For years Screams Halloween Theme Park in Waxahachie Texas has had a reputation of poor quality amongst the haunted house enthusiasts that I have spoken with. And during their formative years the reputation was true as they struggled mightily to catch up with the rapidly evolving haunt standards of the 1990s. They had stellar grounds but only a collection of tiny little haunts in temporary buildings and they got by, presumably, on quantity not quality. The highlight of the early years was the hayride where you might have a billboard fall on you, a redneck blast his shotgun at you and a couple of evil clowns chase you in their golf cart all on one ride. The hayride is no longer there, but they gradually ramped up the thrills of the indoor haunts.
We continued to make annual treks to Screams, and sometime after the turn of the millennium, it became more detailed, with more inspired actors and some really elaborate animated props. Sometimes we were successful in convincing others to come along, sometimes not. It seemed that many who had been, did not care to return. So for the last couple of years, we found ourselves giving sales pitches to friends to convince them that it really had become a good quality attraction since they had been last or contrary to what they had heard. We did that again this year and rounded up over a dozen people for the drive down I-35, but I’m sorry to report, Screams didn’t hold up its part of the deal.
Screams has really taken a large step backwards this year. Other than the shoddy but kind of fun Horror Museum being replaced (more on that in a bit) they haven’t changed anything that I can tell for a few years now. You like to think that haunts will try to come up with new ideas each year to try and top the previous season, but Screams has been trotting out the same stuff now for 3 or 4 consecutive years and not only is it getting really familiar, it’s getting really run down. Many of the previously animated props just sat there drooping and looking sad. And the actors, well, they pretty much mailed it in. I mean really, is it too much to ask for your chainsaw wielding maniac to not be sitting down!
There just doesn’t seem to be any passion in it for the Screams folks. It’s just become routine and uninspired and the acting was back to where it was in the beginning. A lifted hand was about the extent of the energy given to trying to frighten us. Monsters were predictably planted around corners and would quietly paw at you as you walked on by. Their feet never seemed to leave the ground (if they were even standing in the first place).
Somehow Screams keeps reeling ‘em in as the lines were LONG, even early in the month. This of course didn’t help the enjoyment factor at all and makes you wonder what they are doing with the proceeds. Like I’d previously mentioned, the changes were minimal and all for the worse. No more free movies that I could find. The rocking bands that used to appear on the stage keeping the crowd energy high have been replaced by draining karaoke versions of Jay-Z and Gretchen Wilson songs. And the old Horror Museum, once inhabited by posters, rubber masks and obscure movie props, has been replaced by the Monster Museum, which carries an additional $5.00 charge. Sorry, I can’t report on that other than to relay to you that the lady collecting the money indicated it was to pay for the building (I could be wrong, but isn’t that the same building as the previous museum?).
How disappointing. Especially
when you round up a gang to go out there with promises of a good time. Therefore,
I won’t promise the same to you. So unless you just have to have a
Turkey Leg and a draft Stella with your night of haunting, I wouldn’t
recommend a visit to Screams this year.
10/16/05 *UPDATE* Lys, of the Mythical Monster Museum writes in with a clarification:
"I believe that Shrub may have misunderstood what I was saying when I was asked about the additional $5.00 charge to get into the attraction. I did not say that the money was to pay for the building. The building is owned by Southwest Festivals, the owners of Screams and Scarborough Faire. What I routinely say when explaining the additional charge is "We are not owned by Screams, and so we are not covered under the Screams ticket price. We are owned by someone else, and so we have an additional charge as we are not getting any part of the Screams ticket money."
"The Mythical Monster Museum and Trail of Terror (actually two attractions for the price of one) is operated by the same person(s) who operated Terrain of Terror last year. We just moved into Screams rather than being a stand-alone haunt."
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