My wife, Colleen, and I visited Times Square yesterday.
Times Scare NYC is located on 8th ave between 42nd and 43rd St. It's across the street (sideways) from Port Authority (the bus station) and right next to Show World Center (adult shop). We got there around 4pm, went in and talked to the girl at the ticket booth. The place opens at 5pm, no earlier. The haunt occupies the third floor and takes about 10-15 minutes to walk through. We got a coupon for a Buy 1 ticket, Get 1 Free deal and left to grab some coffee with plans to return at 5pm.
We got back a few minutes before 5. There were three people buying tickets in front of us. While we were paying for our tickets I noticed a few signs in the ticket booth that said that groups of more than three may be split into separate groups and there were no refunds for being scared: it's a haunted house.
We go inside and had to walk to the third floor. We waited as the three people ahead of us were led in and the big metal warehouse door slid shut. Four girls filed behind us. And that seemed to be the extent of the people waiting to get into Times Scare NYC at that point.
After a few minutes, the door opened and one of the characters motioned for us to come in. The door slid closed behind us. Rules of the haunt were read. You know the deal, no picture taking, don't touch anything, you have to find your own way through the haunt, blah, blah, blah, and finally don't touch the actors and they won't touch you.
We proceed. At the very first room we encounter another actor. A get in your face kind of guy. I easily walked past him and continued on, then heard Colleen calling out for me. I turned around and she wasn't in the next room with me. I backtracked to find this *** blocking her path. I grabbed Colleen by the hand and tried to pull her through but this guy wasn't letting her pass. He had her cornered between himself, a door jamb and a railing. When she tried to pull his hand off the railing he tightened his grip. We said that was enough, we're haunters too, let us pass. He kept Colleen cornered.
Now, I know that if you cause trouble in any of the haunts we worked in, you're found and escorted off the property. We wanted to see this haunt all the way through so I really restrained myself and refrained from punching this guy in the teeth. I wedged my body between his and Colleen's and the door jamb and at one point he tells me, "No touching." I looked him square in the eye and told him he was the one doing the touching. I finally got Colleen free and we went on. As we proceeded, he says, "I'm a haunter too." (In retrospect that's like a guy buying a Svengali deck in a magic shop and calling himself a magician.) Colleen was steamed to say the least.
The rest of the haunt wasn't that great and it's not skewed by the incident in the first room.
The haunt is maze-like with some dead ends and half the time you have to figure it's a dead end and try another route or an actor will show up and say "Wrong way" and just stand there blocking your path. I saw the same guy at least three times saying "Wrong way" so I guess they don't have that many actors.
The place is dark and has a good amount of fog. That hides a lot of sins. Some of the rooms were bare. There were a few good installations but not a lot of actors or scare factor. One installation that I really liked was the dead girl in the shower.
The path you need to take to get through this haunts leads you one way where you're looking at cages or a room from the outside. Then as you snake you're way through, you find yourself in those rooms. You wonder if maybe you took a wrong turn because now you're in the same space as the actors. We found out there was no other way and this was indeed the path.
One path was a small doorway against the wall and there were these heavy body bags hanging from the ceiling right in front of it. The opening was narrow like a pathway for actors to get from one scene to another. Again, you wondered if you were in the right spot. Looking around we saw no other path so we continued on. You finally reach an exit point that leads you to a set of stairs. Now, if you don't pay attention and read the signs, you could continue down the stairs. Looks like it could lead to the basement because it seemed longer than two flights down to the main floor. What you need to do is get off at the first landing and exit thru the bar. The one bar was empty and the other bar was closed and had cleaning materials in it. Exiting thru the bar is a good idea....I think. I've seen haunts dump out to a souvenier stand. Since they're pimping alcohol at this place, it makes sense the egress leads to a bar.
We went to the inside ticket booth and voiced a complaint. After about 5 - 10 minutes, the manager came out to talk to us. A younger woman who was slightly apologetic about the incident. She said that she talked to the actor and he said he didn't touch us. I said yes, but if your blocking a person from moving (and I showed her as I moved my body against her and the wall) wouldn't you consider that touching even though you're not using your hands? She said yes but offered no compensation. We said we just wanted to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else. She said they don't have the same actor's every day. They vary depending on people's schedules.
When we were waiting for the manager to arrive and as we left, we noticed that there were no other people waiting to get into the place. Dan Sperry does a nightly show there at 8pm. I wonder if he's playing to a nice crowd or to a audience of half a dozen people.
Colleen and I don't see the place staying open for very long. Good idea. Maybe it's just the wrong spot. Maybe everyone doesn't get into haunts like we do. If this was a food place they might have done better. There were a few themed restaurants in NYC back some years ago called "Jeckyll and Hyde" and "Jack the Ripper." They did pretty good. There are still 2 Jeckyll and Hyde locations in the city; one uptown and one in the village. Jack the Ripper close a few years ago. I understand the uptown Jeckyll and Hyde is wildly expensive. The one in the village is par with a Hard Rock Café type of restaurant.
After we left Colleen told me that when the guy had her blocked, he was blowing in her face. Had she told be that in the room or voiced somethink like "Quit blowing in my face" this would have been an altogether different account.
Save your money. Times Scare NYC sucks. Funny since Dan Sperry is the anti-conjuror with the tagline "Magic no longer sucks." Too bad he's connected to a haunt that does.