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It’s that time of year when the air turns crisp, smiling jack-o-lanterns adorn front porches, and clowns with bloody chain saws lurk in dark corners, ready to thrill the fine people of Des Moines who flock to haunted houses for a good old-fashioned scare.

Which haunted houses should you check out this year? It depends on what brand of terror you fancy. Are you looking for a kid-friendly “light scare” for a family Halloween outing? Maybe a classic “jump-scare” where startling surprises wait around every corner? Or do you desire a full-on strobe-light, bloody-axe, run-for-your-life-from-the-man-in-the-hockey-mask type of scare?

Whichever type of frightening fun you crave this Halloween season, these seven Des Moines-area haunted attractions have you covered.

Family-Friendly Halloween Fun
at Zombie Hollow

Zombie Hollow is an elaborate “yard haunt” in an Urbandale back yard featuring impressive robotic pirates, skeletons, and zombies that the homeowners create themselves.

“We put up a fantastic Halloween diorama similar to something you would see at Disney's Haunted Mansion,” says the Zombie Hollow website. “We do use some actors, however, no one will grab you or jump into your space. We're here to dazzle you, not terrorize you!”

Ages: You might not want to bring your smallest children here who are easily scared, but it’s the most kid-friendly area haunt.

“Everyone should see Zombie Hollow,” said Allen Huffman, area haunted house super-fan and creator of the website www.DMhauntedhouses.com. “It’s kid-friendly, though some kids may think the props are a little scary. I love this one. I wouldn’t take my kid to any haunted attraction but Zombie Hollow.”

Where: 3109 Pine Circle, Urbandale

When: Oct. 23-24 and 30-31, 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cost: Free, but accepts donations for the Veterans group Sentinels of Freedom

For more information: www.thezombiehollow.com/

Old-School, Traditional Haunted House:
Linn’s Supermarket

This is the 31st year for this beloved haunted house located in the eerie basement of Linn’s Supermarket.

Although Linn’s isn’t as gory and bloody as some other local haunted houses, it will definitely make you jump! And last year visitors to Huffman’s www.DMhauntedhouses.com rated Linn’s Haunted House as the scariest haunted attraction in Des Moines.

“It begins with a very long and very dark crawl through a claustrophobic carpeted hallway,” Huffman wrote on his website. “This causes many visitors to chicken out right at the start. Once inside, guests will find a variety of classic haunted house scenes, many relying on surprises in total darkness. … If you haven't visited in a few years, it is worth a return.”

Ages: Not for small children

Where: 3805 6th Ave., Des Moines

When: Oct. 16-18, Oct. 23-31., 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. all other nights

Cost: $14 (discounted coupons available at several locations)

For more information:http://www.linnshauntedhouse.com/

Sleepy Hollow’s Haunted Scream Park

If you can’t get enough of movies like “Friday the 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and being chased by chainsaw-yielding maniacs is your idea of a good time, the Des Moines-area has several haunted houses that fit the bill.

Sleepy Hollow is actually a collection of haunted houses, haunted walks, and other attractions. Chaos and Nightmare Estates are two of the most intense haunted attractions in the area with plenty of bloody axes and chain saws, and dark, loud, scary effects. Their attractions — Twisted Tales, Castle of Blood, and Freak Show — are still plenty creepy, but think psychotic fairy tales and Snow White in a coffin, not Friday the 13th.

Changes hit Des Moines-area haunts

Sleepy Hollow also has a beer garden, Zombie Paintball in which you ride on a bus and shoot at zombies, a 3-D Gallery: Aliens Attack, and a Fog Maze. New this year is a jack-o-lantern display with more than 400 impressive hand-carved pumpkins featuring everything from Sesame Street and Frozen characters to the musicians from KISS.

Ages: In theory the 3-D Gallery and Fog Maze are kid-friendly, but you never know when a creepy character from one of the other attractions is going to wander through. If your kids are old enough to shoot paintball guns, they’re probably old enough for Zombie Paintball. The jack-o-lantern display is fun and family-friendly. The other displays are pretty intense, gory, and scary – likely not appropriate for small children.

Where: 4051 Dean Ave., Des Moines

When: Oct. 16-18, 22-25, 28-31. 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. all other nights

Cost: Depends on the attractions purchased; see their website

For more information: www.sleepyhollowscreampark.com/

Ames Haunted Forest

This is the 15th year for this haunted walk. It covers about six acres, so you’ll want to wear your walking shoes.

“…With blood-curdling features and a ghoulish layout, designed to shock your soul at every morbid turn,” their website says. “Prepare yourself for a full thirty minutes of fear-packed excitement and the scariest walk you'll take all year!”

Ages: Not for small children

Where: 1470 S 4th St, Ames

When: Oct. 16 to 18; Oct. 23 to 25; and 29 to 31. 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays

Cost: $14

For more information: www.ameshauntedforest.com/

 

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The Ankeny Haunted Barn is serving up even more scares this season. Bryon Houlgrave/The Register

Haunted Barn

Ankeny’s Haunted Barn is another super-creepy, loud, intense haunted attraction.

“No matter how many times you come, we will always have a surprise,” their website says. “Some years have featured live snakes and/or rats. Some years have had long, dark crawls. Some years have had spooky graveyards. One year even sealed you in a room and then ‘crushed’ you against the ceiling. All years have had dozens of twists and turns and creepy scenes, and this year features our largest expansion ever.”

Ages: Not for small children

Where: 3215 SE Corporate Woods Drive, Ankeny

When: Oct. 16-18, Oct. 22-31 and Nov 1. 7 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. all other operating nights

Cost: $20 (200 VIP passes will be sold every night for $30 that allow you to skip the line)

For more information: www.ankenyhauntedbarn.com/

Waukee Halloween Haunted House

This haunted house is sponsored annually by the Waukee Park Board. Per their website: “Enter if you dare, but prepare to be scared.”

Ages: Not for small children

Where: 1255 Warrior Lane, Waukee (in the Centennial Park enclosed shelter)

When: Oct. 23 to 24, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cost: $5 ($1 off if you bring three nonperishable goods for the Waukee Area Food Bank)

For more information: www.waukee.org/475/Halloween-Haunted-House

The Haunted Garage

This “home haunt” is in a private garage in Grimes and can handle about 150 visitors per night. Huffman remembers once hearing a couple 13-year-old girls scream the whole way through; he described the experience as “intense and scary, but short.”

Ages: Not for small children

Where: 612 NE 13 St, Grimes

When: Oct 30-31, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Cost: Free, but food-pantry donations accepted

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A south-side family has been entertaining the neighborhood for Halloween for the past few years. Bryon Houlgrave/The Register

Other Haunted Houses

For more information on these and other haunted houses, check out www.DMhauntedhouses.com.

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