The Louisville Cardinal

Review: Danger Run a hit, long wait times a miss

I’d wanted to try the the Danger Run since I first heard of it four years ago, but something always went wrong and I could never make it. This year, Danger Run’s 20th anniversary, the attraction sent The Cardinal complimentary tickets. My assistant, Olivia, agreed to join me on a rare free night. It seemed the stars had finally lined up for an unanticipated adventure.

Danger Run is a scavenger hunt-style game played in a car, which will take one to various parts of the city in search of partnered haunted attractions. Players are given a set of cryptic clues at the beginning of their journey which they must follow in order to reach their destinations. The aim of the game is, by the end, to have the tripometer reading that is closest to that set by the course designers. Prizes are awarded to the winners, and admission to one of three haunts is free with the Danger Run.

Of the three Lowe’s parking lots where a Danger Run can begin, the one in Clarksville, Ind. seemed most attractive. We arrived at 7:30 and were treated hospitably by the staff. After just a few minutes of waiting, we were well on our way.

I remember reading the first page of clues and remarking to Olivia that two reasonably intelligent people such as ourselves should have no problems navigating clues such as “Soon you’ll reverse the way that you drive / with two lefts in a row when at lights you arrive.”

After about 10 minutes of driving, however, it was clear that we were well off track. After an hour, we were hopelessly lost in the dark in Cherokee Park. I flipped to the back of the booklet to find the name of the first haunted attraction. We typed it into the GPS, and much to our dismay, were informed that we were approximately half an hour away.

Danger Run’s well-written clues stumped us, which is exactly what makes them fun. But it was the next leg of the journey where our experience really took a wrong turn. If you plan to attempt the Danger Run before it closes Nov. 1, and do not want to know what the haunted attractions are this year, stop reading here.

***

Though I had never been, I had always heard rave reviews of the Asylum Scream Park, so we decided to make the 30-minute schlep out to PRP to see what the fuss was about. Situated smack in the middle of the boondocks, the Asylum is remote stretches over plenty of land, so we had high hopes.

There are three haunted attractions to choose from at the Asylum, each with its own theme. The Danger Run representative at the front explained the process to us, and the Asylum guide told us that “the fastest moving line right now is for Zombie City.”

Let me pause to say that “zombie city” is a wonderful metaphor for how fast this line ended up moving. We stood there in the freezing cold from 8:45 p.m. until 1 a.m. That is four hours and 15 minutes. That is simply ridiculous.

Luckily, I have the patience of a yogi. No one I know personally would have lasted that long. I think Olivia only stayed because she works for me.

The Asylum attempted to make the situation slightly more bearable by employing the Blue Moon Circus, a band of sideshow entertainers, to perform periodically. The first time I saw a man twirling butcher knives on chains, I was wowed. By the fifth time, still languishing in line, I was utterly inured. And literally every act, at some point, involved the twirling or breathing of fire. It’s quite impressive the first time you see it, but it felt like bad showmanship to force a captive audience to watch a spectacle like that again and again and again and again and again.

It was no surprise that many of our fellow queuers, who had been in line several hours already, just left. We learned that there was a fast-pass lane, which gave express entry to those willing to shell out extra dough. Approximate wait time for those folks was considerably less, and it seemed like they were always given preference for admission, over the sheep in the B-list line.

By the time we were within spitting distance of the door, all of my original excitement was moribund. When at long last we were welcomed inside, I had to reach deep within myself to pull out some shred of enthusiasm.

Wait time aside, the storyline of Zombie City makes a trip worthwhile, though earlier in the season is reccommended to reduce the line. The plot is essentially that the city of Blackwood has become infested with the living dead, and you must escape without being bitten.

That story remains consistent throughout — which is something that many haunts cannot say — and the experience is truly immersive if you have the stamina and self-confidence to play along with the actors. Though it seemed to end a little abruptly, as the plot had no clear climax, the set design and acting was a cut above the standard set by many of Louisville’s more centrally located haunts.

We were too exhausted to try to continue the Danger Run after that, though we had only completed the first third of it.  I’m not going to pretend not to be disappointed in my night, but neither am I going to try to bury the fact that it had some highlights. And I guess, in a roundabout way, I got out of it what I wanted: a totally unanticipated adventure.