Halloween Blitz Day 6: Factory of Terror, 13 Nights at Jiminy Peak

I love Halloween attractions because unlike bars they’re creative and unlike museums and concerts they’re interactive. So this year I’m doing a Halloween blitz! The Events INSIDER team and I are visiting 28 attractions in 10 days, going indoors, outdoors, and as far away as New Hampshire and Connecticut. Click and scroll to the bottom to see my list of 160 Halloween attractions and more creative October events than anyplace else!

Day 6: Tuesday, October 29, 2013. It was time to head out to Western Massachusetts, passing through Worcester to see The Factory of Terror in Worcester, and then 13 Nights at Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires.

13 Nights at Jiminy Peak (4 stars)

13 Nights at Jiminy Peak is a haunted attraction that takes place at a ski resort in the Berkshires, and is completely unique. Although it was way too cold, obviously the attraction is open earlier in the season and earlier in the night than our arrival at 9:30pm at the end of October. Also, people going to a ski resort are supposed to bring thick jackets and maybe ski pants, which we did not!

Try the giant swing first. This is a carnival attraction that is not spooky except that you sit by a friend and get swung back and forth through 50 feet of air on long cables. The first swoop is like AAAAAAAAA!! but then it’s quite relaxing and beautiful to swoop back and forth. Jiminy Peak is far enough from city lights that you can see hundreds of stars in the sky.

Then try the zipline. Unlike at Haunted Acres in New Hampshire, where you walk to the top and zoom down the zipline drawn by gravity, there’s an engine at Jiminy Peak that grabs you and yanks you quickly 800 feet backwards. Then it slams you forward. There’s an extra scare at the end because the ride doesn’t come to an abrupt stop until you are very close to its limit. This rides seats two people too.

The grand finale is their indoor/outdoor haunted house. Although the decorations were extremely basic (this is clearly somebody’s baby rather than a fully funded attraction, bless your heart), the staff were among the best we have seen. Talk about doing a lot with a little! Instead of the usual growls from haunted actors elsewhere, each person in the cast at Jiminy Peak had a role to play. It began with clowns who enticed us into a carnival rifle range, then to spin a carnival wheel of fortune, and then to shoot balloon darts. This level of interactivity we did not even see at the theatrical Barrett’s Haunted Mansion. The 10-minute path wound through administrative buildings with the highlight being a coffin with live murrrrrder.

Then you get to ride the chairlift! If you’ve been skiing then you know that a chairlift is an outdoor bench on cables like a gondola that you ride to get to the top of the mountain. At Jiminy Peak, it is not a short trip and felt like 10 minutes of stargazing. At the peak is an outdoor attraction with a surprising number of staff (or maybe it’s 2 people who are super good at running around and scaring us multiple times). It’s essentially a woods walk along a cleared path, so dark that you don’t need trees to hide the monsters. Kudos to the woman hiding on the ground who speed-crawled towards us screaming like a zombie on drugs. I don’t think I’d be able to move at that speed even in the daylight in warm temperatures.

Best of all was the ride down, because instead of facing the mountain we were facing the rest of the world and able to see for what must have been 100 miles. Again the small population in the area meant that there was no city glare and we got the full effect of the stars.

We were so grateful to the staff, whose energy outshone nearly all the attractions we’ve seen, even so late at night, even though we were the only guests there at that time, and even working outdoors in the bitter cold. I had no idea that so many people even lived out in the Berkshires… it seemed like there were 50 actors. Kudos to the staff who managed to turn the zipline back on for us, even though it was closed when we arrived. Now that’s dedication. Jiminy Peak is clearly loved by many. They can’t be working this hard just for the money. I hope they are earning themselves free ski passes for the season! A woman in the indoor attraction also scared us half to death with the world’s loudest scream. It was louder than any actor’s yell we have ever experienced. Who the hell screams like that? It was superhuman. Well, I’m sure she’ll make a good mother some day… with very well-behaved children.

The website does not do this location justice, because it does not contain any real photos. (All those photos are fantasy photos, not actual photos of the location, and the video is completely abstract too.) We had no idea that we’d be able to ride the chairlift until we actually got to Jiminy Peak. I would think that should be a major selling point of their advertising! The website does not mention the chairlift, at least not that I could see, and inadequately describes the zipline and swing. People who are considering a long drive want to know what they are in for.

There is no way to top the ski lift at Jiminy Peak. It’s our top pick for a ride this season, even more wonderful than the Boulder Dash roller coaster at Lake Compounce and the zipline at Haunted Acres. That being said, the very low production quality of the sets, the length, and the non-scary nature of the zipline and swing (which are basically summer attractions that they happen to have open) limit how high a rating I can give. Jiminy Peak’s 4 stars is just not compelling enough to draw you the 2.5 hour drive from Boston, but if you are already nearby, or planning an entire weekend trip, just go.

The Factory of Terror, Worcester (unreviewed)

The owner of this attraction and I miscommuniciated on the date (or they changed the calendar) and when I showed up, this attraction was closed. When I called the owner, he was the one who seemed upset. He retracted the press invitation, chewing me out as probably a phony and then hanging up on me. Well, running a haunted attraction is very stressful.

I’m sure that The Factory of Terror is a fine experience but it’s a hard to believe the claim that it’s the biggest in New England, since it is indoors, and since other attractions have dozens of acres and long woods walks. I’m a fan of Fright Kingdom in southern New Hampshire, which has 100,000 square feet. This may not mean anything in terms of how well the attraction is managed, but The Factory of Terror was difficult to contact, because their voicemail was full and they did not respond to email. I was able to get permission to attend (later retracted) after 6 calls to alternative phone numbers that I dug up online, making this one of the very last attractions that seemed on top of communications.

The last time I reviewed this attraction, 4 years ago, I gave them only 3.5 stars, prefering the nearby attraction Asylum of Horror, which got 4.5. Now that there’s also the nearby attraction Ghoulie Manor (4.5 stars) and The Haunted Rail Yard (unreviewed), locals have a variety of alternatives.

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