|Scare Factor: High | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: I attend Dream Reapers every season, so Iím probably not the best guy to ask about this. As usual it was very easy to find.
Wait Entertainment: There was quite a bit, and even the Travel Channel was there to get in on the action. The crowd was pretty impressive for September. Show-Me the clown was on hand, riding a mini-moped to rile up the onlookers. A couple insanely cool looking creatures stood guard over the front doorÖ Their costumes were just nuts. Inside was a shady priest- very good and memorable, handing out tootsie-pops and inappropriate suggestions. After a short and pleasant exchange with one of the owners in the freshly pimped-out ticket room, we moved into the que area, which didnít disappoint either. Finally, before going in, the door man was really cool, carrying on conversation while staying strictly in character.
Length of Event: I donít know. It seemed longer this year, but I walked slowly. Iíll say 15 minutes total, more or less.
Actor Performance: Top notch, and a HUGE improvement over last year. Last year there were many open areas filled with actors youíd see coming from a mile away. This year actors were actually lurking in the shadows, aggressive, and waiting to pounce. And it worked. The only minor issue with acting here is that a lot of the attacks were directed at the front of the group, but thatís an easy fix.
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: Perfect. Like I said, I walked slowly, and no one caught our group. On top of this, last year one of my complaints was that on a slow night they sent us through in a group of about ten-twelve. This time we were allowed in with a nice cozy group of six. They gave us the show we paid for.
Appropriate Ages: Depends on the kid, of course. This year there was more gore and more adult themes. I personally wouldnít bring a kid under 13, based purely on the carved up bodies and "alleged" prostitutes.
Props / Special FX: I believe the best in the state, among what I've seen. Maybe it's not Disney or Universal, but those two have mega millions to play with. Dream Reapers is very professional, very complete. Great lighting, great visuals. Plenty to see.
Costumes / Make-up: Everyone was dressed to impress- with the best looking costumes Iíve ever seen in a haunted house; and Iíve seen several of the top haunted houses in the nation.
Summary: Dream Reapers is my favorite Illinois haunted house. Each and every year D.R. is my first stop, and every year I post an honest review. Last year I lowered my score a bit, giving them a 7. I (and a couple others) wrote in our reviews about how the scare factor was gone, about how even though the place looked great, they had a few too many screaming little girls and not enough scare. Well, they fixed that. Huge thumbs up to the owners for actually listening to the customers.
The new areas were just excellent. After several years where the back end of the house was the star of the show, the front of the haunt is now just as good, if not better. As for memorable scenes, Iíll go with everything new. I normally donít like butcher shop stuff, but they really pulled it off well. The sewer was killer. The hookers -and the area they were patrolling- was great too. Lots of very creative new sets, and I donít give that compliment out very easily.
One major complaint though: The turd on the plate. That was just stupid, and you guys are above that. With all you have going, you simply donít need to resort to putting poo, fake or not, near my face. My other criticisms: It would be good if the ending had a little more Ďbangí to it. Where the @#$ are you hiding Andy the Corpse? Shine a spotlight on that guy. And of course, it would be nice if the house was a little longer, but if youíre out of space, hey, youíre out of space. Other than that I was very impressed. Even the gift shop is 100x better, with tons of masks, costumes, props, and even a guy carrying around a live snake. I even got a free energy drink and tootsie pop. No, I didnít give the priest anything in exchange for the tootsie pop.
So, in conclusion: Nicely done. Last year I honestly had my doubts about the future of Dream Reapers, and only visited once. This year Iíll be back for seconds. Last year I also really didnít think Dream Reapers deserved number one. This yearÖ I canít see how anyone in IL could possibly top Dream Reapers. This is the premier haunted house in the Chicago area, and the one that most other area haunts will be copying for years to come. To all the people interested in seeing a top-of-the-line haunted house, be sure to check Dream Reapers out, and try to do it when the crowds are a bit smaller, so you can move at your own pace. Next stop: Netherworld, Atl.