Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Fright Farm
Location of Attraction: Smithfield, PA
Date of Review: 9/11/2021
Total Number of Attractions Available: Three
Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 9/10
Entertainment & Food Rating: 10/10
Atmosphere Rating: 10/10
Overall Costume & Makeup Rating: 8.5/10
Overall Cast & Crew Rating: 8/10
Overall Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 10/10
Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 7/10
Overall Feedback: After hearing about numerous stellar reviews, the squad finally made the trip out to Western PA to visit the notorious Fright Farm in Smithfield PA. Fright Farm returns for their 32nd season of haunting, and they did so in a monumental way! We arrived on site shortly after 10pm on what was their 2nd night of the 2021 season. General admission tickets run anywhere from $20-$35 based on which day of the week you attend. On the particular evening we attended they we’re running an opening weekend special on tickets ($25). XPress passes (skip the line) are also available for an additional $30 - these will likely be warranted during peak haunt season when the lines become absurdly long. After snagging our tickets we excitedly ventured towards the enormous midway area so we could begin our Fright Farm adventure.
As you enter the midway you’re assigned a group number, this is what determines when you’re able to board the hay wagon. With this setup patrons can enjoy the ample midway offerings to pass time instead of being stuck in lines. Fright Farm offers three attractions: Hayride of No Return, Frightmare Mansion, & The Grounds. All three attractions are enjoyed in nearly back to back fashion with minimal to no wait in-between. Fright Farm doesn’t disappoint when it comes to their entertainment and midway offerings - several frightfully fun games, buried alive simulator, numerous photo-op booths, massive stage with live performances, several food vendors/stands, large seating area, and by far one of the most immaculate gift shops we’ve ever encountered at a haunted attraction! If you’re a fan of haunt memorabilia then you’ll be in awe of this gift shop - every kind of clothing item known to man could be found in this gift shop, along with tons of other neat memorabilia items! Having arrived later in the evening, our group number was already next up so after briefly checking out the midway area we jumped onboard the hay wagon.
The Hayride of No Return was first up, which provided a solid 15 minute experience. The wagons themselves featured forward facing bench seating, making for a comfortable journey. After setting off for the dark and eerie woods our first encounter was a massive animatronic which briefly reviewed the rules and expectations for the journey. As we continued forth we encountered quite a variety of scenes - an eerie cemetery, massive western village, church, slaughter barn, etc. Many of the scenes were larger than life and towered over the hay wagon. Our hayride journey was rather aesthetically pleasing, as each and every scene featured clear attention to detail. Scare actors were sprinkled throughout the hayride scenes and did their best to engage with the patrons. Many of the scare actors interacted with the patrons via dialogue based skits, but oftentimes we were unable to fully and clearly hear what they were saying. Usage of microphones throughout the Hayride of No Return would do wonders for improving the scare actor engagement with patrons. In general, we felt the hayride was notably lacking scare actors but we chalked this up to being a minor opening weekend mishap. To conclude the hayride journey you pull into one last barn, once inside a neat pyrotechnique display commences. The fire blasts we’re coordinated with energizing music, making for a visually engaging and thrilling experience. As you exit the final barn you travel through a large vortex tunnel, which successfully disoriented our squad, making us feel as if the hay wagon was going to tip over. As you continue forth, off in the distance you can see the ominous glow of the Frightmare Mansion - the Mansion is quite breathtaking and jaw-dropping! Eventually the hay wagon drops you off at the entrance to the Frightmare Mansion, where you continue forth with your spooky adventure!
The Frightmare Mansion & The Grounds are essentially a two-in-one attraction, as you’ll weave in-and-out of the Mansion and through The Grounds. The combination of attractions makes for a lengthy (~30 minutes), visually stunning, and unnerving experience. The Frightmare Mansion included several themed sections; Ruins, The Sewer, & Farmhouse. To begin we ventured through abandoned tunnels, haunted cellar type sets, and the formidable ruins. We then proceeded into the spooky rat & creature infested sewers running beneath the sinister mansion. As we continued forth we ended up outside the Frightmare Mansion and traversing through various sections of The Grounds. Within The Grounds there were several themed sections; The Hallow Grounds, Slaughter Grounds, & The Swamp. The Hallow Grounds featured some of the most impressive, life-like, and aesthetically pleasing cemetery scenes (and sets in general) possessing numerous massive tombs & crypts! Various audio and visual effects were utilized to help further immerse you into the experience, with one of our favorite components being the thunderstorm effects! Be prepared for a disorienting journey as the Slaughter Grounds possess several strobe lighted, chain link fence mazes! We’ve never experienced such perfectly executed strobe lighting which had us all discombobulated, running into one another as we tried to dodge numerous chainsaw wielding maniacs. What a thrill that experience was, phew, we’re feeling dizzy just thinking about it! As we continued forth we stumbled upon the swamp, which possessed several water effects and all sorts of spooky creatures! Eventually you’ll venture back inside the Frightmare Mansion to experience the Farmhouse section. Various scenes like a library, kitchen, cellar, bathroom, etc were elegantly crafted and extremely detailed. The final section of scenes transitioned into a carnival/circus/funhouse theme, featuring rooms with slanted and uneven floors, creating a rather disorienting journey. We were completely caught off guard when one of the scenes had a completely mobile floor, which literally knocked us off balance nearly dropping us to the floor. Lastly, as we exited the Frightmare Mansion we traversed through a vortex tunnel, leaving us discombobulated once more! All in all, the Frightmare Mansion & The Grounds are Fright Farms “bread & butter”, as they feature some of the most breathtaking & aesthetically pleasing sets/scenes we’ve ever encountered. Our only gripe was a notable shortage of scare actors throughout Frightmare Mansion & The Grounds, but we chalked it up to being a downfall of attending on opening weekend. We’re optimistic that as the season progresses their scream team (cast & crew) will continue to develop, and expand into a sizable and fearsome group!
Fright Farm overall was quite an enjoyable stop on our 2021 Haunt Tour. The sets/scenes are some of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen, looking like something out of a movie. From the giant mansion glowing on the hill to the mausoleums and tombstones looking as though you were in an actual cemetery (albeit a haunted one) to the circus setup that would make Bozo proud. Everything looked absolutely stunning! Fright Farm screams of time and devotion to a beautiful, fine-tuned product. Even the gift shop was like nothing we’ve ever seen. A seasonal attraction, like Fright Farm, rarely has a massive, permanent fixture housing all it's offerings. The only thing that hurt the overall experience was what seemed to be a lack of scare actors. If the circus section had more experienced clowns, the scene would be untouchable. If the graveyard held a few extra “lost souls”, it would leave a life-long haunting memory. Even with the shortage of scare actors, it wouldn't deter us from visiting again as the sets are so breathtaking, they can nearly stand on their own. If you’ve yet to visit Fright Farm make sure to get them on your calendar for this fall, they are well worth a visit! Job well done Fright Farm team!
Individual Attraction Ratings:
Attraction Name: Hayride of No Return
Overall Attraction Rating: 7/10
Cast & Crew Rating: 7/10
Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 8/10
Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 5/10
Attraction Name: Frightmare Mansion
Overall Attraction Rating: 9/10
Cast & Crew Rating: 8/10
Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 10/10
Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 8.5/10
Attraction Name: The Grounds
Overall Attraction Rating: 9/10
Cast & Crew Rating: 8.5/10
Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 10/10
Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 8/10