Dark night, no real moonlight, long stretches of dark roads leading farther and farther away from towns and businesses. Houses become fewer and farther between. The roads get narrower, and more twisted, with a few farmhouses and long lengths of cornfields on either side, a spooky, chilly night to be sure. But just when you begin to think you’re absolutely, hopelessly lost, a parking lot appears, and it’s refreshingly, reassuringly full of cars and people, and for a few moments, you begin to feel alright again.
That’s the first creepy experience of Demon Acres in Hannibal, NY.
The haunt website states that they want patrons to be scared, but not of Covid-19, and they do ensure that patrons feel save in the current pandemic. Mandatory face masks and temperature checks for actors, staff and patrons upon arrival, required use of hand sanitizer upon arrival and at check-in for each attraction, gloves for all staff members that will be close or in contact with things like tickets, and mandatory social distancing for all groups In line are all procedures put in place by the haunt to ensure the safety of patrons and staff alike. There was little to no concern for health issues or illness transmission at the haunt.
Demon Acres has 3 separate attractions within the haunt, and offers both single-attraction and combo tickets, available as regular or express queueing. The first portion of the haunt is the Depths of the Dark Forest hayride. The ride is ‘conducted’ by a very entertaining and oddly charming fellow from New Orleans, who also happens to be…a skeleton. There are various stops along the route, each with a different theme, a decent number of actors, and quality props and effects. There were several stops, each with a different theme, including a witch’s den, a prison with a raving patient, and a twisted holiday scene with Krampus making a live appearance. At the end of the ride, patrons are ushered off the wagon, and down a dark trail towards the other two attractions.
The second attraction was the ‘Jailbreak,’ a terrifying prison that ushered the patrons through its walls to try and escape (note: it was an actual path out, not an escape room, though the attraction did have two, which were not attempted during this visit). Upon entering the attraction, patrons are escorted onto a prison bus and given the standard lecture, then ushered down into a holding cell, before being sent into the attraction. Much of this attraction was prison themed.
The final, and largest, attraction was the Demon’s Den, which was a towering paneled castle on the outside, which features an animated dragon which appears every few minutes. This attraction features a variety of rooms as well, along with long, very dark hallways that one must grope to get around. As with the other attractions, the actors played their parts well, and kept things very entertaining, and absolutely terrifying. The attraction lets out into a wooded area, though the path back (including a bridge) is more well-lit, and it leads back to the opening section of the haunt, where the ticket booths, concession stand, tables and merch booth.
The actors were creepy and animated, springing from the shadows up onto the wagon to give the patrons a fright and stare them down. There was even an old west sheriff with a real (and very cute) pony making the rounds. Of course, everyone had to wear face masks under their horror masks or over their makeup, but said masks did little to detract from quality performances and costuming. There were no ‘commercial’ characters except one, and the performances were great, with some even being exceptional. They were authentic, realistic, and spent time staring down or taunting nearly all patrons of the group instead of just singling out a few.
The multitude of props were of high quality, and included giant animatronics, real vehicles, and even a few of the infamous Home Depot Skeletons. Each portion of the haunt was appropriately themed, and moved nicely from one scene to the next. The sets were well-constructed and dark enough to prevent a loss of entertainment value due to being able to see too much. Some sections were totally unlit, leaving patrons to rely on feeling the walls to proceed, though not for so long that it felt like a hazard.
For the admission price of $30, patrons received 30-45 minutes of actual time in the attractions, and despite certain restrictions in place to keep people safe, there didn’t seem to be too long of a wait in the lines, and the flow was pretty decent. With the duration of the attractions, and the high number and quality of the actors and props, this haunt is well worth the price of admission. The haunt also offers an “express” ticket which allows them to move faster through the lines, should they feel inclined to spend a little extra.
All aspects of the haunt come together seamlessly to ensure a great experience. In addition to flashing lights, actors popping out, loud noises and bursts of air to create jump-scares, there are also hanging props dangling in the dark, actors that slowly appear behind you, slanted floors and other features to create a dizzying, disorienting sense of dread and deep fear within, sometimes to the point where it’s a bit of a relief to enter a more lit room with just props, just for a moment to calm down a bit.
Overall, this is a spectacular haunt, and well worth a longer drive. The creepiness sets in before you even arrive, when you’re driving in on back roads. The open, lit area with the ticket, food and merch counters are a great place to relax, have some food and a warm drink, and come down from the high of excitement and adrenaline that built up. That is, until it’s time to go back out on the dark roads among the corn for miles, until you reach a bigger town. There is a gas station about 10 miles away, but it’s quite desolate, as well. This haunt is highly recommended for those who wish to be terrified, and are in good health. There are strobes and dizzying effects, some uneven flooring and ground, and low ceilings, so it is not recommended for those who may be sensitive to such things.