Sunday, October 14, 2018

A wicKED Plague Descends upon The Haunted Forest! Review and Walkthrough {Countdown to Halloween Day 14}|

October can mean only one thing…it’s time for me to strap 50 pounds of camera equipment on my back and run rampant through MECC’s Haunted Forest! As always, I wanted to thank Cindy and Shuler Ringley and their Ghoul Crew for allowing me and my wife the opportunity to come in and document the haunt and do this yearly review.

Every year The Haunted Forest tries to add some thing new and deadly exciting to their line up and this year is no exception. It would seem that a plague has fallen upon the inhabitants of the forest…both living and undead. Most blame the crazy backwoods famers for causing the plague with all the dead bodies they bury in their crops. Others blame the Voodoo Queen for just being bored enough to unleash anguish on her subjects. Whatever the case may be, it was bad enough to erect a Mortuary for all the dead and dying and those dying a second time. Diseased vermin have overrun the forest so you have been warned!

All of this amazing Halloween magic would not be possible without the backbreaking work of Cindy and Shuler Ringley as well as their ghoul crew and their faithful minion, George Merriam who literally is a jack of all trades when it comes to The Haunted Forest.

Shuler, George, and some of the Ghoul Crew work almost all summer to repair, build, and prep the forest to receive thousands of visitors every night! Talk about dedication!

As a reminder what all this madness and hard work that goes into The Haunted Forest provide tuition for the students who work in it.  Just like the real world, these young adults earn money depending on the hours they put it in. This is also the reason Cindy Ringley (the mastermind behind all the madness) does this every year. She wants to leave a legacy to the college which is twofold. First, to have one of the best haunts within 100 miles, and secondly to give these young adults their first taste of real-world values and work ethic to better prepare them for life after college.

On a special note they were ranked the #4 must see haunt in the entire state of Virginia by! That is an amazing accomplishment! {click picture below for more info}

Now onto the walkthrough!

When you arrive at The Haunted Forest, you will find several really cool features before you even step foot into the dreaded haunted woods. There is a great victorian hearse ticket booth complete with skeletal driver and horse. 

There are rest rooms for those that fear they may wet their pants in the horrific haunt. Great snacks and drinks sold at a concession stand. Scary movies play for those waiting in line on a HUGE projection screen and there are photo ops and creepy characters to entertain those that are waiting! 

You will have a ton of fun even before getting in line, but beware...the parking lot is haunted too!

Once in line you will have to follow the instruction of your guide and have your fortunes told be Madam Fortuna… hope it’s good news!

Once the Voodoo Queen is ready, you will be allowed to enter the haunted forest….without a guide! Your journey starts at the gates of Raven Manor…the home of Mama Lebaux herself!

Be careful! There are all type of foul spirits, demons, and even the undead hanging around this evil home!

Once you enter this house of horrors, The Voodoo Queen will explain to you what you are in for. Heed her warning and pray she does not mark you!

 If she allows you to continue, you may consider yourself lucky but there are many dangers in her home and not many do get the privilege of leaving alive.

 Leaving Raven Manor you will find yourself in The Freak Show! a twisted band of traveling clowns, freaks, and entertainers....trapped for eternity in the Dark Woods of the dead.

 Here you will find oddities, freaks, creatures of all kinds including living dolls and cursed clowns!

Watch out, she bites and sometimes spits!

Cursed dolls beg for a hug....don't fall for it!

Just ask the clowns how to get out of the tent... they love to show people the way out!

CLOWNS...Just so much fun!

If you make it through the Freak Show, you will find Hellbilly Farmers!

They have been blamed with starting the plague and the only way they know how to fix it is fertilize the crops....with corpses that is! Walk quickly when you are in the barn!

Beware the seven foot tall werewolf...he is all over, but likes hanging out in the barn mostly!

Congratulation if you managed to not become fertilizer! Beyond the farm lies the dread Dungeon where those that have commited unthinkable crimes must live out unimaginable punishment at the hands of The Captain!

What lies down this long corridor? Go in and find out!

Behave or the Captain will make a cell just for you!

Careful! She bites!

Well that sucks,  somebody forgot to lock the cells...hope you have better luck as you travel through!

Please, don't feed the animals.

Beyond the screams of the Dungeon you will find the newly constructed Mortuary...stacked high with the bodies of the dying and the dead, be careful not to touch the diseased bodies or the vermin within.

The Plague Doctor will see you now.

The smell is horrible!

Rats, roaches and flies abound!

I hope your visit with the doctor goes well, if not you will find yourself stacked with the rest!

It is almost fitting that the Mausoleum is nearby! You can hear the clawing and moaning of the dead from beneath the ground! 

Terrible things lurk in the graveyard just outside!

The gatekeeper is not your friend...he is just there to keep you in and the dead out....or is that reversed? 

Should you escape the land of the dead, you will find yourself at the quaint little getaway cabin...however you will find no rest here. The only way onwards is through the cabin! Good luck!

Evil lurks at every turn!

Familiar faces hide in the woods!

Oh look! A cafe! I don't recommend today's special if you go in!

She sure seems happy to serve you?!!?

Never trust a skinny chef...especially one with a pig head and chainsaw! 

Soon you will find the Stockyards and the Slaughterhouse! 

All manner of beast lurk in the Stockyards...looking for fresh meats to slaughter

I am pretty sure that meat he is holding has a tattoo on it!

Don't ask this butcher for recommendations... you won't like them!

Not many make it to the Slaughterhouse!

Even fewer make it out! Alive at least!

So fresh it is still screaming!


I have tasked 3 unbiased people to enter the haunt and answer some questions about their experience. These people are like "Secret Shoppers" for the haunt. The Questions and Answers are below:

QUESTION #1 - What was your overall opinion of The Haunted Forest this year?

SS1 : It was really good! I have not been in a few years and I was not expecting all that! 
SS2: I went twice in one night! Had to go through to see some stuff I missed. Pretty sure I will go again.
SS3: The kids loved it. My wife hated it but that is a good thing. She was really freaked out.

QUESTION #2: What was your favorite thing about this year’s Haunted Forest?

SS1: Slaughterhouse was really scary! The green room with the plague people got me good!
SS2: Really liked Mr Wolfe! Barn was crazy and the clowns. The zombies were good the second time I went through. Love the Slaughterhouse and the chainsaws!
SS3: Honestly I liked the lighting and the sound effects. If I had to pick a thing I liked the most it would be feeling so claustrophobic in the dungeon with the crazy people. Slaughterhouse was pretty over the top intense.

QUESTION #3: What do you think they could do better?

SS1: We ran into a group in front of us and it was confusing and then another group came up from behind and it was just weird. I did not understand why there are dolls and a goth girl in the freakshow.
SS2: The first time I went there were no zombies in the graveyard thing or a chainsaw at the end. Some of the people acted kinda bored or not into it. Way too much smoke in the barn and the slaughterhouse. 
SS3: The Plague Doctor seemed out of place for the intense scene. Would have been nice to see more action in the first house with the Voodoo Woman.  Not a fan of Voodoo in general. Way too much fog for my taste.

QUESTION #4: what would you like to see in the future?

SS1: More of the same! Keep on getting bigger and better. I would not mind seeing some more zombie or ghosts.
SS2: More Mr Wolfe! Vampires, Witches, Ghosts. 
SS3: Really enjoyed having Micheal Myers jump out and scare us. Over the top acting and screaming!

QUESTION #5: Will you be going back and will you suggest it to your friends?

SS1: I hate I missed it the last few years. Yes I will tell everybody about it and I will be going back!
SS2: I have been twice and most likely will go back. Sure I will tell everybody how good it is.
SS3: I think that might be it for us this year unless the kids want to see it again. I would recommend it to anybody that likes Halloween or Haunted Rides. 

Now for the review!


  • Great parking! Well lit and monitored location.
  • Bathrooms available
  • Food and drinks served
  • Movie and character entertainment for those waiting in line
  • Photo ops
  • Great Creepy location. The ambiance is really great in a big old creepy forest.
  • Small groups for the most part that took about 15 minutes to get through so you get your money's worth and then some! 
  • Great acting! Most Notable were the Voodoo Queen and the Voodoo Man in the Manor, The Barn, The Clowns and the Ring Master, Mausoleum zombies and Gate Keeper were really good! Jason was great on timing! The Dungeon had some great scene actings! Slaughterhouse was way over the top and of course the werewolf was fantastic as usual! 
  • No Street clothes or Cell phones seen! 
  • Costumes were really good this year...all around!
  • Lots of actors! The place was full of creeps and they kept the act going!
  • Sound effects were really good as usual.
  • Lighting was well done...Lots of different lighting patterns this year but it worked very well overall. 
  • Photo ops were very nice
  • The Fortune Teller was great and it helped buy time for waiting groups.
  • Set Design and Props were really amazing!
  • Behind the scene logistics are incredible. There are eyes and ears on you at all times and they can get to you in a matter of seconds.
  • The scare factors inside the Mortuary was really good!
  • The Mausoleum was a favorite this year!


  • Voodoo Queen Speech could use some tightening up.
  • Several complaints about not having chainsaws at various times. 
  • In general there was too much "smoke" fog for people to really enjoy the Barn and the Slaughterhouse.
  • Some character acting to polish up the Mortuary scene.
  • Saw some large lines and some pile ups as groups crashed into one other. 
  • Consistency in scenes. Key elements or characters missing from group to group
  • Still heard people asking about T-Shirts or other souvenirs.
Now let's see how MECC's Haunted Forest ranks up on a scale from 1 to 5 for the 2018 season!


5 out of 5
When you pull into the parking lot, The Haunted Forest takes hold of your senses and does not let go till you are back in the car! One of the best if not the top haunts for atmosphere in the area! The sets, costumes, lighting, sounds....they all go in for an over the top experience.


5 out of 5
The costumes are great and the makeup even greater! Cindy really works hard on making sure the costumes ore top of the line and she works on this year round! Not sure how they get all those great makeups done in the time they have.


5 out of 5
Hands down the best sound effects I have experienced in a haunt I have experienced a lot! Some effects are iconic and you expect them from year to year. Some of keyed to the scene or the characters. Great work!


4.5 out of 5
Amazing sets! They work on the almost all summer in the heat and it shows! It is truly amazing the structures that are hidden in the forest! The paths are a logistic feat of genius and how they do it all I will never know! The fog machines got away from a few of the scenes this year to the point of not even being able to see the amazing things they have built and attention to detail...or even the scary actors!


4.5 out of 5
They do a great job of keeping things fresh. That is not easy running the same theme year after year. The Mortuary was a nice touch and the updates and additions each year keep it on the cutting edge!


4 out of 5

There were some amazing acting going on in there! Most haunters got in character and never left it not even to talk to me. Those that go over the top really do so in a big way like scratching on walls and banging chains to get the mood set. I saw some amazing things in the forest this year! There were a few flubs here and there that keep this from being a perfect score but those are things we can learn from like character study, method acting, and better scripting and or learning scripts that are presented. 

4.5 out of 5
I witnessed so many terrified groups going through... some almost refusing to enter scenes like the barn or the Mausoleum. I truly have never heard customers reacting and screaming like the night I was there. A few missed ques and actor flubs keeps this from being a perfect score.


4.5 out of 5

Even I want to go back through just to pay attention to the amazing level of detail and the energy the haunters produce. I personally cannot wait to go back just to bask in the horror that is The Haunted Forest! It is totally worth a trip or 5.  The only thing that keeps this from being a solid 5 is there is going to be a wait time and there is no avoiding that. Some people don't do well waiting and as such can deter some customers from wanting to go back on a busy night.

That give MECC's Haunted Forest of 2018 a rating of 

There you have it folks...I highly encourage you to take your family and friends and make it a Halloween Tradition to visit this iconic Big Stone Gap Haunted Attraction. You will not regret it!

For more info, click picture below.

So what are you waiting on? The Haunted Forest Awaits! So much will wet your friends pants!!!!!!


  1. Wow - the costuming and makeup are incredible! My favorite picture has to be that bony horse eating sausage. That is a hoot. Love the Victorian hearse as well. Looks like a brilliant haunted attraction in every respect. Thanks for sharing and hope it is a very successful season.

  2. This looks deliciously terrifying.


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