At 32 years old, Dracula’s Forest can credit its longevity to well-thought-out, homegrown fun. It doesn’t presume to be something it’s not. It offers up only two attractions, and concentrates its full focus and energy on them, which is what makes it outstanding. You start out on its “Haunted Hayride,” which lulls you into a false sense of security at first by looking like any run-of-the-mill hayride. But as you continue, the path of the hayride becomes reminiscent of something that would have appeared in Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow.” The trees bend and arch in the all the right spots and their branches frame the trail in a lifelike, spooky picture frame. Tiny cauldrons with real flames light up the path on either side and, just for a moment, you feel like you’re on a candlelit estate tour instead of a haunted hayride. That moment comes and goes very quickly once you enter the forest. Riders who were sitting on the benches with their arms hanging off the sides have noticeably shrunken back inside the hayride and their smiling faces have gotten visibly more worrisome. And with good reason. The creepy doll/child on the swing. If she spoke, she probably would have told you to turn around. The actors were relentless. They scared you from the ground, then got up into the hayride and got right in your face. Then they waited quietly behind you while you were distracted and pounced on you again when you least expected it. Their timing was perfect. And there was action all around the hayride — and in the trees above you. People literally ended up on the floor of the hayride because they were so overwhelmed with everything that was happening around them. In other words, Dracula’s Forest’s “Haunted Hayride” does exactly what a haunted hayride is supposed to do. At one point, the hayride even got trapped in a pitch-black barn where Mike Meyers and a creepy clown got on board and made you wish you were wearing Depends. The next attraction, “Walk of Doom,” is celebrating its inaugural season. The actors here were fantastic, as well. They hissed in your ears, growled in your face and definitely invaded your personal space. During your walk, a dark corridor appears in the woods and, understandably, no one wants to go inside. But you must and, surprisingly, nothing happens. Your fear of being in the middle of the woods gets the best of you and you scare yourself for no reason. Soon after, an actor decides he wants to kill one of your friends and literally grabs someone from your group and throws them on the ground. Turns out, that “someone” was hiding in the corridor and joined your group, which added to the interactive fun of the walk. Even though there were no major props, what was there definitely was effective. The baby dolls hanging from the trees undeniably upped the creep factor. Hopefully next year, they will have added more actors on the walk because there definitely was some down time, compared to what happened on the hayride. But, overall, it was a fantastic addition to Dracula’s Forest. At $25 per ticket for both attractions, Dracula’s Forest is a steal. If you’re hungry, stop by the concession tent and grab a slice of pizza on the way out. It was delicious! Rating: 4½ Coffins out of 5
New to Dracula’s Forest this year is “Walk of Doom."