Fear factorPublished 11:35pm Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Niles Haunted House Scream Park has been a landmark in the area for 32 years.
And what keeps people coming back every year is that its attractions change each autumn.
This year’s version of the spooky spectacle, located on Mayflower Road in Niles, opens this weekend. Beginning in October, the scream park is open every weekend (Friday through Sunday) and Thursday through Monday the week of Halloween.
Just as in years past, the many passageways and rooms of the haunted house — the building has more than 100 routes — have been rebuilt with new a theme. This year is “Scary Potter,” playing off the “Harry Potter” book series.
The scream park also offers two new attractions this year — “CarnEvil,” a winding series of rooms filled with clown-themed scares, and the very detailed set, “Underworld Unleashed.”
The Field of Screams features a revamped outdoor dark maze with five new areas, along with “Claustrophobia,” “Campophobia,” “The Birch Tree Forest” and the “White Curtain Maze.”
A fire-breathing dragon and new spooky scenes have been added to the haunted hayride also.
But one thing you won’t find is gore.
“A lot of houses are full of blood and guts. But we’re not big on making people sick,” said volunteer Marty Paquette, who added that the people behind the scares are creative in coming up with ways to bring fright without gore.
Paquette, who has been a volunteer with the scream park since 1993, said as many as 13,000 people will come to the 44-acre attraction on a busy night. There are often 125 volunteers working there a night, doing everything from taking tickets, to conducting the haunted hayrides to dressing up in costumes and scaring patrons.
“There are a lot of families that get involved,” said Paquette, whose children grew up volunteering at the scream park. “Sometimes there are multiple generations.”
The haunted house is a non-profit organization community project that bring more than 75 Michiana-area organizations to raise money for their causes. Last year participating organizations received donations totaling more than $75,000. The haunted house also funded three college scholarships at Niles High School and Brandywine High School.
The Scream Park is recognized nationally in the haunted attraction industry. In 2010 the Scream Park swas ranked in the top 13 in this region by Haunted House Chicago. The Scream Park was also the featured haunt in the February 2007 issue of Haunted Attraction Magazine, a national publication.
If you go…
What: The Niles Haunted House Scream Park, featuring five haunted attractions
Where: 855 Mayflower Rd., Niles
When: Sept. 16-17, Sept. 23-24, Sept. 30, every weekend in October (Thursday-Monday the week of Halloween)
Contact: (269) 687-3327 or www.haunted.org