Review: Fright Kingdom, Nashua, NH (4.5 stars)
Last year, the team from Events INSIDER went on a 10-day Halloween blitz! In October 2013, I visited 28 attractions to bring you reviews and information on everything Halloween in New England. We went indoors and outdoors as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Rhode Island, and as far west as Connecticut. Don’t forget to visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where we list more creative October events than anyplace else!
The defining factor to Fright Kingdom is that its 5 attractions are set in a warehouse. So you won’t find the glorious outdoor woods walks of many attractions, but if you’re afraid of the cold or if it’s raining you have found the #1 spot in New England! We were able to speak with owner Tim Dunne and learn some behind-the-scenes facts.
Unlike many venues, Fright Kingdom is not temporary — it stays up all year, allowing them plenty of time to create and fix things, and to hold special events like their December 14th “Fright Before Christmas”. They’ve been in the same warehouse for 9 years, growing from 15,000 square feet to now 150,000, and the entire thing is indoors — including waiting in line. But wait, there is no line! When you enter, they give your group a playing card, such as the 8 of Hearts, and then you are free to roam around the central area until they call your card. In the central atrium you can see live tarantulas, explore the museum of movie props (all authenticated as items that were used in real horror movies, like the shirt that the spooky girl wore in The Ring), and buy merchandise from a variety of vendors selling posters, books, jewelry, hot dogs, and cotton candy. And you can get your face painted. (Please ignore the psychic reading. Those con men and con women prey on the gullible.) But that’s not all! They also have a stage and performers from local dance studios come out and dance dressed as zombie to spooky music! Now that is a fantastic treat and you feel totally entertained and haven’t even gone into the attractions yet. They do have VIP tickets to rush to the front of the line.
It’s difficult to evaluate the attractions at Fright Kingdom. On one hand, the well-lit open warehouse environment dilutes how spooky it feels to walk through the attractions. Some of the routes do not have ceilings so the light and warehouse atmosphere are part of wherever you go. And there is a definite low production quality and “found object” element to much of the decorations. The owner, Tim, works in demolition and from the houses he takes down he pulls leftover furniture and supplies for Fright Kingdom, which explains why it is so extensive. But you know what I mean. A room filled with hanging boffers and crazy clown paint is much more a carnival attraction than a spooky haunt.
On the other hand, given those limitations, everything about Fright Kingdom is masterful. The actors have clearly defined roles and tricks that they use that aren’t just shouting boo. A creative genius was clearly in charge of trap doors because many of the monsters pop out from places you would never expect! The place is so extensive that it’s really unreasonable for me to complain that parts of it have low production quality, and there are high production quality aspects as well. For example, Fright Kingdom has tons of dummies and animatronics, some small but also plenty of large ones including a talking skeleton and two 12-foot demons. Our favorite was the devil on a throne in the 5th attraction. I saw at least 20 creative spooky design choices that I had never seen before, such as a “vortex” (where the room seems to spin) and the use of air cannons and water sprays combined with video on high definition television sets. And although Fright Kingdom may not have the high production quality of a pure theatrical venue such as Barrett’s Mansion, it is much, much longer — you really can spend an entire evening at Fright Kingdom.
So is it the best or the worst? Given the creativity, I am tempted to say the best, especially because of the center hall with the zombie dancers and vendors. Working within their limitations, Fright Kingdom deserves 4.5 stars, but if it’s raining then call it a 5 stars plus!
This review was from Events INSIDER’s 2013 10-day Halloween blitz, where we visited 28 attractions across New England. Visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where you’ll find more fun Halloween and October events than anywhere else!