Hellstead Manor - 2019 Review
Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Hellstead Manor
Location of Attraction: Hallstead PA
Date of Review: Saturday September 21st 2019
Total Number of Attractions Available: ONE
Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 7.5/10
Entertainment and Food Rating: 6/10
Atmosphere Rating: 7/10
Overall Costume and Make Up Rating: 8/10
Overall Cast and Crew Rating: 7.5/10
Overall Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 8/10
Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 7/10
Overall Feedback: It’s now officially our 3rd weekend of reviewing for the 2019 season so we are officially in full swing. It’s the 3rd Saturday in September, which happens to be a popular opening weekend for many haunts. Our squad was already planning to take a road trip to Scranton PA to visit Reaper’s Revenge when we discovered Hellstead Manor. After doing some research on the haunt we couldn’t help but coordinate a visit for a review. We always love a “new to us” haunted attraction! It’s about 7pm on a perfect evening for a haunt as we strolled down the back roads of Hallstead PA, just south of the New York/Pennsylvania border. As we strolled up the winding roads on the mountain side we stumbled upon a rather stunning mansion with a rather ominous appearance. It was at that point we were immediately immersed into the atmosphere here at Hellstead Manor. We were quite surprised to see that it was actually already their 2nd full weekend in operation for the 2019 season. Typically these off the beaten path haunts tend to have a much shorter schedule but not this haunt! Hellstead Manor is technically two attractions in one, The Manor and The Trail, but essentially guests will flow directly from The Manor into The Trail. Ticket prices are rather straightforward at $25 a piece for general admission or $35 a piece for fast pass/skip the line admission! Our squad actually found an online coupon for a buy one get one deal resulting in tickets being $12.50 a person; which we’d later come to find would be a bargain price for this haunt!
After redeeming our tickets and chatting amongst ourselves we headed for the queue line on the front porch of the manor. Unfortunately we hadn’t seen this posted anywhere on the website but the haunt itself opens at 7pm but they didn’t begin admitting anyone into the attractions until about 7:45/8pm. That along with some lackluster line management really made for a long wait. Guests wait in the queue line on the porch and then once inside the manor doors will wait in another queue line. Fortunately, once you are inside the manor they do have a mini historical museum on the manor itself. The long wait certainly gave us plenty of time to check out the items they’ve discovered on the property as well as an opportunity to chat with some of the Hellstead Staff regarding the history of the property. We took notice that they were admitting groups of 4-6 once every 5 minutes; this certainly has its pros and cons! On the bright side this ensures you’ll never see or hear from a group in front or behind you. But on the downside this made for an extremely long wait, nearly 75 minutes, as we entered the queue line at 7:30pm and didn’t enter the attraction itself until nearly 8:45pm. On an evening were they likely had maybe 100 or so folks in attendance they can make do with this method. But we truly have concerns on how they manage lines when it comes to busy time of the season. We sure hope they shorten up the time between groups rather than making the wait time even lengthier than it already was. We definitely urge guests to consider paying an extra $10 to upgrade to the fast pass/skip the line admission!
As our group large group of 16 in attendance finally hit the front of the line we were eager to get inside the attraction itself. The first two rooms you enter are actually another section of the museum. In the first room an actor does a brief run through of the rules on the manor and then gives some history on several creepy items they discovered on the property. In the second room guests watch a brief historical video on the manor itself. By this point we were beginning to think Hellstead Manor was just one big museum and not actually a haunted attraction. But boy were we wrong. Within seconds of the video clip ending a scare actor approached out of nowhere urging us forward into the haunt before the spirits take our souls. The first section of the manor we entered was a large pallet maze with snake like paths. It was in this section where we’d discover one of the best scare actors of the evening; the one armed soldier! This scare actor truly looked like he had his arm eaten off by some cannibalistic creatures. It was his bloody terrific performance that immediately gave us high hopes of what lay ahead. Scene after scene in the manor we were continually surprised with the elegance of the handmade props and pure uniqueness in set design. There was no doubt that the build team at Hellstead Manor spent many hours building the elegant sets. We specifically have to mention the laboratory section of the haunt. We truly felt immersed into an old school scientists lab! Between the scenes themselves Hellstead Manor possessed hallways with perfectly placed drop panels which allowed the scare actors to provide several “gotcha” moments! We were pleasantly surprised by the performance the scare actors provided in The Manor. These folks were committed to their parts and weren’t afraid to interact with our group. Several of the scare actors possessed some frickin amazing masks; which we would later come to find out were handmade by the owner himself! One of our favorites was the mutant creature mask with several eyeballs; talk about FREAKY! Hands down our groups favorite prop in the entire attraction was the large creature head that nearly devoured several of our members in one gulp! This type of prop is becoming popular in haunts these days as a scare actor controls the prop allowing for an interactive experience. But we’ve never seen one of these come flying 10-20’ after us. We walked past the prop and were bummed as we thought no one was operating it. We ventured further down that hallway and next thing you know the creature head prop was flying after us and boy did we look like a deer in headlights!
As guests exit The Manor you immediately head for the queue line for The Trail; fortunately with the large spacing between groups there was no wait and we immediately entered. As we began our venture on The Trail we were handed a flashlight to help guide us down the dark path. Thank heavens they gave us a flashlight because boy it sure was dark. The dark and quiet walk to the first scene really setup an eerie vibe that would be perfectly carried throughout the remainder of the attraction. We were rather amazed by how Hellstead Manor accented the woods and nature itself into the attraction. We stumbled upon several visually stunning scenes where they incorporated nature into their work. Just like inside The Manor itself, The Trail possessed the same handmade and spectacular set design. The scare actors along The Trail blended into the scenes and were able to provide several startles to our squad. Kudos to the scare actors along The Trail for maintaining such an eerie vibe in their performance; it gave us the heebie jeebies! It's hard to describe how aesthetically pleasing several of the scenes are so just take our word for it when we say they were AMAZING!
As we exited The Trail our squad immediately began chattering about how impressed and surprised we were by the experience Hellstead Manor offered! Our squad congregated out front of the manor and were able to meetup with the owners. We had come to find out that this is only their 4th season in operation and the 1st season of having The Trail. When we heard this, we were even more impressed by how far they’ve come in only four years. We were also notified that they were operating short staffed but we couldn’t tell as there was zero dead space throughout the attractions. We couldn’t help but love the old school feel of Hellstead Manor and truly appreciate the time and energy that clearly goes into this attraction! Outside of the attraction itself guests can enjoy kicking back by the fire pit, munching on basic goodies from the snack bar and can parooze the small gift shop. Congratulations to Hellstead Manor for providing a pleasantly surprising experience. Our squad will definitely be back in years to come to keep tabs on your growth! If you’re in the Scranton PA area or are visiting another local haunt definitely consider paying Hellstead Manor a visit! It’s a one of a kind experience that all haunt enthusiasts will enjoy!