Each Halloween season a group of us get together and enjoy the local Haunted House scene. For years we did the Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement in Minneapolis, MN. You can see my past Soap Factory Reviews here – 2013, 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately year after year the Soap Factory’s production and scare efforts seemed to get more amateurish and for the price we decided to stop going. Side Note – based on this year’s reviews of the Soap Factory it doesn’t look like they improved.
We looked around at the other offerings and ended up decided on the Trail of Terror in Shakopee, MN. I myself had never been to it before. People in our group that grew up in the Twin Cities had gone to it 15 – 20 years ago and had great memories of it. Why not? We picked a Friday night for all of us to go and set it up.
The Trail of Terror website is very good for laying out the ‘hook’ to get people there. There are many offerings and activities beyond the Trail itself, there was Zombie Paintball, a dinner called the Phantom Feast, Hogtied Pub Crawl, an Escape Room game and the Wood’s Walk which is the Trail. Mrs. Binary and myself decided to do the dinner, Pub Crawl and the Escape room along with others in out group. For all the activities for the two of us we spent almost $200 on tickets alone, but if you take in account we were going to goto dinner and drinks before hand anyway it’s about the same anyway.
We started the night off with the Phantom Feast. A paranormal dinner/show in a haunted house called Bad Manor on the grounds of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It’s a little pricey, $65 per person, but I think it was worth it. We met several people and almost half of the attendees were repeat visitors. One couple said they have been there 5 or 6 years in a row. We did get a really nice hand-made clay mug to keep which probably would set you back $20 at the Fest. The dinner was not bad. A very nice salad, pork medallion, squash and sweet potato sides with a really good pumpkin cheesecake (and I don’t like pumpkin). The show was very well done, Jim was a fantastic performer. Everything he talked about, the backstory of the festival grounds, ghost sightings, strange death in the Manor we were in, all the people were all true. I looked them up. Without giving away spoilers the show is a slight mix of magic and potentially actual paranormal events. I think I’d have to see multiple shows to see if they differ but there were two parts of the show that makes you really think if it was scripted.
Real or not the Phantom Feast was entertaining and overall was the best part of the night. Mrs. Binary and myself would definitely go again. Only next time we will go to the later show that is with real paranormal investigators and do the ghost hunt with them to hotspots on the festival grounds.
Now, after the dinner things went downhill quickly. The Trail Website gave the impression that everything was grouped together and I assumed close in geographic location. When we bought the tickets it’s all time based, you pick the time slots you want to attend. The dinner we did at 6pm and when we called they said the dinner is about 90 minutes and should be done around 7:30pm. That didn’t happen, the show didn’t end until right before 8pm. Our next tickets were for the Pub Crawl that started at 8pm. When we left the Manor we asked where the Pub Crawl was and it turns out we had to go back to our car and drive to the Trail of Terror grounds which was almost 2 miles away.
We get to the new place, park, walk to the gate, get through a pat down and get to the bar. By then it was about 8:15pm, we had pre-paid tickets, ready to go. The girl running the table refused to give us our drink tickets, glass or direct us where the crawlers were because we ‘missed’ the 8pm start and said to come back and try to do the 10pm. Remind you, we pre-paid and had tickets in hand and blocked us. The majority of our group was on the crawl, a few others didn’t go, so we hunted around and found them to wait until our 9:30pm Escape Room time slot.
The Trail of Terror Grounds looked like a sloppy carnival. Food boxes like you’d find at a county fair, little tents selling trinkets, they even had a few carnival rides off to the side. Not scary.
Scattered around were double wide trailers setup as mini-haunted houses. While we waited for our group to return we decided to try one of the mini-houses, based on a recommendation of Freddy Krueger walking around we picked the Department of Corrections. The line to get in was about 20 minutes, the actual walkthrough took less than two minutes. Other than a funky rotating room it was one or two jump scares and we were outside. Meh.
After that disappointment we headed over to the fire pit that was near the Escape Room. The others finally came back from the Pub Crawl and even though we paid for it, the ‘Pubs’ were a trailer with Kegs of liquid that may have been beer. As part of the Pub Crawl we got Fast Pass like access to the Haunted Maze. So since we got screwed out of the Crawl, but did have our wristbands, our group got into the line for the Fast Pass for the Haunted Maze. The line for the Maze looked like an hour plus, but we were taken right to the front door an went in.
The Haunted Maze was fun, it wasn’t scary, but it was fun. The other impressive aspect of the Maze is it’s huge. Walking through it you’d expect it to end but it just kept going. There were some impressive animatronics, two really good rotating rooms, and overall it was fun. Again not scary and I don’t even remember any good jump scare events.
When we left the Maze we headed back to the Escape Room. Mrs. Binary and I headed back to the bar area to get our cups and drink tickets as it was about 9:50pm. The same girl is at the table and again she blocked us. Because it was exactly 10pm she wouldn’t give us what we paid for! Eventually the bouncer and another worker talked to her and said it’s not the end of the world and at a minimum we got the items but didn’t go on the actual crawl.
Back to the Escape Room, we shuffled our time around and did it closer to 10:30pm. If you are unfamiliar the Escape Room games lock out into a room with a short story and you need to find the clues to unlock more clues to eventually unlock the door to get out. Most of them you have an hour to do, here it was twenty minutes. This was a complete waste of 15 minutes. The room was a mid-evil story having to look for King Arthur’s sword… with a digital safe in the corner. The time crunch didn’t allow enough time to figure out the clues and had to use hints more than I wanted to just to get to the end inside the twenty minutes. When we did solve it the room components didn’t work. Unlike other Escape Rooms the Trail workers sat in the cage the whole time rather than leaving and letting us alone. Again twenty minutes is really short time.
We gathered back at the fire pit and wondered were the other members of our group were. They texted back they were one hour into waiting in line to do the Woods Walk. Forget that! Mrs. Binary and I handed out our remaining drink tickets, said our goodbyes and left.
The consensus was that we will never return to the Trail of Terror again. What a waste. Other than a dinner the whole event felt phoned in. Beyond disappointed.
I am not even going to rate it because it wasn’t worthy of a rating.
End of Line.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently with Magenic providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure everyday.