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Ohio Valley Haunts Review: USS Nightmare

  • Overall Rating: 9.5 / 10

The Nightmare aboard the former dredging vessel known as the William S. Mitchell turned haunted steamboat begins with an immediate CGI surprise before exploring the engine room, cargo hold, pump well, galley, Captain's quarters, boiler room, infirmary, etc. aboard the ship, and climaxing with an energized chainsaw chase-out. The tour encompasses 3 distinct encounters with an irate Impaler, visits trademark character Rat Girl clad in a wedding dress, and finds you face-to-face with various diabolical crew members, misdirecting clowns, and even The Captain himself! Eerie lighting, sinister sounds, foul smells, and fog as thick as pea soup accompany the journey across vibrating floors, and through claustrophobic passages, and a disorienting, clown-infested maze and spinning vortex along the way.

Characters are interactive in nature, often converse with meaningful dialogue, are elaborately attired consistent with the theme, and many dominate their scenes. Stand-outs include The Captain, who establishes himself as the main villain by detaining guests and nearly dumping them in with his aforementioned Impaler from above, and who strengthens the scariness of the attraction when he's witnessed claiming a victim! Spark-cage girl also earns mentioning by going absolutely berserk, and even touching her tongue to the erupting fence! Many others could be singled out for their performances, like those offering aerial assaults, clowns encouraging progression in the wrong direction that results in looping back through the vortex a second or even a third time, the jealous girl in the sleeping quarters who's concerned that a female group member might be interested in HER Captain, and Anna giving everybody the creeps by singing, "Go to Sleep my Baby" to her skeletonized "mommy" that's lying in a coffin!

Fog is blinding at times, but especially appreciated in the fence maze where it comes blasting in from above, and in the Vampires' lair, where hair-raising organ music also contributes to an already ominous environment. Authentic d├ęcor enhances the experience that's complimented by limitless props including short-circuiting fuse boxes; chained lockers that vibrate of their own accord; a smoking food buffet in the galley; a freezer stocked with body bags, one of which serves up a course-blocking obstacle hanging directly in the path; and cadavers strung up in the concluding maintenance area that's further strengthened its contribution to the climax by exchanging its toy chainsaw for a real, gas-powered monster!

USS Nightmare is annually ranked among the best haunts in the country, and takes pride in opening on time, while operating with a full cast even on weekdays when other attractions often do not, but still charge the same price for admission. Popular "unrated, extreme shows" have been expanded to 4 nights for 2015. Cost of admission has gone up $2 this year, and $4 over the span of the last 3 seasons. Wednesday's are the best value nights, when tickets are discounted to $17. Season's passes are available for just $40, and re-entry is offered for only $5, both of which represent unprecedented bargains! Additional high-impact scares could vault this former Best of Kentucky award winner into Haunt of the Year dominance.

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