situation could get any worse when my thoughts are broken by the arrival of an unfamiliar figure over our heads. The lighthearted atmosphere of the midway has completely left us now, as this wicked entity makes it very clear that we'll soon be meeting the same fate as our skeletal friends - and almost as if punctuating his words, there's an unearthly roar, followed by smoke quickly filling the room.
There's only one way out. The others who have joined me quickly disperse, seeking the safety of the cathedral's underground tunnels. My own attempt at escape, however, is thwarted when a demonic-looking witch- who's had her eye on me since I arrived- catches me from behind. "I'll see you in Hell," she hisses in my ear before releasing me to my fate. I know that isn't so much a threat as it is a promise.
Don't let the fun atmosphere outside fool you. Appearances can be deceiving, and Fear Fair- located in Seymour, Indiana- is one haunted house that doesn't mess around.
Although Fear Fair is highly popular and draws big crowds every season, I still consider it something of a hidden gem in the Hoosier haunt scene. If you weren't already aware of its existence, you'd never know it was there, tucked away within the vast complex that is Freeman Field. But should you go looking for it, I can vouch that you're about to find one of the best haunted houses in the state.
General admission tickets to Fear Fair will run you $25. You can also cut your wait time by upgrading to a "Slash Pass" for an extra $15 (highly recommended when it's busy!). The industrial park the haunt is located in provides plenty of free parking, with several spots right next to the property. However, be mindful as you're entering and leaving - even at night, the complex is active and frequently has semi trucks passing through.
You could say this haunt lives up to its name, and that becomes apparent as soon as you arrive. Early birds are treated to a lively preshow to kick off the haunt's opening, with music provided by DJ Fear, laser and pyro effects, and best of all - the entire cast of monsters being turned loose on the crowd! Following a brief security check, customers can then enter the Monster Midway. Need to purchase tickets or redeem your online order? You'll find the ticket booth on the right. Once you have your tickets, you're welcome to hang out and enjoy everything the midway offers, or hop straight in line for the house. There's a lot to do here, including games, a burial simulator, rides, food, a fire pit, and the occasional roaming character. Some new things have also been added for 2022, including a 360° Photo Booth, the "Blood Bath" dunk tank, and a spinning ride that's operated by the riders. (I got to try this and loved it!) If it's crowded, you may want to go ahead and get in line for the haunt - you can always come back later.
Before I get into the full review, I must mention something. If you were a Fear Fair patron prior to when COVID arrived, you'll be happy to know that the "Extra Fear" upgrade is back! This option is offered at no additional charge - just ask for it when you reach the front of the line, and you'll be given a glow necklace to wear that enables the actors to touch you. Be advised that this can range from light contact- like an arm being tugged on, or your hair caressed- to crazier things, such as an actor picking you up, or even running off with someone in your group! But worry not - if it becomes too much, you can opt out by removing and discarding your necklace.
Fear Fair is a haunt that's always evolving, and this year's show was no exception! Another major change was the addition of a new opening sequence, where you're introduced to the haunt's new icon character - and let me tell you, he has some nasty plans for you and all the other hapless guests who found their way here! From there, groups are dispatched into the tunnels under the cathedral and loaded on to elevators to begin their adventure. Unfortunately, they don't quite function properly and end up crashing to a halt... unceremoniously dumping you right into the heart of this house of horrors.
Four themed areas make up Fear Fair. ASCENSION is a dark journey through catacombs studded with bones and skulls, with only the dim light of candles to guide your way. Watch out for the robed cultists stalking its hallowed halls, or yours will be joining them! LAVEAU'S CURSE sends groups into the lair of a shaman, who's looking to make some new voodoo dolls and would just love to add you to his collection. Escaping his home will have patrons fleeing on to Bourbon Street, crossing the treacherous walkways of a gator-infested swamp, and navigating a graveyard full of vicious zombies. RAMSES' WRATH sets visitors right on the sands of Egypt, where they'll have to avoid reanimated mummies, wicked witches, and cursed animal-people as they explore the tombs. (Don't be tempted by the riches found here - you may be cursed too!) Unfortunately, escaping from this malicious mummy's temple only sends you straight into ROCKFORD RIOT, where the inmates have completely taken over. Mind yourself around the prisoners and move quickly, or the only sentence you'll be getting is a death sentence!
This haunt has some awesome set work going on across each area of the house; some rooms contain more detail than others, but there's never any confusion as to what you're seeing. Something I will point out every time is how seamlessly every section transitions into the next - despite four different themes, it never feels abrupt. Special effects are utilized very well, too. Animatronics (and actor-matronics) are cleverly placed to provide additional scares, with some close enough to touch you! Fog and water effects are also used; the rope bridge over the fountain in Egypt is a personal favorite. I've always loved haunts with environments that physically engage their customers, and this one definitely fits the bill - IMO, it only enhances the immersion.
I was informed later on that Fear Fair was running with a few less people the night of my visit, and while I did encounter some minor gaps, I felt they had a good number of actors and they were well spread throughout the haunt. And the ones working were going nuts in there! Right off the bat, I had a cultist from the catacombs waiting on my elevator... not only did he get a few early screams, but as soon as we landed, he snatched me by the scruff of the neck and hauled me right on out! Upon stumbling into the home of the voodoo shaman, I found he was not at all pleased to have a visitor and wasn't shy about letting me know it. "No, I don't want to hear your f**king apology, if you aren't down those stairs in 10 seconds I'm going to throw you down them!" Then he began counting... yeah, I got the heck out of there. His life-sized voodoo doll downstairs was a terror; I hate dolls, and she really freaked me out with her jerky movements, distorted giggles, and making me look at her (very eerie!) face. One tall, slender explorer in Egypt must've caught a particularly nasty curse... he could only "speak" in growls and clicks, and that face - incredibly creepy! He kept following me and oh my word, I did not like it at all. I was also hunted heavily in the same area by a ratlike creature, who really had it out for me. Lots of grabbing and kidnapping around every turn... it got to a point where I just took off when I saw him coming. (FYI, don't do this. Running only makes it more fun for them.)
But Rockford Prison was where they really let me have it. Over the course of a few minutes, all of the following happened: I had a gun held to my head, a big bear of an inmate dragged me away to "see the doctor", a maniac in a lab coat (who was NOT the doctor) jabbed me in the neck with a freakin' needle, and it got even worse when we finally reached the real doctor's room. There, I was hoisted up on to a table, held down and given more "injections", the bear man stabbed me with a knife (!), and I don't know where the hell that chainsaw guy came from, but I got that too. All of this, of course, was accompanied by a healthy amount of screaming. "Aww, don't you trust me?" the doctor smirked. They finally let me up, but I had to dodge one last chainsaw assault before fleeing to the safety of the exit!
Speaking of the exit, this is another thing that got an overhaul, and it's one of my favorite changes to the haunt. They've moved the gift shop here and added a lot of nice scenery and cute stuff to look at. There's quite a few neat things to purchase at reasonable prices, including your souvenir photo, t-shirts, hoodies, and even spooky Christmas ornaments.
I can't get over how many great changes there were to Fear Fair this year! The new opening sequence was awesome, and a good way to tie all of the themed areas of the house together. (I do hope we'll find out more about their new character and his intentions in the near future!) They've made some fun and creative additions to their midway, which they've expanded on every season. And the return of the Extra Fear upgrade was definitely welcomed; they've proven they can scare patrons whether they touch or not, but I personally prefer the touching and they really brought it this year. If you've never been here before or you're a fan who hasn't been in a couple of years, watch out... Fear Fair is back, and they didn't come to play!
ENVIRONMENT: 9/10 - Superbly designed haunt that takes a good amount of time to get through, and then you've got the fun Monster Midway to round out the guest experience.
ACTING: 8/10 - Good sized and talented cast! Not much dead space, either.
SCARE FACTOR (Extra Fear): 10/10 - Yikes - they came at me with everything they had! I loved it!
OVERALL: 9/10 - Excellent visit to one of my favorite haunts in the state. I had a blast!