Club Blood is back (but not at Sleepy Hollow)

Fan-favorite Club Blood is back again, at least in name. The previous Club Blood was an all-ages “silent disco” attraction at Sleepy Hollow Sports park. It was decorated with hand-painted floor-to-ceiling banners of classic horror movie icons in different poses. (The wonderful work of their staff artist and set decorator, Tina.)

This year, Des Moines gets Club Blood again, but it will be an bar at Adventureland’s Phantom Fall Feast. Those of you who know area haunt history may recall that a former general manager of Sleepy Hollow went to for work Adventureland, but it is unlikely this had anything to do with them using the name (he left just before the park was sold to Palace Entertainment a few years ago). The naming of Club Blood is likely just a coincidence (Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun also featured a Club Blood scene in its vampire haunted house, if I recall).

But who knows. Sleepy Hollow always used the phrase “All night fright” in its TV ads (I made many of those TV ads over the years), and last year Adventureland started using “Fright all night.” After Club Blood this year, maybe we’ll see the amusement park add Blazing Jack-o-Lanterns or something next year 😉

Best haunt for very young kids – Adventureland

Updates:

  • 2023-10-08 – additional quotes.

When Adventureland di their first Halloween event in 2018, they made it an adults-only 21+ event at the hotel. There was nudity (from a movie playing on the wall of the banquet area) and some profanity, but it was mostly just a fun party environment without “those pesky kids.” It was really a nice event, but that was the only year it happened.

In 2022, the new owners of Adventureland, Palace Entertainment/Parques Reunidos (Madrid, Spain), started up the Phanton Fall Fest event. Much like Sleepy Hollow, this event would have one admission price that allowed access to multiple haunted houses. One haunt was an upcharge and not included with the ticket price.

The haunts open in the evening, but the park is open during the day and all ages can show up and ride and eat all day.

If you are looking for good “starter” haunted houses for very young kids, this is the one to consider. Some of the comments from last year:

  • “My daughter went to fall fest, did all the haunts, and loved it. She was five last season.”
  • “Our girls were 7 and 6 last year for Fall Fest and they loved it.”
  • “Fall fest has a family atmosphere during the day and a scary creepy atmosphere after dark. Even when the scare actors come out in the evening, before dark they are wonderful with the little ones.”
  • “Last year my 3yo and 6yo did fall fest (all the haunted houses except the Alice in wonderland one). They loved every bit of it and can’t wait for this year.” (*Alice in Wonderland is the one that is the add-on cost, FYI.)
  • “took my almost 11 yr old son last year and it was his first haunted event snd he loved it. It was the perfect level of spooky for him. We love watching ghost hunting shows but he still gets scared to watch movies. So for him to enjoy this with me who loves the darker side of things I was absolutely elated! He super excited to go this year. We have season passes.”

So it looks like it’s a great place to take the little kids. But maybe not too little:

  • “Evening is not for toddlers. In my opinion. My son was 7 and he was a little scared when it got dark.”

These comments line up with others I heard last year, so unless they change directions, this is the haunt to consider if you have some preschool or elementary aged kids that want to get started visiting haunted houses.

Adventureland asks…

The new owners of Adventureland (Parques Reunidos/Palace Entertainment) have posted a survey to ask folks why they didn’t go to Phantom Fall Fest.

Questions included:

  1. Gender
  2. Age
  3. Job industry
  4. Zip code
  5. Salary range
  6. Which haunts did you experience this season:
    • Scare DSM Haunted House
    • Sleepy Hollow Scream Park
    • Slaughterhouse
    • Linn’s Haunted House
    • Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun
    • Fright Fest at Six Flags Great America
    • Tricks & Treats at Valleyfair
    • Phantom Fall Fest at Adventureland
    • Or none.
  7. Why wouldn’t you visit Adventureland? Choices included:
    • Covid-19
    • childish
    • personal problems
    • wasn’t aware
    • prefer to go to other amusement parks
    • not interested in amusement parks
    • head negative comments / not recommended
    • too thrilling
    • prefer other activities
    • too expensive
    • not interested in Halloween
    • too far away
    • other

Hopefully other haunts will do similar surveys to help them improve their offerings for future seasons.

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…