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It’s baaaaack — USS Nightmare, the legend and the tradition, is open for haunting season (Do you dare?)

It’s back and hard to miss the smashed wreckage of the historic steamboat dredge along the Newport waterfront. The USS Nightmare, greater Cincinnati’s annual Halloween favorite, has once again reappeared in preparation for the 2019 haunting season.

The legend

As legend tells it, the story of the USS Nightmare begins many years ago when the former dredging vessel, the William S. Mitchell, mysteriously broke free of its moorings wreaking havoc as it hit bridge after bridge for miles down the river. Although no one was known to be aboard at the time, the boat’s eventual demise would reveal a much different story.

Suffering tremendous damage during what would become known as the Mitchell Massacre, the massive steamboat dredge was destined for destruction. But as the debris was sifted, the boat revealed a history plagued by inexplicable deaths, monstrous destruction and mysterious incidents dating as far back as its 1934 construction. These unexplained “accidents” combined with the hard, grueling work of the dredge took their toll on the boat’s crew leading those lucky enough to survive service aboard to refer to the cursed steamboat as the Death Dredge.

Records found onboard expose the life of the demented, maniacal Captain Mitchell, his bizarre family and his evil crewmembers. But, they also expose deeper, darker secrets which only raise more questions.

Was the river dredging just part of the historic steamboat’s cover story for something much more dangerous? Was the boat really part of top secret governmental radiation testing? After all, the Captain did allow transportation of barrels and crates that were deemed off limits to the crew. Was he really working with the government on classified projects?
Was there an unknown demonic presence within the boat itself that tormented its inhabitants? Were the captain and crew unknowingly being impacted by this force and turning on each other and the innocent people they encountered?

Or, did Captain Mitchell, always looking for ways to earn extra money, unintentionally allow some questionable people on board who were just pure evil? Perhaps one of the various transients that the Captain welcomed aboard (for a small fee) was really the cause of these strange occurrences.

Regardless of whether the USS Nightmare is haunted by an inherent evil or is cursed by outside factors, one thing is for certain. There is an intense, malevolent force within the walls of the massive steamboat dredge, and NO ONE is safe from its effects.

The season

The 2019 season delves further into the relationships onboard the historic dredge as it raises questions about who is responsible for the massacre on board and exposes some of the Captain’s and crew’s harrowing secrets. While venturing through the 277.5’ vessel, visitors will experience a dark, intense 30-minute tour covering the boat’s two decks and showing glimpses of the rough river life. Imagine the sights, the sounds and the smells on a boat that housed 66 inhabitants for weeks on end.

Journey into the inner sanctum of the massive steamboat and see how Captain Mitchell tyrannically ruled his crew in a desperate attempt to protect his darling daughter, Anna. But there’s more to the Captain that just an overly protective father and visitors will experience that firsthand on the journey.

A visit to Anna’s clown room reveals the dark playthings of a demented girl who would rather make custom dolls from your skin than play with the clowns daddy brought onboard to entertain her. See how the crewmembers lived on board as the meandering path encompasses private areas such as the Crew’s Quarters and the Mitchell’s family’s suite as well as the inner workings of the massive steamboat required for the daily care of the crew and the difficult work of riverbed dredging.

Along the way, the hostile, evil spirits that lurk within the vessel are encountered as terrifying crewmembers await visitors throughout the steamboat. The tour exposes areas such as the Night Watchmen’s Quarters, the captain’s vast cargo hold, the seemingly endless clown trap, the infirmary, the swampy boiler and more. Filled with some of the fright seeker’s favorite crewmembers such as the museum staff, the galley cook and the lady in red, these areas come alive to tell the tale of the Death Dredge.

The horrific secrets of the USS Nightmare and its crew are revealed in the area’s most detailed haunted attraction complemented with movie quality makeup, special effects, lighting, and sound. This realistic detail and the tremendous atmosphere of the original workings of the boat combined with extremely talented actors and make-up artists have garnered the USS Nightmare annual recognition both locally and nationally. As one of Greater Cincinnati’s longest and highest rated attractions annually, the USS Nightmare is the area’s favorite Halloween tradition.

Schedule and tickets

The show is open Fridays and Saturdays with ticket sales from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. From September 25 through November 2, the show expands to a Wednesday through Sunday schedule with Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday ticket office hours from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

•  General Admission tickets – $20* 

•  Fast Pass tickets – $30* 

•  Front of the Line tickets – $50* 

•  *add $5 for Saturdays in October 
The RIP Experience is a hands-on, immersive show that features more interaction with the crew and digs deeper into the dredge’s deep, dark past. Guests can expect intentional contact, possible separation and an extended tour with access into hidden areas of the steamboat.

• RIP Immersive Experience General Admission tickets – $30*

• RIP Immersive Experience Fast Pass Admission tickets – $40* 

•  RIP Immersive Experience Front of the Line Admission tickets – $60* 

•  *add $5 for Saturdays in October 
For those who just can’t get enough, the USS Nightmare also offers a Captain’s Season Pass valid for unlimited General Admission for all regular shows for just $75. 
Special seasonal events for the 2019 season include the Captain’s Extreme show and the Lights-on Matinee.

For those seeking something darker, more immersive and even more intense, the Captain’s Extreme show is a perfect fit. The Captain unleashes his ghastly crew for the in-your-face unrated Captain’s Extreme Show. This is an adult-rated show featuring adult language and content, more horror, group separation and more special content. This year’s date is Saturday, November 2 from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

•  Captain’s Extreme General Admission tickets – $25 

•  Captain’s Extreme Fast Pass Admission tickets – $35 

•  Captain’s Extreme Front of the Line Admission tickets – $55 

The kid-friendly, Lights-on Matinee is Sunday, October 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. for just $8. This is a perfect family Halloween event that even the youngest children can enjoy. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to see lots of the detail of the show and the massive equipment of the historic dredge. 
Tickets are available for purchase at the USS Nightmare ticket window or with advance purchase online.

The USS Nightmare is docked on the Newport waterfront near the intersection of Riverboat Row and Columbia Street in front of Newport on the Levee. Free parking is available in front of the boat with additional pay parking available nearby.

USS Nightmare

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