Asylum Acres is the newest haunt born on the grounds of what was once upon a time the Peoria State Hospital (aka Bartonville State Hospital, or the really fright inducing, Illinois Asylum for the Incurable Insane). I attended the haunt on its first night at the beginning of the evening. Though the event began at 7, they waited until approximately 7:40 to start taking people on the trail as it was still too light out to provide a good scare.
The trail is ¾ of a mile long (coupled with your walk from the parking space, not a bad little workout). It is dark. It is uneven. It is in the woods. You have to cross a couple of bridges. Again…it is DARK. So much so that I was unable to read some of the signs they used to identify the scene you were entering. I highly recommend hiking boots/sturdy shoes. Not sure if the haunt allows small flashlights, but there are times where one would have been handy. Of course, I would have dropped it 20 times when I got scared, but still handy!!!
When you approach where you will purchase your ticket, you will pass a small concession table and the outdoor haunt requirement of Port-A-Potties. The ticket booth is set at the front of the trail. They do have some booth seats set along the side of the road that I assume are for folks who get tired of standing. Other than that, there is nothing. Which I guess is what you should see at the beginning of a trail into the woods.
I was skeptical going into this haunt that they would be able to pull it together enough to provide solid entertainment on their first night. But there was an outstanding number of characters for such a long trail. High end masks, great hiding places, my beloved ground critters who grab at your legs, etc. They do utilize some children, but I was pleased most remained silent and actually generally creepy. One in particular had on what looked like a doll mask and all she did was slowly maneuver around a tree, but it was effective.
If you, or anyone in your group is afraid of clowns, this is the place to be. I love that it appears a circus has landed (think Killer Klowns from Outer Space—except no cotton candy guns) smack dab in the middle of the woods. Circus lights. Circus music. And a plethora of maniacal, ornery, antagonizing clowns. It was awesome. I loved that there were so many of them that no matter where you turned another one was in your face. This was the highlight for me. My tortured cousin who I bullied into going with me would probably disagree with me on this.
There were some areas that I felt could use some attention. While eye level and ground level frights were numerous, there were no scares from above. Including this would have increased my “where is the next scare going to come from” anxiety tenfold.
Secondly, the last scene was centered on Arachnids. They had a long section of the trail, creepily lit by the moon, densely decorated with cobwebs, all set up to be the perfect ending…..and nothing. No spiders. No spooks. No noises. Nothing. Having someone in the trees throwing stuff at me that even remotely felt like a spider would have had me running out.
The end of the haunt is technically when you have to be “scanned for ghosts” by the Ghostbusters (Ghostbusters theme song is included here). But there is an unexpected bonus between the Arachnid section and the Ghostbusters. You have to walk along the perimeters of one of the State Hospitals’ cemeteries. There is nothing to draw your eye over to the tombstones so if you are focused on getting to the Ghostbusters you could potentially miss it. I’m sure there are rules against it, but I couldn’t help but think how awesome it would have been to look out into the distance and see several people just meandering around the graveyard in white hospital gowns.
For a first night, first run haunt, Asylum Acres delivered.
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