Happy Hauntings, my fellow ghouls and goblins! It's Venisha, one of your favorite Scurryface State Reps returning to once again help navigate you all through some of the best haunts in the South. With Covid - 19 threatening to cancel any and all Halloween plans for this year's spooky season, I was beginning to think my haunt tour might not happen. Luckily, my state of NC decided to go ahead and allow haunted attractions to open this October. Whoo hoo! Break out the monsters and bring on the "scare-o-tonin"! I was beyond excited and ready to check out several new scare locations this year. I decided to shake things up for my first stop on my haunt tour and attend some place new that I had never attended Panic Attack Haunted Attraction in Nakina, NC. It was a three and a half hour drive, but we managed to find the location with no problems at all. Have faith in your trusty GPS and it will guide your way along the interstate for the majority of your travels until you hit the backroads. This is where the fun truly begins as you make your way to your destination. It was dusk as we traveled to the location. A red and purple fluffy sunset making it look as though the sky was bruised and blood drenched as it sunk deep into the surrounding marshland, swamp area combined with massive barren crop fields with random small churches in the middle of nowhere definitely helped set you up for an eerie southern gothic, Skeleton Key type vibe. The haunt's scenic location attributed to preparing you for a night of terror in the backwoods. What kind of hoodoo are you getting yourself into and how will you escape? Upon arrival, you'll see the Panic Attack sign is on the side of a two lane road, where there is sure to be a long line of cars, all single file and slowly turning into a dirt riddled pathway where you can see beaconing spotlights and hear the sound of pulsating club music in the distance as you are ushered to park in an enormous grassy field known as the parking lot. There is a $5 parking fee. From here, you will make your way to the roped lines to purchase your tickets...unless the drive there already gave you the creeps and you're ready to back out. Either way it's too late now...so you might as well join in on the fun.
Be prepared to wait in two long outside lines before entering the actual haunt attraction at Panic Attack. Disclaimer note: We did attend on a Saturday of opening weekend, so crowds were to be expected. We arrived right at 7:30pm and total time waiting to purchase tickets on site was approximately 1 hr. We were entertained occasionally by two random monsters roaming the crowd, a green goblin and a decrepit Victorian witch. All guests are given the option of buying a group photo as a souvenir for $10...we passed due to the Jeepers Creepers van being a guest that night and them allowing us to take pictures with him, free of charge...an added bonus to the long wait. As you make your way to the entrance of the haunt, another outside line forms. I was informed this used to be their "rave" midway area of the haunt. It is possible this area was slightly changed to follow more with state safety guidelines. It's filled with misty fog, strobe lights and an imposing stage with a DJ spinning tracks and looming, gargantuan werewolf statue. Aesthetically, it's extremely pleasing to the eye and at first glance, looks exactly like a party you would want to be at, but after spending a few minutes among the standing crowd, it was easy to see an immediate disconnect between the performers and the customers. There was a severe lack of interaction. Neither the DJ nor the one dancing witch (who kept her back turned to the attendees) in their rave area, acknowledged the guests. It would have been nice to see them attempt to hype the crowd's energy or engage them in some way because the perfect setup opportunity is there, but sadly, is not being used to its full advantage. This stonewalled performance paired against the tubthumping music caused the energy in the lines to be awkwardly stagnant. Several customers thought the club, pop music being played was distracting from the initial spooky vibe the haunt was trying to achieve. The only thing "unnerving" or "scary" about hearing Cotton Eyed Joe at a haunt is flashing back to memories of a middle school dance you once attended...but, not everyone can be a Rob Zombie-Manson fan, right? However, when you’re a general admissions ticket with a two hour wait ahead of you this can turn your fun filled experience into a daunting task. The setup before entering the haunt is on point and detailed. A man made docking arena with water containing floating props, a decomposing lighthouse and an oversized, malicious looking shark help set the mood visually for what you are soon to encounter as you step into the official Panic Attack tour.
Costumes & Makeup:
The effort put into costumes and makeup at Panic Attack Haunted Attraction is noted. Face masks can be difficult to work around with latex monster masks, special effects and airbrush makeup, but they make it work with fairly believable creatures. Inside the trail, the costumes and makeup were precise. It would have been great to see more of this attention applied to the few characters who were on the midway and line entertainment as well. Remembering to tuck in oversized mask bibs and to airbrush or cover up visible human skin is a key element in creating effective monsters. It diverted from the illusive vision this attraction worked to create. However, their siren-mermaid was an immediate hit. The most life like sea creature I've seen in my tours of scare attractions so far! This haunt doesn't rely on infamous slasher villains to carry their show. They do their best to create their own innovative and original characters and for the most part, it works.
The opening pirate segment was very believable and immersive. They did a spectacular job of making you think you were about to walk the plank. The chainsaw runners were also to be duly noted. It's always hilarious to see an actor send preteens running in terror. Seeing more engagement and energy from the rest of the actors would have been preferred. Some of the cast seemed a bit lackluster. While there was no unnecessary loud screaming in anyone’s ears, majority of the actors merely grunted or growled or spoke in a hushed tone making it hard to hear them. This could be due to the fact a large portion of them appeared to be teens and new to the haunt industry. Looking forward to seeing these young scare actors improve and develop throughout the future seasons.
Panic Attack Haunted Attraction is a 30 minute self guided tour. The focus on set design was amazing. The trail takes you through several different scenes - a bejeweled pirate cavern, a circus full of creepy clowns and a victim filled slaughterhouse to name a few of the many. Each themed area flows and transitions into one another with fair enough ease. There are no trip hazards or safety issues inside to be noted. The pacing of groups was adequately timed. Some groups managed to catch up to the one in front of them, but there were no never ending conga lines that you tend to see on crowded nights at a haunt.
This scare attraction utilizes special effects to the maximum advantage. The effort and expense put forth here is evident between the strobe lights to all of their animatronics. They are each very grotesquely detailed. The lighting in each area was on par and helped the props camouflage and blend well into their sets. These guys definitely have a high budget when it comes to providing quality special effects and designs.
The layout and scenes of Panic Attack are commonly used for most haunted attractions. However, the focus on setting the aesthetic in each area inside of the haunt is impressive. This is apparent with the set design of pirates' treasure cave lined with gold coins and pearls or the misty graveyard full of wooden coffins. Several of the creatures have their own unique appeal and style to offer the audience.
Is It Scary:
Yes. Several of the members in our group screamed and grabbed onto their dad multiple times throughout the trail. One of the chainsaw runners had a preteen running out into the queue lines backwards for dear life and booking it to his family car for refuge. There were a few well timed scares that were decently distributed throughout the group. It's always a plus to see a cast who attempts to scare the group as a whole instead of focusing on one victim in particular throughout the entirety of the walk through.
Did You Feel Safe:
Both the queue line and the ticket vendor line are outdoors. There were 2 hand sanitizer stations at the ticket booth. Workers wearing masks instructed everyone attending to remain six feet apart and that face masks were required. However, none of those rules were strongly enforced. Especially the 6 foot rule whenever the lines became more packed with attendees. There were many visitors not wearing face masks as well. This may bother some of you, so keep this in mind, while planning to attend.
Bang For Your Buck:
General Admission: $30
Fast Pass: $50
Most haunts that I’m reviewing I attend as a general admission ticket, so I can get the full average Jolene experience. This being said, our estimated entry wait time clocked in at 3 hours with a timed haunt trail of 30 minutes. If you hate large wait times or consider yourself an impatient person, there is an option to upgrade to a fast pass or VIP. These guests were allowed instant access to the inside of the haunt.
My group had a fun time at Panic Attack Haunted Attraction. The characters and cast are enjoyable. The set designs here are extremely eye catching. The surrounding swamp areas really attribute to the creepiness of this scare attraction. While there were a few minor flaws, I’d still recommend checking this haunt out, if you live nearby. It was a good experience. I look forward to seeing how Panic Attack advances in the haunt industry in future seasons.