A note from the editor:
For the past three years, members of the Indy Mojo staff and street team have been graciously accepted as guests at many of central Indiana’s annual haunted attractions. Through our unique collaborative approach to writing reviews, we have done our best to bring our readers a well-rounded perspective on their local haunted house options, and this has grown to be one of our favorite annual traditions.
This year, however, we have chosen not to coordinate haunted house reviews, for a number of reasons. In full disclosure, a large part of that decision was made by me due to my involvement as a volunteer actor at Nightmare on Edgewood. Time constraints aside, my perspective on the 2015 season would clearly be biased.
So in lieu of a fresh crop of haunt reviews, I’ve compiled my top picks based on my past three years of experience touring the best of central Indiana’s commercial haunted houses. I’ve peppered in some quotes from previous years’ reviews, too. When my friends ask me where they should go to get their kicks this Halloween season, this is what I tell them:
1. Nightmare on Edgewood – Indy’s Most Intense Haunted House
When I decided I wanted to volunteer at a haunted house, there was no question in my mind it would be at Nightmare on Edgewood—if they’d have me, that is.
I picked this haunt to work at because it’s consistently my favorite, year after year. They’re one of the few that have a do-touch policy, which always makes for a more realistic, and thus scary, experience. Edgewood’s emphasis is on the scare more so than the production, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of details to admire as you roll through each of their three attractions.
Their unique modular design (i.e. semi-truck trailers) allows for a fresh, new layout each year that keeps the regulars coming back time and time again. But, really, it’s the constant attacks and sheer terror that keeps you on your toes at this haunt.
From our 2013 Review of Nightmare on Edgewood: As patrons come face-to-face with cold-blooded murderers looking for their next victim, real life suddenly feels like a scene from a horror movie. Skillfully built steps and ramps give the haunt depth and add to the authenticity of raiding one’s way through the aftermath of a gory massacre.
From our 2014 Review of Nightmare on Edgewood: Not only can the [actors] touch you, but they can also poke you with their machetes, run forks across your throat, and shove you into walls. After experiencing this, this writer will never go to another house where they CAN’T touch you. It’s friggin’ awesome. It adds a completely new element to the scare when someone pops out of nowhere and grabs your shoulders. All illusions of safety go out the window, and the sensory scaring begins.
Curious how they manage to be Indy’s Most Intense Haunted House every year? Take a peek behind the scenes with co-founder Kevin Cook.
2. Fear Fair – Indiana’s Scariest Haunted House
Don’t let the drive scare you away from checking out Fear Fair. Located in Seymour, a little more than an hour south of Indy, this haunt is among the state’s finest commercial haunts and—as the Indy Mojo Spook Staff concurs—totally worth the road trip.
Like Nightmare on Edgewood, it’s a do-touch haunt, which is why it’s #2 on my list. Fear Fair’s home near the Freeman Municipal Airport not only gives it an edgy, industrial vibe, it also allows for permanent, elaborate sets that facilitate total immersion in each of the scenes. The actors at Fear Fair are top notch and delivered the most authentic zombie attack I had ever experienced. I felt like I was in The Walking Dead.
From our 2014 Review of Fear Fair: The actors and actresses really get kudos from me here. Timing, intensity, persistence… everything was well-executed and scary as hell. The zombie attacks were seriously intense… nowhere you could run was free of hands reaching out to grab you. Having to literally toss a zombie off my back before it bit me is an experience I’m grateful I’ll never have to deal with in real life.
3. Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm – Haunted Corn Maze
If you’re looking for a good scare that won’t break the bank, I can’t recommend Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm enough. For just $10 and the gas to get to Franklin, this haunted corn maze is a hidden gem in the Indiana haunt scene.
This haunt’s low-budget approach is part of its charm, in my opinion. Their staff is comprised of volunteers, which means their actors are there to scare you, not collect a paycheck. Their approach to haunting is simple and inexpensive, and they pass those savings on to their customers. And for you scaredy cats afraid of being touched, you’ll be happy to hear they uphold a do NOT touch policy.
Tall stalks of corn offer adequate cover for the countless actors wielding chainsaws throughout the maze, waiting to jump out when you least expect it. Different types of indoor stations along the way create a sense of smothering stuffiness, contrasted by the vulnerability of walking through a corn field – something you simply can’t experience in the city. If you run from a monster in a corn field, you really have nowhere to go.
From our 2014 review of Mike Kaiser’s Poor Farm: The subtle but intentional rustling of corn behind you as you walk in almost complete silence at times is creepier than any chainsaw could ever be. Actors had perfectly-timed scares and used the darkness to their full advantage—silently sneaking up behind and waiting for us to look back to really come alive. My favorite scare had to have been crawling through the abandoned bus with a maniac stomping around on the roof.
4. Piney Acres Farm – For The Kids
Located on Indy’s far-east side near Fortville, Piney Acres Farm offers tons of fall fun for the whole family. Daytime activities include a pumpkin patch, corn maze, kid’s zone, hayrides, a gem mine, bonfires, barnyard animals and a farm store. And some of the nicest folks in the land.
Piney Acres’ indoor haunted loft is a good starter haunt (about 10 minutes long if you don’t rush) for anyone looking for a fun, child-appropriate scare session.
Their haunted corn maze is much scarier (albeit a do NOT touch attraction) and presents a good challenge in finding one’s way out. It’s safe for kids, but adults will be pleased with the scare factor, too. They’ve added a haunted hayride since I last attended in 2013, so I can’t speak to its scare quality, but I suspect it’s worth the extra cash to go ahead and get the combo ticket for all three of their haunted attractions.
From our 2014 review of the haunted corn maze: Every single prop we met was passed with much caution, as it was difficult to distinguish which ones were living and which ones were not. The maze was dotted with shacks, grave yards, and (gulp) live traps that almost always offered an opportunity for interaction. My favorite part, however, was when the maze seamlessly shifted from corn stalks to Christmas trees and I found myself winding through haunted evergreens.
Indy Scream Park
This is the haunt that you see billboards crop up for around the city every fall. The name is deceiving, because it’s actually in Anderson—nearly an hour drive from Indy.
I haven’t been since 2013 and they’re advertising several new attractions for 2015 so I’m pretty out of the loop on this one. That said, they’ve always been known for high quality production with top of the line props and actors who begin training months before haunted houses have even crossed your mind.
Indy Scream Park changes their prices depending on what night of the week you attend, so check their calendar before making plans. You certainly pay for the extra production at Indy Scream Park, but with the Monster Midway to hang out at between haunts, it’s easy to make an entire evening of your trip to Anderson.
Scarevania is a deadly combination of DIY handiwork and pure passion for horror. Haunt owner Brian Blair has hand crafted many of the props here himself and his attention to detail does not go unnoticed.
If there’s any downside to Scarevania, it’s that it ends all too quickly. Unless you’re already going to be in the Muncie area, this might not be worth the trip for this haunt alone.
From our 2014 review: Scarevania upholds a no-touch policy but that doesn’t mean they won’t interact with you. Those who aren’t scaring are clearly pissed off or mentally disturbed and they’re keenly aware of your presence. The outdoor portion of Scarevania has doubled in size, ending the trip on a desolate trail that concludes in the longest, most intense chainsaw chase I’ve ever seen.
Also check out our 2013 review.
If you’ve never been to Necropolis, I always tell people it’s worth going once. It’s permanently erected, so the details are exquisite and their scenes are elaborate. Because it’s permanent, though, it hardly ever changes. So if you’ve gone once, you’ve gone a thousand times. They always do 2-for-1 tickets on opening weekend, so catch them early in the season if you can.
I also highly suggest any resident of Indianapolis go to Hanna Haunted Acres for their famous haunted hayride. This attraction doesn’t change much from year to year, but it’s incredible to see their larger-than-life props and animatronics. Don’t get the combo ticket though; the rest of their haunts have always failed to impress me.
Have a question about any of these haunts, or others that didn’t make my list? Post it in the comments and I’ll help you find the local haunted attraction that’s right for you. These things aren’t cheap, so it’s best if you have an idea what you’re getting into before you fork over the cash. Happy haunting!