Full Contact Option: No(t anymore)
Fear Town is owned by the same company as the Factory of Terror, and in fact they run competing billboards against each other, both claiming to be scarier than the other. It’s a bit of clever marketing, but there’s no real reason to pick one over the other since the Factory is completely indoors, and Fear Town is a series of outdoor trails and pseudo-indoor sets connected by a central midway.
What does set Fear Town and Factory apart from others is the intensity of the actors, who set out to be a bit more abrasive and confrontational than your average encounter. This is reflected inside and out, with the roaming clowns often hurling generalized insults and spraying silly-string at you. They, of course, cannot physically interact with you, so the boundaries are pushed as far as they can be without crossing that line.
The atmosphere pulls the various elements together, despite a few various themes. Located behind a racetrack, and a stone's throw from urban sprawl in one direction and rural farmland in the other, the patch of hidden forest contains three individual haunts and several other activities. With life as normal just beyond the treeline, it’s easy to feel like you’re miles from the nearest civilization. The midway in the center acts as a conduit between each, so you have the ability to choose which attraction to go into and when. Between the trails and haunted houses, this central gathering ground replicates a twisted carnival straight out of a childhood memory from a Goosebumps book.
In the past, the three mentioned mini-attractions were once a long 45 minute trail, but have since been subdivided into 15 minute portions in the interest of crowd control. There can be a significant amount of people that show up on any given day, so this and timed tickets help mitigate that to a degree, without bumping up the admission price too much. The outer path is still mostly outdoors and traverses over the original trail. The two others have built-up structures that self-contain traditional haunted house layouts.
The standard admission allows entry through each of these three, but two levels of combo tickets provide tokens for the carny games located in the midway. You can also buy tokens individually as needed. There are a few ‘experiences’ too, ranging from escape rooms to smaller haunted interactions. The usual array of vendors provide food and drink, including an exclusive energy drink: Extreme Z. This plays on a meta level, since the energy drink is responsible for the chaos in one of the haunted attractions, so buying the cursed drink adds a certain level of self-referential humor.
And while I don’t have any first-hand experience, there was an Extreme Fear night late into the season, where there was full contact, ranging from grabbing to separation and restraint. I spoke with an employee, and this was apparently canceled due to the number of rainy days that affected the schedule, and should resume at the sister location in the Factory of Terror. A separate review will feature that if and when I can attend.
Upon exiting the pseudo-indoor maze during the first attraction, I was led out to a trail that went through the forest. It was backlit, so I had to walk into a spotlight, and at that point a slasher character with a machete emerged from the darkness and began to walk straight towards me. The silhouette of the characters surrounded by a cone of light was rather epic.
The dark canival vibe connects the haunted branches together with a series of games, actors, and props. The individual attractions are properly detailed and use the natural landscape to their advantage. Despite being in close proximity to more heavily populated areas and commercial zones, there is a feeling of remoteness.
Admission is dead center in the middle tier, and feels appropriate for having severl attractions to visit. I didn't end up doing any of the midway games, but token pricing is on par with most carnivals and county fairs.
The ability to choose the order helps, so it's not one conga line, although there is a bit of group bumping in portions of the trail. It's hard to affect with the croud sizes, but it wasn't too bad. Actors get into their roles, and continue the scares outside the official paths.