DATE OF VISIT
October 04, 2014
MARLBORO, NEW JERSEY - Upon arrival we took note that the parking lot was only half full. We kind of expected this considering it's only the first weekend in October and majority of attractions get busier as the Halloween weekend approaches. Of course this made us uber excited cause you all know how we despise conga lines or excessive wait times... Thank the haunting gods there was neither!
We exchanged our cash for our Ultimate Packages which included the four attractions; Haunted Hayride of Terror, 3D Haunted Barn, The Haunted Wooded Trail and The Living Maze. We opted out of experiencing their newest attraction, Marlboro Zombie Breakout, which is a zombie paintball excursion. For those of you disgusted with us... Think about it! How is this scary? We are a haunted house review website and to us zombie paintball is sort of like a theme park attraction. Considering almost everyone is opening one this year, let's just get it out of the way now, we aren't fans!
Not wasting any time, we made our way to the Haunted Hayride of Terror! We made it our first attraction of the night because anyone who has followed us during past tours knows we aren't major fans of hayrides. Are they the traditional Fall activity? Yes of course but most of them end up more comical than scary. So we went into it not expecting much... Thankfully we didn't have high expectations because this hayride fell short.
If you have been reading our reviews over the years you would know we refrain from bashing any haunted attraction whatever the outcome of our visit. We know the blood, sweat and time it takes to create some of these attractions, therefore we try to keep it positive while being honest... However we are having a difficult time writing this review in a positive manner. We feel that there was a major lack of effort and creativity with the Haunted Hayride of Terror. It just seemed like animatronic props of all sorts no matter the genre had been plopped along the hayride trail. These props weren't lit up so you had no idea where or what it was. Which was a shame because from what we could see, there were some nice props that would have been awesome if lit up.
In addition to the immense amount of ineffective animatronics... The actors were very repetitive. Over and over each actor walked or ran from their hiding spot, made some noise and then climbed up the back and walked down the middle row. I was waiting for someone to smack a lead pipe or heavy object against the metal exterior of the wagon... But it never happened! It would have been the perfect scare because the wagon sits up high, your back is turned and of course it's dark so it would have provided perfect opportunities for sneaky scares.
Was there potential hidden somewhere during our ride...? Yes of course there was! Most notable section would be the large barn the wagon just breezes through. As it came into view we got excited because both of us thought the wagon would stop, the doors would close and we would witness a terrifying scene... But the wagon just slid through without giving us a chance to really absorb the immense amount of activity that was taking place. Overall the hayride needs some tender loving fright. It just felt unfinished, lacked creativity and a general cohesiveness. While there was some potential, the negative aspects definitely outweighed the positive.
Leaving the hayride behind us we made our way to the two outdoor trails, The Haunted Wooded Trail and The Living Maze!
First up, The Haunted Wooded Trail! This very long outdoor maze unfortunately followed in the same direction of the hayride. Lacking actors, cohesiveness, creativity and effort were repeat issues. To us the maze by itself was creepy, there is just something about being outside in the woods at night that just gets the blood going. Then add a little bit of creative juice, detailed sets, effective animatronics and skilled actors... You then have a decent attraction in front of you. However, the execution of creating such an attraction obviously got lost somewhere. Might it work for someone who visits an attraction like this once or twice a year...? Possibly, but to guys like us who experience ten to twelve a year, we have seen a lot and know the industry in and out.
So here it goes... The department store bought hanging props, missing actors and flame torches really took away from the overall experience. I know that lining the trail with torches is a safe bet in keeping everyone in line. However, when you place so many of them throughout the trail it brightens the place up a bit. We found no areas of complete darkness, which as we all know darkness definitely heightens the scare factor. We maybe came into contact with ten actors during our fifteen to twenty minute walk. Some of them were on point and some of them weren't in the game to scare. Aside from the actors there was again an immense amount of animatronics... Some not working, some lit up and then some left in complete darkness so you had to stop and really focus to see what it was. Overall it wasn't something we would wait in a long line for. It wasn't scary or entertaining... Just a wooded trail. Don't get us wrong much like the hayride there is major potential, unfortunately it hasn't been utilized as of yet.
After exiting the wooded trail we made a quick U-turn straight into The Living Maze... Now throughout the five years we have been reviewing haunted attractions we have experienced two of these style labyrinths. The Living Maze became our third and unlike the other two it quickly became one of our favorites! Once inside you are at the mercy of an overgrown hedge maze full of dead ends and of course actors. Could there have been more? Yes but this maze just worked on its own. It was creepy, mind boggling and nerve racking. After ten minutes we had had enough and we were ready to just break through a hedge wall. Of course that would ruin the fun, but the feeling we were experiencing is what this attraction was meant to do. You feel helpless, lost and vulnerable. However, we were wanting more actors and a dense layer of fog... Think about it, as you walk the labyrinth you back track, speed up and run into dead ends. If there were actors inside following you and dense fog disorienting your vision and mind from what lied ahead... It would have been the ultimate attraction! The creepiness was there, it just lacked development! The Living Maze was definitely our favorite of the night! After making our way out of the twisting labyrinth it was time to take a break and head to the bathroom. Come on we had been lost for a half hour, one of us had to go! Ok it's too much information... Moving on!
After our bathroom break we slid our 3D glasses on and moved into the halls and corridors of The 3D Haunted Barn. This indoor maze really hasn't changed since our first visit five years ago. In fact we don't think it changed at all. Considering almost every location boasts a 3D attraction we feel it is sometimes overused. There have been a few places who are lucky enough to pull off a 3D haunted house... So upon entering the barn we were hoping this would be one of them... However, we found ourselves contending with the same points of critique in comparison to the hayride and wooded trail.
There was an abundant amount of animatronics compared to actors, some of these animatronic props were broken or void of lighting. This confirmed that nothing inside had been changed for years. We might be wrong here, but from what we saw, this is the conclusion we came to. Aside from the overwhelming amount of animatronics, the attraction was skimpy on actors. We walked good portions of the attraction experiencing what we call "dead space". Sometimes dead space is replaced with pitch black tunnels or fogged out rooms... However, there was none of this. We experienced zero disorientation! Something that when used properly is quite effective. Then about halfway through the 3D ended abruptly and we were told to take off our glasses by a clown. We honestly had a hard time grasping the concept here. The name on the facade stated "3D Haunted Barn"... Therefore, wouldn't you think the 3D layout would stay true from start to finish? Well it didn't and it made no sense at all.
When we walked out we were quite upset we had saved this for last... We were sort of hoping we had saved The Living Maze for the end of the night considering it was the highlight of our visit.
Overall C. Casola Farms Haunted Attractions isn't a place we would recommend to those who are searching for the best scares. If you are a lightweight then the attractions here would most likely please you. Again we are one outlet, two minds and one review... To the ordinary person who ventures through a haunted house once or twice a year, C. Casola Farms might be the scariest thing since sliced bread but to us it was anything but. However, with a little elbow grease and tender loving care the potential could become a major reality. Until that happens we will look elsewhere for those ultimate scares...