Reviewed on: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Being chosen as Haunted House Chicago’s Haunted Attraction of the Year for 2013, Amhurst Asylum was ready to impress us once again this year. Just over an hour commute from Chicago, they are located in Valparaison, IN, and trust us, this is an attraction to see that is definitely worth the drive.
Even as our car was still a mile away, the entire neighborhood and road seemed to get a little darker. Arriving, we passed through the Amhurst arch and gate, and made our way through the long and winding road lined with numerous trees and bushes. (Our minds were already on-edge as we half-expected an Amhurst resident to pop out and crawl towards the vehicle.)
Amhurst once again was busy this off season by creating an entire outside area that visitors must walk through as they make their way to the entrance of the attraction. With a clever security guard telling you the backstory of Dr. Amhurst and the asylum, it sets the perfect tone for the evening, which already sent shivers up our spines.
As we approached the front door to the Asylum, we were once again greeted by our favorite patient “Scarlett”, who darted towards us and practically tackled us! Now, for those that have never been to Amhurst, you’ll be in for a real treat, as the patients here are allowed to touch you! While this is a huge step in making sure you never find your comfort zone, this is only the beginning.
As we weaved our way in-and-out of the various rooms found inside the asylum, patients attack relentlessly from every angle. Reaching out to touch you as if they want you to help them escape, or stay with them forever. (And sometimes they even grab hold of an ankle!)
Something else that we were really excited to see was their house-wide “event” that they continued from years past. We’ve never seen anything else like it in other attractions so far! As guests make their way through the attraction, an air-raid siren periodically goes off throughout the entire attraction. Every single actor stops their current performance and reacts. Some cover their ears, others hide in corners, and others just get crazier than what they already were! It truly is something you need to experience to completely understand, and it definitely is quite the sight to see.
Another aspect that really, really surprised us was their fire room. This is not a room that is new to the Amhurst lineup. Set in an old attic with scattered antiques, an old record of the Ink Spots, “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” playing in the background, and fire and smoke simulated from behind the rafters and floorboards. For the past few years, this has already been a favorite of ours. But, Amhurst did the one thing that every haunted attraction fears doing: they included REAL fire.
Now, we don’t have to tell you the tens of thousands of dollars each attraction spends on their fire and life safety systems and fire-retardant coatings. So, we were absolutely blown out of our socks to see a patient throwing real fire at guests. As we caught our breath, we were SURE it was a lighting trick. (It had to be right?) But, we had to know and begged the wizards of this Oz to pull back the curtain and confirm the illusion.
Continuing the trek, we encountered rooms such as the bathroom (with an ever so pleasant smell), the courtyard (where we got to meet “kitty” again), to the new rooms that they added to complete the asylum theme. Amhust once again forgot which was their best foot to put forward, and just put them both.
Engulfing each and every patron into their demented asylum, upon the numerous patients touching you, you never know what to expect here. The element of surprise is always there and just when you think one thing is going to happen, you are slammed with something completely different!
The Bottom Line: Just when we thought the crazies couldn’t get any crazier, Amhurst once again showed that they are one of the attractions to beat and that they aren’t going anywhere for years to come. If you haven’t made it out to Amhurst Asylum, this should be on your “must-see” list each year.
Entertainment: 19.5 out of 20
Scare Factor & Fright: 9.5 out of 10
Acting: 9 out of 10
Sets & Room Detail: 10 out of 10
Costumes: 5 out of 5
Make Up: 5 out of 5
Sound: 5 out of 5
Lights: 5 out of 5
Props & Special Effects: 9.5 out of 10
Originality & Story Concept: 10 out of 10
Management & Owner Presentation: 5 out of 5
Website: 5 out of 5
Total: 97.5 points out of 100 points possible
– Official Haunted House Chicago Review Team Review
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