2011 Haunted House Reviews

Over the past couple of weekends I have gone to two haunted houses: Dungeon of Doom (Zion, IL) and  Basement of the Dead (Aurora, IL).  Here are my thoughts and opinions on both of them:

Dungeon of Doom is by far my favorite haunted house! It’s a bit of a drive to get out to Zion and the haunted house is a bit out of the way, but this year there were more directional signs to help get you there than last year. Overall, I think that the “out of the way” location actually helps with the scare factor and creepiness of the haunted house in general.

The entertainment started BEFORE you even get in line! There were “creatures” and such walking around the parking lot to catch you off guard before you had prepared yourself to really get scared. I think that it was a great addition that other haunted houses may not do. One great thing about this place is that you can really tell that all of the actors WANT to be there. It doesn’t feel like anyone was just there cause they had to be there. That really adds to the overall atmosphere of the attraction. The actors really put everything into getting into character and ensuring that you are getting the full experience and moneys worth. The costumes and make up were very well done and helped to create a better scare factor for each of the characters.

I also LOVE how the flow for this haunted house is handled. I usually end up just going in a group of 2 and I feel that other haunted houses make you group with another group to get people through faster. This sometimes isn’t the greatest since with larger groups of people there is less of a chance to get that first “fright” when you walk into a new room… but that doesn’t happen at Dungeon of Doom. Not only are you carefully separated from the start of entering the haunted house, the characters inside also help to keep the groups separated. If you tend to walk into a room and there were still people there, the characters will scare you enough to hold you back a bit and keep the groups separate. I really like how they do that throughout the entire attraction. Another thing that is awesome about this attraction is the amount of different things you get to do. There are small areas to squeeze through, padded floors to crawl on and inflatable walls to push through. It’s a good way to vary up from the traditional haunted house where you just walk through dark hallways. This is much more interactive and keeps you on your toes.

Overall, I feel that this is a great deal for the money. I did the “full package” which included the two levels of the haunted house and the two routes through it as well as the “buried alive” attraction. I highly recommend picking up that one as well since there really isn’t anything like it that I have found in other haunted houses in IL. From the start of getting there, everyone is on par and ready to scare. The staff cares how you feel about the attraction as well and they are always looking for feedback. It just shows why this haunted house is so great- it’s the passion that the staff has for making it great. You can have a great haunted house set up , but without a great scare staff it may not be good. This place has it all. I also like the fact that they take a group photo in the beginning in front of a green screen and they place you with a background photo of the scare crew. It’s just another thing that helps to make this place stand out. The photos can be picked up at the end and are reasonably priced at $8. Overall, this is a great attraction. This is my second year going and it’s only gotten better from last year, unlike some places-which tend to get stale and outdated after time.

This haunted house is now my second choice.  I have been going to this one for the past 4 years and I have to say that it gets better each year.  Parking is available for $4 (increased from $2 last year) at the Aurora casino parking garage for an easy way to get to the haunted house. From the start, this haunted house is ready to scare you.  With numerous “haunts” outside to scare you as you walk up to purchase your tickets and wait in line there is plenty of entertainment to keep you amused while you wait. Something new this year is the “coffin ride” for $2.  This is a ride where they put you in a coffin and it moves and shakes while you are in it.  There is a camera inside the coffin so your friends can watch you while you are in there.  This year we went later in the season instead of the first weekend it opened and there was a pretty decent line.  Instead of waiting in the line (which we were told would have been about an hour and a half) we choose to take the “line skipping pass” for and additional $7/each to go to the front of the line. This was the BEST option, since NO ONE else had chosen to do this and we literally just walked in.  Once you enter the haunted it is PITCH black.

This is one of the "haunts" outside of Basement of the Dead. It's a guy on stilts that was about 12 feet tall.

I think that this is one of the most important aspects of the haunted house…with it being pitch black, you aren’t able to see the people inside and are really frightened when they jump out to scare you.  Not only is it dark, the rooms are really well done with great props, the right amount of animatronics and gore.  The characters inside the haunted house were very well done up in make up and costumes and well hidden around the haunted house.  While walking from room-to-room, there were many “entertaining” features: hanging body parts from the ceiling, motion activated air blowers, and blown up walls that you squeeze through to get out.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to make it through. Overall, I give this haunted house a 9 rating… and not for the faint of heart.

If you have attended a haunted house in the Chicagoland area and think it is worth the while, please let me know.

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