Starting in 2009 we will not be using numerical ratings, which ended up being counter-productive to our purposes. We'll focus more on individual achievements, and offer "recommendations" in our usual splashy style. The following original message is shown strictly for reference.

THE ZIOPTIS RATING SYSTEM is 1-5 stars. 3 stars is the minimum "passing grade."  With such a wide variety of different types of displays out there, the ratings are intended to indicate how well a particular effort accomplished what it set out to do as opposed to trying to say "this one is better than that one."

These ratings are general guidelines - performances CAN and DO vary from day to day and sometimes even hour to hour! 

Also, we feel that houses that didn't obtain the minimum 3 stars rating in previous years should NOT necessarily be eliminated from this year's plans. Many times we've seen a 2 star house jump up to 3 or 4 stars the following year. Unfortunately, sometimes it goes the other way too.

But as always, you may trust the Zioptis Foundation to be your insider fast track to the maximum "BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!" And with prices as high as $20 nowadays it IS a factor to consider. When 2 prices are shown, it indicates adult / children's admission.

RATINGS DISCLAIMER:

The ratings are subjective and reflect our opinion of how well each haunt accomplished what they set out to do. They DO NOT compare haunts against each other. There's such a wide variety of haunts there's no way you can compare them to each other. Any rating of 3 stars or more means we suggest you go!

Also, performances can and DO vary from day to day and even from hour to hour. We call haunts in advance to make sure the show will be the best possible when we arrive. Many times we've delayed going at their request because of prop and / or actor difficulties. Remember that if you see a lame show at a haunt we gave a high rating to. The logistics of putting a great haunt together are overwhelming and not many are capable of pulling it off each time, every time!

But one thing is sure - they ALL are trying their absolute best to put on a show that will be remembered long after the Halloween candy is gone. ALL haunt operators feel as though they have a 5 STAR HAUNT, and that's as is should be. You CAN'T put on a great haunt without believing you can! So, PLEASE don't take these ratings so seriously, folks...they're not necessarily the gospel truth, just as close to it as is humanly possible!

A haunt operator recently asked us what it takes to get a 5 STAR rating. That's a loaded question, but it's a valid concern so we'll try as best we can to explain the answer. The final rating is a result of tangible AND intangible factors.

The tangible factors are listed below. But aside from that there's a special feeling of exhilaration, amazement or wonderment that must grab us before we give a 5 STAR rating. Our interpretation of that may differ from others, and that's why we state up front these ratings are our subjective opinions of the shows we see.

But we've been to MANY shows and the Zioptis Populace has been trusting us since the mid '90s to deliver fair and accurate info second to none. We feel that's why the website and phone service have FAR EXCEEDED our expectations!

Some of the factors we consider are:

* ORIGINALITY, CREATIVITY (usually the most important)

* QUALITY OF SETS and PROPS

* QUALITY OF ACTORS (includes mannerisms, enthusiasm,      intelligibility or deliberate lack of)

* QUALITY OF SOUND & LIGHTING

* QUALITY OF COSTUMES, MAKEUP and MASKS

* BANG FOR THE BUCK

* ATTENTION TO DETAIL

* THE 5 S's - SCARE FACTOR, SPOOKINESS, SHOCK VALUE, SILLINESS and SAFETY

* LEVEL OF INTERACTION

* CONTINUITY, FLOW RATE

* OVERALL APPEARANCE / FEEL