Trail of Nightmares in Ontario, Ohio is an outdoor powerhouse theatrical experience. It may only be a little less than twenty-five minutes long but, every minute is packed with action. When you arrive, there is an old-timey backlit slot-lettered road sign with a big Trail of Nightmares banner on top leading you into the Parking Lot. The Parking Lot is set amid a bunch of Storage Units. Gotta mention that the property Trail of Nightmares operates on has a number of other commercial tenants so, they're really limited on what they can do with a Midway.
The Ticket booth is inside a little room hidden from the front by an eight ft wide, fifteen ft tall tower sporting the Attraction's banner and the Grim Reaper on top. Tickets are $20 Cash Only and the ticket attendant is very nice to deal with. The door to the left is a rudimentary Merch room. They sell shirts, hoodies, stickers/decals and a few other items. Finishing the corner of this main building, you see the Carnival Trailer vending a host of goodies and food items.
Waiting in line was a breeze for my dad and me because we arrived super late with no other guests to speak of. The queue line ends at a cozy, fire-lit terminus from which a friendly crowd wishes you good luck. The walk to the trail is a little confusing because you leave the queue something like one hundred fifty to two hundred feet away from the actual entrance to the forest. The entryway is a pretty basic plywood archway that's barely painted and has a simplistic vibe that either makes for a DIY feel or an experimental feel.
Entering the Trail alone brings a harrowing feeling of “What will happen to me?”. The path is lit by a very different kind of fixture from anything you might experience elsewhere: Diner Lights. With their nearly perfect circular margin, it's the only beam of safety you can count on...until you can't. Yes, there are switches to these lights. No, you can't know when they'll turn off.
The pre game of all the imaginative houses is an outhouse with a wise-cracking old man on the toilet. This scare really surprises. After a few hundred more feet, you're met by the Doctor. He congratulates you on surviving the first challenges and promises that the rest of his trail will be much, much worse.
Through building after building, imagination is exceeded, spectacular monologues are given and dialogues are had. Stay quick on your feet to keep up with this wild cast of Improvisers. You'll meet people in the darkness and the light, all looking to thrill.
This is one of the must see all-outdoor haunts of Ohio and I'll give you a quick rundown why.
The scenes are huge; there are caves, a church, a walkthrough mausoleum, a pretty big hillbilly town and carnival with full blown Fun House
One actor might send you on a quest to find his cat.
The possession scene is a full-room scare the likes of which you might only see at big-time A list haunts
The Witch Yurt is a tent made solidly of twigs and branches, no visible inner structure
You never know what you might hear from an actor
The Sinister Minister is here to absolve you of your sins
You won't know how many metal maniacs are in the white pallet strobe maze
Look above you for attacks from over the exitway
Upon conclusion, some 33 minutes later, you will have had your eyes opened to what is possible on a walking trail with a stellar cast and scenes that will stick with you for days. The Trail of Nightmares is absolutely worth the price of $20 and a drive of 3 ½ hours.
Be sure to give yourself the option of hitting multiple haunts that night and pick from their selection of Haunted Hoorah, Blood Prison and Mohican Haunted Schoolhouse all within or very close to the Mansfield area.