Review: Haunted Overload, Lee NH (5 stars)
Last year, the team from Events INSIDER went on a 10-day Halloween blitz! In October 2013, I visited 28 attractions to bring you reviews and information on everything Halloween in New England. We went indoors and outdoors as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Rhode Island, and as far west as Connecticut. Don’t forget to visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where we list more creative October events than anyplace else!
Haunted Overload is the only Halloween attraction I’ve ever been to that could be considered a work of art. It’s a walk through the woods set on the Demeritt Hill Farm in Lee, New Hampshire, which has ‘Halloween Storybook Hayrides’ during the day for kids, and a pick-your-own apples field. They also grow peaches, nectarines, blueberries, pumpkins, vegetables and Christmas trees. While Haunted Overload is “only” one attraction, it is extensive, and surely for marketing purposes they could break it into 5 pieces and just say that they have 5 attractions, which is what Fright Kingdom and other destinations do.
What an attraction! They rarely buy props or displays at Haunted Overload. Instead, they build them from scratch like master sculptors and carpenters. Spook leader Kyle Arruda met us and explained that founder Eric Lowther began work in his front yard and it just grew and grew in popularity.
It is incredibly creative. You begin by walking into the mouth of a giant wooden skull which is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, with a laser and fog creating the sense that you are entering a tunnel to another world. At most attractions that would be the main and only “wow” display, but at Haunted Overload it is just the beginning of wow and wow and OMG WOW! It really is a sensory “overload”.
The footpath through the woods was groomed and mostly free of obstacles, a must for visitors who want to spend their time looking around, not watching their feet. Soon you encounter an even more enormous skull which must be 50 feet tall, made of wood, with fog and eerie purple lighting coming from its mouth. And that’s just the beginning. Someone with a fantastic, creative sense of theatrical staging and lighting has put together a series of displays that must have stemmed from a decade of a team asking themselves, “how can we top last year?” over and over.
What’s more, there were plenty of actors. So in addition to the displays, we found ourselves surprised and delighted by the monsters, and they didn’t all need to scream. Many just growled or had plausibly twisted interactions with us. The only negative I can think of was that the line bunched up considerably because there were not enough pauses in-between letting people into the attraction. So we only got to interact with half or a third of the actors, because the other two thirds had just interacted with those visitors directly in front of us. (We did try waiting for those in front of us to advance but it was no use; more people just came from behind us.) It was also a shame that the farm store (perhaps due to low lighting and a lack of benches) did not really seem a place for people to hang out before or after the woods walk. Perhaps they will add benches and a campfire next year.
But never mind that. The 40-foot clown, 20-foot pumpkin people, and the dozens of hand crafted wonders make this a must-see destination. I can’t give it a “5 stars plus” like Haunted Acres but it gets a well-deserved 5 full stars!
This review was from Events INSIDER’s 2013 10-day Halloween blitz, where we visited 28 attractions across New England. Visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where you’ll find more fun Halloween and October events than anywhere else!