13th World (RI)
Full Contact Option: Yes ($5 fee, grabbing, restraints, relocation)
When the great majority of haunted attractions have names that include: haunted, fear, scary, or acres, it quickly becomes difficult to tell many of them apart. In my effort to finish 31 Days of Haunt Reviews, I find myself double checking which ones I went to and then struggling to recall exactly what each one was. However 13th World smartly sets itself apart with a name that not only bucks tradition, but neatly ends up at the top of the alpha-numeric list. I don't understand the name to be honest, but it's a small price to pay for lack of confusion.
Ambience is key. Upon parking, you hear the distance chimes of a church bell, the screams and chainsaws from maniacal killers, and the ever ominous wail of the Purge Siren. Smoke machines blanket the walkway to the opening gates in a thick mist, while lasers cut patterns, and clowns blow giant human-sized bubbles in the grass.
There are several attractions throughout the sprawling outdoor forest environment, and rather than entering them independently as with Witch's Woods and Fear Town, each leads into the next. It is primarily an outdoor attraction, but several sections have set pieces that resemble buildings. I recall the running themes are the usual clowns, cult members, cannibal hillbillies, with the capstone being the Purge. No idea if it's officially licensed, but aside from the siren and PSA voiceover from the movies, the similarities end there.
The thing that keeps me coming back is the Touch of Fear add-on. For $5, you get a glow necklace with signals to the actors that you're fair game for full contact. In 99% of most haunts, prohibitions against touching is made very clear. You don't touch them, and they won't touch you. Without anything to the contrary, this makes sense from a participant point of view so you aren't in true danger. But I feel it's more for the actors in a way, since the vast patronage comprising of randy teenagers would certainly lead to heros trying to even the score and feelign fully justified in any form of retalitory action upon being bumped into.
So there needs to be some understanding if contact of some form is introduced. Some limit it to 'Black Out' days where the removal of pathway illumination is combined with actors being given a bit more freedom. In these case, the contact is usually minimal, where the hem of your jacket might be snagged so you can't just breeze on by. It's more of a psychological ploy that balances restraint without actual bodily connection.
But with 13th World, you get the aformentioned necklace on any given night. So while standard admission participants are glossed over, you become a glowing beacon for additional interaction. And these interactions are no light coat-tail snags (even though they can be as well). Expect to be grabbed by the arm and pulled into different areas of the trail, sometimes off the beaten path. Other times you can be picked up, assuming you're not a landwhale, and redirected to an inlet further down the path, while the rest of your group wonders where you went.
The first year I found this add-on, I bought it for our group, and of course didn't say a word, so it could be a 'little surprise'. There were waivers, naturally, but I filled them out on my own without much if a hiccup. This apparent leniency led to a lawsuit (via another party), so things have shifted to 18+ and individual waiver releases for safety's sake. Overall, even despite the uptick in full contact, it's mostly limited to redirection and relocation. There's no real pain, danger, or anything that would cross any boundaries, but it certainly adds a primal thrill for those who tend to become a bit jaded with uninterrupted walkthroughs.
At the end, there is sort of a gathering area where you can also go through a zero-visibility fog maze, pose with props and actors, and buy a few things at the official merch table.
Moments of note were naturally related to the enhanced contact. In one case, my wife was picked up like a sack of potatoes and carried off. I assumed they were cutting through a behind the scenes area and we'd meet up later, so I waved and kept walking. Apparently, I was supposed to make chase and get her back. The following year, a similar tactic was employed, but the actors would sometimes break character enough to wave me on and ensure that things went smoothly. They are curtious after all.
The more humorous moment was during the final clown house, when one clown slammed me in a door frame, and then another took me aside and asked to be my girlfriend so I could stay there forever. I like to play into the scripts, so when I agreed, she got angry and chucked me out like a side of beef.
Sets are well constructed, and the natural forest environment works well in alluding to abandoned and long forgotten structures that happen to be out in the middle of nowhere. The wailing sirens and clanging bells also give you a nice prelude before you even get in.
Cost is in the middle, but you do get a decently long path to travel. The mere $5 upcharge for an enhanced experience is a no-brainer, and well worth fee. I'd expect to pay abuot $10 more in other places, so it's a fair value for the money.
Without the touch of fear, I'd put this down to a 2-3. But with it, you get an entirely different experience. It's not so much that it's scarier, per se, but you feel involved and have a certain sense of investment. It's one thing to have someone growl at you, and another to be held back and separated from your group.