Haunt Review: Horseman's Hollow

Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing the haunted attraction Horseman's Hollow held at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY.  I am sure most of us hear the location and immediately begin to imagine The Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and on that score we would not be wrong.  In fact, Philipsburg Manor itself is just across the street from the famous Old Dutch Church so the entire event is steeped with legends of The Horseman.  How does a forty minute haunt experience centered on The Headless Horseman work, one might ask?  Well, read on to find out. 

The short answer is, it works as a very loose frame for a bunch of different scenes.  We enter the world of The Horseman through a haunted barn where our doom is prophesied and find ourselves amidst playgrounds and schoolhouses, cornfields and churches, pirates and natives.  The connective tissue tying all of this together is the fact that all of these were quite real around the time Irving published the original short story.  On paper, it seems like there is no way this could possibly work, but thanks to the outdoor transition sections it ends up feeling cohesive. 

All that being said, even if it did not feel tied together nicely there is enough going on in the scares department to make one not care.  I mean, seriously, that walk through the opening barn scene alone was the sort of creative scare tactics that I want to see at haunts.  From that point on I was pretty much down for whatever they were going to throw at me, and boy they did not disappoint.  We spent the rest of the haunt ducking, pushing things out of our way, or just trying to properly navigate the haunted trail setting all while the scareactors jumped out from their hiding places or pursued us through the course.  We even had a moment or two where an actor would run across the path a ways in front of us, just to taunt us with the fact that they were waiting for us just up ahead.  It was exhilarating to see the cast showing no favoritism towards the front or the back of our group, as is often the case at haunts, but instead trying to scare us however possible.  There were a few times where one cast member would step in between us to divide us up so that we would serve as a better target for a scareactor a little further on.  If I have not made it clear, I was duly impressed to see the actors giving it their all, especially given the inclement weather. 

Believe it or not, I do think I have to take a moment to comment upon the weather we experience while at the event as it did shape portions of the event.  The main thing it changed was our view of some of the costuming as certain cast members were wearing clear rain slickers to stay dry which effectively covered up any details of their accouterments.  The outfits we were able to see without anything obscuring our view were a cut above the average haunt costumes and were impressively period appropriate, which helped keep the theme of the event firmly in place. 

On the positive side, the weather did not at all affect or trail experience as they strike a good blend of indoor to outdoor sections.  I will admit that, for the most part, the outdoor sections were kind of sparse, but there were so many players populating the covered areas that it more than made up the difference.  With all these scares going on in spite of the weather, it is clear that Horseman's Hollowknows how to ensure that every guest gets as good of an experience as possible whether or not there is rain. 

Speaking of guest experience, this has been one of the finer setups for waiting to enter a haunt that I have had this year as the lines were handled in an efficient manner and entertainment was provided to make the wait seem shorter.  The distractions came in forms of walk around horror characters, jugglers, acrobatics, a DJ spinning some tunes, and the devil himself (who looked suspiciously like The Beast from Beauty and the Beast) spouting off one-liners to keep the audience captivated.  Thanks to the weather, we did not have to wait long, but we did hang around after the fact to spend some more time taking in the offerings. 

All in all, this is one of the finest independent haunts I have been to and is a must do for those in the Northeast.  From the queue entertainment to the haunt itself, it seems like everything is designed with guest satisfaction in mind which makes this juggernaut feel like a more intimate experience.  As an added bonus, it puts the audience right in the heart of Sleepy Hollow which has some wonderful Halloween offerings. 

Nighty Nightmares,
The Creeping Craig

For more information on Horseman's Hollow visit www.hudsonvalley.org/events/horsemans-hollow