Ames Haunted Forest Renaissance Faire?

11/20/2023 Update: Their website has been updated to have more info on the first page.

Coming to the haunted forest in 2024 will be a different type of walk thru the woods.. the new Ames Renaissance Faire. As of today, November 19, 2023, not much is on their official website – in fact, the main page doesn’t even give the date (never a good sign of being organized), but some clicking around reveals the weekend of April 13-14, 2024 will be the date.

There will probably not be any chainsaws…

Peak haunt has been achieved

Today is the day. The Friday before Halloween begins the weekend with the most haunted attractions operating. Lines at the popular haunts are expected to be the highest all month. With places like Sleepy Hollow Sports Park selling out many nights earlier in the month, it should be no shock if they sell out during this weekend too.

Slaughterhouse, established in 2010, is the haunt that put Des Moines on the national haunted house scene.


  1. If this is your weekend to go, spend the extra money and buy tickets online — especially if the haunt offers a timed ticketing system. For more traditional haunts, such as Linn’s Haunted House and the relatively new Haunted Woods in Carlisle, buying tickets at the entrance may be your only option, so show up right at opening to avoid expected long lines.
  2. Some haunts offer VIP passes that let you skip straight to the front of the line. If you only have one evening, consider spending the extra money to do this. It will cost more, but will enable you to do more than just stand in long lines all evening.
  3. Between a chance of rain and freezing temperatures, some outdoor haunts may reduce hours or not operate. Check their official website or Facebook page before heading out to make sure they are up and running.
  4. Remember that even some indoor haunts have outdoor lines (such as Linn’s). If you would rather not deal with the temperatures, consider visiting Merle Hay Mall to check out Future Nightmares (20 minute shows start the top of the hour) or try out a Virtual Reality Horror Escape Room at White Rabbit VR Arcade.
  5. And most of all … try to take a moment to appreciate the artistry and effort that goes in to these attractions. It is a high-risk business where they only get a few weekends to make it profitable. Bring your friends 🙂
Outdoor haunts like Haunted Woods in Carlisle may be impacted by weather. Check before heading out.

I expect to continue sharing news and haunt updates through Halloween. After that, I hope to bring news of other haunt happenings throughout the year, such as events at Slaughterhouse, Future Nightmares and any speciality events like this year’s “Haunted Tavern” that came through Des Moines.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And have fun!

Halloween silent disco

For those that remember Club Blood‘s silent disco at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park…

Club Blood at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park.

…there is a new silent disco in town just in time for Halloween weekend.

Iowa Silent Disco will be taking place this Saturday, October 28th, in Merle Hay Mall from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. They will be using the big space of White Rabbit VR Arcade to host this $10 event.

Their Facebook page is promoting “2 for 1 admission” if you show up before 10 p.m.

This is an all ages event, but there is a plan to have a full bar with alcohol for those 21 and older. The drinks will be served by FLIX Brewhouse.

Define “scary”. I’ll wait.

2023 marks the 14th year I have had the website. In the years I spent interviewing folks at different area haunted houses, there was one important thing I learned:

“The other haunted house sucks!”

Basically everyone at a different haunted house.

Folks do not tend to go to haunted houses they dislike, and since most folks do not go to multiple haunts, you tend to run in to folks who dislike the haunts they are not choosing to go to. If you are at Haunted House A, you will find plenty of people there who think Haunted House B sucks. If you are at Haunted House B, you find plenty of people who think Haunted House A sucks.

Like music, sports, politics and even what color shoes someone wears, personal opinions vary. Choice is good.

But that other haunt is actually scary…

When it comes to “scary,” one size does not fit all.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you visit the haunts this year:

  1. If you keep a snake or a spider as a pet, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about a room with spiders or snakes in it.
  2. If you love the circus and enjoy the funny antics of circus clowns, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about a circus room full of clowns.
  3. If you are not afraid of the dark, you probably don’t find anything remotely scary about being in a dark room.

Some folks freak out just from the music and the decorations. Others admire them.

Some folks are terrified of enclosed spaces and freak out in crawlways. Others aren’t phased by that in the least.

Phobias are real

The easiest way to scare someone is to exploit a phobia they already have, but if you make a room that is covered with the number “13” on all the walls, how many folks going through would have triskaidekaphobia and be terrified by that?

Instead, haunts focus on more popular phobias — fear of the dark, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of spiders, etc. These may be the only truly “scary” things you find in a haunt. If you have those phobias, of course.

But the main thing haunts tend to use is jump scares. We should define those as “jump startles” rather than “scares.” For example, if I jump out in a business suit and yell “Hi!” you might jump, but I doubt a businessperson in a suit saying “hi” would be considered “scary” to most of us.

So when the scene doesn’t actually scare you, that doesn’t mean that haunt sucks. It just means it does not contain the things that scare you. Every haunted house has folks who think it is lame. Every haunted house has folks who pee their pants when they go through it. Even the most “sucky” haunt you can think of 😉

Words matter

Scary is subjective. In your reviews and posts about the haunts, saying “they had nothing in it that scared me” is much better than “they sucked.” One person’s pet is another person’s nightmare.

And most haunt folks are artists, creating these things out of a passion. While there are some that are corporate and just want to make money, many of the folks they employee do have an artistic passion for their work. Even if that work is wearing makeup and banging on a wall while they scream at you.

And if it doesn’t scare you, perhaps you can at least admire the work and artistry that went in to the experience.

Have fun!

Buyer Beware: Haunted Tavern


  • 6/8/2023 – More details from Tea Room.
  • 6/12/2023 – Tea Room has officially been reserved.

UPDATE: This event, which was selling tickets to a venue they didn’t have reserved, has now reserved it. Fortunately, no one snagged their date before they did 😉 Things are looking more legit now.

The Haunted Tavern cocktail/storytelling experience that is selling tickets for two nights in July does not even have the venue reserved for those nights.

No, someone inquired about holding a story telling event here, but they have not paid a deposit or signed a contract yet.

Tea Room response

Buyer beware. Even if they are just disorganized, selling tickets for a date and venue that is not even reserved is problematic.

UPDATES: The Tea Room has heard from the organizer, and they want to proceed with the event. No contracts have been signed yet, but we will update you when this happens.

Please note the Eventbrite listing is “no refunds” — you have to contact the organizer for any refunds. If you buy in advance, also keep in mind Eventbrite keeps their service fee, which is almost $6 per ticket. We assume you’d get the $3.49 in tax back.

Haunted Tavern – four drinks and ghost stories for $53 coming in July

6/6/2023 UPDATE: Sadly, this may be another “America is Haunted” thing. We contacted the Tea Room to see if such an event was coming there, and they have no agreement.

“No, someone inquired about holding a story telling event here, but they have not paid a deposit or signed a contract yet.”

Tea Room response

BUYER BEWARE. They could just be disorganized, but selling tickets for a date and location without actually having that location reserved on that date seems … problematic. Original posting below:

A friend sent me this link:

While initially I thought it might be another “America is Haunted” thing like we had show up here in 2014, I have been able to find a few YouTube videos from this event in other locations. “Seems legit.” I have written the organizer and the host (Tea Room wedding venue downtown) to get confirmation and based on what I hear back, I’ll add them to the index and share more details.

You get four small cocktails, with ghost stories told on stage in between. It’s an interesting concept, and with places charging $10+ for a tiny cocktail anyway, it seems like a reasonable price (even if the drinks looked tiny in the video I watched).

Depending on our travel schedule, we may try go down and get an interview with the organizers.

Here’s one of the YouTube videos to give you an idea on what it is:

New must-have haunt gadget: DMX-RT4

A few years ago, I posted a demo video of the Chauvet DMX-RT device. This tiny $100 box could record DMX lighting information and then play it back later without a computer. It even had a trigger input so you could have an entire show scene activate when a guest entered the room (via pressure mat, motion sensor, or actor pressing a button).

We created some generic looping light patterns which allowed a haunt operator to plug in a DMX, and select any effect they wanted just by changing the address on the back of a DMX light. Want pulsing green for the swamp? Set the two DMX lights in that room to channel X. Want flickering candlelight in the king’s chamber? Switch those lights to channel Y. This made changing fancy lighting effects easier than switching out a light bulb.

Chauvet DMX-RT4

I am pleased to announce that Chauvet has the new DMX-RT4 unit available for sale. This unit adds multiple trigger inputs (four instead of one) as well as an audio player! Put one of these in a room, and when the guest enters, sounds start playing as well as DMX lighting effects. The whole room can come alive without any actor control, OR, there could be up to four different scenes that play based on what is triggered… Hit the low scare button and less scary music and brighter light patterns play. Hit the extreme scare button and the lights go to near darkness with super scary music. There are many uses for this tech.

And, for haunts on a budget, you could have one box control an entire haunted house by daisy chaining all the lights over cheap DMX cables (as with the DMX-RT) BUT use this box to play the overall music loop for the entire haunt. The four inputs were designed so you could run a whole haunt like this, using the triggers for modes:

  1. Standby Mode – worklights are on (white lights) and no audio.
  2. Startup Mode – an audio message plays telling actors to get in to place as the lights fade down.
  3. Show Mode – show lighting is on and music loop plays.
  4. Emergency Mode – bright lights, and “please go to the nearest exit” message plays.

This device could replace the PC and expensive software in several haunted houses I helped with years ago. And, unlike a PC, the box should be far more reliable than Windows 😉

For more product details, here is the official page:

I need to check and see how much I can share about the development of this box, so check back for more updates…

See also: Des Moines Parent

This is just a quick shout out to Des Moines Parent. While my site focuses on the part of October meant to make you pee your pants, DMP covers a much wider range of Fall activities that are fun for rest of the family that wishes to stay dry.

Consider following them on social media. I learn alot about great events happening in the area throughout the year.

They are also a great place to advertise family events — we’ve used them in the past for other projects and they always get results.

VOTE: Will you go to a Haunted House this year?

Do you agree?

We have a survey in the “Haunted Houses around Des Moines, Iowa Reviews and Discussion” group on Facebook. We are wondering what conditions have to apply before you would go to a haunted house this year.

So far, it looks like only 10% won’t be going at all, while 74% will go just like normal. Others have conditions — like only if mask usage is enforced.

What say you? Drop by and vote.