Spooky World Presents Nightmare New England is a scream-park Halloween destination situated on the banks of the Merrimack River in Litchfield, NH. In addition to five haunted houses, the park also offers carnival concessions, restaurants, bars, a Monster Midway, nightly music, zombie paintball, go-kart racing, mini-golf, batting cages, tarot card readings, and a fire-pit.
Me and my cohort, the illustrious Dr. Phobias, being veterans of the industry, managed to score VIP passes to the attraction opening weekend and also attended the following weekend. Ergo, I will compare my experience from opening weekend (which can often be like a dress rehearsal for a haunt) to my experience from the following. The VIP passes on opening weekend made it considerably easier for us to experience the haunted houses without the hassle of the several-hour-long-wait lines. However, even with the VIP pass, the wait was quite long for their main house, Brigham Manor (about an hour). I would also like to point out that this was a Saturday night, and the park was offering a buy-one get-one deal, which meant the place was a madhouse. The second visit was only about half-as-crazy.
Waiting in line was boring like usual. Normally at a haunted attraction, there are line entertainers, or Midway performers. While a few of them scooted by on the back Midway, I saw very little interaction or attempt to break up the monotony of the line on my first visit. Luckily on a second visit, there was a good deal of line entertainment; this was great to see, because NNE has a number of talented Midway performers on staff. The façade of Brigham Manor is probably one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in New England haunted attractions, owed in large part to the design skills of Bad Boys Scenic Design. It is a two-story 18th century plantation, and it looks like a legitimate house in the middle of the woods. The lighting is sinister, and the sounds of Tool and A Perfect Circle complete the atmosphere with Maynard’s thumping rhythms and eerie vocals.
The inside of Brigham Manor was anti-climactic, compared to its flawless exterior. The décor was shrouded in darkness, which made it difficult to enjoy the detail of the sets. On a first visit, the actors were enthusiastic but definitely embodied that “first night on the job” vibe. On a second visit, the first half of the house was near-empty, but the second half definitely brought their A-game, making for an enjoyable walkthrough.
Brigham Manor dumps you immediately into a second attraction known as the Colony. This is a backwoods Hicksville kind of haunt complete with shacks, decaying cars, married first cousins, and Satanic priests. On a first visit, the acting, for me, was par, with a few nice surprises thrown in. Due to some technical difficulties, a chunk of the trail was without light entirely. The second visit floored me - in the middle of the woods, there are hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns peering out at you. You really can’t beat the natural ambiance of being in the middle of the woods at night, and on that second visit, the actors certainly seemed to be making the customers scream.
Next up was Freak Show, which is a 3D haunt. This style of haunt has been popular for many years now, and involves black walls painted with neon colors. The customer walks through with 3D glasses, and the art pops right off the walls. On opening weekend, the sets were visually fun, but the actors seemed as though they were lacking energy. On the second visit, however, the actors were impressively crazy and off-the-walls. In addition to scaring customers with creepy circus visuals, there were a number of interesting and new acting techniques that we witnessed in this haunt. But I won't spoil it for you.
Next up was Riverside Hospital, which is your typical hospital/asylum style haunt where the customer is tormented by demented patients and doctors. I can’t comment too much on this haunt, as I found it disappointing. After seeing the gorgeous work that was done on Brigham Manor, this seemed like it was thrown-together. However, there were some talented actors working inside, and some great pop scares - so certainly don't skip it in your travels.
Lastly, we made our way out to Ravensclaw Cemetery "The Resurrection", which like the Colony, is situated in the woods. Before the gate to the cemetery stands an animatronic prop known as the Necromancer, a giant, hunch-backed skeleton with a coffin on his back that speaks to you as you wait. The haunt weaves in and out of crypts and catacombs and is crawling with zombies. On visit one, the actors were on par, but were not particularly scary. On visit two, the zombies had found their groove, adding their grunts and undead shenanigans to the uncanny atmosphere of the woodland graveyard.
Should you go before the season is out? Yes! You will be visually stunned, startled, but more importantly, you will have fun. Nightmare New England is fast-becoming a New England Halloween tradition and is a great way to spend one of your October nights. Check out their website, www.nightmarenewengland.com for more information on the attractions and special events.