CarnEvil was a collection of three haunted houses located in the parking lot of the Sears Centre, in Hoffman Estates. Two of them were tent attractions (“Tomb of Laveau” and “Carny Town”) and the third was set up in trailers (“Ma Buckner’s Doll Factory”). Each event had its own queue line, so patrons could visit the attractions in any order they wanted to. Since the haunted houses were out in the parking lot, there was no covered waiting, so you should keep that in mind if visit on a night when there could be inclement weather.
I can’t comment on their advertised “Blades of Gory” attraction, which will allow patrons to skate on an ice rink with zombies. Unfortunately, it wasn’t operating on the date I attended. It was only scheduled to operate from October 24th through the 27th, which is after the date we visited.
Tomb of Laveau
As you might have guessed, Tomb of Laveau had an undead theme. For the most part, that theme continued throughout the entire haunted house, from start to finish. Tomb of Laveau was a lot more detailed than other tent attractions I have been to. Many of the scenes had caskets, skeletons and other related props.
One room featured a voodoo ritual. Sitting on top of a table along the far wall was a skeleton draped with a black shroud, with feathers & burning candles spread out over the tabletop.
In another area, patrons walked into a tomb and through a winding path of multi-level catacombs. Sitting inside alcoves were rotting bodies and skeletons. Near the end of the scene, there was a nice surprise scare. I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, but it really took me off guard.
Some of the actors in this haunted house used pop-out scares, while others in plain view moaned and groaned loudly, as they attacked you. The dark environment inside the tent gave the actors plenty of good hiding places to attack you from.
While most of the scenes and special effects followed the main theme, there was one exception. Just before the exit, customers had to walk through a spinning vortex tunnel. I’m not sure why they added that at the end. Perhaps customers were being transported from the land of the undead back to reality? Regardless, vortex tunnels are usually a crowd favorite, so the other customers seemed to enjoy it.
Tomb of Laveau was very well done. My only complaint would be that it was too dark in some places and the actors’ make-up, as well as some of the room detail could be missed, if you weren’t paying close attention.
We entered Carny Town through a large, round sewer pipe and were instantly transported into a world of scary carnival freaks. While walking through the dingy sewer pipes, the sound of dripping water could be heard in the background. In an adjacent area, there were some flashing and snapping electrical panels.
In another area, we encountered a backwoods shack, complete with a detailed front porch and a disgusting kitchen. Another nearby scene featured a disgusting bathroom with a feces smeared toilet.
After the kitchen, we walked through a winding path with exposed walls that had light shining through the wooden slats. Sections of this haunted house reminded me of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Deliverance.
The actors in this area were enthusiastic, and very vocal. While walking through, I heard some of them exclaim “Yeehaw!”, “Hey there, sweet thang!” and “Hey, big boy! Where are you goin’?” They were very interactive and did their best to invade your space.
One of my favorite scenes was the freezer. Illuminated by bright blue lights, sides of beef and human body bags hanging from the ceiling had to be pushed aside, in order to get through. Full length mirrors added to the illusion of the size of the room, which also made it less obvious which way you needed to go, to exit the scene. At the end, there was a great surprise scare.
Ma Buckner’s Doll Factory
This haunted house started off strong. As we walked in, we were greeted by an axe-wielding maniac in an embalming room with blood-splattered white tile walls. In the middle of the room, there were two angled embalming tables with bodies on them. He chased us out of the room, into the next area.
From there, we were led inside a large freight elevator. Flashing lights and a herky-jerky shaking motion simulated a rough elevator ride to another floor. One the next scenes was a morgue-like area. The walls on both sides of the path were lined with bodies lying on slide-out drawers.
Another part of the house was an industrial area with rusted pipes lining the walls. Plastic drainage tubes were hanging from the ceiling that you had to push out of the way. In one of the next rooms, there were piles of mannequin body parts everywhere. As we walked through, various faceless figures popped out from clever hiding places, to scare us. The scene nearest the exit featured a character that looked like a huge robot. When we walked into the room, he stood up and chased us outside.
After exiting the trailer, customers had to walk through a small area of chain link fencing, which seemed rather uneventful and pointless. There were no actors out there and it was a simple zig-zag path that was easy to navigate. They should have made the robot area the last scene, so the attraction ended on a high note, instead of the chain-link fence path, which made the ending a bit boring.
Overall, I was very pleased with my visit to CarnEvil. The attractions were very well themed and they were a lot of fun to go through. The acting was great, too. There were plenty of actors throughout all of the attractions and no one broke character. My only complaint would have to be the high admission price. For $35, I would have expected a lot more than a combined walk-through time of 13 minutes for all three haunted houses. The entertainment value of what they had was good, but there just wasn’t enough to justify the $35 ticket price. Still, cost aside, it is a great show so be sure to check them out if you are in the area.
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(Update: On 10/16/13, we received an email from CarnEvil informing us that they have lowered their general admission price to $27.)