Fall is officially here. The temperature has dropped, the leaves are turning and the terror is building. I couldn’t be more excited for this year’s spooky season. My second week of my haunt tour, we will be visiting The Haunted Pyramids in Lawndale, NC for their opening weekend. As some of you long time, dedicated Scurryface fans will recall, I previously reviewed this scare attraction in 2019. This haunt is a mere 30 minute drive from me. The Haunted Pyramids’ rural, off the beaten backroad path definitely adds to its creep factor. If it wasn’t for the big spray painted sign telling you what dirt road to turn down, you’d never know what was hiding behind the trees in front of it. It makes you wonder if anyone will be able to hear you scream as you get ready to step out into a small field whose layout is reminiscent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. As you make your way to the ticket booth and what would be considered their midway/waiting area, you’ll see a cluster of oddly shaped and hand built sets buried in a cloud of foggy mist. This atmosphere reeks of a deteriorating, high school side show/carnival with a hidden sinister agenda. Combine that with the several stray cats running around the sets emitting Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers energy and this scare attraction is like taking a time machine back to what would be a popular, vintage 80’s haunt...
Midway/Cue Line Experience:
The midway of The Haunted Pyramids is basically one massive, discombobulated waiting arena. Each of the five attraction houses have a separate waiting line. The air is so full of overwhelming fog that, at times, it can be hard to see the person in front of you. This stagnant feeling of emotion stays with you while you may wait in each line for 30 minutes or more to be rushed through a five minute max attraction. Two projectors provided spooky themed jams for the crowd, but even this playlist seemed confused on genres at times. First up, you may see The Munsters opening credits. One minute later, you could be singing along with Leatherface’s “She Thinks My Chainsaw’s Sexy.” The quick change of song choices was decent at baffling customers and throwing them off guard. The absence of monster interaction with the crowd is also evident. Few actors are out on the midway and most that are aren’t in full costume. I will commend the crowd management skills of one cast member in particular, Sinister Jugglez. He went above and beyond to engage the audience. From fire breathing to mingling in the que lines and chatting people up, this blue haired clown did everything he could to entertain the large patron groups around him. But, one character can only do so much. There was a lull in the midway entertainment that not even photo ops with the Mystery Machine and the Ghostbusters mobile or the small concession stands could fill. It made for a prolonged experience. However, I would once again, remind you all that it was opening weekend for this attraction, so, they have ample time to tweak the mishaps.
Walk Through Experience:
MONSTER MANOR: 6 MINUTES
This attraction is based on the concept of your classic Hollywood monsters. You notice this by the antique mannequins propped up in several corners. There is a plethora of 3D black lit artwork along the walls. This maze had a noticeable dead zone in the beginning. The actors’ dialogue became so repetitive with cliched phrases such as “GET OUT!” or “BOO!” that halfway through, guests could immediately predict what was coming next verbally. This squashed any element of a “surprise attack”. However, we will give credit to the jester death clown who literally bounced off the wall at incoming groups. He was the highlight of this attraction and the cleverest scare at The Haunted Pyramids.
DR. VENOM’S SNAKE PIT: 2 MINUTES
Dr. Venom’s Snake Pit was a fan favorite the last time that we visited this scare attraction, but unfortunately, that was no longer the case this season. This area is overcrowded with enormous, live snakes in compact glass cages. In previous years, guests were allowed to physically hold snakes and snap selfies with them. The night Scurryface visited this was not the case. Although, we suspect this stipulation due to time restraints. Guests were rushed through a small two minute tour, containing one pop scare, and ushered out the door. It felt very lackluster.
THE ABANDONED: 3 MINUTES
There was a back up in traffic at the entrance to this attraction due to a teenage boy in a clown costume (out of character) halting customers from setting foot inside the maze while he ate a hot dog. While we at Scurryface are no strangers to acting during haunt nights and staying well nourished, ordinary patrons were not as understanding. It left several bystanders frustrated. Maybe next time this should be done behind a curtain or in the shadows out of view. The theme of this attraction was bemusing and hard to piece together...judging from the desks inside, it’s possibly school based, but it featured several different creatures and clowns? This maze was riddled with loud screams to the ear and over excessive jump scares with airhorns throughout. There was potential for a unique scare from behind the customer’s back inside the eerie string lit mannequin room, but the idea was not entertained as this room was vacant.
CARNIVAL OF TERROR: 5 MINUTES
Carnival of Terror is your stereotypical maze of clowns. The charismatic ringmaster at the beginning of this attraction gave us thrill seekers promising hopes for a fun ride. He steadfastly channeled his inner Captain Spaulding vibes and had customers feeling like they were catapulted into Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses. Sadly, his supporting cast dropped the ball on the follow through. Poorly timed scares had the rest of the circus bozos bellowing laughter (and only laughter, no actual spoken words) at their would be victims. We would also recommend placing an actor at the exit door to help direct traffic. Several groups took a wrong turn and saw a few unmasked and seemingly annoyed, unhelpful employees. With a bit of patience, the guests eventually found their way back to the midway.
THE HAUNTED PYRAMIDS: 11 MINUTES
The Haunted Pyramids is the main attraction and most time consuming event at this haunt. When entering the maze, you are taken into an old fashioned, classic Southern living room setup while your tickets are stamped. It carries a Roseanne meets the Sawyer family type of energy. Beyond a thick gray curtain is where you will continue your journey encountering additional glow in the dark wall décor, a pyramid set and off brand versions of your favorite infamous slasher villains. The Michael Myers character was well on point, mimicking his mask, menacing stance and blue jumpsuit. The transitions of these scenes are jumbled and somewhat mind boggling. There is a vastly uneven flow. We would recommend also watching out for a butcher-some Ronald McDonald. The haunt walkways are very narrow and he has little room to spare when slinging his chainsaw a smudge too close to patrons’ faces as you make your way to the exit. Follow the path of the glow in the dark jack o lanterns and severed heads up the hill and you will find yourself back in The Haunted Pyramids parking lot.
Side Notes on Walk Through: There is no determined lineup in the order you can experience any of these haunt attractions. Customers are free to pick and choose which mazes they want to investigate first. It is also recommended that you were sneakers and not heels. The Haunted Pyramids has many uneven trail paths and random boards sticking out from the walkways. Be mindful of this especially in the dark areas. While our personal group found it hard to be scared on many of these attraction segments, the high schoolers, who tagged along with us, found themselves terrified at certain points. The Haunted Pyramids’ fear factor scale is geared more towards an audience of youngsters and prepubescent teens than the general haunt scare seeker. That being said, if it’s worth the price of admission depends on what level of theatrics and frights you are looking for. If it’s mind blowing, non stop entertainment and heart pumping scares, you might want to think twice on this one.
The Haunted Pyramids relies on hand built sets. It’s your classic homemade haunt with several older store bought props, orange Halloween themed string lights and monster masks your regular Walmart shopper might recognize. Fog machines, strobes and two medium sized video protectors are as advanced as these guys get with technology. The pyramid structures and the 3D art inside two attractions are the main visual points customers will commend this haunted attraction for. There is also a climbing staircase at the end of the haunt lined with light up retro jack o lantern candy carriers. Customers might even think they’re getting a chance to experience trick or treating through Haddonfield. It gives an endearing Halloween throwback to John Carpenter fans. The set production in these three areas are the highlight of the haunt.
There is a diminutive deficiency of overall originality at The Haunted Pyramids. It’s precisely what you would expect an old school haunt to look like in the 80s era. Full of infamous off brand well known monsters and slashers. If you’re a devotee of classic monster mobiles such as the Dragula dragster or the Mystery Machine van, you will be pleased to hear they are available for photo ops. Not every haunted attraction has these treasures. The true breath of invention at this haunt is the fire breathing talents of the clown, Sinister Jugglez. This side show routine was popular with the crowd. The Haunted Pyramids would be wise to keep him around for future seasons.
The acting at The Haunted Pyramids left a lot to be desired by patrons. Granted it was their opening weekend, so we could possibly chalk it up to nervousness on the part of some cast, but it would be interesting to see what this crew could do with some extended training. It’s not always about having the best animatronic special effects or brand new designer sets, the general vibe and talent from haunt actors can create the entire tone of a scare attraction. Rethinking their timing, tactics and “attack” follow throughs would strengthen their overall scares. Instead of having everyone use the cliched phrases of “Get Out”, “Boo”, or “Play With Me”, we would recommend coming up with unique dialogue and one liners fitted to each of their particular characters. The biggest weakness we observed at The Haunted Pyramids was the general lack of staying in character. Customers pay money to be transported into an alternate reality at haunts. They want to escape the “real” world. Most of the cast may have been dressed in costumes (some were running around half out of them) but few stayed true to their character. It seemed like most of them did not care to be there. The best advice we can offer them is to let loose and have fun with your roles. It’s a haunted attraction. Don’t be afraid to find your inner psychotic nurse (or whatever your role may be) and run wild with them.
C - 7.0
If you’re a fanatic of contemporary strobe lit party themed midways and hi tech animatronics, you may want to skip out on The Haunted Pyramids. It has a deep Southern style, old fashioned Carnival of Freaks atmosphere. It’s mainly geared towards a teenage audience or parents on a date night looking to relieve their glory days of vintage haunts. If you’re needing an outing after attending the hometown high school football game or you have a tiny youngster who thinks they’re ready for a “beginner” haunt, The Haunted Pyramids in Lawndale, NC is definitely worth checking out.
Rep’s Personal Notes:
It’s been two years since I last visited The Haunted Pyramids and I was shocked that nothing has changed. It’s still the same as it was before. I would like to see them progress with their sets and acting, evolve and shake a few things up. There’s so much potential with this haunt and it’s frustrating to see them not use it to their full advantage. A lack of entertainment from the actors tends to hamper the audience’s experience. Add that to the uneventful extended wait times from door greeter delays and this impedes the pleasurable time customers are striving to have. I would really like to see The Haunted Pyramids put forth extra effort in these areas because, as I previously stated, the potential IS there. I look forward to seeing how and if they advance in upcoming seasons.