As my season draws to a close. The Red Tie Haunt Tour brings me to the Gulf Coast. We are in Jay, Florida at Creepy Hollow Woods. This will be our 4th trip to this attraction and we look forward to it every season. We can remember our first time here when it was nothing more than the blackest road, a creepy stroll through the woods not knowing if we were even at a haunted attraction or being lured into someone's yard only to be cut up and fed to their pet Opossums. Now, this attraction has grown so much with their midway entertainment to their actual trail experience. What I admire about Creepy Hollow Woods is the fact that they are not afraid to keep it fresh and attempt major changes season after season. Anyone that knows what they’re doing in the industry knows, big changes are a gamble. You never know how the fans are going to react. This haunt rolls the dice every year and so far, it’s paid off.
Even though we decided not to score haunts outside of Alabama this season. This haunt requested that we score them anyway. Another nod to this haunt for wanting to know where they stand on their show. So, here we go...
You will find a mixed bag of simple makeup and costuming all the way to detailed makeup and costuming. The characters who were in more interactive roles had some quality makeup work applied and they looked perfect for where they were at. Everything definitely seemed to fit the areas and didn’t notice any awkward characters wearing random blue jeans or cheesy Hot Topic shirts. We do however want to give a nod to two characters for their detailed costuming and makeup. The actress playing The Jackal. It was great seeing this throwback character in a haunt again. The cage on the head and straitjacket were spot on. The actress in Voodoo was head to toe dressed to perfection and the way she works the scene really makes you think that they’re about to sacrifice a live chicken. Great job on this category.
SFX/Visuals - 9
This is one of my favorite categories of CHW in 2020. With it being an outdoor trail experience, typically SFX and visuals are at a minimum or average at best. Not here, they went all out and turned this outdoor walk into a wicked adventure. I can’t praise the light placement enough. From the simple things like the elevators at the beginning utilizing the splitting up of groups to the area which they call “the gauntlet”. Get ready, because I’m about to praise a vortex tunnel. I was really impressed with their improvements of this scene. It was so much brighter and had more detail to it and it actually threw me slightly off balance. 99.9% of the time I just walk through those things with zero problems while facepalming. I’m also still giving major props to their swamp scene. It was on point yet again; all it's missing is some Alligators. Maybe that can get added for 2021. In fact, CHW did an amazing job with improving this entire category from what it was in 2019.
Trail experience - 8
CHW definitely stepped up their game when it comes to their trail experience. It’s night and day compared to 2019 with the interactions, visuals and scares. Let’s knock out some of the easy fixable negatives that we noticed first before we get to the positives. Exposed blood bottles in plain sight, a few mechanisms not covered up like the black air lines for the snake (which unfortunately did not fire off when we passed by), an extension cord running across the scene as we walked through. We understand it’s an outdoor trail and it’s much more difficult to try and cover and hide things. But a black extension cord is an outdoor trails best friend, not a bright orange one. We walked into a room where they offer a very cool meat grinder effect and we did not get to see it in action. We were towards the back of the group and what we think happened is the actress is turning on the prop right when the group enters the room and by the time the entire group enters, the effect is over. Maybe wait until the groups get a little deeper into the scene before activating so everyone can get the show and no one misses out. Because that’s a really cool scene and effect. Had an actor cut us off from the group and held us there for a good minute and a half which forced us to play catch up and unfortunately, we had to walk through multiple scenes where the actors didn’t realize that we were coming through. That unfortunately took away from the experience.
That being said, during our 24-minute experience we encountered multiple surprises throughout that left us with either a startle, praising a performance or getting a great laugh from an actor. Those things mentioned above is definitely overshadowed with the multiple great performances and the great scenes that left us wanting more as we exited the trail. I absolutely love the changes and the new scenes that were added for this season. The slider coming down the platform was a great addition and completely unexpected. The transitions to each scene were smooth and fit into a planned pattern. Best of all, the transitions made sense and never left me scratching my head as to how did we end up here. A lot of work went into designing 2020’s trail experience and it shows and definitely got noticed. Major props to the CHW crew for putting it together and overcoming adversity during the recent Hurricane that would have ended the season for most haunts.
Is it Scary? 9
CHW definitely offers up some intense scenes and quality scares. There were a few that got a solid startle out of us and at times we could see where certain scenes would be unsettling for the average haunt goer. We spoke with a lot of guests throughout the night and the majority said “This place is pretty scary.”
Haunt Change – not scored
This will be our 4th trip to CHW. It has changed and improved every single season that we’ve been out. Noticeable out in the midway, that has received the biggest facelift season after season. In 2020, the reached into the entire haunt. It seemed that the majority of the experienced changed for this season. Very proud to see this haunt embrace change year in and year out. Always willing to try new things out and to take chances. CHW is not the type of haunt that rests on their laurels.
Originality/Creativity - 9
Very original and creative haunt experience. Most of what they offer is hand built straight from the brains of the creators. With its unique setup and twists and turns throughout, it’s definitely a unique experience that you will only find in Jay, Florida.
Actors - 7.9
The crew is very passionate about what they do and they obviously love this haunt. Walking through and seeing certain performances, you could tell who the experienced actors were versus the first-year haunters still trying to find their footing or break out of their shell. You will find the majority of your veteran actors out front in the midway roaming around. A few things that in due time can be fixed through more experience, patience or awareness. One of the actresses slightly broke character while we were still in the scene. Maybe she thought we were gone and sat up and stretched her neck when she was supposed to be dead from the meat grinder. An actor singling us out in a scene instead of working the entire group. Another actor singling us out by cutting us off from the group completely while keeping us in the scene for over a minute, forcing us to rush to catch up. In doing so, we ended up catching actors in the next few scenes not prepared or expecting us and we walked in with them sitting around talking to each other. Granted, props to them for quickly jumping up and trying to perform before we completely left the scene.
To the positives, we loved the intensity of the actors. They were dedicated to their roles and sold out to them completely. We did not hear any of the cliché phrases like “Get out”, “Wanna play a game” or “Play with me”. We heard actors come up with their own original lines and some of them were pretty good. Another thing they improved on from 2019, not one single “stare scare”. They were interactive, energetic and vocal and that is the ingredients needed for a good haunt show.
PHOTO BY: BLAZE
PHOTO BY: BLAZE
PHOTO BY: BLAZE
Bang for your buck – 9.5
Absolutely worth the price of admission. Our experience lasted roughly 24-minutes and we never encountered one single dead spot on the trail nor did we ever feel isolated other than we got separated from our group. From the Midway experience throughout the entire trail experience. You will find out that it’s absolutely worth the price of admission.
Atmosphere – 9.7
This will be the 4th trip to CHW and the one noticeable difference each and every year is their midway experience. Our first trip to this haunt, it was literally nothing more than, “The Blackest Road”, a sketchy walk through the woods to the ticket booth. A que-line out in a field with hardly any light. Then when you were finished with the haunt looking for the exit. They pointed you in the direction of walking through the woods with a smile on their face as if they were saying “Good luck getting back to the road.” 3 years later, their midway is an experience of its own. They have built an elevated stage for the band to perform. Which Coastal Fire returns again and they do what they always do which is Rock the Scare out of folks. You can check them out by clicking this link. Coastalfireband.com
During our visit, CHW added wrestling to the list of entertainment. I have never seen this done at any haunt and honestly don’t ever expect to see it anywhere other than Creepy Hollow Woods. You had characters getting involved with the matches and the crowd ate it up and loved every minute of it. If you did not come out that night, you missed out because it was a one time thing. They offer vendors to cover all your thirst and hunger needs. They go off a color system and it’s very easy to follow so you can enjoy the midway. Unfortunately, it seems like the good folks of Florida likes to just stand in lines instead of enjoying the massive open space available to them. Maybe they’ll catch on in 2021. CHW definitely offers one of the most fun and entertaining midways I’ve ever experienced. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next season.
PHOTO BY: BLAZE
Did I feel comfortable? Not scored
Florida for the most part has pretty much moved on with life. Masks are not required, but Creepy Hollow Woods still advises patrons with signs that it’s up to them to social distance themselves or to wear masks. It’s up to you to determine what you need to do for your own comfort level.
That being said. I felt 100% comfortable walking around all night long.
Overall - 8.82
This haunt is staple on my tour and we look forward to our visit each and every year. It always makes it tough because it’s hard to go to the same haunt each and every year and not become somewhat stale with it. This haunt changes so much each year, it has yet to have that effect on me. We come in each time seeing the noticeable changes and new setups. Then throw on top of the midway fun with a quality haunt experience. Each year, CHW seems to take it up a notch and get better and better.
We highly suggest you get out to this haunt before the season ends. If not, Moto might find out where you sleep and choke slam you in the middle of the night. *Remember to tuck the chin*