Chicago's Scariest Haunted Houses
If you were not completely traumatized by them as a child, 'tis the season to bring your brave, grown up self to some local haunted houses. Most of the area's best haunted houses require a drive the suburbs, though we did find a supernatural Halloween tour in the city that mixes in beer stops.
Disturbia: Torment of Fears: At any other time of year, the Links and Tees Golf Facility looks like an oasis of green, its white dome ready to shield any golf aficionado from too much wind or snow. In October, the Addison park district golf facility turns into the 15,000-square-foot haunted house that is Disturbia: Torment of Fears, an expanse of more than 25 different scare zones. One room preys on people with a particular aversion to clowns. Another contains monsters in cages, which make the room seem inescapable. "What makes us unique," Rita Neri, one of four partners in Disturbia, said "is that we rely more on actors than on animatronics. So the scare might be different every time you enter the house." Neri, 52, who lives in Lakeshore East, said the partners hire more than 50 actors for Disturbia. They start working on the haunted house on July 1 each year, which gives them plenty of time to make the haunt look different from the year before. In this, its third year, Neri said, "we have made it bigger, better and scarier."
7 p.m. - midnight Sat.-Sun., 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Sun. and all other days. Open through Oct. 31.
880 W. Lake Street in Addison
Fear City Chicago: This is Chicago at its most wicked (even if you have to go to Morton Grove to find it). Fear City Chicago promises to spit you out into the "mindbending underbelly" of the Windy City. The 40,000-square-foot facility, which boasts at least three designers and decoraters who have worked for Harpo Studios, has its own grossed-out meatpacking district and a Midway area with a spinning fuselage. About 40 actors, full of grotesque makeup and ominous costumes, wander the building. The haunt also has its own custom sculptor, Micki LeMieux, who has created work for the Field Museum and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 7 p.m. - midnight Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. - midnight Oct. 30 and 31
8240 N. Austin Ave. in Morton Grove
Statesville Haunted Prison: It's a bit of a haul to get to Statesville Haunted Prison, but then again, the 50-minute drive from Chicago might serve well to heighten your anxiety and anticipation. The prison, located near Joliet, promises all manner of bloodsuckers and lunatics, torturers and executioners, including looming fear from its warden, the "Demon of Darkness." Statesville Prison combines edgy character actors -- in addition to the Demon of Darkness, other haunters include Dr. Vierhoff, the maniacs and Mad Dog, who have all been convicted of murder using either cattle prods, fingernails or pipe wrenches as weapons -- with animatronics for a haunt that's often so packed visitors have to park across the street at a Menards.
7-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 7-10 p.m. other days; Open through Oct. 31. Menards parking lot users must use free shuttle buses to Statesville Haunted Prison.
17250 S. Weber Road in Crest Hill
Chicago Supernatural Tour: Halloween Special Edition: Perhaps limited by space and parking considerations, not a lot of haunted houses are running inside Chicago city limits (the Fear Haunted House at Navy Pier will not be operating this year after three seasons). But a roaming, drink-filled tour of Windy City haunts promises to show its guests 13 ghostly locations around the city. Locales carry a good dose of Chicago history, too, like the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre at Dickens and Clark. Guided by self-proclaimed ghost hunter Richard T. Crowe, the Halloween Special Edition tour, conducted on a coach, includes a Halloween souvenir and the option to purchase and down a few beers along the way. If you want to bring the kids, there's a special edition matinee tour, which covers an Indian burial ground and the crash site of American Airlines Flight 191 near O'Hare International Airport. All Halloween tours last three-and-a-half to four hours.
Halloween Special Edition tour dates from 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29, 30 and 31; Matinee edition from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. oct. 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30.
Tours meet at Goose Island Beer Company, 1800 N. Clybourn
Eleventh Hour Haunted House: One huge advantage of driving out to the 'burbs for the area's best haunted houses is being able to watch seemingly prosaic, stereotypically suburban places be transformed into bastions of scariness. In the case of Elk Grove, it's Berthold's Garden Center. The usually tranquil store and landscape design center turns, for the month of October, into a destination for four haunted attractions that make up the Eleventh Hour Haunted House complex: three haunted houses and a corn maze (individually deemed Eleventh Hour, The Catacombs, Intensity and Creatures of the Corn). Eleventh Hour says its intent is to "scare you, startle you, make you jump and yes, make you smile and shake your head." It also lets visitors skip the line, though not the wait (unless they purchase an R.I.P. pass for about double the price). When guests buy tickets, they snag a number and hang out in the festival area, sipping hot chocolate and perusing pumpkins until they're called out to the maze and houses.
7 p.m. - 11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Oct. 30 and 31; 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sun., Wed. and Thurs.
434 E. Devon in Elk Grove Village