In addition to this article we have a more detailed review in this When It Was Cool audio podcast special where Karl & Tonya discuss the various scenes, scares, and more in great detail. You can get it and support When It Was Cool for just $1 - Arx Mortis Audio Review Special
All photos by Tonya of When It Was Cool.
On Saturday night the When It Was Cool family visited our first Halloween haunted house attraction of the season. Arx Mortis is located at the old Uncle Charlie's Flea Market in the wonderfully named Killen, Alabama north of Florence / Muscle Shoals and near the Tennessee state line. The former flea market has hosted a haunted attraction for a number of years originally marketed as Greystone Manor. The flea market has been physically converted into the haunted attraction complete with permanent renovation to the front of the old market structure.
Arx Mortis has really added a lot over the last few years and seems to get better each time. The gift shop is one of the best with some really cool masks, t-Shirts, caps, and many unique offerings like jewelry and dolls. Like many modern attractions, they are using a color coded ticket system which allows some freedom to move around without losing your place in line. There are also some actors roaming the area for photo opportunities and to work the crowd before you enter the attraction. They also have multiple side or add on attractions like laser tag, escape room, and a haunted trail type feature.
As you probably know from listening to our podcasts we love haunted attractions for the atmosphere, scenery, and effects. Jump scares aren't going to impress us and if all you have to offer are zombies and clowns then we probably aren't going to like your show. Arx Mortis had a wide variety of scenes and many of the actor's make up was quite good. Jump scares were used throughout the attraction but thankfully they did not over use them and the sets were some of the best we have seen and the variety was exceptional. Best of all… there was a huge variety of actors beyond the tired over-used clowns. There seemed to be just the right amount of everything.
The scenery was fantastic. Whoever is involved in building the sets has a great amount of talent. The outside of the building looks fantastic and using the existing flea market structure really gave them a wonderful base to build upon. They did a super job incorporating both outside and inside areas into Arx Mortis. Several of the scenes incorporated smells and aromas into them which worked really well. In the medical area there was a chemical smell, in the funeral area there was an old perfume smell, the swamp smelled like a swamp, and so forth. Excellent. A+
There were a few really stand-out sets. There are multiple themes used in the attraction including a mental hospital, a swamp area, clown-carnival area, a cemetery, and a funeral parlor and crematorium. A couple of the really outstanding Arx Mortis sets include an old abandoned library area which really had a creepy, eerie feeling and there were some actors in that area but they didn't rush you through with jump scare over-use which allowed you time to really absorb the environment. One of the best set uses I've ever seen at a haunted attraction was an outdoor swamp scene where you walked under a covered walkway with simulated rain falling. It was really well done and the environment was perfectly laid out.
There wasn’t an over reliance on animatronics. While there were a few, they looked great and were often indistinguishable from the actors.
Finally, there were some really good actors with fantastic make-up through-out the attraction. You could see they really put a lot of time, effort, and thought into their costuming. We had several favorites throughout the experience.
At no point did we ever feel rushed. We felt like we got our monies worth despite the long line on a Saturday night and the unusual October heat wave we are experiencing this year. We felt like every scene was just long enough and you had time to soak in the experience. Every year it seems that Arx Mortis gets better and better at timing out the experience and changing things up enough to make it really interesting.
After we left, we discussed Arx Mortis on our way home (this is one of the closest attractions we will go to this year at about an hours drive) and both agreed this was an A+ attraction and one of the best we attend. Every year they improve upon the one before. The staff were all friendly and organized. The scenery and set design was outstanding and the actors very good (I would give the set designs an A+ and the actors an A+ as well).
If you are in the north Alabama, northeast Mississippi, or West Tennessee area I would highly recommend Arx Mortis. It is well worth the $20 cost per ticket (and you can add the Ghost Hill attraction for just $5 more). Parking is plentiful and free.
Covington Clinic was just part of the attraction. We had initially feared it would be the main “theme” of Arx Mortis but once inside we realized they had a set for just about everyone. The variety was exceptional.
There were several props in the staging area for photo opportunities. There was plenty to do at Arx Mortis while you waited for your color coded ticket to be called.
We have a more detailed review in this When It Was Cool audio podcast special where Karl & Tonya discuss the various scenes, scares, and more in great detail. You can get it and support When It Was Cool for just $1 - Arx Mortis Audio Review Special