Official opening night for South Bay Nightmare Haunted house and my first haunt on my 2022 haunt tour, and to say I started the season with a bang would be an understatement! I live in Gulf Shores, AL so it was about an hour and a half from me, right outside of Mobile. I pulled up pretty late to see a big building with a XL wooden sign you couldn’t miss, and an area lit up outside to the right of the building with string lights and some food options. I saw some children walking out as I walked inside and they were pumped. Arriving to South Bay was a breeze, the GPS took me straight there easy peasy and as I said there is a big lit up sign you cannot miss and the parking lot is large. I walked into the front door to an almost movie theatre looking booth, but a movie theatre booth you might find in Halloween Town, get my ticket and in I went.
I won’t give anything away, but this is a haunt you will not want to miss this season. Upon arriving at the haunt there were not any actors outside, and just one in the ticketing area. I had not been to this haunt before so I was not sure exactly what I was going to find inside, however, I did my research, so I did see they had some social media content up and some tiktok videos which I love to see from a haunt. It gets me excited about what’s to come. I did wish they had more actors to greet me in the parking lot or at the entrance of the actual haunt to let patrons in, I think this helps get customers in the mindset of what they are about to walk (or run) through.
I thought this was going to be a decent haunt, but not super scary based on the younger kids I saw walking out as I was walking in. I was very wrong. As soon as you walk in its as black as night and you enter through a thick cloud of materials hanging from the ceiling. What followed was shocking in the best of ways. They had an array of different scenes, that all made sense and worked together seamlessly. Each room I entered was equal parts inventive and terrifying. There was jump scares, there was interaction, there was screaming (mostly from me). The actors were lively and vocal.
Something I struggle with in haunts sometimes is dead periods, a room or string of rooms that are used as fillers or just to break up the haunt that don’t illicit any kind of reaction or don’t have any actors. I feel like it takes me out of the experience. So personally, that is something I am always looking for. I can very happily say there were no dead periods for me in South Bay. I was on my toes from start to finish, my throat hurt when I left
from screaming. It was not predictable and they did a phenomenal job of using classic haunt concepts and making them unique but also throwing in some scenes that I had not seen before. Makeup and costuming were top notch, and far better than I anticipated for a haunt that is newer and non-profit. Scenes ranged from deranged clown twins, to exorcism, to swinging body bags and everything in-between. The used lighting changes, and floor changes in the best ways and though I heard music and effects, I did not see a lot of plugs or wires, they hid them well.
We spent some time with woman and man that run it and they told us their story. They have really only been taking this haunt seriously for the last couple years, which was shocking based on the caliber of haunt it was. They also took me through with my photographer and let us shoot some creepy pictures and talk to some of the actors. It was about a 20 min walk through for me, and I was moving at a solid pace. For $20 it was a steal and I will find a way to come back this haunt season and go through it again.
Bottom line, this is a newer haunt but not one to be underestimated, do not let the tame exterior fool you…horror waits inside!