Saturday, September 8, 2012

Thirteen Stories Haunted House 2012

{"The trial run had one incident while we were there, but it was taken care of by staff that were amazing. The customer service was exceptional, which is rare and appreciated." (from our 2011 review of Thirteen Stories Haunted House)  Read on to see how much can change in just one year.}

                On Friday, September 7, 2012 we chose to visit Thirteen Stories Haunted House located at 2975 Ring Road in Kennesaw, Georgia.  The location is just outside of Town Center Mall in a partially permanent and partially temporary set of structures.  The benefit to going on this evening was that they were offering admission at a discounted rate of $10 per person while they previewed the attraction in order to prepare for the impending haunt season.  Since this was an unfair situation to review a haunt in we decided to be very open with them when we arrived.  We presented them with our card representing us as Haunt Review and told them to amp it up for us.  Providing them with this information as we purchased our tickets left us with mixed feelings at the end.  We knew that they were aware of our presence, however we felt as though they had not truly taken advantage of this knowledge. 

                First, let us explain about what went on involving the world of technology and the customer service connected with Thirteen Stories.  The events listed online for these preview nights stated that the hours were from 7 - 10 PM on select Friday and Saturday nights in September.  We arrived just after 7:00 to find that the gate to the cue area and ticket office was still closed.  Deciding to use our time wisely we took a trip over to the mall and walked around for a bit.  When we returned to the parking area for the haunt we found that nothing had changed.  After 8 PM they finally opened the gate and let us in to purchase tickets, though they were not ready for admission into the attractions at that time.  While waiting in line we posted on one of our personal Facebook accounts about how their idea of 7:00 PM for opening was just a suggestion.  Someone logged in as Thirteen Stories and commented on the post.  They stated that nowhere did it list their opening time as 7 PM, and that it never had.  They continued on to state that their opening time was clearly listed as DARK.  Unfortunately for them we were there in line with our phones, and since we were bored, surfing Facebook.  We saw their statement and immediately took the phone, with the events pulled up to show that in fact their times did state 7 PM, to the ticket office.  It was our duty as customers to point out that they were presenting a negative attitude towards us and we were there to review them and hopefully provide them with some free positive advertising if we enjoyed their attractions.  They didn't seem too concerned with this, and that is the saddest part of all.  Their customer service created a slight bias against them from the start, and that is something that is difficult to recover from.  This incident created mixed feelings for us, especially since we gave them the advantage by telling them who we were.  We feel that having told them of our attendance in advance may actually have been the only reason that their second haunt seemed as good as it did.

                Now, let's move on from that and delve into the haunted attraction itself.  Where else would you start other than the line, of course?  There are several fantastic line actors who do everything within their power to stay in character, regardless of what sneaky little visitors such as us might try to throw at them to get them off track.  The actors were in fine form.  They did an amazing job of scaring the younger crowd that were prepared to be petrified from the moment they stepped out of their car.  Our only minor complaint about the line actors and entertainment was that one of the silicon masks had a tear located near the mouth.  There are repair kits available to take care of situations such as this, or a little blood gel could camouflage the  flaw.  On a high note, it is always nice to see a smaller haunt demonstrate their skill with monster scares for those waiting to get in.

                When we were finally allowed into the first attraction we were met by a new round of disappointment .  The haunt incorporated a great deal of blacklight 3D paint, though the glasses that you are handed are given to you in a way that doesn't fit with the setting/event that initiates you into the attraction.  Also, one of the sets of 3D glasses was mutilated.  One layer of the cardboard/paper was peeled off and it was making the glasses hang in a bizarre way.  Of course we exchanged those for better ones, but really we should never have been handed those in the first place. 

                There were many dead spaces, which were missed opportunities if you ask us (which you sort of did if you are reading this).  The actors stayed in character well through both haunts, with only one minor exception that took us out of the moment.  The delivery of their lines had many missed opportunities for humor or scare, though it didn't detract from the haunt.  When the group became split into two, with a slight gap, the actors made sure to provide the scares to both parts of the group.  The sets were more detailed in the second haunt than in the first, but there are a few areas within the first attraction that had a great deal of potential to explode into something more with a little more work.   The girl ahead of us in line who had been completely terrified before walking into the first haunt actually came out of it and said, "That was lame."

                If they would sell an individual ticket for their second haunt, or perhaps put all of their effort into the second haunt and do away with the first one, they would do better.  They have ideas, but it feels to us that the temporary structure haunt that starts the experience is a waste of the available skills and funds.  Perhaps if they did this then their finale would exist in the second attraction.  The ending of the second haunt was so non-existent that we ended up going the wrong direction (back stage).  We kept waiting for the big ending and eventually realized that it wasn't coming.  At the exit to the parking lot we met a doll character who interacted with us, but didn't exactly encourage us to move forward.  While she wasn't scaring us forward she was running out of things to say.  We were all just standing there waiting for the "finale" that never happened.

                We rate the haunted attractions that we visit on a scale of 0 - 5 severed heads.  Five severed heads is our highest rating, and we really try not to rate a haunt at lower than one severed head.  After much discussion we were in agreement on this haunt's rating.  Thirteen Stories received two out of five severed heads, though we believe their customer service should drop them down to less than one severed head.  If we take the haunt and rate it without factoring in the service then we can see it as a good experience for people who want a scare, though they don't frequent a lot of haunts each year.  If you are someone who is a huge fan of haunted houses and you visit a lot of them each year, then this one might not provide you with the feeling you are seeking.  We would love to hear your thoughts on this haunt and any other haunt that you visit.  Please feel free to contact us through our blog or our Facebook page.  Happy haunting.