Guthrie Haunts Scaregrounds in Guthrie, Oklahoma never fails to deliver! The location is absolutely perfect-- a dedicated grounds with an eerie drive out. This season, the construction on the nearby bridge was completed, eliminating the timed stoplight near the entrance. This allowed traffic to flow freely and made parking a breeze. Upon entering, you are greeted with the huge “Guthrie Haunts” sign and outdoor scenery.
New to Guthrie this year was a full midway experience. Complete with concessions, spooky vendors, and fire spinners, there were definitely plenty of opportunities to keep busy while waiting. I would like to see how this model progresses through the season and adds more vendors to the midway. I thoroughly appreciated this experience this year because it kept the line at a minimum and gave patrons the opportunity to support local vendors and socialize. A new adjustment this year was giving various color groupings to minimize line time due to COVID. I honestly feel like this feature enhanced my overall experience so much that I would like to see the midway stay well beyond COVID-19.
Costumes were of quality and I always appreciate the owner giving instructions before the haunt entrance. All costumes and characters fit the themes and they did a wonderful job playing to the environment of their placements. Several costumes in this show were form-fitted masks being able to move with the actor. One thing I’d really like to point out as an improvement was the utilization of child/young actors in excellent jump-scare positions this year. Occasionally, haunts will misplace young actors by giving them too many lines to say or too large of parts. However, at Guthrie, there is a clear strategy to use newer actors in quick reset roles that don’t inhibit the flow should something be slightly off. Regarding makeup, everything in this show was solid. I did not notice any issues in prosthetics or a lack of makeup on any actors. Great work!
The actors were very interactive in this show. Although there had to have been (right?) more people in the haunt outside my group of two, it felt like all eyes were on us the entire time. Actors had plenty of time to move along with each group and fully immerse patrons in the scenes. All the actors were incredibly high energy and never broke character-- fully committing to scaring both my wife and I, individually. The smallest piece of improvement was a singular actor being very stuck on a participatory element that could have used a different approach of pivoting the lines to account for a lack of participation. I couldn’t fully understand his commands and it caused a bit of a hiccup in the scene, where it shouldn’t necessarily be reliant on a predictive participation. Otherwise, the timing was impeccable and I always love seeing how many young actors they mentor at this haunt. The has clearly been a significant amount of time invested in the actors at Guthrie.
~Trail experience and theming~
Many changes from last year and I loved it! Excellent scenes with complexities in the details-- it’s a perfect distraction to scare you on the next turn. I’m always so impressed with the selective “dead spots” Guthrie uses that aren’t really dead at all. I have been to many haunts, and there are certain scenes that start to have a predictive element to them-- loud banging on the barrels in industrial scenes, toilets shooting air, etc. But at Guthrie, none of the scares are routine. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit each year for their various events, I am always surprised. There are never any elements that appear to be incomplete or rushed, which is nearly unheard of on an opening weekend. Individual groups always lead to a better time as well.
~Bang for your buck~
Guthrie Haunts always does a great job of offering promotions and discounted tickets to the public. For their opening weekend (one of the first in the state), tickets were half-price at $10. This is important due to increasing accessibility to families who may not be able to afford higher prices, and also encouraging high attendance early in the season. At that price, it was absolutely worth it, but it would have still be a good value at $20. It took us about 20 minutes to walkthrough, but we spent a good 20 minutes visiting vendors beforehand as well as getting to watch the fire spinners while lined up to enter. I was fully entertained from the moment I entered the midway and definitely got my money’s worth!
~Special Effects/ Visual~
A large portion of this haunt was completely rebuilt this season and it looks incredible. One of my favorite areas is the entrance room where you’re given initial instructions-- truly feels like you’re in the catacombs! Another aspect I love about this haunt is that they never fully isolate your vision (except on blackout night) so there is a purpose when the lighting is low. For me personally, the appeal of special effects is to be fully immersed and temporarily lose your sense of perception; Guthrie always delivers. The heat and temperature changes is always something I love because it fully immerses you and gives an additional sense of “real” fear. Overall, they really executed on the visual appeal.
~Is it scary?~
When I left the haunt, my wife turned around and said “I was not ready for that” which to me, tells me it was incredibly scary. She accompanies me to nearly all of the haunts, walks first, and is generally a very difficult scare. However, at Guthrie, she is always shaken up afterwards and claims that it “gets scarier every time”. I also love how many changes go into this haunt each season because it always lets me start fresh each time. I could come for every holiday, and it would always feel different. Not every haunt can do that and continue to pull off the scary factor each and every time. Guthrie does.
This is a pretty creative haunt as they integrate some traditional scenes with new dynamic characters and experiences. Guthrie tends to really take you to another level with their creativity as you’ll be in one scene and quickly realize there is a deeper, more demented purpose than you originally anticipated. I don’t want to give away any spoilers in this category-- just let it be known that it is original.
My previous visits have included Valentines 2020 and regular season 2019. Approximately half of the build and design was completely reconstructed since February and the other half had been adapted for some COVID precautions. It was definitely significantly different inside and of course the midway was entirely new.
~DID YOU FEEL SAFE?~
I have so much to say regarding their COVID-19 protocols. Before you can even purchase a ticket, you are given a mask if you don’t have one, read the rules, and have your temperature taken with a mounted infrared thermometer. This is a strict process and I witnessed several individuals either be turned away or re-checked to ensure safety. The midway experience called groups in by colors which halved our wait time compared to last year (which already was a shorter 30 minute wait with entertainment). *Everyone* at this haunt followed and enforced their protocols and for anyone who would not comply, security was there to step in. The line had 6-ft distancing markers with encouragement from line staff to adhere to the guidelines as well. While the actors weren’t required to wear masks, patrons were at all times, which I fully support to help protect their actors. Another aspect of Guthrie’s approach that I really appreciated was that the midway was large enough that you could practice social distancing and take your mask off up until line entry if you chose to. This type of flexibility and freedom helped to give a sense of autonomy and normalcy to the experience we all love and enjoy. Overall, Guthrie Haunts truly looks after both their staff and patrons, and it was even more apparent this season during COVID-19
From the moment I pulled into the grounds, I could tell there was going to be something spectacular this year. If you’re looking for safety, creativity, and soul-shaking scares, look no further. I am never disappointed with the experience at Guthrie Haunts, as it always delivers a new and terrifying time. Be prepared to laugh, shriek, and maybe even cry a little (they love that) and don’t let COVID spoil this Halloween. I absolutely recommend a visit to this haunt where you can let them worry about your safety so you can let loose a bit. Very scary, very fun!