Updated: Feb 15, 2022
Date of Visit: 10/23/21 Reviewer: Lindsay
When people find out I like going to haunted attractions, one of the most frequent questions I'm asked is "what's your favorite?" And to be honest, I refuse to pick any single haunt. I love and appreciate a lot of them for different reasons and find myself returning to many of the ones I enjoy each year. People are usually looking for recommendations when they ask, so I've taken to throwing them a few at random from my list. But more often than not, there is one name that consistently comes up, especially if the person asking doesn't mind a short road trip: Indianapolis' Nightmare On Edgewood.
I found out about Nightmare On Edgewood six years ago, on a recommendation from two haunt reviewer friends. They'd mentioned it was a favorite of theirs, but warned that it was also a touch haunt, and their show could get a little wild... which meant I definitely needed to check it out. I decided to pay them a visit that same season, and it was pretty much love at the first scream - I bought another ticket and marched right back in for round 2! The following year, I took a break to visit some other haunts, but returned to Edgewood in 2017, where they've held a spot on my annual haunt tour ever since.
Nightmare On Edgewood has gone through some major changes for the 2021 season... starting with their location! It wasn't too long ago that they shared space with another Indy haunt- House of Trepidation- but that haunt has now (sadly) closed and has also been integrated into Edgewood's current show (more on that soon). The new location is about a block down the street from their former spot; turn down Frank Street from South Meridian and it'll be right in front of you. Parking is free on site, but extremely limited - arrive early if you can! (If the lot is full when you get there, some locals may allow you to park on their property in exchange for cash.) General admission tickets will run you $25, and VIP is available if the wait is long. (Tip: sign up for the mailing list on their website! I was able to score my GA ticket for just $13 during a Friday the 13th special.)
(You might've gotten the idea earlier in this review, but in case you didn't, it's important that you know: Nightmare On Edgewood is a FULL CONTACT haunted house. If you aren't a fan of being touched by strangers, this isn't the haunt for you! Consider this your warning!)
Once you have your tickets, a brief security check will follow, then you're sent into a waiting room that houses some familiar Edgewood set pieces - and a few gleaned from Trepidation's closure. Here, you will be asked to wait and listen to the big animatronic troll, as he has some ground rules regarding your experience. (A small suggestion: this room was quite dark and would benefit from additional lighting to really show off some of the cool displays, like the giant reaper.) Exiting this holding room takes groups into the haunt's new indoor queue. Popular music booms to get customers pumped up for the show, videos play on a screen, and the air is redolent with the smell of fresh popcorn from their concession counter, now placed conveniently next to the line. Upon making your way through the queue on the lower level, you'll ascend a short set of stairs and join the line for the first of Nightmare On Edgewood's three attractions: EDGEWOOD SANITARIUM.
Theming is something the Edgewood team excels at, and you can see it as soon as you enter the Sanitarium's queue. Fences surround a seemingly abandoned and boarded up property in the woods, with "No Trespassing" signs posted to deter intruders. Drawing closer, you'll notice that perhaps this place isn't as abandoned as you thought... lights flicker mysteriously outside, thunder and lightning crash ominously. Edgewood Sanitarium is the haunt's hospital/asylum themed house, appropriately beginning in the hospital's front office. Your meeting with the opening character- Dr. Schizo Phrenic (?!)- suggests that the staff here have more than a few screws loose, but the moment you leave and proceed through the hospital doors, it doesn't take long to figure out that this is no ordinary "asylum"! Fending off some crazies along the way, you must board a rickety service elevator to descend- rather harshly- into the rest of the facility. From that point on, it's madness as soon as you step off the elevator. The Sanitarium is a treacherous trip through bloody operating rooms, filthy toilets, a shockingly dangerous control room, and halls cluttered with gurneys and medical devices - and all the while, you're stalked by psychotic doctors and patients looking to make you the next experiment!
By the way, did you miss where I mentioned this is a full contact haunt? Nightmare On Edgewood gives their actors free reign to grab, push, pull, pin, and snatch guests as they please - meaning you are absolutely going to be touched, and frequently to boot. I had actors all over me in here, including one in a straight jacket with an axe to grind (it's not always good when they recognize you!), an electrocuted patient offering some "shock therapy", and a frightful kidnapping by a surgeon, who dragged me away from the group and forced me through his entire operating room before I was "returned" (read: thrown) back to them! From what I could see, everyone else didn't fare a lot better; the young lady at the front was separated from us and sent off on her own, and her partner took a good minute to finally exit the house and rejoin all of us in the line for the next attraction, the HOUSE OF TREPIDATION.
From 2015 to 2020, House of Trepidation was a completely separate haunted house, though 2019 saw it temporarily joining forces with Nightmare On Edgewood in the same building. While the haunt has now shut its doors, Edgewood's owners acquired a good deal of their sets and props and have utilized them to recreate a new and smaller version of the attraction. The former Dr. Belle practice and residence have been taken over by a family of psychopaths and their victims, and they don't take too kindly to trespassers! Stepping through the front door, we were promptly greeted by the mansion's young maid, who wasted little time letting us know we weren't welcome guests. Our meeting with Uncle Charlie, the house patriarch, a bit later didn't go much better... we made the collective mistake of admiring a painting in the living room when he noticed us. "What the hell are you looking at?" He indicated the painting. "You see something you like? Something you wanna take?" Our murmurs of "no sir" and nervous shuffling around only ticked him off more. He began counting- "ONE one thousand... TWO one thousand..." -and we knew we had that much time to get out of his sight! Venturing deeper into the home, we passed through a kitchen that was nothing short of nasty, bedrooms inhabited by creepy little girls (including one filled with dolls that made me do an abrupt about-face), and a hall of portraits that revealed more of the mansion's residents, popping out to grab at us. Thankfully, it didn't take us too long to escape from the house, the exit of which briefly led us through the woods...
...where we stumbled upon CONLEY FARM, the third and final attraction in Nightmare On Edgewood's roster. Unfortunately for us, we'd escaped from one demented family, only to encounter another - in the form of Papa Conley and his clan. Despite repeated warnings to stop using dangerous chemicals and pesticides on his farm, he has continued doing so, and it's had some nasty effects on both his family members and the farm hands working the property. Out of Edgewood's three houses, I felt Conley was the best themed, starting right outside of a cobweb-laden old barn, guarded by jack o' lantern scarecrows and playing a soundtrack of unnerving animal noises (which continues once you're inside). In addition to being true to its theme, Conley Farm was also the hardest to survive: a number of deformed and deranged hillbillies hunt you through the barn, many of them no longer completely human. There were also at least three different actor-matronics in operation - beware of gators when passing through the foggy swamp (you might receive a wet surprise), and watch out for the snarling, snapping jaws of the Conley' shuge hound! (I spotted the boar from last season as well, but it was sequestered away from guests.) The actors in here were pretty crazy in general, but a shout out is in order for the ones working the butcher room, as they were complete maniacs. I got backed into a corner and had my throat "slashed", and one of the young boys in our group was caught and chucked right up on to the slab... poor kid was reduced to a tiny ball of terror by the time they were through with him!
Most scares throughout this haunt come from its cast, but it boasts an impressive amount of special effects, too. Floors literally drop from under you, animatronics and actor-matronics come close enough to hit customers (wholly intentional I'm sure), the hospital had doors with animated "patients" behind their windows, fog and lighting are utilized to disorient groups. With that said, all three attractions were fairly well covered actor-wise, and we didn't encounter a lot of dead space. There was one personal mishap with my visit where the group was a little larger than normal, with two children present. In the Sanitarium, it seemed like the actors did a great job of covering our group evenly, but in the next two houses, it was mostly the kids who were picked on and the adults didn't get a lot of interaction. In their defense, all of us were there on what was probably their busiest night of the season, and this kind of thing can happen at any time. Not enough to stop me from coming back, and I hope the rest of that group gives them another shot, too.
Beyond that, and maybe adding in a few more actors, I didn't notice much to improve on. As I mentioned earlier, the first holding room had some nice set pieces that I'd like to see lit up more, and possibly some additional scenery added to really grab customers' attention from the start. Their side attraction, Shadows Escape, did seem to be missing this year. I got the chance to experience it in 2020, and thought it was a unique way for guests to add a bit more fun to their night. It would be great if they could bring it back in the near future or add something else if space allows.
Nightmare On Edgewood fills a unique niche in the Indianapolis haunt scene, providing a show that is not only well designed, but also caters to thrill-seeking haunt fans. 2021 might have pushed them into a new place, but it didn't seem to slow them down much at all. I do my best to stop here every season and can't recommend them enough for anyone who wants to experience what is, in my opinion, one of the best haunts in the state.
ENVIRONMENT: 9/10 - Excellent theming in all three attractions. Special effects are utilized effectively to heighten both immersion and scare factor.
ACTING: 7/10 - Solid across the board. Could have used a few more actors here and there, but the cast performed well.
SCARE FACTOR: 8/10 - Pretty freakin' scary! The actors here are not afraid to get in your space and be physical with you. And they've got a winner with the giant hound in Conley Farm - that thing was terrifying!
OVERALL: 8/10 - Great show from Nightmare On Edgewood! I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop further in their new location.
(NOTE: Two things - to be fair to other haunts, the official review had to be based on my haunt season experience. However, I returned to Edgewood for an end of season party they hosted in late November. They had more actors, completely ran over the whole group, and the first "holding room" was redesigned with perfect lighting.)
At the time of posting, this haunt has also closed for the regular season. However, they will be open on 12/10 and 12/11 for "Holiday Nightmares", a special event putting a Christmas spin on popular horror icons!)