It’s hard to imagine that a 20 minute haunted walk-through would be worth the two hour drive to Leeds, followed by a two hour wait in line, followed by a two hour drive home. But sure enough, it was worth it. It was worth the time spent in transit and the admission price too ($15 per person).
Leeds is a small town, but the folks who run Atrox have managed to find a perfect place for their sprawling event. We were told by an employee that all of the folks who work there are volunteers, which would explain why there was so much more passion there versus what we saw last year at the disappointing Sloss Fright Furnace in Birmingham. We were also told that the proceeds of Atrox went to a charity benefiting children, but we weren’t told which one.
That should be a hefty amount, because on the Friday night we went (the last weekend before Halloween), the place was slammed. There were a lot of teenagers there, although none seemed to be there for the “celebrity” that Atrox had brought out to sign autographs — some guy who played a killer coal miner in a 3-D remake of a Canadian horror movie called My Bloody Valentine.
But the autograph signing and horror movie screening are really just diversions to consume time while waiting to walk through the haunt. And that’s the real story. The whole thing is highly-professional and well worth seeing. It might be spoiling a bit of the fun for you to read this very favorable review from Haunt World, but probably not.
I don’t want to give away too much of what you’ll see when you go through the exhibits. The shock of it all is part of the fun. But even a jaded veteran will find it exciting to push through the doors and barriers into each scene, which are highly detailed and staffed by actors and actresses who are experts at frightening. There’s a good mix of animated props and sets, atmospheric dread, and simple masked folks stepping out of shadows. None of the scenes feel like cheap gimmicks and even though we got separated from the group we walked through with (we think they just sprinted ahead out of terror), the actors managed to “reset” the scene to still give us a scare even though our group had fragmented.
All in all, we were in the palms of the hands of those who put on the production. Nearly every twist or turn evoked either dread, genuine shock and fear, or, at minimum, a feeling of being impressed by all of the time and effort that went into the detailed renderings of, say, the mad scientist’s lab or the crazy butcher shop of corpses or the giant demon thing feasting on the contents of coffins. There was gore. There was sawdust. There was a trippy disorienting tunnel with a tilting ramp. There was, of course, a chainsaw.
The adrenaline of a good long scare just can’t be replaced. Well worth attending.