October 21, 2023 – Video interview with Marilyn Harris of Haunted Woods, and some victims from Indianola.
If you have never taken the short drive to Madrid (only 22 miles from Merle Hay Mall) to see Tormented Souls, it really is a unique experience unlike other haunted houses. You park in a city park and abandon your car. A repurposed school busses (the “terror bus”) shows up regularly then drives you out in to the middle of nowhere. The haunt is on a plot of land surrounded by trees and you see nothing of the outside world once you are there. They have a trailer ride where you shoot paintballs at targets and zombies, as well as their long haunted walk (they call it a maze, but it’s not really a maze – one path all the way through it, through rooms, outside, more rooms, etc,). It has a vortex tunnel, laser swamp, one of the largest animated props around (it fills a room) and most areas feature custom sound effects tracks made specifically all for them to match the area. They have very ambitious plans to keep growing and expanding the haunt, and it’s a fun night.
And this TikTok video of theirs had over 62,000 views – check it out (no account needed to watch the video):
Plus, it’s outside of DSM so you might be able to catch the Orionid meteor shower away from the city lights. We wanted to see it and we’re trying to figure out where. Madrid may work well.
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!
We visited the Haunted Woods in Carlisle tonight, and were pleasantly surprised at their scaring techniques. I call them “distraction scares.”
This 1/4 mile walk though the woods is a bit different. They try to fool you at every scene, and it pretty much made us jump at almost all of them. As soon as we thought we figured out what they were going to do next, we were wrong. They have some VERY fun hiding spots.
They try to limit groups to around four people, and allow ample spacing between groups. You feel like you are all alone in the woods except for the screams you hear from other groups in front of you. It is very nicely done, and I can’t wait to go back.
Find them in the index.
In case you missed it…
10/20/2023 Update: I will be re-uploading this video soon. The last time I made one of these videos, I was using my 2012 model MacBook. This one was done on a different machine, and I realize now I did not have the proper font installed for my titles. The overlay text I normally use also does not work for vertical videos (it shows up off the screen and cannot be moved). I need to figure out how to make that work. Or, just stop shooting vertical video 😉
Here is a video interview with Lew Jordan of Zombie Hollow in Winterset, Iowa. It was recorded on Saturday, October 14th, 2023. I’d like to send big thank you to Lew and his crew for their hospitality.
Side Note: I believe this is the first video interview I have done since 2017, so I am a bit rusty. It is also the first time I have recorded and edited vertical video. Apologies to those of you who like to view video the way it was meant to be seen… 😉
Follow my new-ish YouTube channel for other videos, which will eventually include all my old interview videos as I find them and get them uploaded.
I did not have the hours for Slaughterhouse listed on the site, but did put them in the calendar. I was using the ticket sale site and guessing at the hours, but they were wrong. The index and calendar should now be updated for the rest of the month:
Thursdays and Sundays, 7pm to 10pm.
Fridays and Saturdays, 7pm to Midnight.
There is another haunted car wash, this time in Grimes. It will also operate Oct 27-28, 2023 from 7pm to 10pm.
Fine out more: Tunnel of Terror
The new Rocket Carwash location in Altoona is having a Haunted Tunnel carwash on October 27-28 from 7pm to 10pm. The haunted car wash is free to members, or $15 to others.