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Pretzel Kaiser

Silver Donor
Apr 5, 2011
Thread for Tollway Terror.  I can't even be praise this in a funny way.  It's just so bad.  At least Gandalf lets you pass through to the exit.

In all seriousness, there's no way to fix what they have, but there is a way to make it more creepy. First thing they should do is turn off the lights. Being able to see /something/ but not sure if it's going to move or what could be creepy. Additionally, changing the audio to creepy ambient noise will do wonders for it. Ideally, you turn the ride into a sensory deprivation tank and let the guest's imagination run wild.
Yep they got me two when I was there. I hope they don't scrap the idea next year but start adding more actors to it.
Since there was no Haunt last night, I got to ride Blue Ridge Tollway in the dark with none of the lights on or music playing. Riding Blue Ridge Tollway at night is always a fairly creepy experience, but just barely being able to make out the monsters along the way (along with the obstructive set pieces) made for an exceptionally creepy experience. Even with some of the props covered, driving through an almost pitch dark forest, with the occasional silhouette of a monster, and no noise whatsoever except the rumbling of the engine, made for a super eerie sensory experience.

What made this experience so much creepier than usual? It lets the imagination run wild. Not being able to see where you are driving, or being unable to tell when you may come face to face with a monster, was certainly creepy. Driving past silent, barely-lit graveyards and mine shafts gives your brain the chance to think up what might be inside. There were two statues of Southern Belles made of white chicken wire that, during the day, looked like crappy Christmas decorations, but at night, the figures maintained a nearly holographic effect and legitimately looked like ghosts. It was dead creepy.

But during Haunt, you don't get the chance for your imagination to run wild. The darkest corners of the tollway, where you have no idea what may be lurking in the shadows, are instead bathed in light from leftover Starlight Spectacular beacons. The eerie silence is penetrated with crappy country music. Instead of going for subtlety and spookiness, the attraction goes for full-on scary, and fails miserably.

I think it would actually be possible to save this attraction, if the necessary steps are taken. First, ditch the country music. There's really no need for any sound at all, but maybe periodic sounds of rustling leaves, breaking sticks, or whooshing wind could enhance the sensory experience. Secondly, turn off the lights. Perhaps a very, very dim light could be used to slightly illuminate some of the props, but not so much as to draw too much attention to them. Ideally, the attraction should rely just as much on the rider's imagination as it does on its physical sets.

That said, somebody suggested putting a speaker on the ceiling of each car and telling a narrated story to connect the props together. This could be a little difficult to sync up since some cars are much faster than others, but if pulled off correctly, could be a fantastically creepy experience much like Busch Gardens' old haunted train. I'd totally advocate an attraction like that.
I completely agree with your first paragraph Joe. I was there yesterday with my family also and this was our last 'family' ride of the night. It seemed to really creep out my 4 year old daughter and I was also intimidated by the extreme darkness. In fact, it was pitch black around the covered bridge/tunnel thing. When we came around the final turn, there was a piece of guide rail missing out of the track and the supervisor was screaming at us to stop! They had just removed a car and it was soooo dark that she wanted to make sure we heard her because she knew we couldn't see her! Interesting final ride for 2015 to say the least.
I had a similar experience at Haunt in 2013. Blue Ridge Bloodbath was rained out, but they let us drive around the deserted track. It was super-creepy. That experience is why I was and am convinced Tollway Terror could work, if they did a better job with the atmosphere.
It's hard for actors to get good scares because they can't get really close and and it's open. But props for the staff for trying really hard. They were using levels well, using distracting scares, and more. If this was designed better as far as props and keeping guests from seeing too far ahead, I think it could be a solid scare experience instead of a unique attraction.
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