Lincoln Caverns 2014
The next stop on my State College Blast Radius Halloween Tour is a longstanding local attraction billing its seasonal Ghosts ‘n Goblins transformation as Pennsylvania’s most unique haunted house.
Lincoln Caverns is easy to plan for and find. Tickets can be bought online in advance. The website gives directions along with exact GPS coordinates, and signs along Route 22 provide clear notice before the turnoff. The gift shop is a friendly place to relax, with a snack bar and scrapbooks about the caves’ history.
The cave excursion was not a typical haunt. Rather, it was a series of themed skits with a few jump scares and strobes in the dark, plus tidbits of information you would hear on a standard cave tour. If I’m not scared of a haunted attraction, I want to be entertained by its concepts and implementation. And I was. This year’s story, inspired by Alice in Wonderland, featured some unique twists on Alice’s transformation – including a certain same named classic rock star foreshadowed by inflatable guitars over the corpse of Tweedledum. I went through with a talkative group of people who all knew each other, which would have ruined the atmosphere of a standard haunt. Here, it worked. The overall tone was tongue in cheek. The actors invited audience participation and riffed off quips – and the odd ring of a cell phone that probably should not have had reception that far underground.
This tour style also suited the setting. Low ceilings, narrow passages, and steep slippery steps are best navigated with patience rather than cringed through in dim light. Lights only went out when we were situated in a room. The caves were richly decorated with props and dummies, from Alice-themed paraphernalia to Halloween mainstays – appreciated visual interest en route to each skit.
After the caves were a haunted trail and hayride. I hoped for a major contribution to the advertised ninety minutes of terror. Instead I got about five minutes of startles in a very long hour. A stroll in the dark with an occasional person in a rubber mask jumping out. A drive through a near-empty field and then into the woods with an occasional person in a rubber mask jumping out to grab the wagon. I trust you’re sensing a pattern.
The trail and hayride had minimal scenery – a few motion activated strobes, an inanimate gathering of sheet ghosts, a plywood cow that I got all excited at just because it was something different. A blacklit pavilion looked like it might host a skit, but the actors only wordlessly pointed to the next leg of the trail. There was a nifty disco ball high above a clearing. I wish its light had danced over some imaginative displays rather than a random guy with a chainsaw.
It seems I’m not the target audience here. Judging from the enthusiastic reactions of my group, the trail and hayride were meant for people set on edge from being out in the woods at night. To me, they were a bleak and sparse followup to the campy fun of the caves. As mentioned, I’m fine with not being scared. Just give me something to get into instead of temptation to bust out a phone game.
Lincoln Caverns puts on a fun and interactive Halloween show inside its signature natural formation. The rest is anticlimactic at best. The trail and hayride could stand to be majorly tightened up, or at least sold separately. As it stands, I would skip this haunt in the future if I had no way to avoid an hour of overhead after the main event.
7703 William Penn Highway / U.S. Route 22
Huntingdon, PA 16652