By Allen Huffman
If your child is brave enough, or perhaps you are just a bad parent, here are some scary places you might take them to this Halloween season…
Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House
Location: 3805 6th Ave, Des Moines IA 50313
Nights of Operation: Sept. 28-29, Oct 5-6, 12-13, 19-21 and 25-31, 2018. (16 nights) Opens at 7pm.
Admission: $17. $4-off coupon on the website good for the first two weekends.
This haunted house is still going strong after 35 years — longer than any other in the region. It has been around so long, you often find a grandparent and their grandkids going through it together! Assuming, of course, grandma still enjoys crawling through the dark, claustrophobic hallways, and the grandkids aren’t afraid of the dark. Or clowns. Or gorillas. Or bees. Or…
Newer haunts tend to focus on blood, gore, yelling and extremely loud heavy metal music. At Linn’s, the fear is more of the dark and quiet kind that sneaks up behind you and scares you from under the bed. It is like the difference between a modern R-rated slasher film and a horror classic. (Linn’s is the horror classic, you see.) Both can make you jump out of your seat, but they do so in different ways.
And both can create nightmares. If things get too intense, ask any actor and they can escort you out of the haunt easily.
There’s nothing quite like it in the area.
Sleepy Hollow’s Haunted Scream Park
Location: 4051 Dean Ave, Des Moines IA 50317
Nights: Oct 5-6, 12-13, 18-21, 25-28 and 31, 2018.
Admission: $45 VIP Pass, $30 Park Pass or $25 Pick 3 Pass (11 and under are $43, $28 and $23). Buy online from their website and use code “DMHH2018” to receive $2 off a Park Pass.
Nestled between their season of summer fun such as go karts, and winter festivities like snow tubing, Sleepy Hollow puts on one heck of a Halloween bash.
They feature an entire village of haunted attractions, including at least five haunted houses. You can spend an entire evening just exploring, having a bit to eat or drink, and checking out the various other displays and special effects. If you want to see hundreds of hand carved pumpkins on display, this is place.
New this year is something very unique. They have one haunt, “Freakshow”, that will offer the option to remove the “no touching” rule. They are also adding an advanced zombie lasertag attraction called “ToxiCity”.
Their pricing model is flexible and lets you choose to Pick Three of their haunts, or upgrade all the way to a full Park Pass and do them all. New this year is a VIP Pass that gives priority access.
While they can be plenty scary, most of the haunts are quite short and have far fewer actors than others in the area. This could make them a good choice for starter haunts for the brave young ones. At least the nightmares will be over quicker… (The shortest haunts are Castle of Blood and Nightmare Estates. Traditionally Chaos has been seen as the most intense and terrifying. Use your judgement. The actors inside are all trying to make you pee your pants.)
You Have Been Warned
Of course, there are still more options… The Slaughterhouse returned last year with movie-quality sets, high end makeup, plenty of gore and even scents! This year, they are partnering with Slipknot, the famous heavy metal band that started out right here in Des Moines.
A short drive north is the Ames Haunted Forest which is celebrating twenty years this season. This is a long, outdoor haunt with plenty of space between scenes to recover. They are adding the Oakwood Asylum section this year.
Over near Mingo is the Trail of Terror, a fundraiser for Baxter Fun Days. It’s the lowest cost haunt around at only $10, but it’s a rather intense ¾ mile walk through the forest with about 30 actors doing their best to make you scream. Wear good walking shoes for this one.
And returning after a few years away is the Tormented Souls Haunt in Madrid. They feature an intricate outdoor haunt plus a trailer ride where you can shoot at zombies with paintball guns. It’s the only haunt we know of where you have to leave your car in a city park then board a mysterious “Terror Bus” that drives you deep into the woods where the actual haunt is.
If all of this still sounds a bit overwhelming, there are usually an assortment of home haunts, yard displays and other smaller attractions that pop up closer to Halloween.
Or maybe just go to a pumpkin patch. Those have far fewer clowns chasing you with chainsaws…
Do you have a favorite haunted house in Des Moines? Share in the Comments below!
Allen Huffman publishes a website that covers all the haunted attractions in the area. Find even more information on spooky spots in Des Moines at www.dmhauntedhouses.com.
For additional Halloween fun, be sure to visit our Halloween Fun Guide.