Photo Credit: Bonnie Kenaz-Mara

Back in the day, I worked for three seasons in Chicago’s haunted houses. If you think it’s a rush being scared by costumed characters in gruesome scenes, it’s 100 times more fun to work one. A number of friends I introduced to haunted house acting work 15 years ago are still in the industry.

I loved playing Carrie in the kitchen, covered in blood, making cupboards and drawers fly with my mental powers, even though I have a real neck scar from getting nailed by a drawer. I’ve also got a few permanent scars from falling into a four-foot deep hole where the creature under the bed lurked.

I still loved playing scary Carrie, the bloody bride, and other intense characters. We made more than a few grown men wet their pants and made thousands of people run screaming. I do feel bad about the woman who got so freaked out she ran into a metal pole, a few feet from the well marked exit, as she tried to escape out the side.

Since then, we’ve had children and we’re now familiar with the kinder gentler haunts, as well as the kind that leave a mark. Last year we all loved the free, kid friendly 14th District Haunted Cop Shop, but rumor is it’s not happening again, since the main proponent retired. For kid appropriate haunts, we recommend checking out the Chicago Park District’s annual listings like the Trails of Terror and Nightmare at 63rd Street Beach Haunted House (12 and up only).

Here are our favorites in the scary category.


Most Hardcore Haunt:

Statesville Haunted Prison
17250 S. Weber Road
Crest Hill, Illinois 60441
1-877-scared2 (722-7332)
Hours: Weekdays, 7 p.m. -10 p.m.
Weekends, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Price: $30
Group rates, VIP tickets with shorter wait times, and ticket specials are available on line.

My actor friends that work here confirm it’s the scariest, most intense haunt in the region. Since 1996, Statesville Haunted Prison has been terrifying Chicagoland. Statesville Haunted Prison has been voted #1 for eight years by


Best Scare and Scare-Less Zone:

Dream Reapers Haunted House
1945 Cornell Avenue
Melrose Park, IL 60160
October 1st – October 31st
Hours: Sunday – Thursdays: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays – Saturdays: 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Price: $20/$34 VIP Line Skip

I know some pretty creepy characters that work at Dream Reapers. This 22-room haunt has been rated the #1 haunted house in Illinois for three years in a row. They feature 40 actors/actresses, 40+ animatronics and create a full sensory experience, even including different smells that fit the theme of the rooms. Not recommended for children, but they will be admitted if you think they can handle it. No refunds if they can’t.


Dungeon Of Doom
2701 Deborah Ave.
Zion, IL 60099
Hours: Thursdays: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays: 7 p.m. until the last body crawls (must be in ticket line by midnight)
Saturdays: 7 p.m. until the last body crawls
Sundays: 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Open Late Sun – Oct 9th: 7pm until the last body crawls)
Halloween Monday: Open 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Price: $16-$40 (for multi-attraction packages)

Double decker delirium in two states, makes Dungeon of Doom worth checking out in Zion or Milwaukee, WI. The Chicago site has been scaring the pants off Chicagoans since 1997, and now features over 80 actors. They also offer several other attractions you can buy tickets for including the ever-popular Buried Alive events. New this year – an on-site photographer to memorialize your visit! No one under the age of 13 will be allowed in without an adult.

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For everything Halloween in Chicago, visit the CBS Halloween Directory.


Bonnie Kenaz-Mara explores adventures in urban-odd ball-off the wall-alternative-eco-punk parenting in Chi, IL. at