****Official Haunted House Chicago Review****
Reviewed on September 22, 2012
Niles Haunted House Scream Park
855 Mayflower Road
Niles, MI 49120
As soon as the weather starts to chill, and the calendar turns to September, excitement sets in! Why? Because it is our favorite time of year: the haunting season! As the first attraction to open each season in the Chicagoland area, it is only right that we kick-off the season with a classic, Niles Haunted House Scream Park.
Although Niles Haunted House Scream Park has been scaring the pants off of patrons since 1974, the attraction has done a bit of growing over those years. They currently operate on 44 acres of land, and have plans to expand that in the near future. Going strong after all these years, they welcomed their 1,400,000th guest while we were performing this review!
But, filling those 44 acres is more than just one simple haunted house. Here, you will find any entire evening of entertainment as they host 6 different adventures for thrill-seekers of all ages.
With over 200 volunteers staffing those 6 attractions, each one is guaranteed to pack a punch. Staff members, creatures, and goblins seem to range from 9 to 99. They are an extensive family of dedicated and passionate individuals, that share only one goal: to give you the best Halloween experience possible.
We started our night off being greeted by our favorite guide for the evening, "Death" and were entertained by watching him trying to scare people, as well as given a quick little tour of the new fancy bathrooms that were installed this year. (A staff highlight.) We also saw Nancy, who was our 2011 Co-Jim Warfield Actor of the Year Award winner. Sporting a new dress with a fashionable blue cape and some killer fangs. With the duo of Death and Nancy, there is never a dull moment. There is nothing better than watching grown men run from a 5 ft. blonde girl!
After getting our laughs out of the way, it was time to get down to business. We entered the first attraction; the "Ghostly Gallows", which is one of their two smaller attractions. Based on a wild west theme, the detail that was put into this house was outstanding! Filled with pop scares, startling sounds, and an assortment of cowboy hats, this definitely wet our appetite as we began the 2012 haunting season.
The second of the smaller houses was "Memory Manor", which was also beautifully designed. Dedicated in memory of those that had worked at the Scream Park and were no longer living, the attraction presented a softer side of the scare. While still packing a scream or two, the suspense continued to build from scene-to-scene.
While deciding where to go next, we decided to stroll through their Midway. It is filled with games, the Gore Store, endless amounts of carnival food and even a photo booth where you can take photos with various Monsters of the Midway! As you sit to enjoy your treats and goodies, you can take a moment to watch the classic horror movies playing on the big screen overhead. The feature for us that night was the classic story of those cute, cuddly "Gremlins."
The night that we were there, we were able to enjoy one of the coolest experiences yet! We have met some amazing people over our years, but that night, we were able to meet the only living relative to Harry Houdini, Aron Houdini. He is his great, great, great-nephew and definitely puts on one heck of a show. Paying homage to Harry, he suspended himself upside-down by his ankles 25-feet in the air and escaped a regulation straight jacket! We also had the pleasure of watching him do a magic trick or two, and see him escape the straight jacket again on foot. (We can even verify the validity, as it was one of our Review Team members that tightly secured the straight jacket. It was definitely an amazing experience!)
Our next adventure of the evening was the "Dark Terror-tory Hayride". Just over a mile long, this ride is similar to backlot tours that big movie studios give. This years' theme was the "Apocalypse 2012". This is always an entertaining ride through the wooded area, and definitely some unique and clever props along the way! Be sure to keep your eyes open, you just might get wet, have something "headed" your way, or even brush by a little fire!
The main house, Niles Haunted House is one of the most deeply thought-out and developed attractions we have encountered over our travels. Not only do they re-theme the attraction each year, but they always are perfecting and updating scenes to keep things fresh. This year, it incorporated classic Vampires & Werewolves.
But, what really keeps this attraction standing apart from the rest is the size. With over 64 different rooms, and 8 different starting paths, each trek through the house will provide you with a different experience.
Of course, the rooms are tremendously detailed, creepy, and fun! But, the best part? They do it all without any blood or gore.
Our last and final attraction for the night, was the "Field of Screams". This attraction is constantly expanding, and always keeps us on our toes! Based on a standard maze, it will keep patrons guessing the correct path for as long as they can handle. In fact, if you listen closely you can even hear the Fields heartbeat (seriously, try it!). Our Review Team actually timed ourselves this year, and it took us 32 minutes to escape! Weaving wickedly intricate paths, Niles keeps guests guessing and running in circles. Definitely one of our all-time favorites!
Overall, Niles Haunted House Scream Park delivered another terrific performance this season. It is one of the few that can be called the essence of Autumn. Declare it a must-see, tell your friends, and make sure you take everyone you know!
Highlights we scream about: Death, Nancy and the Field of Screams expansion!
What to expect for 2013? Word is, that there is room for expansion! With 44 acres already under their belt, we can't even imagine what these creative minds can come up with for 2013. Look for a new theme and more surprises to come!
2012 Review Team Scores:
Entertainment: 18 out of 20
Scare Factor & Fright: 4 out of 10
Acting: 6 out of 10
Sets & Room Detail: 8 out of 10
Costumes: 3 out of 5
Make Up: 3 out of 5
Sound: 4 out of 5
Lights: 4 out of 5
Props & Special Effects: 7 out of 10
Originality & Story Concept: 9 out of 10
Management & Owner Presentation: 5 out of 5
Website: 5 out of 5
Total: 76 points out of 100 possible points
- Official Haunted House Chicago Review Team Review