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 😉

Website updates for 2023 “soon”…

Website updates for 2023 will begin before the end of the month.

We are back from our most recent excursion. So far this year, we have gone through twenty (20!) haunted houses. Most recently, we visited Halloween Horror Nights 32 at Universal Studios Florida as well as year three of SeaWorld Howl-O-Scream.

Though these haunts look great, and have actors at every turn, the Universal haunts had a scare level of about zero. You are walking through them in a continuous “conga line” chain of people, so every scare is spoiled ahead of you. We didn’t get startled even one time during our seven hour visit, nor did we hear anyone else scream except for twice from chainsaws in a scare zone. Beautiful sets, great sound, wonderful costumes and makeup … but it’s really just walking through creepy sets with folks acting out to pre-recorded sound clips. If you are looking for scary, I do not recommend, but if you like scary looking things, it’s top notch.

SeaWorld’s offering, however, startled us often through the much shorter evening — mostly due to their scare zone actors hiding in the shadows and bushes and such. They were in many unexpected places, and it was a really good time. The haunts were not anywhere as fancy as Universal’s, but the actors got to do their thing — they could talk, yell, bang and follow you — just like we are used to at “real” haunted houses around here. It was a much funner time overall, but the food offerings were not nearly as good as the tons of speciality booths at Universal.

Now that we am back, and kind of burnt out on haunted houses, attention will turn to … haunted houses in Des Moines. And around Des Moines.

I do not plan to renew the index software I’ve been testing the past few years, and my old haunt index script I wrote does not integrate with this WordPress blog website, so I’ll be doing everything manually like I did when this site started in 2010. This will just make it take longer 😉

I have a few more tasks I need to take care of first – including a visit to try to fix some zombies at an area haunt and two haunt articles to update/write for some other sites – then we’ll see what needs to be done here.

More to come…

Future Nightmares at Merle Hay Mall

Those who visited Sleepy Hollow Sports Park in 2013 should remember SinnX. His DJ/music/lights/sound show was impossible to miss.

Sinn X – 10/5/2013

Sparky is back, and this time he has his own thing opening up at Merle Hay Mall. According to his website:

 “FUTURE NIGHTMARES” is an all ages scifi horror themed theatrical music show…. with high tech art displays , high powered lights, haunted house special fx, and animatronics.

I sure how the mall knows what is about to hit it.

More to come…

Best haunt for very young kids – Adventureland


  • 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.

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:

Linn’s Haunted House future uncertain.

Linn’s Haunted House has been operating since 1984. I’ve visited when three generations were all attending together (grandparent, parent and offspring). It is a Des Moines institution.

In 2016, Merlyn Linn “retired” from his Linn’s Supermarket, and began leasing it out. The future of the haunted house was assured, though, since it was stated that the lease did not include the basement haunted house. That would remain there for ten years.

I have recently learned that in 2020 the supermarket was purchased. Although the haunted house did not operate that year due to Covid-19, it has operated the past two years in 2021 and 2022.

But this year, things may be different. The haunted house has received notice from an attorney that the haunted house must vacate — four years in to the supermarket having a new owner.

Last year may have been the final season for folks to crawl through that basement or, if things get resolved, maybe that will be this year.

I’ll share news as I know it. But until then, please spread the word – the future of Linn’s is uncertain at this time. The building owner is not interested in this multi-generational tradition operating there. For some reason.

That said … perhaps this is a great opportunity for some other business with an available basement to contact Merlyn Linn and start talking about relocating the haunt 😉

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…

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.