Web address: http://frightland.com/
Location: Middletown, DE (New Castle County)
Frightland is a perfect blend of fun, fear, and fright.
The Nuts and Bolts:
2016 marks the twentieth year for this established haunt which is situated on about 350 acres of land in Middletown, DE. The location is easy to get to and conveniently located so that patrons from Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania can easily make the trip. This haunt is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays (and some Thursdays) into early November. Frightland prices are EXTREMELY reasonable. They offer eight haunted attractions and a moderately sized carnival for $35. The full upgrade to VIP for all eight attractions (price includes carnival rides) is only $50 and is well worth it. Other noteworthy basics: there are a good number of well-maintained portable johns, there is extensive security onsite, a small gift shop, and there are tons of food options in the carnival section. Parking was a nominal fee of $5 and 100% of this money goes to The Leukemia Research Foundation of Delaware. Generally speaking, if you upgrade to the VIP pass, you will easily enjoy about two hours of heart pounding fun!
So as many of you might know, I am a huge geek who loves all things horror, 80s, and biology (my mother must be so proud). Well, I had recently participated with DNERR in the annual horseshoe crab survey and would drive back and forth to the Dover area. In my travels off RT-13, I would pass this larger than life silo with a massive skull on it which obviously piqued my curiosity. I decided this was the year to check out the huge skull silo nestled off in the distance… and I am so glad that I did.
The night’s horrors began with the Haunted Hayride combo. Once you board the hayride, buckle up because it trickles into three other haunts which you must complete to get back to home base. The hayride leads to Fear, Ravenwood Cemetery, and Zombie Town/Ghost Town. I have to start by saying that one of the scariest things I encountered was the new nickname I inherited from a group of teens while on the ride… “nice adult lady”. Yup, I am officially older than I realize but I digress. The hayride covers a lot of ground space and I especially love that the Frightland team thinks outside of the box. What I mean, is they don’t overly rely on the same old tropes that many haunts use such as zombies, hillbillies, movie monsters, and clowns. While you can expect some of these fan favorites, there is obvious unique thought put into the settings along this four attraction event (including an interesting use of zip line and bungies when you least expect it).
Next we moved on to the four indoor attractions: The Attic, The Haunted Barn, Idalia Manor, and Zombie Prison. The Attic masterfully uses the art of darkness and disorientation to titillate all of your other senses. Simple sensory strategies inside The Attic can goad your imagination into running wild. The Barn was among my favorites for its great props, set design, and use of negative spaces. The actors within this haunt use the holes in the wall, blind corners, and even floor space to keep you constantly looking over your shoulder in anticipation. Idalia Manor continued the use of excellent acting and creepy set design. This place even smells the part, most notably in the labyrinth-like library. This attraction built upon the natural ambiance of the building to turn the mundane into monstrous. Lastly, from the moment you are escorted to the entrance of the Zombie Prison to the second you run out the exit this haunt doesn’t disappoint. This was a multi-dimensional haunt attraction which was a high point of our experience. It was not lost on me that the group travelling along side of us also lauded this attraction as their favorite. The ghouls jolt you through this attraction like skillful cowboys shepherding bovine through a malevolent cattle chute.
My buddy Michelle, who travels with me to all these haunts (and serves as my personal human shield) found the outdoor hayride series to be her favorite. Oddly enough, I found the 4 inside events to be my favorite. I only say “oddly enough” because hayrides are almost always my favorite attraction. The take away from our team was that all eight attractions are great and they really reflect the labor of love from the Frightland team.
Of Special Note:
Pay attention to the smaller details throughout this haunt. I was especially intrigued by the props inside The Haunted Barn and Idalia Manor. You can always tell which haunts have true fans running the place by their attention to detail. These were not cheesy horror props; they were intricate little pieces of haunt art. Also, I enjoyed the level of commitment of the staff from the creepy little zombie girl collecting donations up to the marketing director. Everyone was great and obviously involved for the love of it. My favorite was when some snotty teens on the hayride were grasping to retain their masculinity (after they had just screamed like banshees) by strapping on some false bravado and asking one of the ghouls for her number. The ghoul remained in character, kept her composure and said “no”. When asked why, she promptly replied “even dead people have standards”. This absolutely made my night.
- Upgrade to the VIP pass, it is worth it.
- Bring extra money for munchies, for souvenirs, or to donate to Leukemia Research.
- Start your night with the Hayride. It tends to get longer lines quite quickly so you want to get there first.
 https://www.mymigrainebrain.com/recovery-big-year/delaware-horseshoe-crab-heaven/ A masterfully written piece by Kelly N. on our horseshoe crabbing experiences with DNERR.