Whenever you read a top ten list for haunted houses in the U.S., there is approximately a 95% chance that the 13th Gate will be on that list and a better than 50% chance it will be number 1.
It is for a very damn good reason.
The 13th Gate is the quintessential event haunt. It’s the top tier of haunted attractions, a large, expensive production that everyone feels they have to go to at least once. It’s a haunted house known by those who don’t even care about haunted houses and one such people regularly attend. It’s the kind of place that always has a long line out the door and draws people from all over the country, if not the world.
However, this is not an unearned reputation. Midnight Productions, the makers of the 13th Gate, have turned Baton Rouge in the haunt capital of southeast Louisiana, if not the entire country, and it does everything to ensure that it keeps that reputation intact, making it the best haunted attraction possible.
But how good is it? Read on to find out. Read more
I feel bad for haunted house lovers in central Louisiana. Southern Louisiana is one of the most blessed regions for haunt fans with the 13th Gate, House of Shock and The Mortuary all within about 90 minutes of each other. However, once you go north of Lafayette, things become rather dead until you make it to Shreveport or Monroe (and even then it seems to be dicey).
Louisiana Nightmares was a solid haunt in Alexandria operated by Midnight Productions, the same people who do the 13th Gate, but they closed it down to focus on the larger Baton Rouge attraction. Sadly, nothing has risen to fill its void, though the Buhlow Fun Park (do NOT click that link, may cause cancer of the eyes) seems to have made a play to capture its customers.
For those who don’t know, which I imagine to be most of the people reading this, the Buhlow Fun Park is a basic fun park on Buhlow lake outside of Alexandria, Louisiana. It has go-carts, an arcade, mini golf and a place to get your picture taken with The Simpsons among other attractions. However, every October it also opens up its “Terror in the Park” haunted house, which the signs assure us it is a “A Real Haunted House”.
I visited the Buhlow Fun Park haunt two years ago and came away with a mixed impression. Though it was short and low-budget, I had to respect their creativity and imagination. They did a lot of great work with what they had. My review, if I had written one, would have been a 5 out of 10 with a tag line “A less-than-average haunt displays some above-average ingenuity to become a mediocre attraction that’s still respectable.”
However, in the two years since something has changed. The creativity is gone and what is left is a disappointing haunt experience that no longer redeems itself in any significant way. Read more
Last year I reviewed the Chamber of Horrors and gave it an 8/10. This is the reason I am usually loathe to give numeric scores. Though it was a great haunt in 2008, I’m realizing in 2009 that it wasn’t quite an 8. I was too excited to find that kind of haunt in the New Orleans area again and didn’t grade fairly. It should have been a strong six, maybe a weak seven.
But where the Chamber of Horrors, last year, was a good haunt with some minor flaws, this year it is just a flat out good haunt without any caveats or precautions. Though it is not an event haunt, like House of Shock or 13th Gate, both of which I am reviewing later (I’m doing them in the order I visited them), it is a solid haunt that fills the niche of a smaller, more casual haunted attraction nicely. It is a perfect example of what a good mid-range haunt should be like and it deserves more recognition than what it gets.
This isn’t to say that the CoH is flawless, every haunt has room to grow, but it is a well-rounded attraction that has addressed its weaknesses and emerged stronger and better for it. Read more