10/18/14; Dorney Haunt

Associated parks:

My friend won the Fright Lane passes prize during CFK, and she invited me Mike and Judy to use the passes this Saturday. Unfortunately, due to various health issues, we lost half of our party. The Final group ended up being me, my husband, and the prize winner Kate.

I really did not ride much at all, because we got there late, and my friend had brought her daughter, so we spent some time walking back and forth to planet Snoopy. My friend took her daughter out of the park, and by then, it was time to get in line for the fright feast, which was included in the prize pack.

Actually had no idea that you could buy a buffet ticket during fright fest. I typically eat before I go to the park, and then I just ride rides all the time, so I don't pay much attention to the food.

The buffet was decent. The chicken was just okay, but I think I am biased after the oasis chicken at the Nobles Knoebels. The mac & cheese was okay, although typical, and the burger was a typical park burger. They had sausage and peppers, and while it looked gross, it was actually delicious. The apple pie was also surprisingly moist and tasty. I don't think I would ever spend that kind of money on a buffet at Dorney when there is a Golden corral down the street, but that was some tasty free food!

Of course the haunts were packed. I'd like to take a minute to discuss these friggin Skeleton Key rooms though. What a brilliant idea! What a nifty concept! What an epic fail!

For anyone that doesn't know what the Skeleton Key rooms are, they are a part of Fright Lane perks. You get an LED blinking skull that you turn on before getting into certain haunts through Fright Lane. These skulls are the only way into one exclusive haunt (called Blackout), and then little extra rooms that the GP doesn't get to see. To get out of these rooms, you have to interact with actors and perform certain tasks. Some are physical in nature, some are searches for hidden objects, etc. Pretty cool, right?

This is where it gets hairy though. They have these special rooms and special necklaces, etc., but the wait is ridiculous, and the rooms aren't really intricate enough to make it worth the wait (except the GraveWalkers room). For Asylum's room, we probably waited for over an hour. Plus, these rooms are tiny, so capacity blows. I would even understand the wait times more if the interactive rooms were longer in duration, but we seriously waited for 45 minutes at one of the haunts to do a SK room that took all of 30 seconds to figure out and get out of the room. Plus, some of these rooms are a bit...messy, and they don't provide any paper towels or anything to wipe your hands off. We didn't get to do all the Haunts even with Fright Lane, and we didn't get on any rides in between. We did go see Blood Drums (very cool), but that show was only about 20-30 minutes.

I'm not complaining about the Skeleton Key rooms themselves. In fact, I want to take a second and just say the actors in most of them must be their best actors. They're REALLY into their jobs. Plus, GraveWalkers' SK room was amazing. Good idea, (not gonna give it away in case anyone hasn't gone yet and wants to try the SK rooms), and I'll admit, I was truly terrified at first. If they were all as intense as GW's room, I'd wait in an hour line happily. It is more the organization and execution of these rooms. People were ticked off, tired, and all in all, mostly not interested in waiting as long as the non-Fright Lane patrons just to see one little room. Had we paid for the passes, I would not have wanted to bother either. If something could be done to increase capacity, or if they could even just speed things up a bit (they were only allowing SK users in about every 10 minutes or so in groups no bigger than six), this would be an interesting way to get the upcharge users more bang for their buck. They just don't have it right at this time. If this idea survives (which I unfortunately don't think it will), they really have to tweak the system.

I heard one of the employees say they were operating at capacity tonight, which could have had a great deal to do with extra slow SK operations, but I can't imagine it is much better on a slower night if they're only pumping through no more than six people every 10 minutes.

Real quick about rides, and then I'm done:

Talon: 1 ride, last row. Rode this for Mike since he was unable to make it to the park (tribute laps are nice), and I'd have to say he'd be disappointed. Sometimes coasters ride better in the cold, and sometimes they don't. Talon was pretty shaky and shuffling, although as a result seemed to lessen the few areas of headbanging to zero.

Steel Force: 1 ride, front row. Again, draggy feeling, not really hitting its pace like it does sometimes. The front seat is always nice, but I was a little bummed this was my only ride on this. I wanted to see if it rode any better later on in the evening or even on the blue train (we got the black train, which seems like the worst of the three).

Hydra: 1 ride, front seat. Actually, this was the least rough and shaky ride I took in front in a long time. Of course, I did have other things to worry about (my scarf flew into my face and wrapped around my earring, so I was fighting the scarf so it wouldn't rip out my earlobe), so maybe I just didn't notice.

Anyway, the haunts are a good time, but I can't imagine you get to do ANYTHING without Fright Lane due to the crowds. The prices for the buffet are pretty high, and the whole thing feels a bit like Six Flags in nature. However, I like some of the things Cedar Fair is trying to do with the haunts themselves, and if they continue to add things every year, this could end up being a pretty decent Halloween event. They just aren't there quite yet.

Last edited by bunky666,

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

LostKause's avatar

Interesting TR.

Could the SK access capacity be increased? If I ever go to one of these events, I am going to pay for front of the line access, because like you said, you wouldn't get to do much at all without it. If you are still waiting in line as long as everyone else, what's the point?

When they sell someone a Skeleton Key pass, are they also selling reduced wait times?

And if they are, could they simply let more people from the SK line at a faster pace in order to fulfill this obligation? Or were they waiting ten minutes between groups to help with the capacity of the regular line.


Well, the Skeleton Key comes with Fright Lane, so yeah, I'd say they're selling reduced wait times. It seemed to me like they were waiting until the Skeleton Key groups were completely out of the Haunt before sending the next ones in. That is ridiculous. None of the SK rooms required much additional set-up or "reset" that I could see, and the crew radioed each other when new SK people were coming, so why the holdup?

I will say I try and give parks the benefit of the doubt, and maybe there is more to do between groups of SKers than it looked like from the outside. However, I can't imagine it. If a roller coaster with harnesses and seat belts and all these moving parts can typically dispatch in a minute or two, how much time is seriously needed to reset one tiny room?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

rollergator's avatar

I will never again do Dorney post-PPP without doing Haunted Manor Hotel. Jill's not typically a haunt person, but I said we HAD to do that one if we were going to do any at all...the park was EMPTY, so we weren't go to be there more than a couple hours anyway. Plus, it was quite reminiscent of one that we DID love that Busch put on only one year called "Till Death Do Us Part."

When we were leaving the Manor, she said "that's better than any single haunted attraction at Universal or Busch." Yeah, I tend to agree...it might not have been Lake Compounce's Haunted Graveyard good, but it wasn't far from it. Of course, having an entire tour to ourselves didn't hurt at all. There's just something special about a formal-attire haunt...

Gator, I really enjoyed the appearance and spooky elegance in the mansion as well. The ballroom was very reminiscent of Haunted Mansion at Disney, and the actors were excellent at speaking in an English accent. Plus, the one actress was asking me which one of us was best to cook, and I told her my husband. I told her he is salty from years of fast food and that he would be well seasoned. We had an entire conversation regarding how to serve him on a platter. Then as we were leaving the area, she whispered in my ear that she was going to "boil his eyeballs and serve them in a soup". Lots of fun.

I haven't done other park haunts, so I can't really speak to the typical amusement park haunt. I can't imagine Universal's haunt not looking amazing, but I've heard from many people that it is not all that great. I still want to see this for myself and form my own opinion. I think the park haunts might suffer a bit from the age group ranging a little more. If you go to an independent haunt, most people aren't even going to attempt to bring a child. Most people (I'm sure there are some cruel parents out there that drag their kids into a traumatizing situation because whatever). We have a lot of top rated independent haunts around here (great area for coasters AND Halloween attractions apparently), and I think I'm kinda spoiled. I've been to haunts where you have to crawl through small spaces, you get separated from your group, you get touched, etc., and I've run from buildings full speed. Taking note of this, I'd say Dorney does a decent job with what they have and their limitations.

Did you end up doing the Skeleton Key rooms? If so, what did you think?

I still can't believe I missed ya for PPP AND Dorney. I got invited by one of my enthusiast groups, and I just couldn't bring my tired butt to get up and get out there. Now I'm bummin! :)

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Tommytheduck's avatar

Can't go *one* TR without mentioning Knoebel's fried chicken, can you? haha.

The SK sounds like a neat idea. But yeah, poor execution.

Grilled. Grilled chicken. Get it right. ;) It's only been two trip reports though!

Actually, somehow that reminded me of something. I don't know if anyone has ever been to the formal dinner IN the mansion at Dorney. Apparently, it is actual table service, and you get served some seriously delicious food. It's rumored to be very expensive, but I'm super curious about this. Anyone have any experience with this particular thing?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

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