Location: 574 Hartford Turnpike, Shrewsbury, MA 01545 (Directions)
Dates/Times: October 17-18, 24-25 from 12:00 – 4:00 pm (Dates/Times and prices subject to change as years go by)
Admission: Free (but the Halloween Candy Camp costs $9.95)
Phone: (508) 842-5583
I still remember my first encounter with Hebert Candies’ haunted house. I had been visiting their historic mansion as part of a tasting event when I noticed something special. It was an animatronic troll, whose movements stretched out some carefully placed fake spider webbing. But what really grabbed my attention was the sign in front of it, which promised this was only a preview of the things to come in the Haunted Candy Mansion. The sign also promised free candy to all the kids who went through it. I knew then and there I was going to come back for it.
When I came back weeks later, the mansion was all decked out. Visitors were brought into a hallway lavishly decorated to look like a haunted forest. Employees dressed as a black cat and scarecrow stood and handed out candy, all while wishing guests a happy Halloween. Most of the haunt used this format and it definitely kept the younger children from being scared. The only room to not utilize this (that wasn’t a static display) was the candy factory. After a short period of looking at the body parts mixed in with candy, a crazed chef suddenly charged into the room. His wonderfully hammy performance was probably intended to calm down younger children and I often wonder if this was a spur of the moment decision brought on by the actor noticing the large number of older kids going through the haunted house. Not matter what the reason for it was, it was a nice surprise. The majority of the props and decor used were very high quality, with the exception of a few plastic blow mold skeletons and some of the equipment in the mad scientist’s lab. But to be fair, the skeletons were often in comical situations and appeared to be a running gag throughout the haunt. The room designs showed a lot of creativity and made great use of lighting effects. Even though the lines were long, it was nice how the visitors were never rushed through the attraction.
As this was the first professional haunted house I had ever been to that wasn’t part of a fair, Hebert’s Haunted Candy Mansion holds a special place in my heart. It also holds a special place in my stomach thanks to the delicious candy and hot fudge sundae I had after completing the haunt. Bringing a pillow case was a great idea, as their size and strength was necessary thanks to all of the candy I snagged. Speaking with others who attended later versions of the haunted house has revealed it changed rooms and themes every year. It also started letting guests choose how scary of an experience they want. But one year Hebert Candies stopped running the event. As the company is under new ownership, I have been unable to determine when the event stopped (or when it first started). But I do know that it made its glorious return in 2014. Given how most haunted attractions never survive a period of inactivity, this is huge news! It also turns out there are far more activities for visitors than the single photo op when I went. Now there’s crafts, face painting, contests and so much more!
Picking a rating for a haunted attraction aimed at the younger set is hard, especially when all I have to go on are memories from when I visited in 1996. It’s rather fitting how the very haunted attraction which led to my trying to visit a new haunt every year (which in turn led to my annual haunt reviews) is the last one I’ll be reviewing based solely on memory. I don’t know if you still trick or treat in it or how scary it is. Perhaps you can tell me when you go. You can also tell me if they still have the troll advertising the event or if he’s actually in the haunted house this time. In any case, I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun with your family if you go.
Final verdict: 3 skulls out of 5
Special thanks to Hebert Candies for use of the image!