Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gateway's Haunted Playhouse (Review)

To find the the very best haunted houses in New York, you sometimes have to venture away from the city. I've been stuck within the city limits, but with the help of The Raven and Black Cat and Survivor Bailey Squared we all jam-packed into a car and road tripped to the various haunts of Long Island a few weeks back. Our final stop was Gateway's Haunted Playhouse, a haunt that has been on top 10 lists and voted #1 haunt in LI for consecutive years. I didn't know what to expect, I had only read a few Yelp reviews but "C" from TRABC had proclaimed it as one of the best haunts she's ever been to.

And after experiencing it, I absolutely 100% agree.

Just to put it in writing, Gateway's Haunted Playhouse is one of the best haunted houses I have ever been to. The set pieces, the actors and the dedication to making something new and inventive separates Gateway from the rest. It's a haunt like no other. Located in Bellport, NY the haunted playhouse takes place at an actual working playhouse. This theater is transformed into an inside and outside haunt that this year goes from circus freakshow to twisted fairy tales. It's this dedication to authenticity that stands out. The props and rooms are made from scratch, the actors immerse themselves into their parts and the scares are well timed and flow perfectly. This is as close to a perfect haunted house as you can get.

First, let's go over the atmosphere and how they've set up their ticketing and line system. Sure they have a fast pass option but you buy tickets on a first come first serve basis. When your ready to be called, they'll let you know. In the meantime, you get to wait by having drinks and being entertained by performers (when I went I saw a fire eater, you know typical HH stuff). Even the waiting is designed to be less of a hassle as you can wait.

Entering the haunt in small groups, you'll encounter the backstage...literally. Each prop, room and setting seems systematically designed to transport you into another world.  From the bizarre world of behind the scenes of a theater to a 1000 Maniacs like circus county fair, you get to walk into a maze of twists and turns that have you literally trapped with these crazies. And they are wonderfully awesome highly interactive crazies.

Outside you'll walk into an assortment of freaks and weirdos. Dog and lizard boys and a grandmaster who mocks you. It's a miss mash of the bizarre and the abnormal and it's done with that flair for the absurd that makes you glad you were here. An ambulance oddly placed is creatively fun to go through and as you head inside, you wish you could hang with these lovely nuts for the rest of the night.

Inside the funhouse it gets funner. We enter a dreamworld of the most fucked up fairy tales you'll ever encounter. From Hansel and Gretel to Rapunzel, each room is a twisted Disney prince and princess as if they were locked in a dungeon and brutally tortured. The rooms are brilliantly dressed and even the in between rooms connect it all together. It's not just the visual and the auditory. Here at Gateway you'll smell things that go from sweet and happy to repulsive and disgusting. It's smell-o-vision and it is freakin awesome. Darkness leads to strobe lights that lead to rooms where walking becomes a chore. This leads to an ending that will literally knock you off your feet.

I do think this wonderland could have reached into the fear bucket a bit more. It's more a walk through Oz than a terror factory. Sure there are your fair share of jump scares but all was pretty standard when it came to the BOOs! If there is one place that can make the darkness more terrifying, I think it would be Gateway and I hope they try next year to add this element in.

Aside from my wish list, when you have your working parts working in sync, Gateway Haunted Playhouse is 40 or so minutes of exhilaration. You can see this isn't your store bought haunt with Travel Channel approved animatronics but a world class production making sure you get a one of a kind experience. Each room is like a hot set, dressed  a Hollywood production. The actors engulf themselves in their roles, their costumes designed to be realistic, their makeup world class. It's like getting walking through an interactive Broadway horror show.

My last stop in LI turned out to be the best. It reminds me that the best isn't always in the city limits. Gateway Haunted Playhouse is the type of haunted attraction that is made by people who want to scare and entertain you in the best way possible. It's far from those assembly line haunts you've all been to. When you've been to as many HH's as I have, you keep looking for the next best thing.

All I had to do was make a trip out east to find it.

The Vitals

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