Phantom Fright Nights Review: Which Haunted Houses Are the Best?

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Fear Fest clown with bubbles

Are you headed to Kennywood Park’s Phantom Fright Nights this year? Curious to know which are the must-do haunted houses when you go? Here’s a full Phantom Fright Nights review including my take on all of the haunts and scare zones and which ones you can’t miss. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Fear Fest walkthrough with Blinky
Blinky the clown, ready to invite all the guests to Fear Fest.

Disclosure: Kennywood Park comped us tickets to Phantom Fright Nights for the purpose of this article. All opinions are my own. 

This year will make my fourth consecutive visit to Phantom Fright Nights (PFN). Truthfully, it’s one of my favorite Halloween events in the country for several reasons. First, the haunted houses and scare zones are very well done. Second, the scareactors are believable and fun.

And lastly, Kennywood Park has a way of turning its entire park into a fright fest. But which are the must-see haunts when you go? Here’s my take including the latest scare house for 2019. 

In case you’re not super familiar with navigating, here’s a map of Kennywood Park so you can get your bearings before you visit. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Scare Zones

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Shady Grove Memorial Hospital
Someone better call the nurse.

1. Shady Grove Memorial Hospital

The latest haunted house for PFN, it replaced BioFear, which honestly was always in my top 3 scares. The theme is this: the hospital was built on hallowed grounds (Fort Despair) and has come on hard times. An evil doctor has taken over and has been collecting specimens as trophies. Reminds me a lot of Norman G. Baker at The Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, AR. 

Location: Near Kiddieland Picnic Groves. While it’s close to Steelers Country, you will have to walk through Kiddieland to access the entrance. 

Theming: Loved this theme. I have seen similar takes on a haunted hospital, but this one was very good. 

Scareactors: Very good. 

Scare Factor: I didn’t find this one super scary, but it really takes a lot to give me the creeps.

2. Mortem Manor

This one is always fun to walk through and the line is generally short it opens and gets longer as the night progresses. The theme is this: you enter the Mortem Family manor and get to meet all of the kooks that have lived there. Not pleased with your visit, they try everything in their power to get you out – or get you to stay forever. 

Location: In the Parkside Cafe behind the Merry Go Round

Theming: Very pretty with some cool, antique touches. This one, for me, is generally brighter than the rest of the haunts, too, so I see more detail. 

Scareactors: Good. 

Scare Factor: There are some smaller walkways with several jump scares, so it’s decently scary. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Villa of the Vampire entrance
Entrance to Villa of the Vampire.

3. Villa of the Vampire

This one has never disappointed me and it’s always the first one we hit when PFN opens for the evening. Here’s the theme: The Master, a powerful vampire, came to the park and built the Villa to house all of his vampire friends. Will you get out alive or become the next meal?

Location: Beside Garfield’s Nightmare

Theming: Very, very good. While it’s super dark inside, there are lots of creepy coffins, cool rooms, and an overall creepy feel. The haunt is also decently long, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get into it. 

Scareactors: So good. They really get into their roles. 

Scare Factor:  This a good one for jump scares and vampires following you, so it’s definitely up there. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Voodoo Bayou
Mind the skull.

4. Voodoo Bayou

Ahh, Voodoo Bayou. This one makes me so happy. Kennywood drains Raging Rapids, so it’s an outdoor haunt through the water’s path. With it’s super cool theming (think creepy swamp filled with voodoo-loving folks), the lighting and overall feel make me want to go through it multiple times a visit. 

Location: In the Raging Rapids, literally. 

Theming: Love the theming of a voodoo swamp. The walk is significantly long, so there’s time to really take in the attention to detail. Keep in mind that it opens at dusk, so hit the other Haunts that open when the event begins first. 

Scareactors: Top notch. They’re fun to interact with, too. 

Scare Factor: More creepy than scary. 

5. Kennyville Cemetery

The second of two outdoor haunts, Kennyville Cemetery is exactly what you’d expect by the title: a haunted cemetery. 

Location: Beside Kandy Kaleidoscope near the front entrance. 

Theming: Well done. It’s a lovely walk through the cemetery filled with pretty lighting and smoke. Also to note: Opens at dusk. 

Scareactors: The scareactors love to interact with guests and try to scare the bejeezus out of them, too. 

Scare Factor: Not very. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Signage
Choose your path.

6. Dark Shadows

You know the movies that are scary because they’re psychological thrillers? That’s what makes Dark Shadows so good. Apart from one area near the end, it’s a pitch black walk that you basically have to feel your way through. Dark Shadows used to be my lease favorite, but it’s definitely growing on me. 

Location: Near Kiddieland Picnic Groves

Theming: Apart from the pitch black experience, there’s not much theming to look at. But, with your eyes unable to help you, your other senses kick in. So, get ready to sense more than normal. 

Scareactors: I know they were there, but I didn’t see or hear them. 

Scare Factor: In the psych dept., very creepy. 

7. Noah’s Ark

Noah’s Ark has an unusual vibe to begin with. Add in some creepy overlays (and a good jump scare that the end!), and it becomes even sillier. 

Location: Near Kennyville Stage and Potato Patch Fries

Theming: A few Halloween-themed overlays in a rocking fun house. 

Scareactors: Only one that I saw. 

Scare Factor: Apart from the jump scare I mentioned, none. 

 

If you’d like to see this year’s fun, here’s our YouTube video featuring all of the Haunts and Scare Zones:

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Scare Zones

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Gory Park
Entrance to Gory Park.

Scare Zones differ from the Haunts in the fact that they don’t have queues. I really enjoy them when heading from Haunt to Haunt, personally. 

The Welcoming – Starts in the famous Kennywood Park Tunnel. Fun, but be prepared for a ton of screaming – the scareactors like to single out scaredy cats. 

Fear Fest – My personal favorite Scare Zone at PFN. There are plenty of creepy clowns that love to follow guests around and, man, are they good creeping out at unprepared guests.

Gory Park – Think a park with a wasteland vibe. It’s located at the back of the park in the Lost Kennywood area. 

Phantom Fright Nights Review: Death Valley walkthrough
Death Valley walkthrough and the creepies that go with it.

Death Valley – Another very pretty Scare Zone. If I had to pick a number two fave, it’s this one. 

Ranking Phantom Fright Night Haunts

Phantom Fright Nights Review: The Entrance

This one was tough, but I did manage to narrow it down. Here are my picks from first to last:

  1. Voodoo Bayou
  2. Villa of the Vampire
  3. Kennywood Cemetery
  4. Shady Grove Memorial Hospital
  5. Dark Shadows
  6. Mortem Manor
  7. Noah’s Ark

 

Have you been to PFN? Do you have a favorite Haunt? Please let me know in the comment section below!

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