Full Contact Option: No
Dark Manor is one of the first standalone haunts that I started going to when I got back into visiting Halloween related attractions (that weren't part of an amusement park). It was close to a getaway spot out in Connecticut, so it made sense to drop by and take in what the spooky season had to offer. I believe it had some connection to the Seaside Ghost walks, which I'll have to to a quick review on at some point, so that was another reason it became an early regular visit.
The outside presence is impressive with its iconic towering Grim Reaper. Parking is limited to the small lot in front, but I've never had a problem getting a spot, and the turnaround seems to be smooth enough to ensure consistent vacancies. This tend to also allow the line to move, so while you might see a sizeable amount of people waiting to get in, it moves at a decent pace. While you're there, there's also a refreshment stand, some merch, and perhaps an author trying to sell his latest book.
Now before I get too much into the haunt itself, I do have to note that it changed after the unspoken events of 2020. Prior to that, there was a mix of indoor and outdoor sets, which led you around the property and then into a basement, which would tunnel up to the front exit and back to the parking lot. However for the past few years, the indoor section has been excluded. In order to keep the length of the attraction roughly the same, you loop back around the outdoor portion and are given a glow stick (for protection) and traverse the same path again. The glowstick is mainly to designate who are on their second path, so you can be led to the actual exit upon completion.
If I had to guess, the reopening after 2020 probably necessitated restricting indoor access, but then there must have been other factors after that point once that no longer became an issue. It's a shame since the main strength of the Dark Manor is its attention to detail. The outdoor portions are full of twisted gardens, insect lairs, and homicidal hangouts. However inside was just as loaded with decaying kitchens and bathrooms, some of which might have just been the condition of the house. I recall the basement looking like it was ready to collapse and often little more than a crawlspace full of ancient plumbing and crumbling walls. The natural age of the house added to the purposeful flair of the haunt.
As a no-contact haunt, this saturation of detail works to its advantage to make it a worthwhile stop. I do hope that the full attraction becomes available again, since the doubling back on the initial half doesn't carry the same weight as it used to.
We entered a pitch black tunnel and then a light at the end turned on to reveal Michael Myers. The light went out, and when it returned, he was right in front of us. That was a nice moment in of itself, but after we left the tunnel, I looked back to see Michael stumbling through the curtain and trying to talk to us. I thought it was part of the act, but aparently he recognized me. I'd love to say it's because of my international fame, but he was actually running the midnight ghost hunt that night, which we were attending. He just wanted to say 'Hi' and he'd see us later. I'd only seen him once on a walking tour, so it was sort of impressive that he recognized a random person, in the dark, and with a mask on.
The looming fog outside with the towering Reaper is a nice intro, and the detail within the haunt adds the final touches to the attraction.
The price is right in the middle, but I'd rate it higher for when the indoor portion is included. The repeat passing of the outdoor pathway doesn't hold the same weight when you've seen everything only a few minutes before.
Actors make loud noises and jump out, but I'm generally looking at the set pieces and admiring the work that went into the setup.