Using the slogan “Fright All Night”, which is suspiciously close to Sleepy Hollow’s “All Night Fright”, the new owners of Adventureland have announced the Phantom Fall Fest. It is planned to have daytime activities and nighttime events including four haunted houses. It will run weekends in October, and most season passes (Platinum, Gold and Silver) sound like they get you in free.
This event comes four years after Adventureland’s last Halloween event, which was held at the Adventureland Inn. That event was adults only, and included one haunted house. Even with the marketing power of Adventureland, and their highly successful adults-only Oktoberfest event, attendance at the 2018 event was small, and reviews were mostly negative. (I am on the other side. While their haunt was ridiculously short, we thought the rest of the event was great fun – with only a few minor exceptions.)
Details may be found on the official Adventureland website.
Their website states “Not your typical haunted house experience. Give us your soul and we’ll give you the fright of a lifetime!”
Unlike most haunts in the area, Tormented Souls Haunt and Scream Park is a multi-attraction event. In addition to the one (large) haunted walk (containing enclosed “indoor” scenes and large open outdoor scenes), they also have the very first zombie paintball experience that was offered in this area. Zee-Pocalypse is a tractor-pulled trailer with mounted paintball guns. A small group gets to ride the route with a guide while they shoot at stationary targets and live actors (dressed as zombies in protective body armor). Round off the experience with a food truck (on busier nights) and live entertainment (this year featuring a fire show, on certain nights).
But the most interesting part about this haunt is probably how you get there… You do not drive to the haunt location. Instead, you park in a parking lot and a school bus (the “Terror Bus“) arrives and welcomes you onboard. You are then driven away from town, past the cornfields, then eventually in to the woods before you arrive at the actual scream park location.
And for those curious, the location is called Zook Spur, and it is based on a historical mining town that once existed in the area.
If you have never visited Tormented Souls, it’s worth the short drive to Madrid, Iowa. And, if you want a little extra fun, consider their “Seventh Sin Combo Discount” package. Instead of $20 for the haunt and $29 for the zombie paintball ride, you can get them both and save $5… which you can use to buy extra paintball ammunition while on the ride 😉
And tell them you saw them on DM Haunted Houses, please.
Joining the Tunnel of Terror in Ankeny, second (unrelated) Voodoo Tunnel of Terror has been added to the directory. Welcome aboard to the Voodoo Tunnel of Terror car wash in Urbandale. For $20, you can get your car washed in Halloween style, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Food Bank of Iowa.
I just made a new category for “Car Wash” since this is apparently a thing now 🙂
One haunted attraction I heard from (elsewhere in Iowa, not in our area) told me that last year, 2020, they had their largest year ever. They were in a smaller community (less than 10,000 population) so perhaps the Covid impact there was far less than it was here in the big city of Des Moines.
I have not had a chance to follow up and get more details, but I can speculate:
Since many haunts were closed due to Covid concerns, customers had fewer choices and would be concentrated at the remaining open haunts.
If that is the case, even with fewer customers going to haunts, some locations might see increases as they absorb a greater percentage of a smaller number of customers (compared to normally getting a smaller percentage of a greater number of customers).
Locally, we’ve seen news reports from one haunt operator stating last year was down 50% from their biggest year. That is still much more than the haunts that were closed, which saw 0%, I suppose.
Of the attractions that operated last year, many did so at reduced capacity — not mixing groups, spacing out groups, etc. If capacity were reduced by 50%, then reducing guests by 50% would still be a pretty good turnout (i.e., 100% of what you could handle) on those busiest nights.
So far, reports are that opening weekend was still quite soft — but it normally is at most haunts. The big weekends are the one closest to Halloween and the one before it, usually.
Let’s see what weekend 2 is like, starting this Friday night at a haunt near you. Check the listing on this site to see what is operating. I have listed every haunt I have heard from, so far.
Normally I hear all kinds of reports from folks who ventured out, but this year has been mostly silent. After some prompting on the Facebook page, we did get some reports from folks who visited Linn’s (seemed like less actors than normal) and Tormented Souls (no lines). I’d look up some of the other comments, but Facebook is currently offline so I can’t get to that page. Thank goodness websites are still a thing 😉
In the meantime, the Ankeny Haunted Barn continues to be a no-go in spite of a petition (requested by the governor’s office for some reason?) and now a GoFundMe to help raise support for relocating the barn for next year.
The long-running Waukee Haunted House is also a no go for this season, with the decision to skip this year made back in August.
While Covid-19 concerns do seem less this year, it is clear that there is still a significant portion of the population that is being cautious. Some haunts have had struggles finding enough actors, but that should come as no surprise since most places seem to have “Now Hiring” signs on display.
Other forms of entertainment, such as movie theaters, are seeing crowds return, but still not to the level they were before the shutdowns last year. This can no longer be blamed on the lack of content to watch since multiple Marvel movies and other “blockbusters” have come out.
Let’s hope for enough safe support for the haunts this year that we won’t lose any of them.
Be sure to leave a review for any haunt you visit this season. This is a new feature of DMHauntedHouses, and one that has only been tried a few times so I’m not 100% it fully works.
Give it a shot.
Then check back for more updates as the season progresses…
Remember: You do not drive to this haunt. You will abandon your vehicle and they will pick you up in their Terror Bus and drive you to the haunt location deep in the woods, far away where no one can hear you scream. . .
From their website:
Pick up the Tormented Souls Terror Bus, (if you dare) at Edgewood Park in Madrid, IA; it’s the only way to reach what lies in wait – out in the middle of no where! So hitch a ride on this scream maker with your eyes wide open in the pitch dark.