It’s been a number of years since I approached the haunt season armed with the knowledge that I’d be visiting less haunted attractions than the previous year, but such is the case in 2016. I’m at peace with that. The decision to tour less haunted attractions in 2016 was made for two reasons — the most prominent being my involvement with the Wyandotte Jaycees Haunted House, SIN. The other reason for the reduction is simply that I’ve been fortunate to visit so many haunted houses over the last decade; the State of Michigan is running low on spooky places I haven’t witnessed.
Another change this year is that I’ve ranked the nights below in order of importance. In an effort to tour new attractions I’ve prioritized those trips. There are of course other factors as well such as proximity to other haunts and that is reflected as well. The haunt season does of course offer surprises every season and for that reason the list below, although ranked in order of importance, does not necessarily represent a chronological order of events. Nor is this list meant to suggest that I’ll manage to get to each of these places. I’ve done this long enough to know that each Halloween season is a unique, wild creature.
THE HAUNTED OPEN ROAD
Night #1 – Jackson’s Underworld (Jackson), Awaken (Leslie) & Shawhaven Haunted Farm (Mason)
Notes: Shawhaven Haunted Farm has been on my radar for the last couple of seasons but the clock has always seemed run out on the season before a trip could manifest. It’s an hour and a half from my home but when Awaken recently opened in nearby Leslie, I knew it was finally time to make Shawhaven a priority. Then I realized that our route would take us right by Jackson’s Underworld, a haunt we haven’t visited since 2013. This was a harmonic convergence of direction and distance as each haunt is roughly 15 – 20 minutes apart from the last.
Night #2 – Bloodview (Broadview Heights, OH.) & Carnival of Horrors (Cuyahoga Falls, OH.)
Notes: An every other year pattern is emerging with Bloodview; frequent readers may remember that Bloodview is staffed by The Legion of Terror an improvisational group that showcases a new theme every weekend. We witnessed Zombie Apocalypse in 2012 and Witch Trials in 2014. This year I want to experience the Sinister Sideshow which will be held the weekend of October 7 – 9. Carnival of Horrors is located in Cuyahoga Falls, roughly 30 minutes from Bloodview in Broadview Heights. The distance itself isn’t prohibitive but the Carnival of Horrors does host four attractions and that could prove problematic if lines are long. Luckily, this region of Ohio boasts a number of haunted attractions that can serve as an alternate if need be.
Night #3 – Haunted Elementary (Bridgeport) & Bates Haunted Saw Mill (Millington)
Notes: Haunted Elementary is now enveloped by the Bridgeport Goregrounds and features three haunts including FrightSite (a 3D attraction) and Outbreak (an interactive zombie event). It definitely has the feel of a small Michigan haunt on the upswing. Bates Haunted Saw Mill offers two attractions and touts itself as being “old school creepy.” I do love me some old school. Bridgeport and Millington are just shy of 30 minutes apart although the drive from home will eclipse the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, a pair of new locations that collectively house five attractions seems worth the gamble.
Night #4 – Woods of Darkness (South Rockwood), Psycho Path (Flat Rock) & Hush (Westland)
Notes: Admittedly, these are all attractions I’ve toured before but my last trip through Wood of Darkness came during the 2011 season. Furthermore, the haunted house has been run by an entirely different team the last several seasons which could produce a significantly different experience than when last I came knocking. There was some fear that Psycho Path would cease operations after a crucial member of the team departed during the off-season but that concern was recently laid to rest when I received confirmation that the little gem would indeed be operational in 2016 with a Medieval theme. We have visited Hush three straight years, but off-season circumstances there facilitated a total rebuild that produced an intriguing New Orleans-themed attraction. The other prime factor with this night is the proximity to home which provides a lot of flexibility where dates and times are concerned.
Night #5 – Bonadeo Farms (Highland Township) & Rotten Manor (Holly)
Notes: Rotten Manor was named the 2015 Horrorlust Haunt of the Year and new for 2016 are Rotten Forest and Clown Barn. That’s plenty of intrigue to be sure but in a year with limited dates and an emphasis on new locations, I’m not sure that the haunted corn maze and haunted house at the somewhat obscure Bonadeo Farms is enough of a lure for this night. This has the feel of a wild card so I’ll leave it to the haunt fates.
Night #6 – Panic at Pinestump Hollow (St. Clair) & The Deadland (Warren)
Notes: Panic at Pinestump Hollow is similar to Shawhaven Haunted Farm in that it’s a place with more than one attraction that I’ve desired to visit for a few years now and have failed to get there. So why is it so far down on this list? Well, we’ve already visited everything else within shouting distance. We crossed off Blake’s and Slaughtered at Sundown in 2013, checked off The Fear Factory last year and toured Haunted Farm of Terror twice. We did visit Scarefest Scream Park in 2012 and only toured two of the four attractions so I suppose that might be an option as well. Had Salem’s Haunted Barn in Capac been operational this year, that pair would’ve moved this outing up two to three places on this list. I had also heard that the House of Fear in Hazel Park was going to reopen this year but the website for that haunt has out of date information. For all of those reasons I’ve paired it with The Deadland which provided a solid opening night show last year.
Night #7 – The Haunted Hydro (Fremont, OH.)
Notes: I last toured The Haunted Hydro six years ago in 2010. I love the place, it has atmosphere in spades. It has stood for 27 years, is operated by passionate professionals and is a true child of Halloween. But since the closure of Terror Town last year I’ve been unable to find anything to pair with The Haunted Hydro. It’s roughly an hour and half from my area and that’s something to consider for just one location; even one as excellent as The Haunted Hydro. I’m open to suggestions should anyone know of another haunt around the Fremont region.
OTHER HAUNTS OF INTEREST: THE TWISTED SIX
Corpse Barn Shock Haunt – Made a good first impression in 2014 and I have a feeling the gang here is capable of even better. It’ll be an ideal substitute should one of the haunts fall through on Night #1. Plus it’s a barn haunt. I love barn haunts.
The Dent Schoolhouse – Been pining to visit for a good five years now, would require an overnight trip. On the plus side, the Cincinnati region has several other haunted attractions that would compliment The Dent Schoolhouse quite nicely. I’m so very tempted to move this one onto the main list.
Darksyde Acres – Toured this unique locale from 2011 – 2014; one year layoff has me itching to get back. One of those post-Halloween 18+ Nights would work perfectly for me but a glance at the calendar suggests that isn’t likely this season.
Dreadlands Haunt of Davison – Research Labs was without question one of the most unusual haunted attractions I’ve ever toured and last year the operators even did a glow stick event which is hard for me to even comprehend at this haunt. I’d love to experience that myself but the routes outlined above make it unlikely.
Haunting in the Hills – A new haunt located in Onsted with three attractions, the most interesting of which is called Train Car of Terror. It’s kind of in no man’s land but might be worth checking out if something funky happens to the schedule and I suddenly have a free day. In fact, it wouldn’t pair up badly with Corpse Barn Shock Haunt or Darksyde Acres.
Slaughter House – Last visited in 2013, nobody mixes humor and illusion like Slaughter House. I liked what I read last year regarding several scene updates and a Purge theme for 2016 should keep things interesting. It could be paired with Trail of Terror at Bestmaze Corn Maze in Williamston or possibly something from Night #1 if the schedule goes wonky.