Whether you’re spooked, freaked, gettin’ the willies or a good ol’ case of the heebie-jeebies, fear is a sensation that by any other name would feel just as familiar.
In addition to being the only feeling that has its own section at the movie store, it has also inspired rides, rooms and entire theme parks dedicated exclusively to our innate need to run and scream for hours on end.
Fortunately for us, the deep, primordial emotion has slowly but surely climbed its way up the proverbial ladder from an indispensible tool of evolutionary survival to a costume aisle at Walmart.
This Halloween, Homo sapiens can get a complimentary case of goosebumps with the price of admission. Spines will tingle. Terror will be wrought. In the words of Kurtz, “The horror! The horror!”
The Haunted Basement
6 p.m.-midnight through Oct. 31
The Soap Factory
514 Second St. SE
The Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement burst onto the scene five years ago with a team of local artists and technicians who teamed together to break ground with inventive new ways to wet your pants. The basement is completely revamped each year, and the artists must stretch their twisted imaginations to the brink to build the entire set from scratch.
“We don’t recycle characters or costumes … occasionally we recycle a mask or something,” program and volunteer manager Lillian Egner said. “It is at its core an artistic experiment.”
This year, the Basement experimented with custom smells to unnerve the nasally sensitive. Egner noted that it’s the only haunted locale with a safe word to exit the frightmare. In just 11 days of operation in October, more than 200 people have cried uncle and been escorted out of the Basement.
“It’s been a record-breaking ‘uncle’ year,” Egner said.
7 p.m-12 a.m., Thursday – Saturday through Oct. 30
Valleyfair Amusement Park,
1 Valleyfair Drive, Shakopee.
Cost: $31.99 ($3.50 discount with college ID Oct. 28-29.)
Valleyscare is like Valleyfair, only scarier. Come the harvest moon, Minnesota’s favorite amusement park transforms into a place much more sinister. It’s where the lights come down, fog rolls across the park and a loop of the “Halloween” theme song is playing somewhere nearby.
Think cotton candy spider webs, off-key circus music, strobe lights and spontaneous “Thriller” flash mobs.
Is that a group of roving, undead insane asylum patients who escaped from their insane asylum for the undead? Probably. Valleyscare is the only place where you can go for a roller coaster ride after a good haunting. Valleyscare’s 90 acres is home to two “scare zones,” seven mazes and upwards of 300 monsters who roam the area.
Trail of Terror
7 p.m. - 11 p.m., Thursday – Sunday, through Oct. 31
3525 145th St. West, Shakopee
Cost: $18.95 ($3 off for tickets bought at Walgreens)
Trail of Terror is located just next to the second scariest place of all time: the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. Its expansive terror trail sprawls more than 2.5 “scare” miles, and hosts a quarter-mile heated indoor maze, a two-mile haunted hay ride, five trailers and a torture chamber where, for $5, patrons will be blindfolded, bound to a table and tortured for 10 minutes.
As noted in the disclaimer: You will be touched. You will be exposed to smells. You will be scared. After 18 years in the business, the Trail of Terror is like the old witch cursing you kids from her front stoop.
The event also has a DJ, beer pong — “boo-ze,” if you will — and a bean bag tournament. It’s a real Hall-bro-ween.
Each Halloween, it seems like everybody and their sister suddenly has a corn maze. Sever’s Corn Maze is undoubtedly the most elaborate, and right next to it is Scream Town; population boo-thousand.
Stalkers of the Corn is at Shafer’s corn maze and just a bit farther than that is Zywiec Garden Center’s Haunting Experience and Corn Maze— a haunted location that looks like somebody went buckwild at Party City.
Fergus Falls transplant and corn maze aficionado Jono Partain has been to just under a dozen corn mazes and can’t pin down what it is exactly that keeps people coming to the stalk exchange.
“I don’t know. You get lost in a corn maze and try to find your way out when people are scarin’ the crap outta ya,” Partain said.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
This year, even zoos are jumping on the Halloween bandwagon, or hay ride, as it were. Family friendly events abound at the Minnesota Zoo’s Scarecrow Alley contest and the Como Zoo’s “Zoo Boo” event. Is that a zebra wearing a bumblebee costume? Let’s hope so. That would be frighteningly adorable.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
When UMN students plan for a vacation, having trip cancellation travel insurance is a worthwhile commodity to check out.
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