DATE OF VISIT
October 13, 2014
GLEN MILLS, PENNSYLVANIA - It was Columbus Day and during the daylight hours it had rained. Therefore when we pulled into the parking lot we weren't surprised to see it less than half full. Of course we jumped with glee because we wouldn't have to wait or deal with conga lines! After grabbing our tickets and taking a few photos we were on the prowl for the ultimate scares. We began our night with The Bates Motel, an indoor haunted attraction promising to deliver top notch scares featuring dedicated actors, Hollywood style sets and high tech special effects.
From the outside the facade paints a sinister picture of what you are about to experience. However it sort of loses its "horror" genre thanks to the obscene rock music coming from every angle of the attraction. If that wasn't enough, lights of all shades are synced perfectly to the music. For some reason neither Joe or myself looked at this as a positive attribute to Bates Motel. It sort of came off as corny, we hate to use the word but we're drawing a blank here. If you are going to use a soundtrack, use actual horror themed tracks... something that fits with the overall look of the maze.
Once inside the music left our ears and the sounds of shrills, screams, bangs and laughter flooded our eardrums. It was refreshing to see that the annoying music outside had no effect on the guts of the maze. Visually the attraction was pleasing, there was great attention to detail. The cosmetic appearance including sets and the dedicated actors roaming the various rooms really completed the feeling of being inside a deranged motel. However, aside from dedicated, talented actors and exquisite sets the maze fell short in the most important department, FRIGHT RATING! How can we put this nicely... The Bates Motel wasn't scary, it wasn't creepy, it was just something you walked through while taking in different rooms, halls and sets. It did have a decent length and a healthy amount of actors but the maze lacked the "in your face intensity" that we have seen elsewhere.
Unfortunately there were so many attributes to the overall outcome of this house. While navigating the foggy halls and rooms you would feel the floor go from hard surface to a soft carpet. Obviously this was for the many and we mean many animatronics placed throughout the attraction. It was obvious and not to mention the animatronics were very late in coming to life. Considering Joe and I were a group of two it would come on well after we had passed them. Very ineffective for smaller groups on a night like tonight. Overall the Bates Motel attraction felt very outdated, executed safely and borderline elementary. Of course this is not something I would expect from the "haunted house master" himself. So we pressed on leaving the hotel behind us hoping the two remaining attractions would rectify our night.
Moving quickly because we could, we got in line for the Haunted Hayride! After handing in our ticket and taking advantage of the coffin photo booth we moved to our comfy seats aboard the hayride that has been deemed the "Scariest Hayride in the Country" by numerous outlets. Considering we had just experienced our 2013 Hayride of the Year we were eager to see what Bates had to offer!
Needless to say, the Haunted Hayride didn't live up to the title it has been given year after year. Don't get us wrong the hayride is entertaining as most of them are. But there are some major issues that hold back the overall FRIGHT RATING of this hayride. Before we dive head first into the negative issues, let me shed light on the potential this hayride has. Majority of the sets were executed well, specifically the slaughterhouse we encountered towards the middle of the journey. Although it was our favorite portion, we would have liked some heavy fog and at least a short stop before continuing on. The wagon just rolled straight through preventing us from taking in all the commotion. While on the topic of commotion, let's discuss the heavy and we mean HEAVY use of animatronics. We aren't talking about your store bought tronics, we are talking about huge Hollywood style animatronics that tower over the wagon and most likely cost big bucks. While these props are amazing to watch when they come to life, we feel there was way too many. It was actually difficult to concentrate on what was going on around you. Then add in the pointless rock music coming from the rear of the tractor and we have overload. Yes, you read it right! This hayride is equipped with its own soundtrack, but all of the songs including the Batman theme song were silly. It doesn't allow for silence at any point during the hayride, which removes the ability for extreme startling scares from the actors. Again much like the motel attraction, instead of in your face rock music why not use something from Midnight Syndicate, you know something that has a connection? Leaving the negativity behind us, let's move on to the positive aspects of this ride.
First off the wagon itself has a very low lying wall, your back is in the perfect position for the actors to touch you. And talk about touching, they really use this feature to its fullest extent. It even got to the point where a girl was drug to the middle of the wagon and bullied with chainsaws! Continuing with the actors, they had a very good sense of using all sides of the wagon, never at a point during the ride did we feel they were favoring one side. This is extremely difficult considering as an actor with free range you have no idea what the group ahead of you did. Second, the hayride was a decent length, there were no dead zones and the sets were great! Would have loved to walk the trail with a camera! Overall the hayride was comparable to others we have experience. However this hayride does feature exquisite sets, dedicated and talented actors, and big buck props. While it possessed some major potential and might have been the "Scariest Hayride in the Country" at one time, we feel it has lost its luster and needs a complete revamp!
Immediately exiting the hayride we moved onto the final and third attraction, the Haunted Corn Maze! Now all night we had been hearing intense screams coming from this outdoor maze which is why we saved it for last. Well, we should have listened to our mothers when they told us, "Not to judge books by the covers!"
Once inside it was obviously screams from people who scare easily or put on a show for their friends. This attraction was the worst of the night and had the most potential to be an extreme maze. It wasn't intense, scary, disorienting or dark. It was just a maze through a cornfield with well done scarecrows every few feet and again Hollywood style sets. But that's all it had to offer. Nothing and we mean nothing happened during the sections of wide corn trails. It was very disappointing, it would have been the perfect set up for good scares if the trail was tighter, if there were actors hiding and if it was heavily fogged out. But none of that was done so we just walked and walked. Again the actors we did come in contact with were dedicated and in character but the overall attraction just lacked intensity. Again it felt elementary and safely executed. This attraction needs major tender loving fright and maybe it will be a contender one day but until then was just a let down.
Overall The Bates Motel is not what you read about from other outlets. It isn't the "Scariest Attraction in the Country". This might come off harsh but FrightTour was designed to debacle those places that are overrated. We are a site searching for the haunted attractions who dish out the best scares.
Unfortunately Bates isn't one of them and it's surprising because Randy Bates, the owner, has been known as the haunt master in the industry for years and maybe at one time he was but today it seems like he has fallen behind the times. This could be from the attention he has been devoting to his most recent creation, Pennhurst Asylum. Let's hope this is the case because we honestly hate writing reviews like this. We want each and every venue to be scary as hell. But let's face it, it just doesn't work like that. Considering our review, we wouldn't recommend Bates Motel to anyone who lives more than a half hour away or to anyone who is looking for the ultimate scares.