DATE OF VISIT
October 14, 2016
ETNA, PENNSYLVANIA - It has taken us almost six years to finally make our way out to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Known for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates... the beautiful picturesque city is also home to some of America's most terrifying haunted attractions, or so they say. Of course just like our avid readers, we look forward to the haunts we experience each year! Especially if the given haunt has been awarded many titles, awards and received celebrity testimonials. So the excitement level for our fifth haunted attraction of the season, The ScareHouse was towering by the time we parked at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. So excited I had to ease my breathing and relax as we made our way to the massive haunted building that is ScareHouse! In the back of my head I worried that my amped excitement would never allow ScareHouse to live up to the hype that not only I had created, but also those who have already reviewed and experienced the venue.
Stepping out onto the sidewalk directly in front of the very intimidating facade of The ScareHouse... the time had finally come for us to experience "Pittsburgh's Scariest Haunted House"! So without any further nonsense we made our way around the corner to the front of the building where the RIP red carpet entrance awaited us. The regular general public line was maybe a half hour wait. Given the magnitude of this event I was pretty sure the line would be hours long on a Friday night and therefore the walk through would be your typical conga style. But because of the small line that only turned around the first corner I figured we would be able to enjoy the attraction on our own and experience the full brunt of ScareHouse! So on we went, ready to take on what we had seen in many of the promotional videos via YouTube.
Unfortunately this review is going to follow a very specific theme... what you think, see or hear about something might not be the truth. Sort of like an explosive movie trailer that turns out better than the actual full length film.
First off, the line was short but that didn't keep the grouper letting the groups through the backstage entrance into the haunt from waiting fifteen seconds in between each. Yes I counted... during a night like Friday night where the line was thirty minutes long, there was no reason for her to let so many people in at one time so quickly. The minute we rounded our first hallway we were smack dab in the back of the group she had just let in before us. Now I am sorry it is 2016 and the majority of people who venture to haunted attractions across America know that lines and haunted houses go hand in hand. Which is why many offer VIP or "RIP" tickets which allow you to skip the lines. While the tickets provided were complimentary I have to say, "What is the point in having these exclusive tickets when the groups are shoved through at such a rapid pace during a somewhat slow night?" The only portion of The ScareHouse that seemed to have the longest line was The Basement. In fact the immersive/theatrical experience was sold out until Sunday! I could understand a fifteen second interval between groups if the line was exceeding an hour to two hours... but it wasn't!
So immediately we were thrown into one of America's Scariest Haunted Attractions conga style. Now I have been through many attractions where conga style throughput works but in my opinion, The ScareHouse is not designed for this. This could have been the main attribute as to why the attraction did not live up to the hype surrounding it. Given the large groups let through at one time, the bottlenecking and conga style feed, the attraction loses a major component of what makes ScareHouse so great... intimacy! Throughout all the reviews, testimonials, videos and now my personal experience. I have gathered up my own thoughts and feel ScareHouse is so articulate, detailed and immersive and with an attraction of this magnitude it needs that "personal" experience to survive those who look for a little more than a character in black costuming popping out from behind a wall. And ScareHouse is not your typical haunt. Bursting at the seams with talented actors lurking through detailed immersive sets, ScareHouse takes on a very theatrical experience. And theatrical experiences DO NOT work with A. large groups or B. a constant conga style flow. With so much going on and so much to take in you couldn't let it sink in and immerse yourself into the setting because you were being pushed from the back while trying to keep up with the line in front of you.
As we made our way through the very elaborate lengthy house you either heard or saw the act, up ahead. Therefore, you knew what and when it was coming. It felt like the actors were given a very strict script. Many of them said the same thing over and over as you made your way by and then there were a few who had some free range to do what they wanted. To me there wasn't enough actors compared to the amount of real estate you covered. There were some large spaces of no action and I know that not every single step can be riddled with scares. But when you begin walking through various rooms with amazing detailed stagnant figures or animatronics with no one of flesh or blood it gets a little boring. I actually said to myself, "This is what the infamous ScareHouse has to offer?!" I was kind of shocked and couldn't believe the hype surrounding this place, some of my own accord and the rest from elsewhere.
Don't get me wrong the attraction still had some decent scares, involved scenes and AWESOME sets. In fact I would compare the quality of sets to those of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. They were that good! I still would definitely recommend this attraction to anyone visiting or living in the area. ScareHouse is on a totally different level than other run of the mill haunts out there. But, to call it the "scariest" I personally cannot agree with that title. And maybe the night was just off, maybe they had a large amount of actors call out or maybe it just isn't as AMAZING as people say it is. Still something to experience? Yes because its The ScareHouse, it's something I actually placed on my bucket list... something I had to do because in the Haunt Industry this is one attraction you constantly hear of. Unfortunately we have been to numerous other venues who excel in the "scare" department. Now of course I took a step back and wondered if maybe my personal hype was so high that nothing would have or could have lived up to what I thought ScareHouse was. But to confirm everything I thought and have typed here in this review, the people in front of us and behind us were not screaming and did not seem scared. I honestly think the throughput killed it...
Unfortunately we did not get to experience The Basement. The event was completely sold out until Sunday and with us in town till Sunday morning we could not take part... However, anyone who has experienced The Basement we encourage you to post your review of the separate attraction below!