Processing Fees for buying online.

When you buy tickets online, you usually do so either to guarantee entry (for places that sell out), or to get a discount. Most online ticket sales have extra fees added. Here is a rundown of the area haunts and their fees, from most expensive to least:

  • Adventureland Park – $4 Processing Fee (per item, but no fee for $5 mAlice add-on)
  • Scare DSM – $2.50 Fee (per ticket)
  • Slaughterhouse – $2.48 Processing and Service Fee (per ticket)
  • Sleepy Hollow Sports Park – $1.50 Service Fee (per item)

Parking is also extra at Adventureland ($20, or $15 online) and Sleepy Hollow Sports Park ($5?). Some have had to pay after buying a ticket online, and others have said buying a ticket online includes parking. Always check with the haunt to make sure.

Also, Adventureland is cashless as of 2022, so you have to have a credit card to pay for parking. Other places may be cash only to buy tickets or pay for parking at the event.

In the future, I’ll be adding these items as categories to the listing.

Adventureland 18+ unless with parent

Yesterday, Adventureland made another modification to its Phantom Fall Fest chaperone policy. Previously, the policy required an adults (parent or guardian, age 21+) to be with anyone under 18 after 6 p.m. The new policy is that a guardian must be present “at ALL times” (uppercase emphasis theirs via a Facebook post).

Hopefully we will see further clarification on what “all” times mean. Can a 17 year old go through haunted houses by themselves, or does Mom have to be with them? That would be a real buzzkill for some families 😉

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park offers (or at least used to) a special chaperone pass at a discount, allowing a parent to be in the park keeping an eye on their kids, but not paying to go through the actual haunts. Perhaps we’ll see Adventureland implement something like that, at some point. But, if their “at ALL times” statement really means a guardian has to be with the kids even while going through a haunted house, I guess that wouldn’t work.

If you catch any other updates I’ve missed, please comment.

What you need to know about Phantom Fall Fest

Updates:

  • 9/29/2002 – Chaperone policy updated. No one under 18 allowed without a parent/guardian with them at all times. (Previously was just after 6 p.m.)

DMHH contributed an article about Adventureland’s Phantom Fall Fest over on Des Moines Parent:

https://desmoinesparent.com/phantom-fall-fest-adventureland/

It tries to combine as much information as possible in one place. Here are a few more things that didn’t make it in to the article.

  • No costumes allowed. Guests are not allowed to wear costumes, masks, etc. (other than approved Covid face coverings).
  • Under 18 must have an adult with them at ALL times. Adventureland is now displaying a large banner at the top of the website that reads: “Guests 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older at ALL times.” This means parents who bring their kids can’t just hang out at the Bier Garten while the kids go have fun. A guardian will have to be with the kids at all times. If you are bringing more than four kids, you must check in at a Chaperone Check In tent.
  • Only small bags allowed. While you can bring in large purses, bags and backpacks on a normal day at Adventureland, for this event they may not let large backs be brought in during this event.

DMHH advice

Although Palace Entertainment (the new owners of Adventureland) have been doing haunted events like this for years (the one at Kennywood in Pennsylvania is even called Phantom Fall Fest), it will be the first time for the staff working these events. While some may have worked other haunted houses before, none have worked these haunted houses before.

The first few nights may be rough as the workers get in to the groove of things. In general, while we want you to go out and support these attractions, be aware that the experience you have opening weekend may be substandard compared to later weekends as the works get more experienced.

Visiting opening weekend PROs:

  • Effects, props, etc. should be in great shape. Often, things break during the season and never get fixed, so by the final big weekend, you may miss out on stuff that’s just not working any more.
  • Haunts are generally poorly attended at the start of the season, so lines can be much shorter.
  • The deepest discounts are generally at the start of the season. Linn’s Supermarket, Ames Haunted Forest, Sleepy Hollow and others often have discounts that only apply to the first (or first two) weekends of operation. Going early is a good way to save money.

Visiting opening weekend CONs:

  • The staff may not know what they are doing yet, and their scares may not be perfected.
  • Some effects, props, etc. may not be operational yet. Guests who visit later might see more things than you got to see.
  • You get to be the beta tester. Some haunts will redo entire scenes between weekends if they realized one is just not working. (Example: Two years ago, Ankeny Haunted Barn started out with a room based on Scream, but it was changed to the creepy girls from The Shining for the rest of the run.)

As you can see, there are PROs and CONs to visiting early. You can choose which is important to you and decide based on that.

And, who knows, maybe this is the year that all the haunts have every 100% working, and staff 100% in the zone for opening night. (Though I’ve never, ever seen that happen… Not even at mega parks like Universal Studios.)

More updates to follow…

Rides announced for Adventureland Phantom Fall Fest

The list of rides operating during Phantom Fall Fest have been announced on the official website. As always, go to the official website before heading out to make sure things that are important to you haven’t changed:

RIDE AVAILABILITY

Saturday & Sunday until 6pm: A-Train, Carousel, Circus Balloons, Dragon’s Nest, Frog Hopper, Hamptons, Leap Frogs, Lady Bugs, Convoy Truckers, Lighthouse, Speedway Racers, Revolution, Red Barons, Tilt-A-Whirl, Tea Cups, Dragon Slayer, G-Force, Galleon, Rockin’ Rainbow, Sky Wheel, Parachutes, Phoenix, Underground, Tornado, Spaceshot, Monster, Frantic Freeway, Scrambler

Friday, Saturday & Sunday after 6pm: Dragon Slayer, G-Force, Galleon, Rockin’ Rainbow, Sky Wheel, Parachutes, Phoenix, Underground, Tornado, Spaceshot, Monster, Frantic Freeway, Scrambler

https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest

On Friday, the park is open from 6pm to 11pm. A lucky thirteen rides will be operating after 6pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Saturdays and Sundays, many more rides will be available from 1pm to 6pm.

Under 18? You cannot enter on Friday without a 21+ chaperone. You can go Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 6pm, and if you remain in the park, they “expect” a chaperone to show up and join you. Unofficially, they have said they won’t be asking anyone to leave if they are not causing problems. So, behave. It gives them a good excuse to kick rowdy teens out if they mess with the props or actors.

Buy tickets in advance to save money! If you plan to go, use their current $34.99 discount offer. That, plus 5 for Malice in Wonderland, and $15 for discounted parking, will get you in to the park for only $66.84 — saving you $40 off the front gate price.

Act soon. The earlier $29.99 offer expired Sunday 9/18 (even though it was still being advertised on YouTube ads as recently as Monday, 9/26).

Phantom Fall Fest re-entry restrictions

On a normal visit to Adventureland, guests are allowed to leave and return throughout the day (or at least, were allowed to the last time I visited).

The Phantom Fall Fest has some specific restrictions to this. From their FAQ:

Guests may leave the park and re-enter the park prior to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Re-entry is not permitted on Fridays.

https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest/faqs

Plan accordingly. If you leave on Friday, you can’t come back (unless you buy a new ticket, I suppose). If you want to pop out of the park to go grab a bite to eat on Saturday or Sunday, do so before 6 p.m.

Adventureland upcharge only $5?

An Adventureland insider involved with the Phantom Fall Fest posted that the mALICE IN WONDERLAND upcharge haunt will end up being $5 instead of the $9.99 that was announced earlier. Currently, the website has not been updated and only says:

The mAlice in Wonderland haunt requires an additional ticket for entry

https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest

We don’t yet know if this will just be just an online discount (with the price at the event still being $9.99), but if so, it would match the other deep discounts the park has been offering for buying tickets in advance.

She also mentioned that the fee includes re-admission to the haunt, rather than just one time through.

Be sure to look at the Phantom Fall Fest map that is on the official website. It shows how large of an event this will be, starting at the Main Street area and spreading all the way back to Dragon Island.

More news later…

Adventureland confirms $20 parking fee, chaperone policy

Per guest services at Adventureland, the standard $20 Adventureland parking fee will apply to their Phantom Fall Fest event. If you planned to show up and pay, you would be paying $99.98 to do all four haunted houses — $69.99 admission, $20 parking, and an extra $9.99 for their upcharge haunt.

DMHH advice: Buy your ticket online in advance. You can pick a specific day you plan to go, and get tickets for $39.99-$49.99 depending on the day. Currently the park is offering a $29.99 ticket price – by doing that, you can save $40 right there.

You can also pre-pay for parking, and receive $5 off, getting it for only $15.

If you plan to go hang out with friends, consider carpooling. Over in my Adventureland Iowa Discussions Facebook group, folks often mention that they park for free at the hotel and just walk over. Others say they park across the street at a nearby hotel or even a fast food restaurant. Keep in mind, if you try this, you might find your car has been towed. It might be better off to take an Uber or Lyft, especially if you live close enough that the rideshare to and from costs less than $20.

Chaperone Policy

The park has stated that a chaperone (21 or older) will be needed for all guests under 18 who are in the park after 6 p.m. I reached out to the park for some clarification and was told:

“We will not be evicting everyone and reentering them checking IDs. If the kids create no trouble they will be allowed to stay.”

Adventureland Guest Services, 9/15/2022

This is great news for kids who want to experience the event without mom or dad hanging around. While they may not be admitted after 6 p.m., it sounds like they can show up earlier in the day and just stay until closing.

Disclaimer

This is just what this one specific guest relations employee told me. It is not stated on the official website policy, and as such, could change. As the website states:

This policy is subject to change at Adventureland’s discretion.

https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest/faqs

Always check with the official sources. Never rely on fan websites, Facebook groups, etc. since we just echo what we’ve heard, and the moment we hear it that information could be out-of-date 🙂

I did ask them specifically if “must be accompanied by an adult chaperone” meant that the adult had to actually be accompanying the kids (as in, with them). The response was “you do not have to hold their hand.” So take that as you will. To me, it sounds likes well-behaved kids will be just fine roaming around on their own, but Adventureland said “if they create problems they will be removed from the park.”

Rides?

The event description does mention rides will be open, but I haven’t seen a list of which rides. On the Adventureland Facebook Page they did announce that The Outlaw would be closing for the season, so it probably won’t be open.

More news when we get it…

Phantom Fall Fest: Rated R?

On Adventureland’s Phantom Fall Fest F.A.Q., they note that after 6 p.m., anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult that is 21 or older. This is a bit more restrictive than the movie industries R rating, which requires those under 17 to be accompanied by an adult:

R – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

Movie Ratings
R Movie Rating logo

Adventureland is normally a family-friendly establishment full of children’s rides, but they have done a number of “adults only” events such as their yearly Oktoberfest and even some adults-only days at the water park.

Is this a hint that the style of haunts at Adventureland will be more on the adult/mature side after 6 p.m.? Will the haunts be tamer for kids during the day, then cranked up in the evening?

The event hours are:

  • Fridays – 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Saturdays – 1 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Sundays – 1 .p.m. to 8 p.m.

This means if you are a teenager that wants to go out just with your friends, you can only do it for five hours on Saturday or Sunday between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., then you will have to leave or call an adult to come join you.

Updates when we have them…

Linn’s confirmed; Adventureland 18+?

Linn’s Haunted House

One of the oldest haunts in Iowa, Linn’s Haunted House, has confirmed plans to operate this year. At the time of this news, their Facebook page and website still only had things from last year, but they say they will have it updated soon. Halloween just wouldn’t be the same without Linn’s!

They have stated their opening night will be Friday, September 30 at 7 p.m.

Adventureland Phantom Fall Fest

Adventureland’s new Halloween event will feature four haunted house (one is an additional $9.99 upcharge), three scare zones, and some of the park rides open just like a normal day in the park.

There is currently a $29.99 offer on their website — a great savings from the gate price of $69.99!

But, note that if you want to go to the scare zones and haunted houses in the evening when it gets dark, you cannot do so if you are under 18 unless you are accompanied by a chaperone.

Their chaperone policy requires any 17 or younger visitor to be with an adult, guardian, or supervising adult that is 21 or old. From their website FAQ:

Guests aged 17 years and under must be accompanied by an adult chaperone beginning at 6pm.

An adult chaperone is a parent, guardian, or other supervising adult at least 21 years of age or older. Adult chaperones must be able to provide valid ID, including a photograph and date of birth.

Each adult chaperone must be present at the time of entry and remain within the park for the duration of their party’s visit. Adult chaperones supervising more than four minors must register their group at the Rider Safety Center before entering the park.

Minors visiting prior to 6pm may enter without and adult chaperone. Adventureland expects that minors entering without a chaperone will be joined by one at 6pm. If guests aged 17 and under enter prior to 6pm., then leave and request to re-enter the park, at 6pm or later, they must be accompanied by an adult chaperone.

During Phantom Fall Fest, adult chaperones are required beginning at 6pm Saturdays and Sundays, plus the entire evening on Fridays.

This policy is subject to change at Adventureland’s discretion.

https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest/faqs

This is an improvement over their policy from their last Halloween event in 2018 — that one was 21 and older, period.

Share your thoughts in the comments here, or on my Facebook page.

2022 season!

Well, the last two years have been quite … different. Many haunts didn’t operate at all in 2020. But, with less competition, the audience was funneled to the ones that did operate. I have been told that Trail of Terror had it’s best year ever in 2021. (I tend to believe them, since they are a fundraiser and not a for-profit business; seems every year the haunts will say ”this is our best year yet!” 😉

While I did visit Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights (as well as seeing the new Halloween offering at SeaWorld Orlando), the only visits I made to local haunts was for technical support. (I can now say I’ve ”fixed a dragon” at two haunted houses.) I have similar tasks lined up this year to install new effects, and possibly produce a video documentary with a haunt operator near Clear Lake/Mason City area.

As far as this website goes, a few years ago, I invested in software with a yearly license fee of $300/year. It offered automatic features I had been doing manually on this site since 2010, so I really liked it. The downside is the listing went from a simple one-page ”easy to view” listing to dozens of pages, and a cumbersome directory that was hard to view on a phone.

I have currently let that license lapse, so only basic listing information will be available this year, and I’ll go back to manually doing the Map and Calendars. More work for me, but I think it makes this a more useful site.

Look for updates for 2022 to start, soon. And, if any haunts want to sponsor this site, get in touch with me. If I can generate $300 in donations, I’ll re-activate all the fancy features for this season.

COVID-19 Updates

Although COVID-19 is still alive and well, and there are still people very concerned about it around here, the majority of folks seem to be accepting that it is now just something we all have to live with. I have heard from many who will 100% still NOT go to haunted houses, but overall the mood is much more pro-haunt this year than it’s been the past two seasons.

Haunts

After failing to convince the City of Ankeny to grant them a permit last year, Ankeny Haunted Barn is now officially gone (for the second time, so maybe we’ll see it return for a third time some day). Their inventory has been sold, so if they ever re-start, they will be starting from scratch.

The new owners of Adventureland Resort owners (Parques Reunidos out of Madrid, Spain) are starting their multi-haunt Phantom Fall Fest. Admission at the gate will be $69, and there is a $9.99 fee on top of that to enter one haunted house. As always, this site will track any known discounts so you can save some money.

ScareDSM opened during Covid and lumber price increases. News reports last year covered the challenges of not being able to afford lumber. Let’s consider last year a test run, and see what they do for 2022.

Slaughterhouse continues to pull out all the stops, and is also staffing for the Adventureland event. This is a good sign, since many of the 10+ years of this site (including the years before Covid), the haunts I visited all struggled with getting enough reliable workers to fully operate their haunts. (I would count the number of empty rooms as I visited each haunt.)

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park was sold to Polk County, and we are in their final year or two of them operating special events there. While most expect/hope/plan for it to continue, it will be up to the government about what happens in future years. There’s even been talk of others renting the government park out for their own events in October.

Tormented Souls in Madrid is installing some new effects and scares for this year, but I won’t know the details until I visit them (hopefully soon).

Trail of Terror was the second haunt to contact me this season, making sure I know they are back. Their $15 long forest walk is still the best haunt value around. As a fundraiser, they are just stuffed with actors. Don’t go if you can’t keep up – it’s a huge walk.

Ames Haunted Forest hasn’t updated their social media in years, but they have announced dates for 2022.

Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House still has 2021 dates on their website, but I’ll share news when I have it.

…and I am sure there will be many more updates in coming weeks.

While price increases, inflation, gas price and other factors have put stress on many of our budgets, hopefully folks will still have a Halloween entertainment budget to get out and see some haunts this season. If we don’t support them, they will go away.

More to come…