Michigan's - Wiard's Orchards' Night Terrors
By Hauntworld Magazine
Detroit Haunted Houses are some of the scariest and best in America! Hauntworld.com rates and review the best and Scariest haunted houses, haunted attractions, and Halloween events in America! Wiard's Orchards' Night Terrors is located in Ann Arbor just outside Detroit, MIchigan near and has one of the scariest haunted houses in America! Prepare to scream! Sit back and prepare to scream through our review of Night Terrors. This Halloween you can't miss the scariest and best haunted attraction in the entire state of Michigan, Wiard's Orchards' Night Terrors. Night Terrors which is not far from Detroit is one of the biggest hot beds for haunted houses more than 100 haunted attractions call this area home and Night Terrors stands out as one of the best overall experiences. Why? Because its the TOTAL Halloween experience unlike most of the haunts in and around the Detroit Michigan area Night Terrors is a COMPLETE Haunted Screampark with several haunted houses, and attractions.
To learn more about MIchigan's Wiard's Orchards' Night Terrors visit their websit below:
If the University Of Michigan is Washtenaw County’s shining star, then Wiard’s Orchards’ Night Terrors is the dark cloud of doom off in the distance. Just over the line from Ann Arbor in neighboring Ypsilanti, Night Terrors Thrills & Chills Park at Wiard’s Farm is a Michigan legend brought to horrific reality. They have 6 attractions (The Ultimate Haunted Barn, the Asylum, the Mindshaft, the Labyrinth, Hayride of The Lost and Alien Caged Clowns). The original Ultimate Haunted Barn opened in 1984 making Wiard’s the oldest known Haunted Barn attraction in the USA. Every fall thousands of customers flock to Wiard’s Night Terrors to get their fill of fall fright! Wiard’s Orchards has been a family-owned business since 1837. Their focus was always on agriculture, but in 1984 they dipped their toes into the haunted event game. Their working staff immediately loved scaring just as much as the customers loved being scared, and so tradition was born. Flash forward to the present (it will be 30 years this coming season!) and Night Terrors is home to 6 haunted events sprawled across almost 100 acres with over 115 actors. While others have come and gone over the past three decades, Wiard’s survived and thrived, and after our visit to their impressive facility, we quickly learned why.
Upon entering from the parking lot, you can’t help but notice “The Ticket Coop” as it has a 10-ft tall, mutant-sized rooster perched atop of it. While waiting in line, guests are entertained by sideshow performers and fireworks display. Lots of haunts and scream parks offer queue line entertainment, but the quality varies. This was top notch! At the ticket window, we were given the option of ala carte, Package Pass or VIP Package Pass. The Alien Caged Clowns and Labyrinth only came with the Package Pass and for a few bucks more, you can upgrade to the VIP (which came with a free pass to their daytime Country Fair too!). The VIP upgrade included a Disney-like Fast Pass (straight to the front of the line) and the Country Fair pass was a $13 added value! With our glow-in-the-dark VIP necklaces in place, we set off down the torch-lit path to Night Terrors. Upon exiting the path, we were met with a column of flames rocketing from a train atop the Mindshaft roof. Presentation and detail are absolutely on-point at this haunted event. We made our way back to the Hayride of The Lost to start our evening. The Hayride of The Lost entrance is an old 1800’s looking structure with shop signs and wooden porches. As you approach, you hear a creepy legend pumping out of hidden speakers telling the tale of the hayride and setting the haunting stage for what’s to come. (Turns out the person reading is a BBC voice talent.) The frontage is really impressive, and we were pleased to see they carried the theme inside the building where the same voice over was giving a set of safety instructions and warnings to guests waiting in line. As instructed, we took the VIP path and quickly got on the very next hayride wagon. I especially liked the efficiency by which the haunt ran. It’s quite obvious they are tried and true with 30 years experience in the haunt industry. The hayride wagon was good sized, and we had a nice mix of families and college aged kids riding with us. Guests on the hayride were chuckling about the long ride out to the woods entrance. It was definitely upping the anxiety of fear as everyone approached the haunted hayride trail. Once you reach the trees, Hollywood quality lighting effects draw dramatic attention to the majesty of the tall trees and haunted forest giving everyone a sense of just how small we are in comparison to the dense forest. The first scene is a Wild West style structure and the greeter that burst from the doors was hilarious and entertaining. His warning was well done, and he additionally adlibbed in response to a teenage heckler. Hiring quality haunt actors is important to Night Terrors.
As we progressed into the hayride, every set design was large and varied. For example, we passed a full-sized boat with a waterlogged fisherman, a flesh-eating bootlegger, a western town with an angry posse, a full sized antique train with ghouls, a Civil War encampment, a large cemetery and an oversized firehouse filled with murderous firemen. Special effects ranged from fireballs to monsters flying overhead. The scenes in each section were detailed and very well done, but because this trail is also part of their Country Fair Hayride, it’s less gruesome and gory than its sister attractions. What it lacked in gore, it certainly made up for in solid scares and showmanship, and could be ranked THE MOST fun and entertaining haunted hayride of all time. Everyone on our hayride was either screaming, laughing or crying at one point or another. Everyone had a blast! In fact, they all actually started applauding after the last scene. Our ride concluded with a complimentary donut and cider which we scarfed on the way to our next haunted attraction. The Labyrinth doesn’t need as much of a write-up as the others, but it’s still a favorite for many and definitely worth noting. An ominous tall brown stockade fence goes just above your line of site, so you can’t tell how large the maze is or where the way out might be. Along the way, there are towers that go off with sound and lighting effects as you pass under them. In contrast to the silence and darkness, this is jarring and distracting as you’re constantly on guard for the species that lurk. I’m not sure just how large their monster hallways are, but the actors were able to continually bombard us from both sides relentlessly. We were turned around more than a few times and were genuinely lost for a bit. The disorientation brought much fright from those daring enough to enter. The sign for the Labyrinth was a large hand-cut metal sign professionally backlit with leds. I stopped counting after a while, but I’m pretty sure there were about a thousand leds that some poor tech had to wire by hand. It added another flavor that fleshed out the “Thrills & Chills” park vibe.
Our next stop was the Alien Caged Clowns which was a large red building with a retro-spaceship sign blinking “Alien Caged Clowns”. A chime went off and the ticket-taker pointed to the entrance. When you walk through the red and white flaps you first notice the large handmade calliope with stairs going up into the middle of it. Before you proceed, a voice to your left draws your attention. A disemboweled ringleader resting on his elbows atop a cage with his mouth and face cut and ravaged begins warning of the dangers ahead before sending you onward into the calliope. Once you exit the stairs you find yourself in a vortex-spinning tunnel. These are always quite cool. While lots of haunts have them these days, the Night Terrors staff added two elements that greatly enhanced the experience: (1) The wobbly body language of the clown-creature that stalked us all the way down the bridge made that vertigo, seasick feeling even more intense, and (2) the addition of clown faces on the spiral tunnel carried the theme deeper.
After exiting the tunnel, there’s a dark ramp that opens into a large foggy room of heavy fog, blinking lights and loud vintage carnival music. The cage path twists and turns and double-backs on itself. The actors obviously know the room well and how to work every moment the lights go out, because they kept coming out of thin air. The setup in this event was really well done. There were two animatronic maniacal clowns, one with a honking horn and one with a large axe. They were good eye-candy, but what impressed even more were the makeup jobs on each actor. They were downright wicked and sold the inhuman concept really well. This attraction was so well done that it left me wanting more, so my ONLY complaint would be my wish that it was longer (which the Night Terrors staff later informed me of their plans to change that for the coming 30th year anniversary season!)
The Asylum definitely has the coolest outside decor of all of the events. The Asylum sign is actually an antique hearse that the Night Terrors design team built. All of the outer Asylum structure is covered in hand carved foam rocks that their design team also created. The entrance to the line runs between two massive vintage lampposts at least 30 feet tall with a courtyard at the entrance enclosed by tall steel fencing and stone pillars. The fright-filled Asylum legend plays from the courtyard as you wait in line along the fencing. The Night Terrors’ staff always does a good job of building the anticipation of fear prior to entering each attraction.
Our tickets were stamped at a fake security office, and we were allowed entrance after a phone call came in to the security guard. Upon entering into a waiting room/study you are ordered to sit down by a tall man with a mangled face dressed in a doctor’s lab coat. The detailed waiting room included an ornate fireplace, a chandelier, and wood panel walls. The tall man in the lab coat, Dr. Wiard, gave a well-delivered warning. From security office to waiting room, the acting once again holds to a high standard here at Wiard’s Night Terrors.
After leaving the rather pleasant waiting area of the Asylum, the décor quickly changed from the warming wood walls to disgusting cold tile. We were attacked by an eyeless irate guard, a screaming lunatic man in a wedding dress, a mutant giant who bent back his cell bars to come after us, and a skinner with a live victim sewn into a sewing machine.
After the sewing room, we were nearly crushed by a barrel rolling down the staircase as we fled into a large closet with camera flashes going off everywhere. With their victims now blinded and disoriented, the actors managed ongoing successful scares as they ushered us toward the shock therapy room. In this room, the Night Terrors crew creatively remade their Distortions Electric Chair. They recorded their own soundtrack and turned it into a full-blown spectacle. Wall-mounted crackers along with one of those fake sparking boxes really helped to sell the switch throwing, making their electric chair seem quite real.
The next scene found us in a morgue with bodies sitting on large shelves of a giant cooler through freezer flaps. This was one of those white rooms with fog and strobes, but they also hung frozen corpses from the ceiling as obstacles. You exit the white room into a wide open space with tall ceilings, and when you look up, you realize the room is upside down. They affixed an entire furniture set mounted to the ceiling probably 20 feet high. They even have an upside down television stand. Guests are left to wonder…Is the room really upside down or am I becoming as crazed as the Asylum patients?
The final scene was a tried-and-true chainsaw scare. You come around the corner into an inflatable wall that pinches just below your shoulders. Facing you is a huge operating theater with multiple levels going back. They had dummies positioned all around behind the railing looking in your direction. Just as you get about halfway through, the surgeon bombs you from above with the chainsaw, sending you running outside for safety. This event was well paced, good variety with tons and tons of detail.
Our second to last event was the Mindshaft. The outside is a collapsed, condemned mine entrance with rocks, pick axes and other mining paraphernalia strewn about. This event also has the legend playing through speakers outside building anticipation. Once you enter the indoor waiting area, you are met with a large cave wall, large beams supporting the ceiling, and pipes running everywhere. At the base of the cave wall is a pile of rubble with skulls, miner’s caps and pick axes. Upon entering the Mindshaft, we were given yet another well-written warning about what we would encounter once inside. From that point on, the Mindshaft turns into a steady series of one-two punches that propel you forward. The focus in here is less gore and more ferociousness. Air chisels, ringing bells and earthquake rumbles help to set the tone and keep you on edge. More than once, we were almost on our hands and knees crawling through tunnels not sure what was on the other end. We were met with exploding dynamite and a monstrous snake exploding from the wall. They had also built a great prop that had you looking down a full-size mineshaft that went on forever. Once we got through all of the loud noises and tight spaces, we found ourselves in a large cavernous tank where a corpse being eaten by a spider flew out at us from another shaft. The final room is absolutely massive. They have a fog/laser light false ceiling on the top of a pit so you can't see anything below.
After the last angry miner spirit drove us from the pit, we were hit with one last blast from an oncoming train. I really loved how this one kept you flying almost the entire time. There were some dark hallways where you had to feel around. The entire event had textured rock walls which helped to sell that realistic feel. This event was much like The Asylum attraction where you had scene after scene after scene and excellent detail throughout. Our final stop was their famous and longest running attraction, the Ultimate Haunted Barn. The exterior of the barn is hand-painted with the original orchard logo and has various farm paraphernalia on the outside of it. Since this is the original barn it looks as it should. The ticket-taker lets people enter through a sliding barn door. Immediately, we find ourselves in a boxed-in porch area with a series of old TVs scattered amongst farm debris. The extremely demented footage that we are subjected to was apparently concocted by Brandon Wiard, their film expert on staff. After taking in the gore, we are led into another chamber which looks like something from the TV show Hoarders. A disheveled man in overalls and a straw hat greeted us. It would be an understatement to say this guy was good. I tried complimenting him on his performance and he didn't flinch or break character at all (which was that of a hermit out of his mind). After yet another well-written introduction, we were on our way. From that point on, it was go time and their actors let us have it! We had madmen clawing at our feet, chainsaws flying overhead, oversized pigs bum rushing us from trapdoors, a live victim being butchered and other nasties along the way. This is another dark light event but the level of detail is still high. Brandon fondly recalled one customer who stopped dead in his tracks while his girlfriend took off screaming. One of their guides checked to make sure he was okay, and he said he was just taking in all of the detail work in the scene. The Ultimate Haunted Barn exited into their Country Store, so we compared notes while munching on fresh donuts and hot cider!