Visibility / Location:
Visibility from the road was good, although some visitors may be thrown off by the fact that the haunt is actually on the grounds of a pumpkin farm type attraction so anyone looking for a prison setup might miss it. There was one sign facing the street. The sign itself was not illuminated, but the property was.
Parking was in a lot on property located a short walk from the entrance. Visitors needed to walk from the parking lot to either the ticket window to purchase tickets or to one of the shops to pick up online ticket purchases. Staff were on hand to direct individuals to make the process go smoothly.
Wait entertainment consisted of numerous actors, both in the line and all around the entrance area. The actors regularly interacted with visitors, either from a distance (for those actors standing by the entrance doors) or close up (those actors in and around the lines). There was also music playing and the occasional burst of fake gunfire to calm the "prisoners" (as Statesville has a prison theme).
Once visitors were moved from the main line to the holding area (before being let into the final waiting area), they were locked in a cage with several actors who got up close and personal with them. The final waiting area had video screens showing scenes of what was supposedly going on inside the prison itself.
$30 for General Admission/$50 for VIP ($45 if purchased online) which gives access to both Statesville and City of the Dead
Statesville Haunted Prison: 16 Minutes
City of the Dead: 8 Minutes
NOTE: Within the Statesville part there are several locations where visitors have to line up and wait to get into the next part, plus an introduction section and a rules section. Total time within the Statesville portion was 24 minutes, minus the introduction (1:30), the rules area (1:30), plus at least five minutes total waiting in the three internal staging areas. Also, the introduction and rules areas within City of the dead take about two minutes). These wait times will vary depending on the number of people.
Since people move through haunted attractions at different rates, your time will vary. Note: The time shown here represents the actual time spent moving forward through the attraction. Time spent waiting in queue lines, staging areas, intro scenes, rules rooms and when traffic jams cause patrons to come to a halt, has been subtracted.
LPR Score = 1.843
LPR stands for Length/Price Ratio. It represents perceived value of an event, by comparing length vs price of admission. Higher numbers represent more value per dollar. Actual quality and/or entertainment value of an event are not factors in this calculation. Click Here to see how this event compares to others visited this year by the staff of HauntedIllinois.com.
Statesville Haunted Prison: Medium-High - individual experience will vary, but overall Statesville has more of a "crazy inmate" feeling than an actual creepiness factor. Many of the scares are of the simple startle variety as the actors tend to be more theatrical, with screaming, shouting, and laughing rather than attempts to frighten. However, there are a lot of actors, so for those who do not like the in-your-face style of haunts, the scare factor might be higher.
City of the Dead: For City of the Dead, which has more of a creepy underworld type of feel, the creepiness factor is higher and the in your face factor is lower.
Crowds were not huge on the night visited, and we did not run into any other groups inside the haunt. Patrons were spaced out in regular intervals, and in fact it seemed to take a long time between groups. We arrived at 9:05PM and there was only a small group of people ahead of us, yet it took almost 25 minutes to get into the haunt. Also, when waiting for City of the Dead (which is a separate line following the prison portion), there was a ten minute wait as staff said they needed 20 people in line before they could let anyone in. This might not be a factor on nights when there are more visitors.
Statesville has been a popular and highly-rated attraction in Chicagoland for many years now, but how much of that is hype and how much is true is the real question. The prison section is set up well, and the theme of prisoners being herded into the prison is a good one. All of the actors remain in character and do a good job of being friendly and intimidating at the same time, keeping visitors on their toes even before they head inside.
Set design is good, not necessarily excellent but certainly serviceable, with visitors being moved through various sections of the prison, including intake, the cell blocks, the medical sections, the boiler room, and other areas. Actors are numerous and varied, popping out of all areas and often showing up repeatedly on specific scenes. The design of the haunt is such that you encounter the same actors multiple times when moving from place to place, so if an actor unnerves you, you're most likely going to encounter them again.
Costume design is good, with most actors conforming to the prison theme, either as inmates, workers, or guards. There are some exceptions in specific areas, though. Actors mostly use makeup (with some masks and/or prosthetics). Scares are primarily of the startle variety, with actors popping up to scream or laugh at visitors.
One major drawback that takes visitors out of the immersive haunt experience is the series of waiting areas inside the haunt. In the prison portion there are a total of five, including the introduction area, the rules area and three other areas inside. These tend to make the experience grind to a halt, as visitors are made to line up and wait, sometimes for several minutes or more in each area, just to move on to the next area. While this is understandable given the need to control patron flow, it can be excessive. We spent a third of our entire overall time in the prison waiting to move on to another section on a night when the crowds were not large, and the wait times can increase when more people are there.
The second haunt, City of the Dead, has a totally different atmosphere than the Statesville portion. This haunt has a theme of going underground into another world, and as such elicits a different vibe altogether. City of the Dead works on the creepiness factor, with actors in elaborate animal masks chanting incomprehensible sounds or actors made up to blend into the surroundings, which are designed to look like an underground city of caves and trees. Although shorter, City of the Dead gives an excellent immersive experience, with visitors placed into another world, even down to fake stars lining the "sky" above.
Overall, Statesville is a good experience, if not a great one. The prison design is well done, and the large number of actors keep the experience moving along. However, the starts and stops interrupt the overall flow, and the theme goes get repetitious after a while. The creepiness of City of the Dead helps to balance out the shortcomings of the Statesville portion, providing a good change of pace and atmosphere.
For those who only go to a few haunts per year (or perhaps only one haunt), Statesville is not a bad choice. Keep in mind that the experience is more one of keeping visitors nervous and on edge (as one might expect in a prison) rather than creeping them out. For overall haunted house experiences, there are better haunts out there. If one believes the hype and is expecting the best haunt experience ever, one might be disappointed, but if you're looking for a decent night of fun Statesville is just fine.
One important thing to note is that crowds tend to get very large, especially on peak weekend nights. Even the VIP ticketing will have you waiting for a long time (sometimes well over an hour) if you show up later in the evening. It's always best to try to go on an off night (not Friday or Saturday) and to look for deals for VIP tickets, such as through Groupon.
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