Hellstead Manor - 2020 Review
Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Hellstead Manor
Location of Attraction: Hallstead PA
Date of Review: 9/26/2020
Total Number of Attractions Available: 2
Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 7/10
Entertainment & Food Rating: 6/10
Atmosphere Rating: 7/10
Overall Costume & Makeup Rating: 7.5/10
Overall Cast & Crew Rating: 6.5/10
Overall Set Design & Special Effects Rating: 8/10
Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 6/10
Overall Feedback: After a pleasantly surprising experience at Hellstead Manor in 2019, our squad knew we wanted to return again in 2020 if our review schedule brought us to northern Pennsylvania. Fortunately enough we had planned to return to Reaper’s Revenge in Scranton PA, which allowed us the opportunity to visit Hellstead Manor again. 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 eerie atmosphere here at Hellstead Manor. Hellstead Manor is technically two attractions in one, The Manor and The Wretched Woods, but essentially guests will flow directly from The Manor into The Wretched Woods with minimal to no wait in between attractions. Ticket prices are rather straightforward at $27 a piece for general admission or $37 a piece for fast pass/skip the line admission! Our squad found an online coupon for a buy one get one deal resulting in tickets being $13.50 per person; which is a bargain price for this attraction!
Prior to experiencing Hellstead Manor we had the opportunity to catch up with Eric, owner of the haunt. Eric shared that they had a difficult time finding scare actors for the 2020 season, unfortunately leaving them with numerous holes throughout the attractions. Eric also mentioned that they wouldn’t be allowing guests to congregate inside the Manor prior to entering the attraction, which means guests lose out on some of the backstory and history of the property! Hellstead Manor typically has a mini museum, containing items they’ve found throughout the property, located inside The Manor for guests to checkout while waiting in line. Fortunately the queue line actor was still giving a brief backstory for the haunt and an overview of the properties' spooky history! Eric was pleased to mention that they expanded their trail attraction, The Wretched Woods, for the 2020 season!
It was nearly closing time when we had arrived so we were one of the last groups of the evening to go through. Our group of 12 attendees on the night was split into half. Something we appreciated from 2019 was the long spacing in between groups. We were pleased to see Hellstead Manor continuing to space groups out, ensuring you’d never encounter another group during your journey. The first section of the manor we entered was a large pallet maze with snake-like paths. They utilized narrow passageways and short ceiling height to help disorient the guests as you had to squeeze and duck your way through. 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! As Eric had mentioned, there was definitely quite a bit of dead space encountered on our journey through The Manor, primarily due to the shortage of scare actors. And unfortunately the scare actors we did encounter didn’t make up for it. Most of the scare actors failed to utilize creative lines as they often referred to “Get Out”, “Run”, “Leave”, etc. Hellstead Manor is a haunt that relies on their scare actors to make the experience spooky, fun and interactive, and unfortunately the majority of scare actors in The Manor failed to do so. On the bright side, several of the scare actors possessed some rather incredible masks; which were handmade by the owner himself! One of our favorites was the mutant creature mask with several eyeballs; talk about FREAKY! Hands down our group's 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 Wretched Woods; fortunately with the large spacing between groups there was no wait and we immediately entered. Right off the bat we noticed that they changed the path of the attraction and added motion activated lights along the trails. The dark and quiet walk to the first scene really set up an eerie vibe that would be perfectly carried throughout the remainder of the attraction. Nothing spookier than a walk in the dark woods, hearing the leaves rustling and the echoes of other patrons screams. 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 Wretched Woods possessed the same handmade and spectacular set design. Kudos to the scare actors along The Wretched Woods for maintaining such an eerie vibe in their performance; it gave us the heebie jeebies! Special shout-outs to the old feller playing the ukulele by the fire, the actor in the gilly suit who scared the crap out of our squad, and the actor who was literally climbing through the trees! Let’s just say that the scares came from ALL DIRECTIONS in The Wretched Woods! 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 Wretched Woods our squad immediately began chattering about our experience! Although there was an obvious shortage of scare actors and the experience was less interactive than we remembered from 2019, we still had a spooky fun time! We chalked up most of the “downfalls” as setbacks due to Covid-19. Our squad congregated out front of the manor and once again were able to meet up with the owners. 2020 is only Hellstead Manor’s 5th season of operation and just their 2nd season of operating The Wretched Woods! When we heard this, we were even more impressed by how far they’ve come in only five short years. 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. New for 2020 is the Brew-Garten where guests can snag a pint of “Hellstead O-Negative” courtesy of 2 Dogz And A Guy Brewery - what a refreshing way to relax your nerves after experiencing Hellstead Manor! Another job well done goes out to the Hellstead Manor crew for providing a SPOOKY FUN experience! Our squad will definitely be back in years to come to keep tabs on your continued 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!