I did Hands On Level 4 at Castle of Chaos, and I just about died — not literally though, as the actors made sure I didn’t get physically hurt while freaking me out.
Let me start off by saying I have done quite a few haunted houses in the past, locally and around the country. And I like to think I’m a pretty tough person when it comes to experiencing them; sure, I’ll scream or jump every once in a while at major pop-out scares, but I don’t go through any of them feeling fearful.
Cause it’s all just props and lights and actors who aren’t allowed to actually do anything to you, right?
Not at Castle of Chaos.
Guess how I began my all-hands-on journey through the underground haunt? With a very tall, masked zombie running at me while growling, who then proceeded to scoop me up, throw me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and run through the entrance.
After a few paces he set me down in the dark and scampered off to who knows where, and I was already separated from my friend with whom I came to the Castle of Chaos, who was doing a Level 3 hands-on experience.
She eventually caught up to me, and we walked through together for a while, with actors touching her and roughing me up a bit more. Soon enough, another monster was grabbing me and pulling me away. At times they put a (breathable) bag over my head to take me where they wanted to go, other times they carried me and sometimes they just gripped my arms and pushed me backward.
Several times, the monsters took me to sections of the haunted house that the other level participants did not see, such as a dentist room, a shackling hallway where you can be chained, a disheveled bedroom, etc. The monsters would often get up in my face — absolutely no personal bubble at this haunted house — and interact with me in character.
I’d say the scariest part of the night was when I had almost gotten through, the end lobby area in sight, but was stopped by an actor putting a sack over my head from behind and pushing me backward, back into the winding maze. When he took the sack off, I was closed into a tiny, dark sort of closet with no apparent way out. Feeling around the four walls surrounding me, I realized there was someone else in the small space with me — a zombie woman who acted crazy and played with my hair.
That, and the overall nerve-wracking anticipation of the next time someone was going to grab me from behind and take me away again, were the scariest parts.
While that level of intensity in a haunted house might not be for everyone, I enjoyed the experience, especially since it was very different from most other haunted houses I’ve gone through.
This was my first time experiencing a haunted house where the actors could do more than just touch me. To be honest, I was a bit nervous that the actors would accidentally hurt me or touch me inappropriately. After all, I’m a smaller woman getting dragged, carried and thrown around by mostly male actors much larger than me, mostly in darkened settings. But I’m happy to report that all the actors who interacted with me were very professional and made sure I wasn’t falling on my face or getting past my comfort level.
I’m not quite sure how the actors handle larger male Level Four participants — those guys may just miss out on the experience of getting picked up and carried around.
There are five levels of fear at Castle of Chaos, designated by various glow-in-the-dark accessories you get with your ticket. If you decide to chicken out midway through during a Level 3 or Level 4 experience, you can simply take your necklace or bracelet off, and the actors will start treating you like a hands-off Level 2 participant. Here’s the level breakdown:
Level 1, “Monster Be Gone”: Monsters keep at a distance.
Level 2, “General Admission”: Similar to most haunted houses, where monsters scare you but can’t touch you.
Level 3, “Hands On Horror”: Actors can touch you but not move you.
Level 4, “X-Scream Hands On Horror”: Actors can pick you up, move you, restrain you, separate you from your group, threaten you, etc.
Level 5 is actually a whole separate attraction that only happens on scheduled nights. It’s considered an extreme haunt and involves staying inside the attraction overnight while being “tormented” by actors. The Castle of Chaos doesn’t release much more detail than that, but this spoilers-free review at https://www.haunting.net/castle-of-chaos-level-5-review/ written earlier this year can give you a better idea, if you’re insane enough to be interested in putting yourself through that.
The waiver includes phrases such as “water and head coverings that may make breathing difficult,” “scratches, bruises, electrical shocks,” “loss of consciousness” and “insects, food ingestions.” Personally, those are definitely deal breakers; I’m content to decide that Level 4 pushed me to my limits and Level 5 just isn’t for me.
Out of all the local haunted houses in the area, I wouldn’t say Castle of Chaos is necessarily the highest quality, but the different level options makes it one of my top recommendations. You and the differing people in your group can decide the level of intensity you want to experience, and everyone leaves happy (and maybe just a little shaken up).