Lake Hickory Haunts was another haunt we visited on the first night of our 2023 haunt tour which was Friday the 13th, and their busiest night of the season so far! Before we get into reviewing this attraction… we’d like to mention that Lake Hickory Haunts was, by far, the best bathroom experience Megan has ever had at a haunted attraction! This was not your typical port-a-potties, folks. They had super clean, fresh-smelling public restrooms!
After the quick bathroom break, we walked down the hill and into the Midway of Mayhem. It’s really not even fair to call what Lake Hickory Haunts has a “midway”, it is far too expansive for that. In fact, Lake Hickory Haunts is so big that when you arrive, they give you a map! Literally, a tri-fold map like you get at Six Flags or Universal… which makes sense, since they do call themselves a haunted theme park!
The Midway of Mayhem has everything you’d expect at a theme park and more! Axe throwing, an escape room, and a 4D experience are just a few of the activities you can enjoy while waiting for your turn to enter the haunts. If you go with the VIP experience like we did, you also get access to a pretty swanky outdoor lounge.
And yes we said.. er wrote… haunts! How many you ask? 12!!! 12 freaking attractions in one place for your haunting pleasure! And it’s technically 14 since the Big Top Circus is actually three in one!
Lake Hickory Haunts is located on a piece of property with some very interesting topography, and they have used every bit of it to their advantage. And it’s not just a cool name, Lake Hickory Haunts is located on an actual lake, and they have brilliantly incorporated the lake into their haunt stories and builds. In fact, there are three attractions centered around the lake: Voodoo Bayou, Shipwrecked 2.0, and Aquaphobia which takes you on docks over the lake. We even saw a family of ducks enjoying the haunt with us. In addition to the lake, Lake Hickory Haunts also has the good fortune of having their very own cave, and their attraction Descent is located in this underground cave, because… of course.
The experience kicked off with their first haunt Nightmare Factory. A nurse told us we would meet Dr. Death after being administered their newest truth serum, and that we might not make it to the end. Needless to say she was wrong and we continued our the journey through the remaining 11 haunts Lake Hickory has to offer. Although each haunt is its own separate experience, there is an underlying cohesive story linking them all together. It was really impressive to see a story executed on this scale. The spaces between the haunts were like mini intermissions but could provide a great way to further communicate the connection.
Our favorite was the Big Top Circus! It had been totally redesigned for the 2023 season and the story, theming, and set design were all SUPER original! Cotton candy covered walls, sweet smells, a plethora of unique antique clown memorabilia, and a laboratory under the big top all tickled our coulrophobia in ways we’d never imagined.
The lake, cave, and original Big Top Circus were all just parts of the AMAZING sets at Lake Hickory Haunts! They had a great combination of fully enclosed, partially enclosed, and outdoor spaces. The fact that many of the spaces were so open affected the scares a little, but we’ve never scene such level of detail in open air sets! We also loved seeing the juxtaposition of materials. Spirit Halloween props, cleverly used household items, and pool noodles coexisted harmoniously with Hollywood-level props and effects… almost a nod to simpler beginnings. What we didn’t like were the visible step pads, but we understand the limitations being in open, outdoor environments creates.
Lake Hickory had a ton of actors roaming the grounds of their enormous midway and lurking in every corner of each attraction! Varying degrees of makeup, prosthetics, and masks transformed the Lake Hickory actors into pirates, zombies, cave-dwelling monsters, clowns… lots of clowns… and more! Aquaphobia had some incredibly unique alien sea creatures bent on world domination. No costuming faux pas here. Despite being in natural environments, all costuming including footwear blended very well with each set.
Being from Georgia, we compare Lake Hickory Haunts to “Netherworld on water”. What an amazing value for a full night of Halloween fun! Lake Hickory Haunts definitely had the sprawling feel of a theme park with an awesome mix of entertainment… plus fantastic restrooms… haha! This is absolutely a must see attraction and for those of you lucky enough to live in North Carolina, you should incorporate Lake Hickory into your yearly Halloween routine!