Fright Kingdom is Your All-Weather Must-See Haunted Attraction (5 stars)
by Johnny Monsarrat
Just an hour's drive north of Boston in Nashua, New Hampshire, you'll find one of the best Halloween attractions in New England. The defining factor to Fright Kingdom is that its 5 attractions are set in a warehouse. So you won't find the glorious outdoor woods walks of many attractions, but if you're afraid of the cold or if it's raining you have found the #1 spot in New England! We were able to speak with owner Tim Dunne and learn some behind-the-scenes facts.
Unlike many venues, Fright Kingdom is not temporary -- it stays up all year, allowing them plenty of time to create and fix things, and to hold special events like their December "Fright Before Christmas". They've been in the same warehouse for 12 years, growing from 15,000 square feet to now 150,000.
Fright Kingdom takes the worst part of any Halloween attraction, waiting in line, and makes it the best thing. When you enter, they give your group a card with a character, such as a zombie or vampire. Then you are free to roam around the central area until they call your card. In the central atrium you can see terrariums with live tarantulas. You can explore the museum of movie props (all authenticated as items that were used in real horror movies, like the shirt that the spooky girl wore in The Ring). And you can buy merchandise from a variety of vendors selling posters, books, jewelry, hot dogs, and cotton candy. (Please ignore the psychic reading. Those con men and con women prey on the gullible.)
But that's not all! They also have a stage for spooky dance performances (although none were on view the night we went) and a DJ entertaing the crowd. You can get an "escape the room" experience, which I wish we had tried. You can step into a coffin and get "buried alive" as it shakes on pneumatics and you hear spooky sounds played. Your friend can watch you in the coffin on a night vision cam, too. They have numerous displays where you can get photos taken with friends. "Casket ball" is like basketball with a coffin theme. They even have an actor from The Walking Dead there to meet fans!
So we're already having a fantastic time. You feel totally entertained and haven't even gone into the attractions yet. They do have VIP tickets to rush to the front of the line, which is highly recommended.
Then you walk through several attractions set up in a series. I can't think whether that's better than having them all start from the central core and allowing guests to choose which ones they want to go through. All together it makes for a very long experience. You could easily spend an entire evening at Fright Kingdom. If they got a food license I'd have dinner there, too.
In my 2013 review I noted that, due to safety laws, the entire attraction must be open so that the rooftop sprinklers, in case of an emergency, could reach the floor. But this year I noticed they used netting and a lattice, so that we felt much more immersed in a haunted environment. You can really forget that you're in a warehouse space. There was much less filler as well. Instead of going with usual Halloween themes and props, every room and each actor's costuming had original thought put in it. The production quality was much higher than before, with a "found object" element to much of the decorations. The owner, Tim, works in demolition and from the houses he takes down he pulls leftover furniture and supplies for Fright Kingdom, which explains why it is so extensive. They had very creative set design. I loved the place where a guy on bungee cords jumps out at you. Make sure to use the chalkboard at the end and mark how scary you thought the attraction is.
The actors have clearly defined roles and little vignettes to play out, so that they aren't screaming to startle you. We loved the doll face women. And the dead girl with the baby carriage and mom. And their 3D experience, where you put on 3D glasses, went far beyond the usual (painted plywood) to include theatrical scares and innovative set design.
A creative genius was clearly in charge of trap doors because many of the monsters pop out from places you would never expect! It has tons of dummies and animatronics, some small but also plenty of large ones including a talking skeleton and two 12-foot demons. Our favorite was the devil on a throne in the 5th attraction. We were thrilled by the "vortex", where the room seems to spin, and the use of air cannons. However, in one area, where you touch the walls in the darkness to feel your way, was too long. And they had electric shocks that were too intense, actually hurting instead of delighting. Tone that down, please.
Fright Kingdom is now a well-deserved 5 stars, and one of the top 10 haunted attractions in New England. But if it's raining then it's the best haunted attraction in New England! See www.frightkingdom.com.