Address: 530 MAIN STREET, HOLYOKE, MA, 01040
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Full disclosure, I was scared heading to DementedFX this year. Is it because I have a phobia of zombies and mutated creatures? Not at all. My fear was based solely on the expectations I had set in my mind. You see, of all the haunts I went to last year, DementedFX was hands down the best experience I had. It is truly that good. While the haunt improved from 2017 to 2018, in my mind, there was NO WAY 2019 would top 2018. About 30 seconds into the haunt, my fears were put to rest. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s lay out some fundamentals around what to expect at DementedFX.
DementedFX is located in Holyoke, MA right off the highway. While the haunt is easy to find, you’ll quickly realize that they do not have a parking area which means you’ll likely have to drive past the haunt to find street parking. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of street parking within a block or two from the haunt and it’s all free from my experience. The first thing you notice upon arrival is the flashing lights of the food truck outside and the all new “MEAT Tank” experience (more on that later). In order to get in, they have male and female security doing pat downs to ensure everyone’s safety. They just so happen to be some of the friendliest and talkative security guards I’ve seen anywhere. While DementedFX’s priority is to scare you, their staff are some of the kindest and most engaging employees I’ve ever experienced in the haunt industry.
Fair warning, once you step inside, the entire experience is very “adult” in nature. DementedFX does not cater to a “13+” crowd and is far from a place you would want to take kids for some Halloween fun. This allows DFX to really focus in on the adult demographic which adds to the experience. This is evident by the appearance of the first of two bars located right past the ticket booth. Last year DementedFX more than doubled their queue area to ensure that no one would ever have to wait outside in the cold or rain (or snow!). The queue itself is fairly sparse of entertainment with the exception of the aforementioned bars, a seldom appearance from a line actor, and music videos playing on various screens. The videos range from weird and disturbing to more popular songs across a few genres.
After the queue of course comes the main attraction which is the primary reason you’re reading this article. DementedFX has one of the best haunts in New England. After the rules of the haunt are explained, you’re thrusted into a very thematic opening that sets the story which pays homage to old Resident Evil games while still feeling unique. The story and scares are delivered by either actors, audio/video, or, DFXs specialty, amazing animatronics. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “animatronics in haunts are usually lame”. I used to think the same until my first time at DementedFX back in 2017. Their animatronics are all custom built and well maintained giving them a uniqueness that fits the story well. They also do a great job of placing them in spots where they can actually provide startles and the sound design for each is so well done that you rarely hear the hissing air compressor sound when they are triggered. Also, did I mention that some of these things are huge?! Some quite literally are massive monstrosities that come within inches of you and it’s awesome! Through the 20-30 min experience, the energy is always high as are the scares and it all culminates to a truly epic ending that you need to experience first hand.
Outside of the main haunt, there are two great up charge experiences that I’d be remiss for not mentioning in this review. First is the VIP experience which, in typical DFX fashion, is much more unique than most haunts. The VIP ticket allows you entry to a seating area with bar access, one free drink, and entry into the haunt whenever you’re ready. This option will be a no brainer later in the season when the line is crazy long. The second new experience is the “MEAT Tank” which is a simulated ride through a zombie infested world. Saying anything else would ruin the surprises in store, but overall, it is a lot of fun and well worth the money.
At this point, you must be asking “is DementedFX really THAT good?” Trust me, it is. The only two areas that they haven’t fully perfected are theming within rooms and acting consistency, but even in these areas I see noticeable improvements year over year. I noticed a lot more dialogue and well timed scares from their actors which was nearly absent in 2017. In the area of theming, they’ve started phasing out a lot of the dark corridors and replacing them with themed areas like this years top notch fog scene which had unique lighting and an ambience that fit the theme but was still unique. These are truly minor gripes that they’re clearly working on which, in my opinion, will elevate them from “one of the best in New England” to “one of the best in the country”. I personally can not wait to see what they do in 2020!