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2004 Rockford Screamfest Haunted House Review

  Rockford Screamfest Haunted House
Machesney Park Mall
8750 North 2nd St
Machesney Park, IL 61115 

Reviewed: 10/09/04

Visibility/Location: Rockford Screamfest is located inside the Machesney Park Mall and since it is on the back side, it is not visible from the road. But once you get to the back of the mall, you can see a large vinyl banner over the entrance of the haunted house. Although signage was lacking, if you follow the directions listed on their website, you should have no problem finding this event.
Wait Entertainment: Rockford Screamfest really excelled in this category. While the outside of the mall building was pretty plain-looking, they did have actors entertaining customers waiting in line. There was also an old hearse parked out front, as well as a huge winged beast, with a 20 foot wingspan! Once inside the attraction, there were many things to do. Their midway area had a few photo ops (including one where you could have your picture taken, laying in a coffin!), video games, a paintball gallery, concession stand, seating for 100 people, big screen TV's playing movies and more! So patrons could take full advantage of the midway activities this year, Rockford Screamfest introduced a new line management system. Each ticket stub had a number and people who had already purchased their tickets could play games or grab a snack in the midway, until their number came up on the monitor. They would then move to a queue line and enter the haunted house shortly after that. No more waiting in line for hours. What a great idea!
Admission Price: $13.00

20 Minutes *  
= Since people move through haunted attractions at different rates, your time will vary.

Scare Factor: Medium.    
Atmosphere: There was a spooky atmosphere from start to finish. There were props and actors outside to help set the mood. Even the indoor ticket line was dark and dismal. The detailed scenes, eerie lighting and sound effects carried a spooky feel throughout all the attractions.
Crowd Control: Crowd control was pretty good; however, there were a couple of times when groups ran into each other.

Rockford Screamfest was comprised of seven consecutive, uniquely themed areas, inside a huge 70,000 square foot indoor space. The floor plan was laid-out very well.  There was only one waiting line in front of the first attraction and as you exited each consecutive house, you immediately entered the next one, without having to wait in a separate line. 

Willowdale Farm Summary:

As the name implies, Willowdale Farm had a country farm theme. They had constructed a huge 15 foot tall barn, which was detailed quite well with old weathered boards and cobwebs.  Along the way, you encountered several twisting walkways, with corn stalks on either side of you.  In the middle of the attraction, you passed through a nicely detailed country graveyard that had grave markers and a picket fence, with crooked boards.  There was also a tool shed that you had to go through, where the walls and ceiling swayed back and forth, as if the structure was going to fall down on top of you.  

Realm of Darkness Summary:

This attraction was set up as a haunted manor, with a very nice, detailed facade.  In your trek through the Realm of Darkness, you had to wind your way through various rooms of the house, such as the study, bedroom, kitchen, and attic. This was one of the most detailed attractions at Rockford Screamfest.  In some of the rooms, the exit was not always obvious.  To advance on to other scenes, you had to walk through various hidden exits like a fireplace, refrigerator or bookcase.  

Unfortunately, there were fewer actors in this house than there were last year. Since one of the main strengths of this attraction had been the theatrical performance of the actors, the overall impact of some of these scenes had diminished, compared to last year's performance.  

Industrial Chaos Summary:

This house was set up with an industrial motif.  While working your way through Industrial Chaos, you had to weave back and forth through barriers consisting of industrial racks, barrels and wooden pallets.  To go along with the industrial theme, there were pipes running along the walls, a large conveyor belt, electrical breaker boxes, as well as some eerie lighting, fog and a great music soundtrack to get your blood pumping. 

Like the Realm of Darkness, this attraction also had a few "dead spots", due to the limited number of actors present.  This scene covered quite a large area, so a few extra 'ghouls' would have made a big difference in the quality of the show.   

Riverview Cemetery Summary:

This area was very detailed and enjoyable to go through.  It featured some classic cemetery-related props like headstones, real trees and a tall cemetery gate.  There was also a bridge that you had to cross, with glowing green water beneath it.  The effective use of spooky sound effects and eerie lighting really enhanced the overall 'feel' of this attraction.  Not only were there a lot of static props, but there were also a number of animatronics, as well as live actors, who seemed to jump out of nowhere to scare you.

"Pitch Black" Summary:

 This attraction is as the name states, Pitch Black.  It was a dark, twisting path with some great spooky sound effects playing in the background.  There were also a couple of actors, hidden under the cloak of darkness, ready to spring out at you as you walked by.  

Institute for the Criminally Insane Summary:

The Institute for the Criminally Insane was brand new this year and overall, one of my personal favorites.   Inside you experienced a doctor's office with an examination table and x-rays hanging on the wall, a Solitary Confinement area with separate locked cells, a room with padded walls and more.  The insane asylum theme ran consistently throughout most of the attraction.  The only thing that didn't necessarily follow the main theme was the drop-panel picture (a drop-panel picture is what appears to be a framed picture on the wall, but is really a panel that drops down, revealing an actor who scares you).  While it was good for a scare, this gag would have fit in better with the "Realm of Darkness" motif.  You don't see that many spooky-looking framed portraits in an insane asylum.  Anyway, most of the actors in this attraction had speaking parts, and they performed convincingly.  The realistic scenes and the actor's enthusiasm helped make you feel as if you had really stepped into an insane asylum. 

Nightmare in 3D Summary:

This house had various themes throughout, with some great 3D artwork.  One scene featured glowing striped snakes attached to the walls, while another had glowing hand prints.  The clown area was great, with side show freaks illustrated on the walls and evil clown actors approaching you.  The highlight of the show for most people seemed to be the spinning vortex tunnel.  This was the least intense of all Rockford Screamfest's attractions.

This year, Rockford Screamfest added some new themes, as well as adding detail to a number of pre-existing scenes.  You can tell that it took a lot of work to put this all together.  The actors in this event all did a great job.  They knew their roles and followed through quite well.  Overall, going through Rockford Screamfest was fun, but if more actors had been added to certain key areas, it would have made the experience even more enjoyable. For the time spent inside and the total entertainment value provided, this event is fun to go through and it is worth the admission price.

Click here to find out more about this event.




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