The Dent Schoolhouse Review 2015

The Phantom of the Ville checks out one of the Top Haunted Attractions in the country, The Dent Schoolhouse, in Cincinnati, Ohio!

If you count separately ticketed attractions, Louisville’s regional haunted house scene includes nearly 30 different haunted attractions! Those are just the ones within our coverage area and doesn’t include amateur backyard haunts, theatrical productions, parades, parties and Halloween film screenings. We’ve delivered previews and reviews of as many of those local spook houses as possible this season.

Last week, the Louisville Halloween crew took one night off from covering the local Halloween scene and made the two hour pilgrimage to The Dent Schoolhouse at 5963 Harrison Ave in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Dent Schoolhouse is somewhat of a legend within the haunt community, and it is almost always included in every Top Ten or Top Twenty list of the Best Haunted Attractions in America.

This was my first day of school in the infamous Dent Schoolhouse and I certainly left with quite an education in the haunted house business. I had heard from many of our own city’s haunt owners over the last few years about what an amazing attraction that they themselves thought Dent was, and how they felt the level of detailing and quality of acting set the bar for many other haunts in the region.

It might be worth noting that the photos included with this review are all from the queue line staging area, which is built up to simulate a school fall festival, and not from inside the haunt itself. The queue line at the Dent School House is nearly as elaborate as some entire haunts! Here’s an interesting bit of trivia that might push the nostalgia buttons for some of you old enough to remember the early years of Kings Island amusement park: The photo depicting three trick-or-treaters spinning around on a ride called the Witches Brew, actually contains a legendary piece of Kings Island history! The cauldron they’re sitting inside is an actual ride vehicle from Winnie Witch’s Cauldrons (a spinning tea cup style ride) that operated from 1972 until 1991! This was confirmed by a staff member working the line.

It was a Thursday night when we drove up to Cincinnati and we arrived early enough in the evening to avoid the major lines, but this is an extremely popular attraction and the wait was approximately an hour. As soon as we entered the multi-level building, which is an actual abandoned schoolhouse, the level of detail built into the sets became readily apparent.

Dent sticks completely to its theme from the first scene where you pass a glass case full of historical school trophies to the final chase out. The back story involves a character named Charlie the Janitor, who apparently murdered a number of children years ago in the school’s basement where he has a secret lair and torture dungeon. Charlie, whose signature weapon is a giant pipe wrench, is “as close to Freddy Krueger as possible without actually being Freddy Kruger” correctly observed one of our Louisville Halloween crew.

You’ll pass dreary, endless, locker filled hallways and through abandoned classrooms as you make your way through the school. One classroom in particular delivered a couple of good actor based scares and then an unexpected effects based one. The chalkboard was filling up with creepy spirit writing. I recognized that effect as a projected image and I assumed that this would be the only effect used in that area when suddenly the entire blackboard dropped and a giant monster popped out behind it!

The lunchroom is serving up some of the most disgusting slop I’ve seen since High School, and the lunch lady, who isn’t particularly sanitary, has a bad cold and has never heard of a sneeze guard. Be prepared.

Next you’ll descend one of the steepest staircases I’ve ever seen in a haunted attraction to visit Charlie’s Boiler Room—er, Basement Work Station. The sets in the basement are amazing! It’s a Gothic house of horrors filled with curved archways and prison bars. There’s a scene full of animated life sized dolls that may look familiar to you if you’ve visited The Experiment at The 7th Street Haunt here in town.

After confronting Charlie in his lair, you’ll get a chance to escape through the school gymnasium. Of course this means you’ll have to pass through the gym’s locker room where you never know what’s hiding inside those combination locked doors and the showers, where I was certain we were about to get soaked.

Perhaps my favorite scene in the haunt takes place inside the gymnasium where the Junior Prom is being held. It’s an incredible set. There’s a giant ghost hovering above the stage like a specter of doom while dozens of couples are swaying back and forth on the dance floor. All of the dancers looked so real that at first I didn’t realize ANY of them weren’t live actors. The path through the room requires you work your way through the middle of the dance floor amid the cadre of dead teenagers. It’s a scene that recalls the horrors of both “Carrie” and “Carnival of Lost Souls.” It’s very creepy.

Your final escape will take place through the school bus compound where you’ll make your way between school buses that are still waiting to take students home who will never come. Don’t bet on Charlie letting you off easy, though!

The Dent School House is open Thursday, Oct. 29th from 7:30 PM until 10 PM and Friday and Saturday night for Halloween from 7:30 PM until midnight. As a bonus for those who like to extend their Halloween haunt season, it’s also open Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7 for a special Lights Out Tour and the following Saturday, November 13, from 7PM until midnight for one last night of terror.  General Admission is $20. A Fast Pass that will take you past the standard queue line and into the fall festival section is $30. A Front of Line ticket will take you straight into the haunt for $40.

The Phantom of The Ville

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