Pulling into the yard you get the distinct impression that the inmates are waiting for you, eagerly. Before you head into the prison you're eyeballed by an unsavory crew of creatures that seem to have wrestled authority of the prison.
The inmates are running the joint!
To say that we had fun at this haunt would be an understatement. To say that these actors were on top of their games would be another. This attraction was hitting every mark and had yours truly, (a veteran haunter) yelling, jumping, laughing and yes, holding on to my fellow reviewer for support. It hasn't happened to me in years and I had forgotten how much fun a great haunt and a well timed production could be.
From start to finish Nightmare's Gate is crawling with a variety of great actors utilizing every scare technique in the books. We encountered the menacing stare of the bailiff there to make sure we followed the rules, character actors that set scenes off to a disturbing perfection and many inmates that popped out of every nook and cranny in the building. You never knew what was coming next. We were constantly engaged by creatures in every direction. Left, right, behind and even above and below. We just never knew where to expect the next strike. We ducked away from the clutching hands of an incredibly agile female "inmate" perched high above us in a section that could only be called a lab gone horribly horribly wrong. We stumbled upon what I initially thought was an animatronic that came to delightful life and gave me my first "squeak" of the evening by responding to my comment. We encountered many small quick almost "rat-like" characters that seemed to appear and disappear in every hole available in the walls and ceilings. Character actors were interspersed everywhere; Laughing, cavorting encouraging us to move further into the nightmare. There were creatures that not only elicited reactions, but reacted to us, responding to our laughing conversations and making us a part of the show. I could go on and on about how amazing these actors were...Insanity personified and strapped in the body of a lithe girl as she struggled and screamed on a table...purely unhinged behavior of a ?lab assistant/Patient/ escaped convict? that truly seemed to appear in every part of the first half of the house...prisoners that seemed to be a lot less locked in their cells than they should have been. The acting was phenomenal.
But, there was another part to this haunt: the sets.
Nightmare's Gate is no sterile staged drama, this place looks real! The Prison feels truly old and dilapidated. Tight spaces, dark corners, dripping liquids & hanging tendrils of matter, walls coated in unsavory substances and medical facilities that look to be anything but sterile...someone get the State Prison Officials down there stat! ;) The impression that something in the air might have turned the inmates into more (or less) than they were - inhuman and insane - is fed by the pervading impression of biohazard offenses depicted by the set. We loved it! The haunt is another character that these crazed creatures are cavorting with and within. This attraction helps foster the illusion that the visitor is less a welcomed guest and more a detainee trying to escape the insanity. Perfect! The set was also a multi-level attraction. As you begin your walk through you get the clear impression of being in the lowest levels of the prison sewers and basement rooms and moving upwards to the more "official" parts of the facility. There are some really good effects that involve spatial relationships within the attraction. There are tight confining areas as well as unexpected changes in room dimensions. Lighting is used to great effect and the sound enhances the experience rather than overwhelming it.
It's so hard for me not to tell you every aspect of this haunt, to give you a play by play. But I'll resist: No Spoilers!
If you visit no other haunt, you must visit Nightmare's Gate this year. Just make sure you enter as a visitor because it doesn't look like the inmates ever get paroled.
This is NOT a haunt for young children. I'd say 12 or 13 would be the youngest, depending on the child. The actors are very vocal, but I believe they gauge the guest and take their cues from reactions they receive.
As mentioned above there are many levels and tight spaces, however the owner assured me that the attraction is wheelchair accessible and that they will happily give anyone the required attention they need in order to experience Nightmare's Gate.
If you suffer from claustrophobia there are a few areas that may not be to your liking. Please talk to the ticket window for more details.
Nightmare's Gate receives 5 out of 5 bats.
I just can't think of anything I didn't like. }:)