Updated: Jul 26, 2018
SINKING SPRING, PENNSYLVANIA - It has been four years since our first visit to this award winning haunted attraction. Four years ago, we awarded Shocktoberfest with our coveted Haunted Hayride of the Year. And since then it has remained the top hayride for three years! This year, Shocktoberfest pulled out all the scares with an intense hayride and an insane experience within the walls of their two time Haunted House of the Year nominee, Prison of the Undead. Wait... am I giving juicy details? I think not...! What are you waiting for, it's time to find out what we thought about this years shock! Will it be another sweep? Will Shocktoberfest rake in a fourth year win!?
It was a perfect fall night at Shocktoberfest on this last night of September. The air was crisp and fall like, the breeze was brisk and chilly and the parking was empty and we were excited...! Yes as we pulled up we noticed the parking lot wasn't as full as it usually is during our previous visits. This really excited us because during preview tours the amount of guests attending Zombie World can either make or break the attractions at Shocktoberfest. Usually the Prison of the Undead suffers the most, mainly because of its massive length and elaborate layout.
Wasting no time we made our way down the main midway of Zombie World but were shocked to find no vendors like previous years. It could have been it was early in the season or it was a lack luster night out. But there were no food vendors or games lining the midway which connected all attractions. We entered the line of the Zombie Safari Haunted Hayride, parked our rear-ends in the hay and waited for the all clear. Once our truck pulled wagon was given the green light we were off into the dark, twisting and winding trail.
Still after four years, The Zombie Safari Haunted Hayride has it! Honestly there isn't one thing we could think of that we dislike about this attraction. From the moment you turn the corner through your first garage to the very end... the ride is dark, entertaining, elaborate but most importantly The Zombie Safari Hayride is SCARY! I know, I know you have probably dropped your cup of coffee or regurgitated your drink all over your shirt... but it is true, we have found a haunted hayride that actually dishes out real scares! These are so hard to come by now a days as most are a dime a dozen. Usually haunted hayride are more fun then scary because you have so many outside influences that can alter this style attraction. However, still after our fourth visit, this haunted hayride breaks through and jolts your body with new scares each and every time.
As your wagon makes its way deeper into the woods of Sinking Spring it gets darker, the trail gets tighter and your blood pulses faster. You can't help but feel vulnerable in the middle of the woods. Lined with elaborate sets and buildings the actors use the darkness to scare you out of your mind. At points it is so quiet you can hear a pin drop and you feel anxious waiting for it and waiting for it... until BOOM! The scare is dealt and you have just now jumped. You find yourself laughing and having a good time while sitting indian style in a pile of hay. It's the perfect Fall tradition... a haunted hayride! But Shocktoberfest kicks it up a notch, The Zombie Safari Hayride is not your typical ride through the woods. The actors not only scare you but reach out and touch you. I personally had my ear tickled for a good two minutes. The actors execute it perfectly, there is no dragging you to the center or an obscene amount of touching like some unmentioned locations not that far away.
Put this all together and you have one stellar hayride. In all, throughout the entire ride I personally jumped at least a dozen times. While there were no changes to the attraction itself, it's one hell of a good show! We highly recommend you save this for last!
Considering we were near the entrance to the Prison of the Undead we immediately made our way off the wagon and over to the non-existent line that awaited us. We hopped on the bus, took a short ride over yonder and entered through the steel doors of the prison. This year, this elaborate and lengthy haunted house was the best of the trip! The Prison of the Undead has unfortunately been our least favorite of the three traditional attractions available at Shocktoberfest. Usually bottlenecking or actor to length ratio was off leaving us with a negative review. However, this year everything to the dirt we walked on was perfect! There was nothing we could complain about! There was no bottlenecking, no lull in the action and everyone was on point! Still my favorite parts of the attraction are the indoor sections where the lights overhead flicker to off and pop back on again.
To me this is the perfect setting. It gives actors the perfect opportunity to mess with you as they slither in and out of the darkness and without warning they pop up directly in front of you when the lights come back on. I always wonder, how in the world these actors are able to pull this off. I think I would be stumbling and making noise so I would be rendered totally useless! The attraction is very long, full of twists, turns and portions where you must duck through tunnels and holes in the walls. Compared to our previous experiences, The Prison of the Undead was one of the most terrifying attractions we have been through in a very long time. Oddly we have been through it many times but this time it was different! It won us over and changed our entire perception of the attraction! Definitely save the Prison of the Undead for your final attraction... UNLESS there is a very long line or it is very crowded. During our previous tours this is the main factor that played a role in keeping us from liking this attraction. Given the layout and the duration of the attraction we feel it loses its quality due to bottlenecking!
Immediately making our way back down the main midway to the front of Zombie World we entered the line for The Unknown 2.0. Usually we hit this attraction up first and every year we regret it. Because during our previous tours it was the strongest of the two walk through attractions. So this year we saved it for last and what do you know we should have done it first. For some odd reason, The Unknown 2.0 was weak. The entire attraction just seemed void of intensity. The grouper at the beginning basically let about fifteen people in at one time which there was no need to do that considering there was hardly anyone there. So of course without delay people started over reacting and putting on a show. There was a moment when we had a chance to break free from the group and we did... but still the attraction did nothing. It felt like there were hardly any actors inside. I will say the clown room was exceptional! If you hate clowns, close your eyes and let someone lead you through! Very scary!
But just like that we were in and we were out. This year The Unknown 2.0 did nothing for me. The pitch black sections were just that, the actors seemed less in quantity this year and the overall feel of the attraction was lacking in intensity. So this year I would strongly suggest to get this out of the way first.
Overall as usual, Shocktoberfest is a great attraction. Out of the three traditional houses, two of them are always strong and this year those two definitely flip flopped. Begin your night with The Unknown 2.0, then hit up the Zombie Safari Hayride and then finish off the night with the Prison of the Undead. However, we strongly suggest waiting as long as you can to experience the prison as a large crowd or long line takes away from the attraction. If you are in the Lancaster area for a trip, definitely stop by and take on the attractions of Shocktoberfest. Always inventive, scary and worth the money spent!