16 thrilling things to do before Halloween

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Ann Fiore
Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Terror knows no season. For many of us, a good scare reminds us that we're alive.

But a good scare is even more delicious in October, when the leaves fall, darkness comes early and people go out of their way to spook themselves silly.

Tom Clayton was ready for us this year, opening the Janesville Community Haunted House on Sept. 13—a week before fall started and long before many area attractions were open.

This year's haunt is in a new, larger location: a four-story building at 207 N. Academy St. Clayton, his mother, Cindy, and a team of volunteers have designed 20-plus rooms, including a poltergeist room, hallway of doors, vortex tunnel and a cemetery that's twice the size of last year's boneyard.

The new haunted house is significant for the Claytons. It's the first one built without Tom's sister, Katie, who died in January from brain cancer. All proceeds from this house benefit the Fight for Katie Foundation, which supports scholarships and brain cancer awareness.

Katie Clayton loved haunted houses, and her brother feels she's with him on this one.

He looks forward to meeting you in the scream room.


Here's a roundup of area haunted houses, corn mazes and other fall activities—some of which are not scary at all. It's not a complete list, so keep an eye on local calendars, such as the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau's website, janesvillecvb.com.  

Haunted houses

—Janesville Community Haunted House. Here's a jolt of fear for a good cause: Proceeds support the Fight for Katie Foundation. This year's house is much larger and spookier, organizer Tom Clayton promises.

Times/dates: 7-10 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 7-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October. “Encore night” runs from 7 p.m.-midnight Friday, Nov. 1.  Children's matinees are offered from 1-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Cost: General admission is $8; children ages 5 and older get in for $4.

Information: Call 608-322-9229.

Note to parents: Non-matinee sessions are for those ages 13 and older.

—Fright Factory. Sponsored by the Rock Aqua Jays, the Fright Factory returns to haunt the east end of the former Panoramic factory, 1405 Riverside St., Janesville. The unsuspecting will be subjected to 15-plus gruesome scenes and two mazes.

Times/dates: 7-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 and Nov. 1-2. Also open from 7-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. No matinees will be offered.

Cost: General admission is $13; “Fast Fright” passes cost $18.

Information: Visit janesvillehauntedhouse.com

Note to parents: Not for young children.

—Triangle of Terror. After you're done at the Fright Factory, head to Fort Atkinson's Jellystone Park for Dr. Scary's Haunted House at N551 Wishing Well Lane, and to Stoughton for the Haunted Barn, 755 Highway 51.

Dr. Scary's features a new attraction called Pandemonium. The Haunted Barn is actually two barns next to a haunted cemetery and “field of screams”—and this is its final year.

Times/dates: Dr. Scary's is open from 7:30-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 and Nov. 1-2. The Haunted Barn opens at 7 p.m. on those dates and runs from 7-10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.

Cost: $12 for Dr. Scary's Haunted House plus $5 for Pandemonium; visit website for a discount. General admission to Stoughton's Haunted Barn is $18 or $25 for a fast pass.

Information: Visit drscaryshauntedhouse.com or the-haunted-barn.com.         

Note to parents: Not for young children.

—Forest of Freaks. This place bills itself as the “scariest and longest outdoor haunted forest.” It's located at The Edge Paintball, 5946 S. Highway 51, Janesville. Guests choose their own paths through the forest, which is full of monsters, scary clowns and who knows what else.

Times/dates: Opens at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26. Also open Sundays, Oct. 20 and 27, and Thursday, Oct. 31.

Cost: General admission is $10; speed pass costs $15.

Information: Call 608-931-3517 or email info@wescaredyou.com.

Note to parents: Not recommended for children younger than 13.

—Shockwave Haunts. Shockwave runs four different haunted attractions at Whitewater's Fuzzy Pig, N8660 Clover Valley Road, Whitewater. One haunt, “Saint Leah's Last Rites Nursing Home,” is an adult comedy attraction. The three others—Bloody Manor, Malignant Management and the Mystery Haunt—are built on different levels and require some agility.

Times/dates: Open at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26 and Thursday, Oct. 31.

Cost: From $8 for one haunt to $18 for four haunts.

Information: Call 262-473-4574 or visit thefuzzypigonline.com and click on “haunts.”

Note to parents: Not for young children.

—Pearce's Haunted Barn and Haunted Hayride. Pearce's Farm Stand in Walworth usually sells fresh fruits and vegetables, but these days the harvest is pure terror. Pearce's offers a haunted barn and hayride through a haunted cornfield on Friday and Saturday nights through Saturday, Nov. 2, at W5740 N. Walworth Road, Walworth.

Times/dates: Dusk until 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 and Nov. 1-2.

Cost: $12 for the haunted field, $16 for the haunt and $22 for both.

Information: Call 262-949-4992 or visit pearcefarms.com.

Note to parents: Not for young children.

Other hauntings

—Spooky Train Ride and Haunted Train of Terror. Something happens to Thresherman's Park after the Rock River Thresheree wraps up on Labor Day. The soot-belching Cannonball still runs the rails in the park, along Highway 51 between Janesville and Edgerton, but it turns into a haunted train for two weeks in October.

Dates/times: Spooky train rides for younger children run from 3-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27. Scarier rides are offered from 6-10 p.m. Saturdays, 6-9 p.m. Sundays.

Cost: $6 for those ages 7 and older, $4 for children ages 3-6.

Information/discount coupon: facebook.com/HauntedTrainRides

Note to parents: Parental guidance strongly recommended.

—Haunted hayride. Dan Patch Stables, located at Lake Geneva's Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, will offer a mostly family-friendly haunted hayride this year instead of a corn maze.

Times/dates: Open 6 p.m.-midnight Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 11-12, 18-19, 25-26 and Nov. 1-2. Also open from 6-10 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 13, 20 and 27, with extended hours until midnight Oct. 13.

Cost: $13 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 and younger.

Information: Call 262-215-2105 or 215-5303, or visit danpatchstables.com.

Note to parents: The first ride of the evening—at 6 p.m.—is the most family friendly.

Corn mazes

—Skelly's Farm Market corn maze. Skelly's offers two new corn mazes every year: a themed maze, which this year is “Flight of the Pumpkins,” and the “Impossible Maze,” which gets harder every year. Visitors can try them by day or at night at Skelly's, 2713 Hayner Road, Janesville. The market also features lots of activities for kids, Halloween treats, pumpkins and apples.

Times/dates: Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Visitors can enter the night maze from 6:30-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, and Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 18-19 and 25-26, and from 6:30-8 p.m. Sundays, Oct. 13, 20 and 27.

Cost: $3 for wagon rides, $6 for both mazes until 5 p.m., $7.50 for a wagon ride/maze admission. Night maze admission is $6 after 6:30 p.m.

Information: Call 608-757-1200 or visit skellysfarmmarket.com.

—Autumn Adventures at Busy Barns Adventure Farm. The Fort Atkinson farm, W7675 Highway 12, is designed with young children in mind. Besides a 4-acre trivia corn maze, the farm has hayrides, a pumpkin patch, a petting zoo and a pumpkin launcher.

Times/dates: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends through Thursday, Oct. 31.

Cost: $8 per person.

Information: Call 920-691-6742 or visit busybarnsfarm.com.

—Salvation Army Lake Camp corn maze. This 10-acre maze is located at East Troy's Army Lake Camp, off County ES on Army Lake Road. The grounds also feature a pumpkin patch, corn cannon and lots of stuff for kids to do, including paintball.

Times/dates: 5-8:30 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 2.

Cost: $8 for those ages 13 and older, $5 for children ages 5-12.

Information: Call 262-642-6400 or visit www.usc.salvationarmy.org/armylake.

Other events

—Enchanted Forest and Hollywood Hayride. Children meet characters from their favorite fairy tales during a candle-lit walk through Janesville's Palmer Park and on the hayride. Treats, barrel rides, games and an inflatable slide are also on site. Activities are sponsored by Janesville Leisure Services and local businesses and volunteers.

Times/dates: 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23-24, and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26.

Cost: $1.50 per adult, $2.50 per child for the Enchanted Forest. Hayrides are $3 per person.

Information: Call 608-755-3030.

Additional activity: Costumed characters will pass out treats on the Trick-or-Treat Trail from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, in Palmer Park.

—Spirits of Rock County. This weekend, 10 people get to hunt for ghosts while spending the night at Janesville's Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St. If you're not one of them, you still will have a chance to talk with paranormal investigators and try their equipment.

Times/dates: 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, and 7-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26.

Cost: $15 for adults ages 18 and older, $10 for students ages 12-17.

Information: Call 608-756-4509 or visit rchs.us.

Note to parents: No children younger than 12 allowed.

Reveal event: The Rock County Historical Society will let guests on the overnight tour share their experiences with the public Friday, Nov. 1. Tickets are $25 and include heavy appetizers and drinks. Guests must be ages 21 or older.

—Smashing pumpkin drop. It's one thing to ride a zipline through the colorful fall foliage. It's quite another to carry a pumpkin and try to hit a bull's-eye while zipping by at 45 mph.

Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, N3219 County H, offers the pumpkin drop for everyone who takes the full canopy tour and for groups of eight or more who just want to ride the dual racing zipline. Anyone who hits the bull's-eye gets a prize.

Times/dates: Friday through Thursday, Oct. 25-31. Reservations required to hold a time.

Cost: $30 to smash a pumpkin on the dual racing zipline, $95 for adult canopy tour, $85 for youth canopy tour (ages 7-15). Season passes for 2014 also on sale.

Information: Call 262-248-9271 or visit lakegenevacanopytours.com.

Note to parents: Kids must be at least 7 years old to ride.

—Murder at the Masquerade. An esteemed librarian is found dead, and party-goers have to solve the crime in this murder mystery, sponsored by the Literacy Connection and Friends of Hedberg Public Library. Masquerade attire encouraged but not required.

Date/time: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, Hedberg Public Library, 316 S. Main St., Janesville.

Cost: $40 per person, which includes food. Tickets available at the library, the Literacy Connection, 205 N. Main St., and Book World, 2451 Milton Ave.

Information: Visit HedbergPublicLibrary.org/murder.html.

Note to parents: Adults only.

—YMCA Family Fun Day. Children can play games, do crafts and use up some energy in the bounce house as adults sweat through Halloween Zumba at the annual Family Fun Day at the YMCA of Northern Rock County's downtown headquarters, 221 Dodge St., Janesville. All facilities, including the aquatics center, are free to use. Also sponsored by Freedom Plastics.

Times/dates: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.

Cost: Free.

Information: Call 608-754-YMCA/9622.

Note to parents: Wear a costume!

Last updated: 7:22 am Thursday, October 10, 2013

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