Ranked as one of the top 10 haunted houses in Illinois, the Boo Crew Haunted House in Mechanicsburg is open every Friday and Saturday in October, plus the first Friday and Saturday in November. The Trail of Lost Souls is a short outdoor walk through the woods where scary attractions are set up, and numerous “scareactors” loom along the trail, ready to pop out. After completing the trail, visitors will head inside and attempt to make it through the haunted building which includes both old-school scares as well as creative animatronics. The scare factor is high, so it is not recommended for young children.
The Carter Brothers Haunted Hayride will celebrate its 36th anniversary in 2019. The hayride, which runs each Saturday and Sunday in October, is described as “a fun-filled haunted hayride experience that will keep entire families laughing and screaming all night long.” It is located between Springfield and Sherman, and people can wait by the bonfire and enjoy refreshments as they prepare for the ride. There is no walking involved, the scare factor is medium, and it is acceptable for all ages. For children afraid of the dark, there is a kids’ event during the afternoon of Oct. 26.
Located at Riverside Park, the Extreme Haunted Hayride and Zombie Paintball takes place every Friday and Saturday in October. According to the website, “This ride is so scary you’ll have nightmares for weeks.” Those who want to experience it will not walk, but instead will be pulled by a hearse and travel along the river, through the woods. For those willing to pay a little more to avoid the lines, express passes are available. The zombie paintball ride includes 300 full-pod paintballs; people on the ride mount a custom-built paintball trailer and ride through the woods shooting at zombies and targets. The zombies do not shoot the people. The scare level is high, so it is not recommended for young children.
Terror in the Graveyard is a long-standing tradition featuring an abandoned graveyard leading into a creepy 600-foot trail into the woods. This haunted experience in Petersburg features old-school ghouls as well as creative illusions in this 12-13-minute event. The scare level is considered medium and is recommended for ages 10 and above.
Lincoln’s Ghost Walk begins in downtown Springfield at the Old Capitol Plaza. It consists of a 90-minute five-block walking tour by lantern that uses the Lincoln sites as the backdrop for strange and bizarre stories that surrounded the life and death of Abraham Lincoln. Topics examined include Lincoln’s dreams of death, spiritualism, Mary’s seances in the White House, and strange happenings at the Lincoln tomb. This is a factual history tour that also includes some of the ghostly lore surrounding the Lincolns. It is suitable for all ages and is not a scary tour.
This year’s Edwards Place Murder Mystery Dinner is called “Curse of the Edwards Place Mummy,” written by Sarah Adams. It will take place Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 18-19 and will be directed by Justine Moser. The premise is that a horror B-movie is being filmed at Edwards Place including a scene which needs extras dressed in Halloween costumes (in which guests can participate). During the filming, the director is killed in grisly fashion. Guests will need to put their detective skills to the test to discover which of the six suspects is the murderer. This show is for ages 21 and up, as alcohol will be served. Scare factor is low.
The POP! Murder Mystery Game will happen Oct. 22 from 7-10 p.m. at Anvil & Forge Brewing and Distilling. The theme is Dungeons and Dragons. Tickets will be available through Facebook and Eventbrite and will include a themed meal and one drink. Costumes are highly recommended. This is 21 and up, as there is alcohol served at the event. Scare factor is low to medium.
The Third Annual Dark Arts Show will be held Oct. 31 at Arlington’s. This event will feature local artists and musicians and a costume contest with five different categories: best kids costume, best animated character costume, best couples costume, creepiest costume and best overall costume. It is a kid-friendly event and will have trick-or-treating, a dance floor and activities including palm reading, tarot reading, henna and rune reading, a photo booth, a guest painting and a raffle.
Eric Woods is a die-hard Halloween fan and author of a soon-to-be published horror novel. He is a tour guide for the Lincoln Ghost Walk and enjoys murder mystery dinners and spooky attractions.