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  • Writer's pictureChandler Clouser

Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres - 2019 Review

Haunted Attraction Reviewed: Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres

Location of Attraction: Newtown PA

Date of Review: Sunday October 13th 2019

Total Number of Attractions Available: THREE

Overall Haunted Attraction Rating: 8/10

Entertainment and Food Rating: 7/10

Atmosphere Rating: 8/10

Overall Costume and Make Up Rating: 8.5/10

Overall Cast and Crew Rating: 8/10

Overall Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 8.5/10

Overall Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 7/10

Overall Feedback: In 2018, Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres turned out to be one of our most rollercoaster reviews we’ve ever completed! Last season was our first ever visit to this haunt and it certainly had its ups and downs. The House in the Hollow was unanimously voted a 10/10 attraction and actually received our end of year “Best Indoor Haunted Attraction” award! Meanwhile, the Field of Fright in 2018 was more like the “Field of Dull” and the Sleepy Hollow Hayride was like the Michael Bay blockbuster flop of hayrides. To say the least, we were certainly eager to revisit Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres to see if they could redeem themselves.

On Sunday October 13th, we did just that, revisited Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres in Newtown PA. The Sleepy Hollow team was busy during the offseason completely revamping their Field of Fright attraction. After our most recent visit we learned that our 2018 review of Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres was actually the main reason for their complete revamp of the attraction. It’s always an honor when haunts value a group like ours feedback to try and enhance the customer experience. We pulled into the parking lot around 7pm and to our surprise a large crowd was already on hand. Once our group of 12 all arrived we swung by the ticket booth. After snagging our RIP tickets we ventured down to the midway area. This area features a large bonfire, several photo booths/props, plenty of seating and a snack shack. The snack shack had a wide variety of food options and was quite scrumptious, so come hungry!

To kick off our evening we elected to give the Field of Fright a whirl. In 2018, the Field of Fright was the clear “weakest link” out of the three attractions. Last season this is what we had to say about the Field of Fright, “The Field of Fright took place in a large cornfield with gigantic corn stalks to block out your sight lines. Unfortunately, the scenes were few and far between, elements were a bit cheesy, and it was a genuine flop — overall the most dull, uneventful experience of the haunt season. Right now, Field of Fright should be called “Field of Dull”.” Well, the “Field of Dull” is NO MORE! The Sleepy Hollow team busted butt all offseason to revamp the Field of Fright and they did just that. A clear immediate improvement was noted within just seconds of entering the attraction. They removed the extremely cheesy introductory scene from 2018 and replaced it with an actor who set the backstory for the attraction, asking us to search for her husband (Harry) who never returned after entering the cornfield. The cornfield was dark with dimly lit pathways courtesy of small lamps scattered throughout. There was a downright creepy atmosphere throughout the attraction. Scene after scene we were continually impressed as practically nothing was the same from 2018! Each scene received a complete revamp with many of the scenes being brand new for 2019. We absolutely loved the scene with the Marionettes; we were genuinely creeped out when traveling through this scene. In between scenes guests weaved through dark pathways, no dead space was encountered, as scare actors were popping out of the corn to deliver frights throughout. The scare actors throughout the attraction were much improved over last season. They possessed great energy and provided a very interactive experience with our group. Although not necessarily a scary attraction, for most haunt goers the Field of Fright will provide an eerie and spooky fun experience. As a whole, the Field of Fright was MUCH improved over last years experience. We have no doubt that over the next few seasons this attraction will continue to blossom into a top notch experience.

Next up we ventured to the Sleepy Hollow Hayride. Last season we referred to the Sleepy Hollow Hayride as the “Michael Bay blockbuster flop of hayrides — a lot of hype, flames and explosions for little reaction from the guests.” We were hopeful that maybe the Sleepy Hollow team would make some tweaks to this attraction for 2019 but essentially it remained nearly a mirror experience of 2018. The heavy investment of funds into props and effects are visible in each scene. The hayride utilizes fire blasts at least four times throughout the ride — most notably during the Purge-like car wreck scene, and during the performance of fire twirlers and “Freak Show” performers. An elaborate pirate ship scene with several startling explosions and at least two sequences where vehicles get —TRULY— dangerously close to the wagon made this a rather intense ride. Can’t forget to mention the scarecrow creatures that always deliver a fright to the hayride patrons. The bone structure is there for this to be a truly memorable haunted hayride, but the acting falls short and the design of the hayride with limited guest interaction makes it difficult to get involved and stay involved. Several well design sets were encountered but for many of them the haywagon zipped right through, not stopping to allow the actors time to interact with the guests or for the guests to even take in the creativity of the scene itself. Throughout our hayride experience we gave it a lot of flack for feeling dull, but in retrospect, a live horse interaction (headless horseman), two vehicles careening through mud dangerously close to the wagon, burning vehicle(s), and performers twirling fire on the edge of a cornfield were all pretty remarkable haunt elements that aren’t seen at other locations. Our main gripe truly is how fast you fly through the hayride course! We almost felt bad for the scare actors, as they were trying to interact with guests and perform skits. But before they could even finish their skit we had already blown straight threw the scene! Sleepy Hollow team, you truly outdid yourselves to create elegant scenes but are essentially throwing it all away by rushing through them. Please do us one favor and SLOW DOWN THE DARN HAY WAGONS! All in all, the Sleepy Hollow Hayride does provide a solid hayride experience for the haunt goers; just make sure your eyes are on high alert. We’re eager to see what enhancements they’ll make to this attraction in years to come!

To round out the night we headed for the House in the Hollow, the gold star of Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres! Prior to entering the House in the Hollow guests are instructed to fill out their guest slip which allows you admission into the attraction. It was while waiting in line where we encountered one of the best scare actors thus far this season! This actor provided a true performance while singing her twisted song and attempting to adopt out her headless baby. Malfate Manor, AKA The House in the Hollow, is an orphanage where dozens of souls/spirits still lurk in the dark hallways and graveyard. The attraction itself truly looks like a decrepit and eerie manor, a perfect setting for a haunted attraction. We are literally in awe of this attraction, as it was somewhere between magical and thrilling. Each scene was perfectly staged with remarkable acting, incredible set designs, and was truly captivating. We were blown away by their use of holographic displays, mirror/projector work and life-like animatronics. We to this day have still NEVER seen anything like it except for here at Sleepy Hollow Haunted Acres! These actors are hands down STILL some of the best we’ve ever come across in our years of reviewing haunts! Typically haunts have a few standout actors but to have an ENTIRE attraction full of top notch actors is truly something unheard of. Their passion, enthusiasm and delivery of their skit is of pure perfection! Not to mention the amount of improv and interaction used is also refreshing. No congo lines of guests being pushed through this attraction as we never once encountered a group in front or behind us. Beware, as the actors and the scenes will play tricks on you, making you question what is real and what isn’t. The attraction wasn’t necessarily “scary”, instead it created a sense of wonder and marvel. We have never been so startled, engaged and captivated as when one of our crew members disappeared right before our eyes. The atmosphere inside the attraction was carried throughout the entire experience — through a graveyard where ghosts ran among the tombstones and underground where we experienced the sounds and visuals above us as if we were being buried in a coffin. Just when you think you’ve safely made it through the attraction one final surprise is lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on the guests! This surprise certainly had a few of our members literally running for the hills. The House in the Hollow still to this day remains as one of our groups all-time favorite attractions! It’s truly a one-of-a-kind attraction that provides a TOP NOTCH experience!

After completing the three attractions we had the chance to meet up with two folks from the Sleepy Hollow team. Pierce, one of the few staff on the build team and Newton, the owner of the haunt! These two individuals have a clear passion for providing an entertaining experience for their guests. It was refreshing to speak with such genuine haunt staff who was truly appreciative and receptive to our feedback. In our conversation with Pierce we learned that their next project is revamping and enhancing the Sleepy Hollow Hayride. This news was music to our ears!

To summarize our night, Sleepy Hollow provides a great evening of entertainment. We’ll start by saying you've gotten your money's worth by the time you go through "The House in the Hollow." Guests get to lose a member of the group, search for a ghost boy, watch apparitions swirl past and see objects seemingly take on a mind of their own. The visual experience (theatrics, set, etc...) are far superior than your average haunted attraction and are more memorable than many of the "big time" haunts. Field of Fright seems to have received some added scenes, making it enjoyable and more than just a stroll through the corn. The hayride meets all the usual expectations but it's "Maximum Overdrive" style ending always seems to stick out for us. We’re not sure how the driver comes so close but never hits the wagon. It’s clear they are on the right path to becoming one of the best Scream Parks in all of Pennsylvania! With relatively low prices, a pleasant "traditional haunt" atmosphere on a working farm, and 3 attractions that receive just enough changes and improvements each year to make return experiences just as enjoyable as your first, Sleepy Hollow is an extremely worthwhile stop for the season! Happy Hauntings!

Individual Attraction Review:

Attraction Name: Field of Fright

Overall Attraction Rating: 7.5/10

Cast and Crew Rating: 7.5/10

Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 8/10

Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 7/10

Attraction Name: Sleepy Hollow Hayride

Overall Attraction Rating: 7/10

Cast and Crew Rating: 7/10

Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 8/10

Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 6/10

Attraction Name: House in the Hollow

Overall Attraction Rating: 10/10

Cast and Crew Rating: 10/10

Props, Animatronics and Set Design Rating: 10/10

Attraction Scare/Thrill Factor Rating: 8/10

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