Date of Visit: 10/29/22 Reviewer: Lindsay
Going to haunted attractions as a hobby can take a person on all sorts of adventures! I've walked through woods filled with monsters and murderers more times than I can count. Visited haunts built in places said to house real spooks. Explored a whole theme park decked out for the Halloween season. Camped overnight, with scary people hunting me the whole time. Hell, one haunt pretty much everyone on the team has been through is on a real boat!
But if you head up to the city of Indianapolis and explore its booming haunt scene, you can also add "traveling through time" to the list! Cartocker Expeditions has launched their state of the art facility, and they're happy to send you to whatever year you desire. Just know that the technology is new, and the kinks may not have been worked out yet... as myself and several strangers found out the hard way, when our attempt to go back only got us thrown into the time of The Thirteenth Hour, one of the most unique haunted attractions in the area.
The Thirteenth Hour has been part of the Indy haunt community for several years, with 2017 being their maiden season. After taking the previous season off to seek out a new location, they're back for 2022, coming in with not only a fresh take on their show, but also a new storyline! What with battling some personal matters this season, I wasn't sure I'd make it to see their grand return. But their current location is now just minutes away from another Indy haunt I visit annually (the Angelus), which made it super easy to swing by and visit them to cap off my night.
Admission prices to Thirteenth Hour depend on which night you go, and if you're planning to do General Admission or Fast Lane. I was a bit rushed when I went and didn't see what the GA price was- my apologies!- but my Fast Lane ticket was $45, and I went on one of the busier Saturdays of the season. Parking is free, and while it's a bit cramped on a busy night, it was still an improvement on the old location. Signs instruct you to grab the first available space, and I noticed a couple of attendants helping to park cars too.
The atmosphere at this haunt is kind of interesting. At first, it feels fun and lighthearted, with upbeat music playing in the queue. They also had a food truck, TACO BOSS Shop, on site the night of my visit. (Shout out to them: super nice people serving up hot, delicious eats!) But then you look around and see the dark, menacing woods surrounding you, and those iron gates ahead... and you just know things aren't going to stay that way once you pass through them. (Hint: you're right.)
One of the new additions I liked this season involved sending groups down a torch lit trail to reach the actual haunt. It provided a spookier atmosphere, and also set the tone for what was about to come. While group after group blitzed past, I took my time and drank in the environment. Wolves howled from somewhere in the trees, and I encountered the occasional lost soul wandering the grounds, like the living scarecrow and female apparition I came across. Eventually, you'll find yourself getting in line for a strange building, with only an immense clock facade providing any clues as to what's inside. This was another incredible new feature; my jaw dropped as soon as I walked up and I couldn't hold back the "Wow!" While we waited, a few more scary characters stalked the line, including one earning a few scares with a taser stick and a robed, skeletal ghoul. Everyone seemed to have a similar thought on their mind: 'What on earth is waiting for us in there...?'
Immersion has always been a strong point for this place - you feel it when you first step into the woods, but it only deepens once you pass through that clock and enter the facility for Cartocker Expeditions. Once again, I was impressed by the incredible set work; the technological theming here felt so real! While getting ready for their adventure, groups are guided to numbered stalls and released at set intervals. Eventually, it'll be your turn to begin your journey through time itself. Lady Cartocker, the proprietor, comes out to greet your group - which year would you like to go back to? Of course, things didn't go quite as she had intended, and instead of the 1985 we requested, we ended up going alllllll the way back to the year 1913... and that's where our problems began. (Hey, if it all went *right*, would it be a haunt?)
Three attractions make up The Thirteenth Hour. You'll start in the Widow's Walk Cemetery, proceed into the Cathedral of Souls, and- if you manage to survive all of that- dig your way through Mine No. 13 at the end. Whenever I review Thirteenth Hour, you will often see me use the word "theatrical" to describe it, and I really can't think of a better word to sum it up. All three areas are beautifully designed, and do well in telling the extensive story behind the haunt. (For the sake of brevity, I won't go into much detail here. It's all on their website and recommended reading before you go!) We soon discovered there was more to the Widow's Walk than just a cemetery; I personally got a sort of cultish vibe from it. Altars were covered in flickering, glowing candles. Tombs were filled with rotting corpses (watch out - not all of them are fully dead!). I lost my group for a while because they wanted to speed through it, which cost me some scares, but I wanted to admire the work poured into everything. The Cathedral of Souls, true to its name, felt like a genuine cathedral. But it, too, had some crazy scenes... like the anxiety-inducing room we had to navigate while the lights were killed, came back on briefly, then plunged us into darkness again. IMO, Mine No. 13 had the best scenery of the three, and really did seem like we were descending into a mine. It had a gritty, grungy environment as we picked our way along the pipes and craggy walls.
I also have to give some real love to this haunt's cast - they're a highly talented group, and a decent amount of actors were working each attraction. Dead space wasn't a major issue anywhere. Lady Cartocker was a standout character for sure, and an excellent choice for the intro scene. I want to say the Archbishop actor in the Cathedral is one they've had previously and he is awesome, very witty and interactive. (And as usual, he picked on me. Guess who ended up becoming 'The Sacrifice'?) The Master towards the end was another fun character, albeit quite picky about his sacrifices... we accidentally walked in on one, and he decided ALL of us were going to be sacrificed next. Oops. Suspended in her lair, the Spider Queen continues to be amazing - not only is she interactive, she's also scary and hard to avoid! Speaking of scary, the scariest person I personally came across was one of the miners in No. 13, very menacing and assertive. I was squinting and going "What the hell?" when I saw his silhouette up ahead and he growled at me to watch my language. The rest of the group didn't fare much better... he made it very clear we were going to follow his orders, or we weren't going to like what happened next. We had a pretty giggly group of six, but all of them shut up while he was talking! (Seriously, if any customer gave this guy an attitude, they were either really brave or really dumb.)
I only saw one real area of opportunity for this place, and that was regarding scares. It felt like there was a greater emphasis on show quality, with most of the scares being quick, pop-out startles. Their cast also had a tendency to focus on one section of the group. With all of that said, the haunt did have some nice dread-inducing moments and a few scares that *really* got us good; my memory's a bit fuzzy at the time of writing, but it felt like every attraction had at least one high-impact scare included.
The Thirteenth Hour excels at immersion and theatrics, pulling guests completely into the story they've built. Their new location was great, and I loved the changes that were made to not only keep things fresh, but also extend the attraction's length (this thing takes a while to get through!). I've been to just about all of the professional haunts in Indianapolis and have yet to come across any quite like this one - it is truly one of a kind. If you seek a spooky experience unlike any you've been through before, find Cartocker Expeditions and take a little trip through time - just know they aren't responsible for anything that happens to you!
ENVIRONMENT: 9/10 - What a beautiful haunt! Loved the addition of the wooded trail at the beginning too.
ACTING: 8/10 - Very strong and talented cast. Minimal dead space across all of their attractions.
SCARE FACTOR: 6/10 - Pretty good. The focus did seem to be more on show and storytelling, but there were still plenty of startles and a few surprises (see above).
OVERALL: 8/10 - So glad to have The Thirteenth Hour back in the Indy haunt scene! I had a great time!