The Phantom’s Top Haunts of 2014

The Phantom of the Ville unleashes his list of favorite scares, haunts and Halloween attractions for the 2014 season.

With only two weekends left in the 2014 Halloween season, it’s crunch time for those of you still trying to decide on which haunted attractions and Halloween events you want to attend before the rising sun on November 2nd officially ends our ghoulish hootenanny for another year. Most, but not all, haunted houses will be open on November 1st since it falls on a Saturday this year, but be sure to check for closing times before you head out the door.

The definition of “scary” is different for each and every one of us, and we all have our own unique fears and phobias, and even the best haunts in the Ville have “off nights” due to weather, crowd capacity, actor availability, faulty special effects and a dozen other factors. This list isn’t meant to be the definitive “Best of Louisville” list for the 2014 Halloween season, but just a highlight of some of my favorite experiences out there in the region on dark nights over the last month. I’ll start off by shining a light on some of the best and most creative scenes, actors and effects I’ve seen this season and finish it off by naming my TOP THREE HAUNTED ATTRACTIONS of the year.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

MOST INTENSE HAUNT OF 2014: The Haunted Hotel! Was there ever any doubt? If you’re looking for a haunt that’s going grab you, shake you and send you out the door a sobbing, shell shocked mess, the Haunted Hotel is for you!

LONGEST HAUNT OF 2014: Field of Screams! When it comes to bang for your buck, nobody delivers like the Field of Screams. You’ll spend over an hour in their signature attraction, which includes a corn maze, haunted barn and haunted woods, and at least another 40 minutes on the Hayride to Hell. This is an action packed, high quality and even exhausting attraction.

BEST OPENING SCENE: Literally, a Haunted House! New Albany’s classic Culbertson Mansion haunt delivered my favorite opening scene this year inside a witch’s manor. This scene includes great acting and interaction with the audience, an atmospheric set, a great “Boo!” finale and a fantastic hidden exit into the haunt.

BEST LAST SCENE: TIE! Nightmare Forest and the 7th Street Haunt! In a brilliant move, Nightmare Forest decided to take advantage of the concept behind “The Purge” and the infamous Internet prank that had Louisville residents locking their doors and hunkering down for “Louisville Purge Night” to deliver an effective and shocking ending to their haunted forest trail.

The 7th Street Haunt ends its tour of Fort Harmony with a descent into the fiery pits of Hell! There you’ll pass through an incredibly creative (and scratch made!) volcanic Hellscape complete with lava monsters and demons!

BEST MOVIE SCENES: Fear Fair! Nobody does realistic horror movie scenes like Fear Fair, and this year they’ve added the prison from “The Walking Dead,” an updated “Exorcist” scene and a brand new, extensive “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” finale.

BEST MAKE-UP AND SET DESIGN: The Devil’s Attic! Nobody pays quite as much attention to detail as the Devil’s Attic. The make-up, monster costumes and Gothic set design are two steps above what anybody else is even attempting in the Ville. In fact, even though the lighting, fog and special effects are tremendous, the Devil’s Attic looks almost as good with the lights on.

BEST NEW SCENE: Grim Trails! Nothing in town blew me away as much the new Maleficent’s Castle scene at Grim Trails. It’s a jaw dropping experience when you step out of the woods and are faced with the imposing drawbridge, 25 foot towers and huge wooden door of the castle. The scene is capped off with a spectacular special effects sequence that witnesses Maleficent transform into a gigantic fire breathing dragon and a jaunt through the castle’s catacombs.

BEST “WOW” FACTOR AND HIGH TECH HAUNT: Industrial Nightmare at Industrial Terrorplex. The signature maze at Industrial Terrorplex was pumped up on high tech steroids last year with a $300,000 renovation and nothing in town can touch it in terms of scale, lighting and special effects. It kept the best scenes of the past, the swamp scene and the giant monster, but completely changed everything else and is now almost overwhelming in its spectacle. Giant rats, bridges over water effects and the best animatronic creatures in town combine to create an unforgettable experience.

BEST OVERALL VALUE: Danger Run! Including THREE of the haunts included on this list for only $20, Danger Run also includes its signature road game puzzle for an entire night’s (or maybe two nights!) entertainment.

MOST INTERACTIVE HAUNT: Asylum Haunted Scream Park! If you want to be a part of the show and feel like you’ve been dropped into a horror movie where you are the star, Asylum Haunted Scream Park is the haunt for you. Zombie City is the most interactive attraction in town and Xterminate lets you actually shoot the zombies!

CREEPIEST ORIGINAL CHARACTER: The Spider Creature at Literally, a Haunted House! This thing is still showing up in my nightmares.


MOST DISTURBING HAUNT CHARACTER: The elevator goon in the Infected maze at Industrial Terrorplex! If you’ve ever met this guy, you’ll never forget him.

BEST UNEXPECTED SCARE OF THE SEASON: The flying vampire in Darkness Falls on Asylum at Asylum Haunted Scream Park.

BEST FAMILY HALLOWEEN EVENT: The Louisville Jack O Lantern Spectacular! The majesty and October beauty on display in Iroquois Park is a MUST SEE for both families and Halloween fanatics alike.

When it comes to total, overall experience, I have chosen my three favorite haunted attractions for the 2014 Halloween season. Each year my list changes and new scenes, new mazes and new cast members can greatly affect the results. It also comes down to personal tastes and what you’re looking for in a haunt. There are a great variety of experiences out there, and there are no bad haunts in the Ville.

Number Three: INDUSTRIAL NIGHTMARE at Industrial Terrorplex! I was blown away by the scale and quality of the new Industrial Nightmare maze, and I think it’s the most impressive big budget attraction in town, comparable in every way to the haunts at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando. 

Number Two: FEAR FAIR in Seymour, Indiana! Fear Fair has actually been my number one favorite haunt in the region for the last five years. It’s a huge haunt that takes 30 to 40 minutes to experience, and as a huge horror movie fan, it just feels like “home.” No one creates realistic horror film scenes like Fear Fair, and no one consistently delivers the number of shocking scares they deliver on an annual basis.

Number One: My favorite haunted attraction this season is GRIM TRAILS HAUNTED ATTRACTION! I don’t expect every haunt fan out there to agree with me because Grim Trails is bringing something completely different to the haunted house scene in Louisville and may not be what some haunt fans expect. There are no chainsaws, clowns or movie scenes. Instead, it’s a dark fantasy haunted woods lit by a tea light trail based on the Brothers Grimm tales and other fantastic childhood stories.

Grim Trails captures the essence of the Halloween season with mood and atmosphere instead of blood and debauchery, and while still certainly delivering on the expected scares, presents an attraction that can be enjoyed by fans of all ages. In only its second season, it was the majesty of the new Maleficent’s Castle scene that pushed Grim Trails to the top of my list this year. When Maleficent disappears into a blast of green smoke and transforms into a fire breathing dragon, I was completely sold on this extremely original and creative attraction. Highly recommended!

The Phantom of The Ville

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