Fear Experience is an appropriate name for the haunted house in Parma, Ohio, partly owned by sophomore Max Simon. From the moment you walk in actors follow you, stare at you and block your path. Which makes even to buy tickets an act of bravery.
When you do, you’re tricked into thinking that the big scary doors are the entrance into the haunted house, but it’s really just into the room with the line. But even there you’re being scared (as I found out there that the actors are allowed to touch you).
An actor dressed up as an alien both guided me forward with a hand on my back and surprised me by stroking my hair. So before I even went into the haunted house my adrenaline was on blast.
Another fearful experience was that no one answers your questions. I asked three people how long it takes to get through the haunted house until I realized that not telling us was part of the gimmick (it takes about 10 minutes per haunted house and there are four).
I asked the actor if he was allowed to touch me—I also told him I didn’t sign a waiver—and he responded by touching my shoulder. One nice man finally said that the actors are allowed to lightly touch you. Of course you still can’t touch them.
The first haunted house was zombie-themed, the second an insane asylum and the third was a carnival. Rounding out the attraction was a fourth house, modeled after an industrial wasteland.
In all, the actors were completely in character. Zombies sounded and moved like zombies, actors ran around with their arms bonded to their sides in the insane asylum and the carnival actors dressed up as clowns, had animal masks and one guy looked like a scary carnie from my county fair. The costumes were great down to their contacts lenses.
I felt like some actors could have tried harder, and then some wouldn’t leave people alone. For example there was one point where two actors with chainsaws blocked the path of a group of screaming girls, and the only way they got through was because me and a friend just charged through them. Another actor in the carnival house got so close to my face that I could see the stubble on his chin in the dark room.
The houses themselves were a series of rooms and hallways. The rooms mostly had actors and the hallways held a lot of the jump scares, and other gimmicks such as being in complete darkness, bags filled with air—that simulate claustrophobia—mazes (that took forever to figure out), hanging robes/body bags, and slow strobe lights. Along with the jump scares were air guns that pop at your feet and random horn sounds.
Overall I was scared because for the first time the actors didn’t just follow me, jump out or stare at me. These actors got in my personal space and pushed me to act out of survival—I sprinted a lot and had to get a little aggressive to get through the chainsaw blockade.
I was sweating after I was finished, because it really simulated fear for me. If these types of gimmicks work for you, you will get scared, but if you’re like my friend who doesn’t get fazed easily, Fear Experience will be, at the very least, a better-than-average haunted house.
The Fear Experience is located at 10701 Brookpark Rd. in Parma, Ohio. They’ll remain open until Nov. 1. Hours can be found on their website.