As haunters ourselves, we were delighted and honored to get to experience some of North Carolina’s Haunted Attractions this season! Here’s our thoughts from the NC haunted attractions we had time to experience in 2023 – stay tuned for another review of more attractions next year.
Woods Of Terror Review
Steph: Great haunt. Well organized and staffed. Actors were on point (some characters with accents!) Midway holds plenty of photo ops and things to do. Actors in that zone were good – chasing and interacting just enough without disrupting the overall experience. Didn’t get a chance to check out the market on the way out but could see a large variety of Fall pumpkins and squash along with some cute décor to go along with it. Worth a visit during the day too!
Destini: Absolutely – the entire experience was very full, there was a lot to see and do. Between multiple experiences/activities in the Midway, selfie material, and entertainment for the queue line, definitely enough to make a night out of it.
Steph: Forgot to time (as always) but the entire walk through was around 45 minutes. Each zone was spaced out with a short queue line to enter the next. Many of those were well designed and kept you immersed in the environment. Those brief waits were perfect to ‘reset’ before entering the next area. Never a long wait in each and just long enough to rest and get excited about what was in store next.
Destini: It felt overall a little longer to me, but I think those short breaks are why. It gave us enough time to share our experience of the last sets with those around us (which was a lot of people given how popular this attraction is). Often actors/staffers would help reset pacing, so we did wait at doors once or twice – but never for long – it was mostly forward movement which helped the experience feel fluid and exciting. But we can’t give a review of Woods of Terror without talking about the sets.
Steph: Sets are beautiful to the point that you almost miss the show trying to take in all the details. Some very cool props and effects. Get the 3D glasses – that area is amazing! Props to the artist – the colors really popped and created fabulous depth and movement.
Destini: I agree – I wish I could spend a few hours there and just look at the sets. We always try to be in the moment and enjoy ourselves, but we’re both definitely obsessed with sets and the “how it’s done” of it all. We spent so much time talking about the logistics of barrel placement. And I can’t wait to give that 3D neon/UV thing a go – if that’s optional, definitely get the glasses!
Steph: With the quality of the sets and the length of the show – definitely feel like it is worth the cost. Watch for early season codes/offers and definitely get there early to avoid the longer waits later in the season or later each evening. Keep an eye out for special events (half-way to Halloween), and their other seasonal offerings like Christmas.
Destini: So we’re going back for their next non-haunt-season event? I’m in!
Review of Panic Point Haunted Attraction
Steph: Fabulous fun! 5 separate haunts in 1 location. Great sets and storylines. Hayride is awesome with speakers on board adding to the storytelling. Definitely impressive with the tech adding to the story as you ride through. Nice to have a break between each haunt and the wagon-wheel layout of the haunts around the midway allows you to choose what order you do them based on lines or your faves.
Angie: Panic Point was the first haunted attraction I went to after COVID and I was so excited to be getting scared again. I love the layout of the property! It has a theme park feel, where there are five different attractions spread out and each one has a line you wait in (not a long wait) and an attendant that check your ticket and tells you when you are ready to go. The music was playing in the main center was a bit distracting, but it didn’t take me out of any of the attractions.
Steph: They’ve added to their concessions offerings this year for those breaks between haunts. Midway is fun and lively with music and roaming characters. Also has sideline entertainment like carnival games and a trailer with an immersive show that they change up each year.
Angie: Each attraction had its own theme. My favorite was the corn maze. It had particularly fun jump scares – but to be fair, I am the easiest person to scare.
Steph: Fantastic crew – many actors seem to really love what they do. Didn’t get the feeling that there were people in spots as placeholders and enjoyed the improv interaction with many of them.
Destini: I didn’t get to go with ya’ll to Panic Point, again. Buuuuuuut I just heard about their Christmas event on December 9th, and I am SO THERE this go round, and I’ll be sure to post a Panic Point review then.
Hollerin Haunts Review
Steph: Great hayride. They have done some amazing work in the last few years and have really ramped up their sets and scene setting! Really great facades and sets at each stop along the way. Some very cool large props and effects.
Destini: Super fast Hollerin Haunts hayride review – it was awesome! I’ll be honest, at first I was like “meh, a hayride seems kind of silly“, but I’m happy to wrong! It was thrilling, and exciting, moving at the same pace and not having to look where you were walking, which meant even more time to look around and really get immersed in each set. The ride does pause, which was fun and the actors were great at interacting and playing off the crowd. And the sets were great, lots to look at, with full buildings you drive through. I might be biased about these sets in particular, because I know many of their props so well, having worked on them in the past, they used them so well.
Angie: This was my favorite attraction! I could be biased because it is close to where I live but I thought it was the most fun. Happy to give a review of Hollerin Haunts – 10/10!
Steph: Ended with a short trail walk and some good improv actors. Probably a huge help on the logistics when moving a lot of people through having us disembark and walk the short bit back to the midway. Just enough happening to break up the hayride experience and provide more variety.
Destini: I like that you’re immediately thinking logistics, haha, I also liked the trail, it was a good wind down to the main event – they even gave us the option of the longer, more-scares walk, or the quicker way back to the midway. I appreciated that they thought to put porta potties near the trail start, that was smart thinking.
Angie: I loved the hayride and could not stop screaming/laughing from having so much fun. The zombie paintball haunt was pure fun.
Steph: Also did the zombie paintball activity. It was fun and different from the typical haunt experience. Wasn’t a very long ride, but it felt like just the right length. Anything longer would have potentially gotten boring. The shorter run seemed ideal.
Destini: I agree, any longer and it would have been a bit tedious. It was smartly laid out, as well, from an actor perspective, and it was really satisfying to hit targets. Full gamer mode!
Steph: The Darkness was also great! Just enough weirdness (angles, walls, dead ends etc) to keep it exciting. Changed things up near the end (no spoilers) and really held interest. Not just a boring back and forth maze and surprisingly more fun than I thought it was going to be!
Angie: The dark maze one was so terrifying, I kept scaring myself. I am pretty sure I just started spinning out of fear at one point. To be fair… Stephanie and Destini chose this when they decided to be friends with me. Love you both!
Destini: I had no idea what to expect, honestly, and it was very fun – and honestly, Angie shrieking at every turn just made the whole thing more amusing. Not as much scary as completely and totally disorienting. There was a lot of surprises in here, and I appreciated them mixing it up.
Steph: Good queue line actors. Enjoyed watching them go after others! Adding some escape rooms to provide even more entertainment options to the overall event. Needs more photo ops around the midway (we still found some good spots!) Another great fall event that does special events throughout the year and also a Christmas show – keep an eye on their socials so you don’t miss out!
Destini: Oh yeah, the actors in the midway and queue lines were awesome. I’ve been so escape room obsessed lately, I really wish I had gotten to do one. Didn’t get a chance to try the food, either. Next year! I liked that there was a variety of things to do in the Midway area. A great night out, for sure!
Darkside Haunted Estates Review
Steph: Still haven’t had the chance to go through the entire trail, but I did get to act and had a blast! Darkside Haunted Estates had a rough season (2023) and lost an important member of their family in October. A few of us went out to help out and act. What little of the trail we could see was a amazing and I can’t wait for the chance to go and experience the whole thing as a patron.
A haunt reviewer friend went, saying that overall it was a great attraction. Some really good sets (and we heard lots of screams and laughter through the woods!) The crew behind the attraction love what they do and are a really tight knit group with some acting together for many years. It really showed in how they were backstage and at the after-show-recap. I can imagine that it’s reflected in the show they put on as well. Definitely remains on my bucket list of NC haunts!
Universal Studios Orlando – Halloween Horror Nights Review 2023
Steph: Love Universal in general and this was my first time going and reviewing HHN! Let’s do this HHN Review super fast with bullet points:
- Great sets and actors (of course)
- Even the houses based on shows or movies I haven’t watched were still fun. Some of the details may
have been lost on me, but still enjoyed them.
- With the crowd levels they are running through there – this will not be like the haunted attractions you
visit at home. Definitely a conga line walk through with some amazing eye candy and a few well-placed
startle scares. Go knowing what the experience will be and plan to have a ball just being immersed in
- Nice mix of styles between the houses so not left feeling like we did the same thing over and over.
- Surprising lack of larger props or big effects. More old-school haunt feeling. Not a bad thing. Can’t
expect the larger-than-life feel of the amusement park rides to carry over quite the same.
- Definitely only go if you have the VIP pass to get the faster lines or plan to go several nights during a
visit. There are around 10 houses and each has their own entry line. Almost impossible to get through
everything without that. Even with the VIP and going on an ‘expected lighter crowd’ night – we almost
didn’t make it through and were exhausted! I think the ‘lighter’ night we went to only had 20,000 people
there. (yikes). Another option would be the RIP Tours. Expensive – but we watched those people walk
right to the front. I might have been a little jealous.
- If you are a haunter or real enthusiast, consider the daytime behind the scenes tours. Would have
been great to really be able to explore the sets and see the finer details. Our trip didn’t allow us the
time but considering it for next time for sure!
- Join some of the Facebook groups dedicated to this event. So many valuable tips shared!
- Choose daytime park fun or HHN – even with afternoon nap, doing both about killed us! Factor some
of that in when planning out your trip.
- Felt like some of the houses were very short and also co-located. The downside was the very long walk
to each and standing in the long line – only to exit and have another long walk around for the house
next to it. Perhaps combining into one longer house with a transition point between themes would
have been better.
- They have ‘scare zones’ through out the park. Some were pretty awesome! We were so tired and so
time-crunched trying to get to all the main houses that we didn’t explore as much as we would have
liked to. This goes back to the tip of trying to allow yourself plenty of time in the planning.
- Wore my CFF shirt to HHN night and ran into a regular from our little con in NC. Small world among
the horror-lovers I guess!
- Was so happy they added the Death Eaters to this event. Got the temp dark-mark tattoos on us to be
prepared! Love all things HP and Diagon Alley (especially Borgin & Burkes) is my happy place. Was really
excited about the Death Eaters and felt a bit disappointed. It was a bit chaotic and they seemed to be all
over the place and I think it could have been more organized to make for a better show/experience.
Was still pretty awesome though. Lots of people over there so I think Universal has proof of concept
and need to expand the hell out of that for future HHNs. (** If Universal is tuning in… I have many
ideas, a warped mind, and no reason to turn down a paycheck. Call me.)
- Final thought – I didn’t drink nearly enough or try enough of the weird food. Next time I will leave
more time in the schedule to do it all better!