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2005 Trail of Screams Haunted House Review
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Trail of Screams
YMCA Camp Winnebago
5804 N. Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103

Visited: 10/21/05

Visibility/Location: This event was more visible than last year.  Along with the "Trail of Screams" sign that was posted on a utility pole at the entrance, they also had backlit arrow sign along the road, helping to advertising the event.  If you were coming from the South, there was no way you could miss it; however, if you were traveling from the North, the signs were somewhat obstructed by the trees at the entrance, so you could possibly miss the turn.  If you follow the directions listed on their website, you should have no problems finding this event.  
Wait Entertainment: While you were waiting in line, they had a 'Michael Myers' character making his way through the crowd. At other times, he was lurking in the surrounding trees.   A big screen television was playing the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", while scary music could be heard closer to the entrance of the house.  To get you in the mood for the attraction they had set up a spooky-looking wrought-iron gate, burning tiki torches and brick facade near the entrance of the haunted house (see picture above).   
Admission Price: $10.00

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

Scare Factor: High.    
Crowd Control: This is another thing they did well.  They spaced patrons out appropriately.  Since you were led through by a tour guide, we never ran into any other groups.   


The Trail of Screams is a combination indoor/outdoor event held at the YMCA Camp Winnebago in Rockford, Illinois.  Most of the scenes were inside buildings, which were separated by lengths of spooky nature trails.  In previous years, this attraction had been very theatrical.  They still maintained their theatrical flair, but this year they really increased the scare factor.  Throughout the attraction, there were various vignettes performed as you walked through.  A lot of these were very high-energy scenes and many were highly detailed. 

In one of the first scenes, you entered through a coffin-shaped opening, to see a vampire in a casket.  As the vampire lunged at the audience, a priest tried to hold him back, but failed and became a victim of the vampire's bite.  I also enjoyed their "Prison of the Dead" and torture chamber.  In the prison, the Warden barked at you like you were one of his prisoners and he actually separated one of the girls from the group to be "put to death".  Later in the scene, she rejoined all the other patrons in time for a "prison break".  This scene was well crafted with great sound effects (like the escape siren) and sweeping search lights.   The torture chamber was another intense scene.  To get there, you had to walk through a 10 foot deep trench that had been cut into the ground.  Not many people saw the actor hiding in a recessed area of the trench until it was too late.  When you got to the building, the entrance was boarded up and was just wide enough for you to get through.  Just when you thought nothing was going to happen, a man ran into the room, carrying a girl over his shoulder.  He threw her down to the ground and attacked her with a power saw.      

The most intense portion of the entire tour had to be the van ride. The tour guide led all of the patrons out into an open area, where they were loaded into the back of a van.  Then the driver took off, weaving around curves at high speeds, until finally screeching to a halt when he reached his destination. Let me tell you, it was VERY intense.  So intense, in fact, that some of the patrons in the van were speaking like it was their last day on earth.  I actually overheard one girl say to her friends "I love you guys".  It was so wild, it was...  dare I say "dangerous"? But it was a thrill nonetheless and everyone made it out alive. 

Being a theatrical production, most of the actors in the scenes were wearing great costumes and make-up.  Those who had speaking parts seemed to know their lines very well and performed their routines smoothly.  But not everyone was in a costume.  There were a few actors wearing dark clothing, who were hiding along the trail, ready to jump out and scare you.  The only real actor-related problem that I encountered was with the tour guide.  She seemed to know her lines; however, since she was facing away from you while she was speaking, sometimes it was difficult to hear what she was saying. This was a little frustrating, considering that it was the tour guide's job to describe key points of the storyline and explain where you were headed next.   

The Trail of Screams did a great job this season, enhancing various portions of their show and turning up the scare factor.  I also liked the interactive nature of this event.  That made the it more interesting and seemed to "draw you in" to certain scenes.  Keep in mind that you will spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, so make sure that you dress appropriately and wear comfortable walking shoes.  This event is a great value.  For only ten dollars, you get over a half hour of entertainment.  Great job guys!

Click here to find out more about this event.




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