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No Ames Haunted Forest this year :(

Last night would have been the normal opening night for the Ames Haunted Forest. With no official announcement or dates posted to their website, we assumed they were not operating this year. This newspaper article finally confirms it:

https://whoradio.iheart.com/content/2020-10-02-haunted-forest-owner-says-city-of-ames-state-say-yes-to-tailgating/

See you in 2021, Ames Haunted Forest!

Opening night!

Tonight (Friday, October 2, 2020) is opening night for haunted houses around Des Moines. This year has been quiet and I haven’t heard from many of the haunts that usually contact me, which is probably just an indication of how many are not operating this year.

For those ready to not scream (screaming is bad on spreading SARS-CoV-2, the CDC says), tonight you can visit:

Both open at 7 p.m.

Be sure to post your rating to this site when you are done not screaming!

Iowa Department of Health haunted house guidance.

Source: https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/resources/IDPH%202020%20Halloween%20Guidance.pdf

Moderate Risk: Haunted Walks

  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart
    • If screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.

Note that having an outdoor movie night with social distancing, and going to a pumpkin patch, are also considered moderate risk.

High risk: Haunted Houses

  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.

Note that traditional “trick-or-treating” where kids go door to door for candy is also considered high risk.

Waukee posts Beggar’s Night guidelines.

The City of Waukee recently announced it was cancelling this year’s haunted house, but noted that Beggar’s Night was still a go. Today they updated their website with CDC guidance about how this year’s trick-or-treating will go. Check it out here:

https://www.waukee.org/885/Beggars-Night

The Iowa Department of Public Health has a tip sheet with recomendations:

https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/61/covid19/resources/IDPH%202020%20Halloween%20Guidance.pdf

“Stay safe!” (What an odd thing to say when a clown with a chainsaw is going to be chasing you…)

DMHH calendar updated

Each year, I maintain a Google Calendar that has daily entries for each haunted house. You can subscribe to this on your phone and always know what haunt is operating that night, as well as the hours.

It has been updated again, and now includes the dates and times for the haunts I have heard from so far: The Slaughterhouse, Ankeny Haunted Barn and Tormented Souls.

Ankeny Haunted Barn update.

2010 was a good year for haunted houses in Des Moines. That was the year “Big Al’s Slaughterhouse” opened (today known as The Slaughterhouse) as well as “Bondurant’s Haunted Barn” (today known as the Ankeny Haunted Barn). Both of these haunts ran for a few years then took a break, and both have since returned.

I guess you can’t keep a good haunt down.

Opening year isn’t the only connection these two haunts have. After the Slaughterhouse took its first operational break, its assets (props, wall panels, etc.) were purchased by then incorporated in to the Ankeny Haunted Barn. Some haunt fans may have noticed the “bone corridor” the Barn had and found it somewhat familiar… Yep, it was from the Slaughterhouse!

The Ankeny Haunted Barn had intended to return last year, but circumstances delayed their re-emergence until the 2020 season. Since all the original Barn props were sold off, this meant they had to start from scratch and create an all-new experience. While they were always known for rearranging their layout each season, this year the construction style is completely new. It will still have aspects that are familiar to Ankeny Haunted Barn fans, but the path through the haunt should be quite foreign.

This year there are more indoor show scenes than ever before. In a pre-opening visit, we counted at least 15 unique “rooms” (and probably more if you count how multiple sections of a long hallway will be separated and decorated differently). Usually the building has one side left for backstage access, but this year they are using the entire facility — with the exception of their security office (yeah, the place is loaded with security cameras this year).

Then, being the Ankeny Haunted Barn, the haunt will exit the building and then turn in to a haunted walk that goes around and behind the building with, I expect, a final scene where some chainsaw maniac will chase guests back out to where the line is. (I have no information on this; I’m just assuming since that’s always been a trick the Barn loved to do.)

And speaking of things the Barn is known for … shall we expect to encounter live rats and live snakes? They aren’t saying… but there was a suspicious cramped area with some plexiglass in place almost as if it was going to keep snakes or something from getting too close to the guests…

Another new thing is wide paths that have been designed to allow a wheelchair to experience the action. Some key elements have also been made on a lower level for those viewing things from a sitting position. Spread the word!

Des Moines Haunted Houses has been installing a new multi-channel sound system for them this year, as well as programmable lights. This will allow the Barn to make changes from night-to-night, if they desire, both in music and soundtrack as well as in room lighting. I hope this will enable them to change things up a bit between opening weekends and the final week of Halloween. This might be a good year to visit early, and then return near the end of the season to check out that version.

And DMHH has given the Barn many awards over the years for their unique rooms and surprises. This year they have one truly unique set piece you won’t find anywhere else. It’s so large and heavy, I expect they had to forklift it in and then build the walls around it.

It should be a fun time!

This year they will be open 19 nights. There is a $5 OFF coupon you can print out (yes, you must print a copy for each person that wants to use it) and a VIP pass is available for those who want to skip the line.

Welcome back, Ankeny Haunted Barn, and thank you for supporting Des Moines Haunted Houses!

P.S. This is planned to be the final year the Ankeny Haunted Barn will be in its current location. If you’ve enjoyed it in the past, make sure you check it out this year as any future version will be at a new spot.

For more details, check out their listing here.

Living History Farms Family Halloween added.

I just added an entry for the Living History Farms Family Halloween event. According to their website, this will be the 33rd year of this trick-or-treat adventure.

For those who haven’t been, it’s basically trick-or-treating through the historic village, and you get to take a wagon ride. In years I visited, there was also a storyteller and popcorn. It’s neat seeing the town at night.