|Scare Factor: Very Low | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: Clearly Visible, huge festival on Randall Rd.
Wait Entertainment: Not a haunt, nothing but entertainment.
Length of Event: As long as you stayed.
Actor Performance: German performers were great.
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: N/A
Appropriate Ages: All
Props / Special FX: N/A
Costumes / Make-up: Great.
Summary: The Fox Valley Oktoberfest is a collaboration of the Fox Valley German-American National Congress and the South Elgin Chamber of Commerce. Originally established as a Bavarian State Festival to revive the Munich sport of Heavy Horse racing in 1810, it now is a celebration of the end of the growing season and a festival of beer. While this has nothing to do with haunts it is in the review section so I thought I would share my thoughts.
Held next to the Meijer store on Randall Road in Elgin (which is funny because it is brought to us by the South Elgin Chamber of Commerce). The festival included all thinks German. It offered authentic German food, beers, dance, gifts, and anything else German. There was also a large carnival with rides and a midway of games. There were food vendors ranging from Authentic German vendors to local restaurants serving traditional American fare. There was entertainment everywhere ranging from German dance (with dancers in authentic German attire), German folk music, and a lot more. The event had ample free parking and several large tents so that festival patrons could enjoy the festivities regardless of the weather.
Overall events like these, especially FREE ones, are a blast and help bring all sorts of communities together. It also gives people a great opportunity to explore and learn about other cultures, especially ones that they may not be really familiar with.
|Scare Factor: Medium | Atmosphere: Good|
Visibility/Location: No signs on road but great building signs - read below.
Wait Entertainment: Midway - read below.
Length of Event: 30 minutes.
Actor Performance: Never broke character and very intense - see review.
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: Early in the season and did not hit any other groups.
Appropriate Ages: 12 and up.
Summary: Dear Haunt Fans,
As always I will try to give everyone a good overall feel for the attraction without giving away any specifics that could ruin your experience if you attend. I visited Rockford Screamfest on Saturday September 24th with my group. The haunt was, as in previous years, tucked in the back of the Machesney Park Mall. It is easy to get to, even from the Northwest Suburbs. Although, there were no visible signs from the street pointing you to the attraction, once you get to the back of the mall you see a giant sign hanging over the entrance and a huge winged monster on a trailer. The attraction costs $13 per person, but there are several ways to get one dollar off per person including a printable coupon on their web-site. The wait area for this attraction is very unique. After purchasing your tickets you are allowed to freely roam the midway that they have set-up. There is the “Monster Café” with concessions, video games, three separate horror movies playing, a chance to take your picture in “spooky” scenes, vendors selling reptiles, and SEATS everywhere. There is TV screens set-up around the midway notifying patrons when to enter the attraction line based on the corresponding numbers on your tickets. This without a doubt is one of the coolest set-ups around especially when compared with option of standing in line for (insert amount of time) with nothing to do. Rockford Screamfest claims to have “over 6 haunted houses for the price of one”. While I feel that it has several themes in one VERY LARGE haunt. Either way the attraction is large and takes a good amount of time to get through.
Once into the attraction you are immediately ushered through “Willowdale Farm”. Before you reach the farm you walk through a dark area that has a long winding path of White Birch trees and dark netting. After this though most of the areas are open at the top are not nearly as dark, which kind of takes you out of the scene. But once you enter the farm you are immediately greeted with a very detailed and large barn. The barn, the tool shed, and the farm house scene (especially the planks leading to the house) were amazing. Other areas that you encounter while in this house include cornfields that are greatly detailed with both real stalks and a painted background and a country graveyard.
After exiting the farm you then are ushered to the “Institute for the Criminally Insane”. This haunt, overall, was the least detailed in the attraction. One example was that an exam table was made of unfinished wood and not painted or decorated at all. I am not saying that the detail was bad but it just did not look nearly as tight as the farm scene and especially not in the same caliber as the Realm of Darkness. There were a couple of good areas and props (the hanging corpses were very realistic). But the acting was excellent (as it was in all the scenes) and a lot more intense, which made up for the lack of scene detail.
Once you finished with the Institute you are brought to the “Realm of Darkness”. If you have been here in the past this is where the attraction used to begin. This is by far and away the most detailed haunt at Rockford Screamfest, which begins with the exterior look of the manor. Although it has not changed much there are still some of the coolest exits from rooms that you will find anywhere. The main draw back is that most of the actors, while intense and energetic, are just in plain sight, which takes some of the thrill out of the house. One of the coolest scenes in the entire house can be found in the kitchen, especially how you leave the kitchen.
The next haunt is “Riverview Cemetery”. This area does a lot to give the feel of being outdoors from the trees placed throughout to the bridge over the fountain. The scenes were well detailed but there was way too much light because the tops of the walls were not covered with anything. While other houses at Rockford Screamfest had this same issue it seams more noticeable in the cemetery because you almost wanted it to be completely dark and only lit by the individual scenes. Another major drawback to this attraction was the lack of actors it had compared with the other houses. Three scenes that you can not miss though are the three headed wolf, the abandoned car (and an easy and fun scare for almost anyone in your group), and the stage coach, which is one of the best looking props you will find anywhere.
Lastly, is the “Nightmare in 3-D”. This is one of the best 3-D houses that you can attend. The graphics are awesome and it is large enough to really mess with your mind. The best part of the house are the actors that are disguised in costumes that hide with the surroundings so well that you can barely see them. Also, the clowns in this area are about as intense as you will find anywhere.
In the end, Rockford Screamfest has made a lot of changes (for example Industrial Chaos is gone) and if you have not attended in a couple of seasons now is the time. The biggest complaints I had were that there was too much light in a lot of areas (because of open ceilings) which takes you out of the scene and that there were some scenes lacking sufficient or any actors. With that said they offer, hands down, the best wait area of any attraction that I have attended, this will be an even greater asset as the temperature drops or if there are any rainy nights. Also, this attraction offers a large haunt at good price even though the travel time may be a deterrent for some in the suburbs. The entire attraction offers great acting, decent scenery, and a medium scare factor. This was a very good all around attraction and is worth the trip.