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Darkwood Manor Haunted House in Virgina Reviwed by Hauntworld.com
Fri, June 21, 2013
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www.darkwoodmanor.net


 

TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN VIRGINIA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/virginia_haunted_houses
 
Luray Virginia is the home of one of the scariest haunted houses in America called DarkWood Manor.  Virginia has many incredible haunted houses and Hauntworld rates and reviews the best haunted attractions in America.  Hauntworld can help you find hundreds of haunted houses in Virginia and America . 

Absolutely nothing comes close to a cool, October evening in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Walking outside one can see flickering lights from jack-o'-lanterns causing eerie shadows to dance across neighborhood porches. It’s in that moment when things finally seem back in their right place. No wonder Virginia happens to be the birthplace of Halloween in America.


If you travel up the twisted spine of Virginia, otherwise known as the Shenandoah Valley, you’ll discover a haunted attraction that takes the basic concept of evoking scares and nightmares, and approaches it from a more artistic perspective. Tucked inside the rural mountain town of Luray, home of the world famous Luray Caverns & the Shenandoah National Park, there sits an ultimate fear provoking haunted house attraction called DarkWood Manor. This haunt has been making a name for itself as one of the top haunted attractions in the state.

Since 2001, Louis and Wendy Brown, the creators of DarkWood Manor, constantly seek new ways to transport their audiences into another world. By applying artistic disciplines to the design of DarkWood Manor, they’ve created an interactive and theatrical show that absolutely captivates their haunted house patrons. The attention to detail and artistic design principle does not stop at DarkWood Manor's sets. It’s also carried over into the make-up and costume elements of the attraction.

The journey began in the late 1990’s, after Louis, an art school graduate, started investigating what haunted attractions had become since his last experience with them decades earlier. He realized modern haunted attractions could be more than black plastic and strobe lights with people jumping out to yell “BOO.”  After Louis  realized what incredibly immersive, interactive, theatrical experiences could be created within a haunt, he jumped into the industry eager to bring his artistic perspective to the design of his own attraction.

"I feel the goal of most art work is to elicit an emotional response from its audience and that’s exactly what haunted attractions seek to do as well. That’s how I approach the creation of DarkWood, as an installation art piece designed to evoke a specific set of emotions. Coming up with new and interesting ways to do this is at the heart of any artistic endeavor."

The Browns along with the entire haunt crew behind DarkWood Manor have grown the attraction over the last 13 years while always maintaining their theatrical principles of great acting, realistic make-up, amazing costumes, highly detailed sets, and a strong backstory.  I asked Louis how his artistic approach influenced the average haunt customer's experience.

“I definitely think it heightens the experience for the audience. The artistic drive to pull the audience into the work by creating an immersive environment makes a haunted attraction entertaining on many levels. Screams are our primary goal, but if we can get laughter and amazement, then we are also doing our job at making the experience a great one for our customers.”
 
As many haunts around the country fail to recognize their patrons' desire for a more unique group experience, the artists behind DarkWood Manor are continuously pushing the boundaries of their vision to bring their customers a unique haunting experience. This esoteric thought process is the reason why they’ve been able to create a loyal fan base that visits every October. Inside the walls of DarkWood Manor, you’ll find inspirations ranging from HP Lovecraft and classic gothic horror to Doctor Who and David Lynch. The DarkWood crew makes it a point not to fill the hallways and rooms with run-of-the-mill cliché horror monsters.  All creatures roaming the attraction are unique to the haunt, and many times only used for one season.  All masks, props, costumes, and sets are custom made to fit that season’s storyline.  Louis describes DarkWood Manor as an “ever changing canvas,” with each season’s design process starting with a new theme and then evolving out of that initial idea.

“Our base style is to tell stories and create dark vignettes that can scare the crap out of people. However, we do change our theme and sets every year. Being the scariest and most unique has always gotten us lots of business, maybe not in the first couple of years we were open, but over time our following has skyrocketed in growth.”

Artists thrive by listening to their intuition.  An overly imaginative mind, especially one dedicated to the craft of haunting, can think of some truly terrorizing ideas. For Louis, the trick to growing a haunt is in experience and being dedicated to always seeing how far one can push their artistic abilities.

“The hardest part is coming up with that initial idea that makes me go ‘WOW!... I’ve got to create that!’  Once I have the idea that really drives me to create, then the rest is fun. There have been lots of trials and error over the years. Now, I can run a scene in my head and pretty much know if it will work or not. Sometimes I can still get it wrong, but that’s one of the great things about the DarkWood Manor actors. They have the talent, and I give them the freedom, to change what happens in a scene if it isn't playing well or getting the scare we want. I don't try to hold every scene and character to a rigid concept. I have seen actors take characters and scenes far beyond what I had originally imagined. That’s a reason that drives me to keep haunting. I can't wait to see what amazing things evolve next!”

One of the greatest aspects of The Scare, whether it’s in a horror movie or a haunted attraction, is the idea of suspense. It’s the subtle build-up of dread that tugs at your emotions and causes your pulse to race. DarkWood Manor thrives at subtleties through their use of these old school principles. For DarkWood, the devil is in the details.

“DarkWood is full of intricate haunted details. Our scenes are designed, built, and then layered with details. Some of those are small and generally undetectable by the casual observer. However, those details are the hidden blood and guts of DarkWood. A customer may not pick up on all of them consciously, but their sub-conscious does, and that really pulls them into our haunted world.”

After 13 years, Louis doesn’t see DarkWood Manor slowing down, not one bit.  “There are always more stories to tell, and always more monsters to create.”  The big question is where does DarkWood Manor go from here?

“We just want to keep getting bigger and better and to continue to out do ourselves on different levels every year.  Each season we always end up with a handful of ideas that we can't do or pull off, but I have noticed that none of those ideas ever die. They just come back in later years when we can better conceptualize and pull them off. That is just another aspect that fires me up to keep it going.”

Haunters are definitely a special breed. To be part of a haunt like this is like being thrown inside a meat grinder.  It can spit you out in pieces.  After speaking with Louis, I’ve realized haunting requires 2 important aspects… love and passion. This is what haunted house customer’s find when they visit DarkWood Manor…A haunt crew that puts everything they have into their artistic vision and refuses to compromise, and all of it done with the goal of sending customers screaming out into the night on a few of those cool, October evenings in Virginia.

“To be honest, I had no idea what to expect when I got into the business of haunting. I just jumped into it because it looked like fun, and I was right. It has been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it has been worth it. I feel I have met my basic goal by doing what I'm passionate about. No one can ask for more than that, and I hope people continue to SCREAM at the ongoing results of that passion.”

 
TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN VIRGINIA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/virginia_haunted_houses

 

haunted houses, virginia
  Posted by Larry 1.02 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Kersey Vally Spookywoods Haunted House in North Carolina
Mon, June 10, 2013
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www.kerseyvalley.com

 
TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN NORTH CAROLINA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/north_carolina_haunted_houses

 
 

Kersey Valley Attractions is centrally-located in Archdale, North Carolina.  Tony Wohlgemuth, founder of Kersey Valley Inc., was nine years old when his family moved to the 60 acre farm in 1979.  Purposed as a Christmas tree farm, the property had several tobacco barns, a farm house and main residence.  The farm was a popular place to spend summers camping in the barns.  Tony and friends pulled power from the farm house by drop cord to one of the tobacco barns.  Just after midnight on a hot summer night a chandelier fell, stopping just inches from the boys lying in sleeping bags underneath it.  The end of the drop cord was caught by the window seal keeping the heavy iron light fixture inches away from hitting the boys.  The frightening occurrence spawned a dare between friends to enter the old house and restore the power, insisting someone must go upstairs to satisfy the dare.  One of the boys entered the house alone only to return moments later screaming that something was on his back.  He managed to scare up a family of bats, one landing on his back.  The incident shook the group of boys to the bone, creating an idea for a five room haunted house in the fall of 1985.


The House of Death came alive that year the last two weeks of October selling just over 1,000 tickets at $2 each.  Marketing efforts were limited to hand-drawn flyers given out at the boys’ high school.  By the 4th year, popularity for the attraction meant a 4 hour wait in line.  Tony knew it was time for a change and expanded the attraction with a walking trail in the woods.  When Tony met his wife, Donna, in college; she encouraged him to focus on his degree and career.  It became clear that a passion for the haunted attraction was undeniable.  Donna joined Tony to build the haunt and operate the attraction as a business.  Incredible growth followed.  The haunt was expanded further, creating a unique pathway through a dense forest of (Christmas) trees.  The name was changed to Kersey Valley haunted House & Forest the following year.  Each group of 8 guests was guided through the attraction, limiting throughput to 125 people per hour.  The next hurdle was increasing the throughput of the attraction to increase revenue.  Tony and Donna attended the 1996 IAAPA Conference and gained newfound knowledge of an unguided concept.  The entire (Christmas) tree area was redesigned, transforming rows of trees into areas that could accommodate walls and scenes to fit under the canopy of trees.  The haunt was very spooky and the business was transformed into an unguided format. The same year a domain name was sought out for the website and www.spookywoods.com was the perfect fit!  The new format reduced the wait to an hour or less and the throughput increased to over 800 people per hour.  The additional income generated from the dramatic increase allowed a much larger budget for improvements to the attraction.  

As the haunt continued to gain popularity, Tony and Donna planned to expand their seasonal business while both still worked full time.  Tony suggested that a corn maze would be a great use of the 10-acres of farm land around the haunt and Maize Adventure was born marking the beginning of day time attraction offerings.  Trial and error lead them to Maze Play in Idaho that offered the technology required to design and cut out the maze using GPS.  Donna began researching day time field trip opportunities for school children.  The marketing was sent to schools within a 50 mile radius.  Those efforts began to pay off and soon the day time business was packing the farm with kids during the weekdays.  The focus shifted to expansion of the day time business to keep schools coming back each year.  Gem panning was discovered while on vacation in Tennessee.  A vendor that creates gem panning attractions was found at the next IAAPA conference.  A company from Canada was hired to build the attraction, expanding the educational opportunities to schools with an educational event on gems and fossils.  An outdoor classroom was designed providing more educational experiences for students such as Planting Seeds of Knowledge and Bee-Educated field trips.  As Maize Adventure gained popularity additional features were added, including a giant jumping air pillow.  The jumping pillow was installed and became an instant hit with children. 

The first pillow has just recently been replaced with two of the giant 40x70 pillows to reduce wait times for children to jump.

The Kersey Valley brand came alive when multiple attractions with distinct demographics were fully operational.  The portal site www.kerseyvalley.com was created to cross promote all events and attractions.  Each attraction and event maintains its own website also.


In 2010, Kersey Valley expanded into a year-round business with a 1.5 mile zip line tour across the farm.  Kersey Valley reinvented the zip line experience with engineered Sky Towers and best-in-class equipment.  The attraction is aviation themed boasting Coach and First Class ticketing options, Flight School, Sky Towers named after airport city codes and Flight Captains as zip line guides.  The Sky Towers were strategically placed to enhance cross promotion between attractions.  Opening year-round required permanent restroom facilities.  Tumbleweed’s, a state-of-the-art kitchen concession facility and restrooms were built.  A surprise is harbored in the women’s restroom; as guests approach the sink they activate a loud scream and ghost illusion in the mirror. 


Kersey Valley Laser Tag, an outdoor tactical laser tag attraction, was added to the attraction line-up in 2012.  The attraction draws a diverse demographic as the equipment can be programmed for a simple game of shoot and tag to detailed programming for corporate groups with team-building initiatives.  Kersey Valley Laser Tag is a great option for birthday parties and bachelor parties looking for a unique celebration experience.

The humble beginnings of the haunted attraction business have allowed Kersey Valley to continue expanding and employ year-round staff.  Kevin Burger is the Safety Coordinator and managed construction of the massive zip line and restroom and kitchen facility build.  Kevin attended the Maize Adventure Corn Maze in 2000 with his church group, fell in love with the farm and never left.  Elizabeth Penn is the driving force behind sponsor partnerships with local and national corporate partners.  She wears many hats including promotional video coordination and design, special event planning such as Kersey Valley’s Dark Circus and is an integral part of the haunted attraction.  Chrissy Hughes is the Office Manager and master of the zip line reservation system.  She is the voice of Kersey Valley, answering hundreds of call a week with a smile.  Chrissy projects the fun attitude of Kersey Valley!  Tom Roever, Scot Edwards, Kevin Burger and Darrel Justice are several master carpenters that comprise the build crew creating the incredible sets at Spookywoods.  Steve Lee handles audio and lighting for the haunt.  Joh Harp and Amber Michael are the year-round FX team and set designers.  RJ Barber is the resident welder that can build anything the team dreams up.  Tom Benedict, Tony Forest, Wendy Martin, Ben Medlin, Kathy Justice and Steve Wood keep the haunt running like clockwork.  Tony comes up with the fun stuff and Donna keeps a close eye on the budget and pays for the fun stuff.  It takes an army of dedicated and talented people to run Kersey Valley.  The amazing staff is a result of the passion that Tony and Donna have to create stand out events and attractions; it’s contagious and it shows.

The Christmas trees planted in 1980 saved the farm, becoming the backdrop to one of the most unique haunted attractions in the country.  Looking ahead, Tony and Donna have a list of dreams from weekend events to an event venue barn, seating 300 guests. 

If it’s a Kersey Valley event or attraction you’ll be right in the middle of the FUN STUFF!

 TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN NORTH CAROLINA CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/north_carolina_haunted_houses

 

haunted houses, north carolina, best, scariest, attractions, halloween
  Posted by Larry 3.33 PM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 
Haunted Houses in Dallas Texas Verdun Manor Reviewed by Hauntworld.com
Thu, June 06, 2013
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www.thrillvania.com

 
TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN TEXAS CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/texas_haunted_houses

 Terrell Texas near Dallas Texas is the home of one of the scariest haunted houses in America called Thrillvania Haunted House Park. Texas has many incredible haunted houses and Hauntworld rates and reviews the best haunted attractions in America.  Hauntworld can help you find hundreds of haunted houses in Texas and America . 
 

Comprised of five separate attractions and situated on 50 acres of woodlands just a few miles east of Dallas, Thrillvania Haunted House Park is a world class haunted attraction conceived and built by legendary haunted house visionary Lance Pope.


The centerpiece of the attraction is Verdun Manor, a nightmarish, dilapidated, ghoul-infested old gothic mansion reputed to be haunted by a psychopathic werewolf and his vampire bride. Accessed by way of the dank, marshy Voodoo Bayou and a foggy overgrown cemetery, Verdun Manor has grown and evolved many times over the years since its original incarnation.

The building started out as "Haunted Cannon Manor," a regular attraction at the annual State Fair of Texas.  Anyone who has seen pictures of the original façade of the manor will recognize a striking similarity to Disneyland's haunted house attraction, and indeed the haunt was originally designed and created by former Disney Imagineers.

It was there at the State Fair where a young and impressionable teenager fell in love with “Haunted Cannon Manor”.  Young Lance Pope persuaded the owner of the attraction to let him help out, sweeping floors and cleaning up after the crowds, later working as an actor and eventually collaborating in the creation of new scenes and features.

In 1989, while attending the University of Texas at Arlington and operating the first, much more modest “Haunted Verdun Manor” across the street from his dormitory, Lance got a call from the owner of Cannon Manor, offering to sell him the attraction. The caveat was that he had to be able to get it moved NOW! Lance was so enamored with the haunt that he made it happen.

Lance leased a small plot of land in Forney, Texas, and there he refurbished Cannon Manor to become the new Haunted Verdun Manor, an attraction that grew and flourished so well over the next seven years that in 1996 Lance moved it to its current 50-acre plot in Terrell, Texas.  He named the new Haunted Park “Thrillvania”.  The site in Terrell was large enough to allow Lance to expand his dream, adding new buildings and attractions every year.  In the last year of his life he added Granny Lupus' Séance Theatre, which debuted in October of 2002.

An amazing display of animatronic genius, the Séance Theatre features ghoulish ectoplasmic visitors from the other side, flying phantoms and grotesque talking heads.  More fascinating than truly frightening, it's an especially good attraction for some of the more timid visitors to the park.

Those with coulrophobia, or fear of clowns, may want to steer clear of Cassandra's Labyrinth of Terror, a shocking, in-your-face, brilliant three-dimensional trip through madness, full of optical illusions and treacherous passageways frequented by evil, chainsaw-wielding clowns.

Thorn Hall is a chilling old Victorian style building that rests on the top of a huge hill. It is an experiment in sensory deprivation, forcing guests to face their fears while traipsing through complete darkness, relying on their heightened sense of smell, touch and hearing to guide them past the unseen horrors.  

Lance’s original hayride has been replaced by Sam Hain's Trail of Torment, a creepy walking trail where monstrous human experiments come at you from every direction as you fumble your way through the black Texas night.  The actors are able to slip in and out of a cloak of darkness, remaining camouflaged until the very last moment, causing visitors to feel all the more vulnerable and exposed especially to werewolf’s.

The park features so many spectacular pyrotechnic displays that they keep two licensed pyrotechnic operators on site whenever the park is operational.

The hallmark of the haunted house park is still Verdun Manor, Lance Pope's labor of love, and fans come from far and wide to be scared witless inside its hallowed halls.  With amazing set decorations, spectacularly ghoulish themes and an incredible cast of actors, this life-size horrific mansion just keeps getting better and better.

Making full use of 21st century technology to build chilling special effects, Haunted Verdun Manor is a massive experiment of shock and gruesomeness.  There's so much to see as you walk - or run - through the mansion that each trip through brings a different set of terrors.  The world famous manor has more props per square foot than just about any haunt in the world.

Many talented people work together to make Thrillvania come alive every year, dreaming up new ways to terrorize and titillate the thousands of loyal patrons.  Lance's mother Suzette Pope, Jeffrey Gilbreath, Michael Malec and Todd James run the attraction, with a good deal of help from Lance's loyal "wolf pack," many who have been with Thrillvania since its inception.

All of these talented people were friends and colleagues of Lance Pope, and together they strive for one thing: to keep alive his dream, best expressed in this often-quoted sentiment:


 
TO FIND MORE HAUNTED HOUSES IN TEXAS CLICK HERE ... http://www.hauntworld.com/texas_haunted_houses
haunted houses, best, scariest, dallas, texas
  Posted by Larry 12.02 AM Read Comments ()
 
 
 
 

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