I LOVE DARK RIDES. I love them! Roller coasters and other thrill rides are great too, obviously, but as far as I’m concerned dark rides are where it’s at. I don’t know; I just love traveling through a story, I guess. Even a scary story. Enter Ocean City, MD’s Haunted House.
The Trimper’s rides at the end of the OC boardwalk are about what you’d expect: a carousel, some small roller coasters, various flat rides. Better than a carnival, since they’re permanent installations, but hardly theme park level. With one important exception: the Haunted House.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE IN OCEAN CITY, MD
This honest-to-goodness dark ride haunted attraction was first built in 1964, and is such an institution it even has its own Wikipedia page. They tacked a second story on top to lengthen the ride in 1988, and they’ve made piecemeal changes and enhancements ever since.
As that last sentence might suggest, the charm of this ride is not in its Disney-style quality, polish, and/or production levels. Maybe the scenes were cohesive at the beginning when all the original, Bill Tracy-designed blacklight scenes were intact, but I could almost count on one hand how many of those elements remain.
Still, the effort is absolutely there, and on my most recent ride this past July I found that what the lacked in quality they were absolutely gunning to make up in quantity. On previous occasions some of the rooms seemed sparse. No more! Somebody has clearly been shopping since then, with new mannequins and decorative objects filling out the space. If you’re fond of The Conjuring (and you know I am!), nods to that particular film series abound.
One addition I’m not 100% on board with, though? They added a live!! person!!!!! I am not a Live Actor Haunted House person. Well, the Ghostbusters house was fun, but I mentally prepared myself for it. Spooky atmosphere and creepy storytelling is excellent; people jumping out at me is not. I mean, I love Star Trek, but that William Shatner/Elm Street mask is not it. I wasn’t ready!!!
Thankfully, the new scare actor in the house wasn’t on my side of the car, and he didn’t so much pop out as just kinda grab our car and wiggle it a bit. Unclear if there was more to that interaction as my brain was still boggling at his existence.
He was the only scare actor in the house, happily for me, BUT I didn’t know that until I exited the ride. So every time our car pushed open the doors to a new room, I was on High Alert. Is that a mannequin or a person holding very still? Will one of the zombies behind this chain link fence be an actual guy?? Is that Valak on the wall or a cleverly hidden human in a nun-based demon outfit?????
So yeah, Ocean City’s boardwalk Haunted House isn’t good, per se, but it is a lot of fun, especially if you’re into that sort of thing. You should check it out.
Not planning on hitting up the Maryland seaside any time soon? That’s okay; YouTube to the rescue!
P.S. I showed some Haunted House videos to my niece so she could decide if she wanted to ride. Afterward she declared with great confidence that she did. She was very excited by the prospect right up until the point we were sitting in the coffin-shaped ride vehicle, waiting to enter the first room, at which point she declared she would be closing her eyes for the duration of the experience. Which she did. Seven bucks well spent, I say.
P.P.S. And yes, that’s my own Haunted House t-shirt up top!
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