DISCLAIMER: These posts should not be taken as reviews. They should be taken as my interpretation of what the attraction is like. See “what is scary” for more details.
I first learned of the Trail of Terror many years ago when I was working in Masrhalltown. I had seen a small wooden sign along the highway, but couldn’t find any information about what it was. The following year, I somehow learned it was a fundraiser for Baxter Fun Days. I remember doing a video interview with them one evening after work while still in my work shirt and pants. Fun times.
Trail of Terror is held at the Ashton Wildwood Park in Mingo, Iowa. Upon my first visit, it instantly became one of my favorite haunts because of how many volunteers they had scattered along their half mile walk through the woods. It took about twenty minutes of continuous walking to get through it. The scenes were varied and fun, and most had multiple volunteers that would “tag team” to scare you. Someone would jump out on one side, and then someone popped up from the other, and so on.
Due to the rough terrain of the trail, they started making folks read and sign a waiver (read it; it is important).
They also loan each group a small flashlight to light the way. Use it. Keep an eye on the ground. There are some small steps, and some large ones. But also look around (and up) to see the various random decorations. One year there were trees full of baby dolls. For some reason.
It has been several years since I visited, and getting back there tonight was great fun. While the walk is the same long (LONG) walk I remember, that was about all that seemed familiar. There were multiple volunteers in each scenes, lots of body parts, baby dolls, and even a random butcher shop (in the woods?). There was a clown scene (loaded with far, far too many clowns), and a few loud surprises along the way. (One was very effective at getting your attention.) There were plenty of “low level” folks waiting along the path as well. (Again, keep an eye on the ground…)
And don’t fall for their dirty tricks. They love to try to get you attention while a few others leap out at you.
They let groups in five minutes apart, so lines can move quite slowly. BUT, this space makes for a better experience. During our 20 minute walk, we did not have anyone catch up with us, nor did we catch up with the group in front of us. (This probably will not be the case if you run; but DON’T run. The trail does not like running.) This also lets their volunteers mess with you for far too long 😉 You might find yourself with a few clowns (or other nasties) following you.
“Scary” is always subjective, but we heard plenty of screams while we were there. Some folks freak out when they realize they are being followed. Some folks find someone jumping out from dark bushes to be terrifying. And some folks just hate clowns. So many clowns.
This haunt has one of the cheapest prices of anything around here – $15. Since it is a fundraiser, the folks volunteering are doing so to help out, and not just for a paycheck. That gives it a fun vibe that commercial haunts don’t always have. The people here all seem to be enjoying themselves and having a blast. Even if a path with eight clowns doesn’t scare you, you can at least know your money went to help a community event.
If you’ve never been, and can handle the long walk, it’s worth the short drive to Mingo, Iowa.
Oh, and come hungry. They have El Meson Taco Shack they’re serving their “fluffy tacos” and other hot Mexican food. Tell Juan and Jesus the website guy says hi!