Children’s House at Scream Park a big hit

Published 3:58 am Wednesday, October 6, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Want to take the kids to a theme house this Halloween season, but afraid the little ones can't handle a haunted house?
The Niles Children's Fun House offers a fun and non-frightening alternative to the ghouls and ghosts of the Niles Haunted House Scream Park.
The fun house, located at 319 Bell Road, opens Oct. 9 and offers several different theme rooms with activities for children as they trick-or-treat through the house. Visitors can also take a hay ride when visiting the house.
The fun house will be open every Saturday and Sunday until Oct. 31, from 4:30 to 8 p.m.
Admission to the house or the hayride is $3.00 per person. Admission to the house and the hay ride is $5.00 per person.
The fun house originally started as an attraction for students and family at Brandywine Elementary School in 1992. When it came under the sponsorship of the Niles Haunted House in 1995, it moved to its current location and has operated there ever since.
Merva Zaleski, the fun house supervisor, has always stressed that the fun house should be non-frightening.
As visitors walk through the house, each theme room will have a different activity.
In the Spongebob Squarepants room, children will throw balloons decorated as jellyfish into hanging baskets for a tasty treat.
Children's minds will be stimulated in the Jimmy Neutron room, where there are plenty of scientific toys, as well as fun house mirrors and a mirror kaleidoscope, allowing children to see hundreds of themselves reflected in the kaleidoscopes three mirrors.
The most popular room in the house is the pumpkin gallery, inspired by Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, according to Paula Carpenter, a volunteer at the house for 12 years. There, children can see pumpkins painted with the faces of their favorite cartoon characters.
The hallways between the rooms even have themes. In the Scooby-Doo hallway, children and parents alike will need to beware of the shifting floor, which catches most off guard, Carpenter said.
The moving floor is created by placing golf balls under sheets of plywood.
Children with a musical inclination will have a field day in the music room. Instruments in the room include the flip-flop organ, which operates in the same fashion as a pipe organ, which kids use flip-flops to make notes on the pipes.
Children can also use rain sticks and if they guess what the rain sticks are filled with, they get a prize. The giant bungee cord guitar adorning one of the room's walls lets kids rock out like their favorite musician.
Family members with weak stomachs may want to avoid the aquarium room, which features a rotating floor as the fish painted on the wall "swim" by observers.
The final room of the house is the Bug's Life room. Children will see familiar faces from the Disney movie in the room. When the kids look up, they'll see the top of giant clovers, giving the illusion that they truly are the size of bug.
Upon exiting the house, children will receive a coloring book and pack of crayons. There will also be different groups hosting a bake sale each night the house is open.
Carpenter said the house's busiest nights are typical the weekend before Halloween. This year, those nights will be Oct. 23 and 24.
For more information, call the Niles Children's Fun House at (269) 687-3327.