The king is dead.
I would wager that there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t seen something they love fall into decline. Whether temporarily, permanently or even fatally, it’s one of those times that leaves us with a well of sadness in our stomach and our mind’s eye cast back to better times.
And that’s how I find myself feeling about Parker House.
When I first visited Parker House last year (its third season), it awed me. The flow from beautiful interiors to ghostly exteriors and back and back again was expertly handled. I told everyone who would listen that it was the closest you could get to actually being in a horror movie without being put into mortal danger. It’s final set piece even made me override my usual detached analysis mode and run.
This year, a lot has changed. They’ve moved from their spot in Lewisville after purchasing a 14 acre lot in Denton. But as with most changes from renting to owning there have been some issues. Apparently, they were shut down by the fire marshal for three months for unspecified violations. In the end, it left them only two months to prepare for the season. If you thought that professional football looked a little bad with a lockout shortened training camp, the effect on a haunted attraction is even more pronounced. The overall feel now is of something unfinished.
The attraction started with a hayride which was – when I rode – presided over by two young girls in zombie makeup. They were making remarks about how we weren’t going to make it out alive. Perhaps it’s just my personal tastes, but I found it more cute than disconcerting. Once into the ride, we went past a few locations – obvious as they were set in an open field where people would come out to try to scare us. In most cases, it felt cute and harmless. In other cases, just harmless.
We came up to the house which, last year, seemed more imposing shrouded in darkness and shooting jets of flame into the air now seemed small and lonely on the larger parcel. The entrance was much the same but I couldn’t hear the opening introduction from the actor because the music was too loud. Once into the first room – again, much like I remember – except that this year, they’d hidden the way out and we as a group fumbled around for quite a while before finding the exit. The rest of the house almost felt like traveling between walls with glimpses into various rooms. However, instead of the rooms feeling well dressed, the only seemed cluttered.
Finally, the path lead outside. The long walk seemed like it would have a nice payoff at the end as I expected it to lead into the second indoor portion. Instead, it deposited us unceremoniously behind the other attractions. It was a disappointment to say the least.
This year, a perfect storm has hit the Parker House, making it a sad shade of its former self. Next year looks to bring it back bigger and better but this year is a rebuilding year. As a reviewer, I can’t recommend it. As a fan, I’m looking forward to what the future holds for it.
The king is dead.
Long live the king.