Dr. Scary's Haunted House making spooky return
DELAVAN—Dr. Scary's Haunted House was the most memorable haunted attraction I visited in 2014.
Something about its claustrophobic corridors, disgusting sets, clever animatronics and unusual props stuck with me. It was by far the best local haunted house I visited during my tour of about a dozen attractions.
Imagine my disappointment when I learned the haunt was going on hiatus for not one but two years.
I'm happy to say Dr. Scary's is finally returning, and the haunt's owner, Steve Cline, said it will be bigger and better than ever.
“I wanted to make sure we came back equal or stronger than when we went out, and for sure we'll come back stronger and better,” he said.
After the haunt closed in 2014, Wisconsin was hit with some heavy wind and snow. Parts of the outdoor haunt at Jellystone Park in Fort Atkinson were damaged in the weather.
That won't be a problem moving forward. Dr. Scary's has relocated to giant warehouses in Delavan. Not only is the space bigger, but there's room to expand, protection from the elements, and the ability for Cline to make the haunt a permanent fixture instead of one he and his team have to build and tear down each year.
“I mean, over half our labor, over half our revenue went just for that,” he said. “We didn't have the resources (to expand) because we spent so much time just getting a tent up and then, at the end of a season, getting things down.”
Cline owns Jellystone Park, but relocating was the right move, he said.
“We just knew we could do so much more and so much better, but we'd outgrown that facility,” he said. “We had enough stuff—still do—for four haunts.”
And that's what Cline wants, eventually.
Back at Jellystone Park, Dr. Scary's included a second attraction called Pandemonium. The feature aimed not so much to scare customers but disorient their senses with strobe lights, walls of smoke, rooms full of mirrors and deafening music.
Cline didn't have the time this year to build the feature, but he plans for it to return next year. He also expects it to be bigger than it was in 2014.
This year, Dr. Scary's will include two haunts with a total of four themes. Customers will start in some crypts before moving onto a swamp filled with creepy creatures. Afterward, they'll go through the dungeons of terror and eventually see the mad experiments of a disgusting laboratory.
Of course, every room and hallway will be filled with actors, props and gore. There also will be an abundance of animatronics—props and features that move when patrons trigger a sensor.
“We have a lot of animations. Probably more than anybody,” Cline said.
The best scares come from people, which is why Dr. Scary's features 60 actors. But animatronics help, too, he said.
“It's just an easy way to add more scare to the haunt,” Cline said.
Another difference is Dr. Scary's is better lit than many haunts. It's easy to put customers in a dark hallway and have actors pop out at them.
“That works, but we're at a higher level than that,” Cline said. “We don't have to be in the dark. We can scare you with some light.”
Light also will help customers better see the gnarly props adorning each room. The haunt is recommended for those ages 14 and up—and probably for good reason.
“We have enough gore so you can say 'ooh' and 'ahh,' but we want more than that,” Cline said. “We want to scare you. We want pee on the floor.”