CHEESEMAN'S FRIGHT FARM, Portersville PA
After a excursion of about ten minutes over many hills on Porterville Rd in Porterville PA, you get to an abruptly appearing gateway into a major clearing where a few hundred cars can easily park. The property has a series of buildings that look like a ski resort and stage your experience with a high end attraction sensibility.
Midway - 7
The highlight of the midway is two actual restaurants. One cooks hot and ready pizza and the other has minor Barbeque items. Other than the restaurants, it's just a beautiful setting at the front. In the back, within the Hayride track are a play area made of straw bales and a small petting zoo with a pony, calfs, goats and rabbits. This isn't a full and complete midway but, it isn't lacking either.
Actors – 7
This crew certainly knows how to jive to the soundtrack. In the beginning third of the walkthrough part, the actors were active and aggressive like the EDM track that was blaring throughout the sheds and tents. Later on with the dread inducing atmospheric soundtrack, the actors that were doing anything were slow and stalking. There was the unfortunate reality that while the walkthrough was completely flooded with actors, only about half were doing anything. Most of the active team members were in the first half. On the Hayride, there really weren't that many actors but, the ones who were there were unique. The operators of the tractor and Jeep that chase you are very skilled. The “Slipknot guys” in the first scene are also energetic and get in your face. This score is justified mostly by how many actors there were that night, the activity of those Clown/Military area individuals with the EDM and the skill of the drivers.
Visuals/Eye Candy – 8
Cheeseman's is a pretty large property and they have to build a lot of objects to make it look good. They certainly put in enough effort the fill the walkthrough part with all kinds of stuff to look at. They also have a good number of special lighting effects even if they're just the basic ones and an especially immersive soundtrack for the Cornmaze portion. On the Hayride, the surroundings are dark and forboding naturally so when a 20mph chase occurs with a fire-breathing tractor, the scenario that you could soon be a victim of The Creeper or some other interdimensional horror might creep through your mind. Most of what there is to see though IS in the walkthrough. The cornmaze walls are actually cornstalks fastened to 1x3s or 1x4s which maximizes the distance you can stretch out a certain number of stalks. The use of fluorescence in the first buildings and tents is really cool, this includes a particularly more disorienting spinning tunnel.
Walkthrough Experience - 7
This haunt has two elements even though the website says there are a few haunted houses. The elements are the Hayride and Walking Trail. The Hayride begins at a very dignified and stately loading Gazebo. On the trail are probably six or seven tractor-wagon pairs. The tractor takes you up a kind of steep hill to what is labeled a “Meth Lab” where the “Slipknot guys” come on board the wagon and interrogate you. In just about 30 seconds you are set upon by the fire-breathing tractor for about 500 ft. As you get deeper into the woods, a train comes wailing down on you and the Jeep charges with horn blaring. Before disembarking for the Walking Trail a banjo player serenades you with a twangy take on horror movie themes. The walking trail starts in a clown-laden sideshow with the spinning tunnel. A big highlight of this trail is the fact that it straddles the margin of the property alongside a ravine. Out of the tunnel and down a hill, they send you into multiple military-style hoop tents. These tents are turned into dot mazes, splatter mazes and other fluorescent visual oddities. Before these tents come to an end, you must walk out onto a balcony that overlooks the ravine and are then sent out into the wilderness with clouds of fog, strobe lights and somewhat dangerous steps to navigate. The cornmaze portion has some pretty typical scenes, nothing that really stood out. The soundtrack and number of actors saved this part from mediocrity. They have these huge masts with high powered speakers pointed in multiple directions and the sounds emanating from them are things like crows cawing, zombies moaning and bells in the distance. At the conclusion of this element is an opportunity to hold or pet a snake in a side trailer next to the hayride dock for the ride back to the main building.
Originality/Creativity – 7
This attraction is probably of a little bit above average creativity. They have the vehicles that attack on the Hayride, certainly. Not the biggest Hayride train I've ever seen but, still something. The Banjo player is definitely cool. On the walkthrough, the inventive aspects are less dense. Stepping over the edge of a ravine is something not many haunts do. The soundtrack is powerful and immersive. Fence panels made of cornstalks isn't totally rare but, it's a useful innovation for your show if you're a producer. Having live animals to pet is much more rare and kudos should be given for making certain people face a fear they might have.
This is a GOOD show but, not a great one. A great show is highly memorable for what's on the inside but, I remember an equal amount of the queue line and the attraction's elements. One thing that struck me is while the timed ticketing is effective here, my time slot wasn't even marked in line. Rather than getting in a 7:30 line, the only line available was the 8 o'clock line. We had to wait an additional thirty some minutes that wouldn't have happened if the line were marked with the earlier time.