Linn's Haunted House
Location & hours.
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3805 6th Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313
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Here's your gore galore guide to 9 scary Halloween haunts in the Des Moines metro area
This scary guide to nine haunted houses in the metro area that include everything from small spooktacular yard haunts to sprawling scream parks..
Our guide to nine haunted houses and Halloween haunts in the Des Moines metro area spans from sure-to-scare outdoor haunts to sprawling scream parks. As the leaves turn colors and temperatures start to drop, those who love thrills will stand in long lines for a chance at 10 to 30 minutes (or more!) full of frights. This horror-bly good guide includes information about admissions and ticket pricing, schedules with dates and times, and locations. Get ready for some scares.
Adventureland Park Phantom Fall Fest
- Address: Adventureland Park, 3200 Adventureland Drive, Altoona
- Price: Tickets start at $34.99 online
- Hours: Saturdays through Oct. 28 from 1 to 10 p.m., Sundays through Oct. 29 from 1 to 8 p.m. and Fridays on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 from 6 to 10 p.m.
Palace Entertainment, the owner of Adventureland Park, hosts nationwide fall festivals at their amusement parks. This event features trick-or-treating for families Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., Halloween-themed food, haunted houses, and four new scare zones in the theme park. Daytime activities are suitable for all ages.
More: 8 haunted attractions are part of the biggest Halloween event in Iowa at Adventureland
Ames Haunted Forest
- Address: 1400 S. Fourth St., Ames
- Price: $25 cash only
- Hours: 7 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in October
Touch down in the Iowa State University college town for frights at the longtime favorite Ames Haunted Forest on Fridays and Saturdays in October. The attraction is set in a fantasy world involving a protagonist Vincent with frightening scenes and one 30-minute spooky walk down you-may-want-to-lose-your-memory lane.
Barnum Circus of Freaks
- Address: 97 Indiana Ave., Des Moines
- Price: $25 general admission
- Hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 to 11 p.m.
This new attraction to Des Moines takes daring visitors into a "chilling journey through the macabre" with dark corridors and "spine-tingling spectacles" in a circus that no one would call family-friendly, according to its website.
Halloween on the Hill
- Address: Sherman Hill in Des Moines
- Price: Free, but donations to Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Pantry are encouraged
- Hours: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 31
This longstanding popular Halloween night event returns for 2023 to the Sherman Hill neighborhood near downtown Des Moines. The streets are blocked off for visitors to roam around and enjoy food trucks, see live performances of "Thriller," a full-size pirate ship and more. New events this year include a Halloween bazaar at Hoyt Sherman Place, and live, theatrical shows staged outside the historic theater, according to event chair Ryan Howell. The local favorite is free, but visitors are asked to bring perishable food as donations for the Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Pantry or donate via a QR code.
More: Phantom Fall Fest brings haunted houses, scare zones, kids' activities to Adventureland
The Haunted Woods
- Address: 1478 Gateway Drive in Carlisle. Travel on Highway 5 and take exit 72, where Gateway Drive turns into E. County Line Road. The attraction will be a quarter mile down on the left-hand side with signs and lit tiki torches to guide you.
- Price: $20 for adults and $10 for students with a valid student ID on Saturdays. Cash only.
- Hours: Weekends in October from 7 to 11 p.m. The last weekend of October will open through Oct. 31.
Take your chance on about a 15-minute walk through The Haunted Woods Mare Witch Project II, a haunted path that will require an extra set of pants, according to owner Marilyn Harris. Lit with just tiki torches, go on and try to see what lurks in the shadows, if you dare.
Linn's Haunted House
- Address: 3805 Sixth Ave., Des Moines
- Price: $25 for adults, $5 off coupon available on Linn's Haunted House website good through the first weekend of October. $15 for children 10 and under.
- Hours: Weekends in October, hours vary. Open 7 to 10 p.m. on Oct. 26, 30 and 31.
Linn's Haunted House, which is also known as Linn's Super Market Haunted House, is known in the metro for the "scariest night ever." A laser hallway, self-proclaimed "claustrophobia-inducing" tunnels, a swamp, dozens of horror-filled scenes, and pitch-black hallways make for a long way through this haunt in a dark supermarket basement.
More: Find a pumpkin patch near Des Moines to visit this fall
- Address: 500 Locust St., Des Moines
- Price: Starts at $25
- Hours: Weekends in October and Thursdays Oct. 19 and 26. Starts at 7 p.m.
Longtime metro favorite Slaughterhouse is the brainchild of local Halloween mastermind Ian Miller. Dark hallways, gore, and plenty of drama take center stage at this Halloween haunt in the basement of a downtown building.
More: Everything to know if you dare to get tickets for Slaughterhouse in Des Moines this October
Sleepy Hollow's Haunted Scream Park
Address: 4051 Dean Ave., Des Moines
Price: Starts at $28 for children 11 and under and $30 for adults ages 12 and up
Hours: Friday and Saturday the first weekend of October. Fridays through Sundays starting Oct. 13. Open Oct. 26 and Oct. 31. Admissions end at 10:30 p.m. and the park closes at midnight.
The haunted scream park returns to Sleepy Hollow, the metro's favorite place for family fun during any season. For one price, families can enjoy more than 10 haunted attractions including an intense strobe light attraction called "Chaos" and the carnival-themed "Freakshow" with clowns and creatures full of gore galore.
Tormented Souls Haunt & Scream Park
- Address: Catch a ride on the terror bus at the southeast end of Edgewood Park, located on West Eight and Main Streets, in Madrid. It’s the only way to reach the scream park.
- Price: Starts at $22
- Hours: 7:15 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in October
There's sure to be screams at this Iowa outdoor haunted park. Torment your soul and run through the park's haunted maze or contain zombies on the zee-pocolypse zombie hunt paintball game, which includes live zombies and lots of frights. To experience all the scary sights that will haunt you this Halloween, catch a ride on the terror bus in Madrid. The haunt's website states that the event may be too intense for young children and children under 12 should be accompanied by an adult.
One haunted attraction not returning to Des Moines for 2023
Scare DSM, the family-owned scare facility that started frightening Des Moines in 2021, announced on its website its closed indefinitely, citing "irreconcilable differences with our financial investors."
Editor's note: The address for the Haunted Woods was updated.
Paris Barraza contributed to this article.
Jay Stahl is an entertainment reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow him on Instagram , Twitter , or reach out at [email protected] .
These 8 Haunted Places In Des Moines Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
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Looking for haunted places in Des Moines, Iowa ? All cities have urban legends and haunts, and Des Moines is no exception. In fact, haunted Des Moines actually has quite a few high schools on the list. (Students and faculty, beware!) Here are eight haunted places in Des Moines that will send chills down your spine.
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Have you experienced any of these haunted places in Des Moines? What about haunted abandoned places in Des Moines? Tell us about it in the comments! If you’re going to hit the road to visit some of these haunted places, take a look at our road trip essentials packing list ahead of time.
If you’re looking for more scares, c heck out these 10 hauntings In Iowa .
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
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Haunted places in des moines.
What are the scariest haunted houses in Des Moines?
One of the scariest haunted houses in Des Moines is Linn’s Haunted House on Sixth Avenue. Operating since way back in 1984, you’ll head through a black-out tunnel into a basement of horrors, which features over a dozen different scary scenes, like a marshy swamp and some not-so-fun clowns.
Where are the best places to see fall foliage in Iowa?
Fall in Iowa can be one of the most beautiful times of the year, and there are plenty of places across the Hawkeye State to take it in from. Here are some of the best places to see fall foliage in Iowa:
- In West Des Moines, there’s Brown’s Woods Forest Preserve . This 486-acre forest features tons of hickory and mature oak trees that you can explore from four miles of trails. You can also cross-country ski and snowshoe here in the winter.
- Brenton Arboretum is in Dallas Center and offers 141 acres of nature to roam through. You'll also find thousands of trees as well as a nature play area for kids and a horticulture library to browse.
Which state parks should I visit in Iowa?
There are a total of 83 state parks in Iowa for outdoor exploration. Here are some of the best ones to visit:
- In Maquoketa Caves State Park , you’ll have 111 acres to explore, complete with caves, bluffs, and forests. Aside from its fishing, birdwatching, and hiking opportunities, it also makes for a great spot for climbing. And make sure to schedule a tour of the caves!
- Established in 1919, Backbone State Park was Iowa’s first state park. The 1,415-acre park features 21 miles of hiking trails as well as rock climbing, boating, swimming, camping, biking, and caves.
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Linn's Haunted House
Since 1984, Linn’s Super Market Haunted House has been providing the “Scariest Night Ever” to visitors from all over the Midwest. From the moment you crawl in to the pitch black tunnel and descend into the basement, you know you are in for an experience unlike any other haunted attraction around.
-Explore dozens of scenes of haunted horror. -Feel your way through pitch black hallways. -Crawl through several claustrophobia-inducing tunnels. -Experience the “laser hallway”. -Avoid sinking in the marshy swamp.
-Watch out for spider webs and flying insects. -Try not to get crushed by moving walls. -Don’t “clown around” and you might make it out.
If it’s surprising, it’s probably somewhere inside this very long haunted house.
Linn’s Haunted House relies on suspense and startles rather than blood and gore, making it the most unique classic haunted houses around.
Come find out why people drive from hours away just to experience what the terror (and fun) that lurks inside the dark, old supermaket basement…
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Linn's Haunted House – Des Moines, Iowa
Voted BEST HAUNTED HOUSE! One of the oldest haunted houses in Iowa!
Linn’s Haunted House Will Leave You Electrified
Linn’s Haunted House Will Leave You Electrified By Lin McGlynn
What’s creepy and what’s kooky, mysteriously spooky, what’s altogether kooky? Linn’s Haunted House, located at 3805 6th Ave in Des Moines during October each year. Let’s meet the originator of this famous haunted house, Merlyn Linn.
Merlyn grew up on a farm near Dayton, Iowa. After graduation in 1956, he joined the Navy. In 1959, he married his high school sweetheart, Shari. After spending one year at Grandview, he went to work full-time at Lutz Super Valu on 6th Ave. “When the owner didn’t have enough help, he’d call me, and I’d go. My folks taught us how to work hard. They were pretty strict with us,” recalled Merlyn.
In 1964, Frank Lutz offered to sell the store to Merlyn. “My wife and I were struggling to make ends meet. We didn’t have any money, but he told me he’d carry the note,” said Merlyn. “We took inventory on a Saturday night. On Sunday, we met at the store and Frank gave me $15,000 in cash. On Saturday, I had $72 and on Sunday, I owned a supermarket. I was twenty-six years old.
Two of Merlyn’s cashiers were older women who were a real support for him. “I kept everything under the name of Lutz Super Valu for the next three years. I didn’t sell beer, and we were closed on Sundays. Most of the same customers knew me, so things kept going.”
“We eventually opened on Sundays, and we began to sell beer. The first day, I had a half-dozen people come and tell me they wouldn’t be back, because we were selling beer,” recalled Merlyn. “Frank would come to the store and ask me how I was doing. There was one time when beer was going up quite a bit. I wanted to buy some. Frank asked me if I’d like to buy $50,000 worth of beer. He wrote me a check, and I paid him back when I could. I had a basement full of beer,” smiled Merlyn.
“Merlyn and Shari have three daughters and a son: Debbie, Brett, Karie and Kathy. “I was always heavily involved with them. If they were out playing jacks, I joined in. I coached softball and baseball for over fifteen years. One year, I coached four teams. Our daughters were all pitchers. They played softball at the Pink Park on the north side of Des Moines. Our record was 429 wins and 36 losses. Our son played in Beaverdale, so I would leave one game to go to another, remembered Merlyn. “My first year coaching at Beaverdale was our PeeWee League. Brett was eight years old. We came in late as coaches, and we were given all of the boys who had not been drafted. We ended up winning the league with a record of 18-2. Many of my softball teams traveled to regional and national tournaments. We were ranked as high as fifth and 12th in the nationals.”
He continued to talk about his children. “Their grades were good, and their teachers liked them. If they were disciplined at school, they knew that they would get it again when they got home,” said Merlyn. “My wife worked at Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, but quit working when the kids were born. When they got out of school, she was home. They were late now and then, but they knew she would be there. MY wife had real good judgement on certain kids. She would say, “’I don’t really care for you to hang around them.’ We would hear later how those kids had gotten into trouble.”
“The older I get, the more I realize I couldn’t have done any more, but I wish I could have. When the kids were growing up, the other kids in the neighborhood uses to bring me their bicycles to fix. We had almost two lots where we lived, so we had a lot of space. We’d play kick-the-can, and some of the kids would tell me that they wished I was their dad. Everybody had a ball.”
Merlyn smiled, “It paid off with the kids. We never really had any problems with them. They were popular kids. The girls were homecoming queens. They tell me now that they had a lot of respect for us as parents and a little bit of fear of ‘Dad.’ They didn’t want to hurt our family’s name. We see out values being carried though now to our grandchildren.”
It was in the late 60’s when Merlyn’s children wanted a haunted house of their own. They build it in their garage. “We hung drapes, built a guillotine with a fake head that fell off, had a casket and a witch. The neighbor kids came and KRNT, Channel 8 News, came out and filmed it. I went down to the studio to pick up the 16mm tape. I still have it today, and always think I’ll put in on video tape someday,” continued Merlyn.
“When my youngest was sixteen, I was in the garage and was reminded of those days. I said I was going to build a haunted house in the basement for the other kids. I think they thought that dad had gone a little wacky. I hired a guy to haul the stuff away in the basement. I started in March, and I worked days at the store and nights on the haunted house. I could see that we were not going to finish in time. I knew a guy who used to run a haunted house. Dick Ristau was president of the Soap Box Derby. I made a deal with him that if they could help me, I’d split the profits,” he recalled.
“We were one hour late in opening the first night, because we were still working on it. We didn’t just have kids come. There were also a lot of adults that went through. We had and 82-year old man go through the house. I didn’t even want them to go through, because I thought they might get hurt or have a heart attack. They went through and came out laughing and having fun!”
“The first year I got my money back on the lumber I put into the house. The next year we added on to it. We went into electric eyes and infrared beams. We bought a ton of black light bulbs that were quite expensive,” said Merlyn.
It was important to Merlyn to have it 100% safe. He bought separate insurance for the store and the haunted house. He hired three policemen to be there every night. “I’ve had the same three every year and we haven’t had any problems. Everyone is videotaped as they come in, so we know who went through and the time they came.”
Merlyn has received letters from people on how much they have enjoyed the haunted house. “It’s fun to see the thirty, forty and fifty year-olds that come through,” commented Merlyn. School buses bring children from all over the state. People line up for a block and a half on Friday and Saturday nights, with as many as 500 going through the house on an evening. The haunted house requires 25 -30 people to operate it each night. Profits from the house are shared with the groups who participate each night. Some of the groups who have been involved are the East High Booster Club, the North High Booster Club, the Hoover Booster Club, the Boy Scouts, DMACC students, the Saydel High School Music Department, Drake University, and Odd Fellows.
Merlyn lives each day with these thoughts in mind: “What you do today, you have to live with tomorrow. I live each day as good as I can. That way I wake up tomorrow and feel good.”
Thank you, Merlyn, for the bicycles you’ve fixed, the games of kick-the-can you’ve played, the teams you’ve coached, the business you’ve maintained, the opportunities you’ve shared to raise funds, and for the smiles you’ve given us in the ghostly tunnels of Linn’s Haunted House.
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Haunted Houses of Des Moines
By Allen Huffman
As a great poet once said…
Trick or treat., smell my feet., give me something good to eat..
With those words of wisdom, we begin our journey to Halloweentown. This town is full of wonderful fall traditions, such as telling corny jokes to neighbors in exchange for candy. But every town seems to have a “bad part of town,” and for Halloweentown, there are several.
Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House
You know you’re in a bad part of town by the screams that come from certain buildings. For example, down the road at Linn’s Supermarket, something quite terrifying has been going on in their basement since 1984. If you are brave enough to give them $20, they will allow you to get down on your hands and knees and crawl into their dark, dark basement. You will encounter dozens of rooms of classic Halloween jump scares. At Linn’s Haunted House, the frights are more “things that go growl in the dark” than heavy metal mayhem. Still, a glow-in-the-dark plastic skeleton has never been scarier.
What : Linn’s Supermarket Haunted House
Where : 3805 6th Ave Des Moines, IA 50313
When : Sep 30, Oct 7-8, 14-15, 21-23 and 27-31, 2022. Opens at 7 p.m.
How Much : $20
Discounts : Save $5 the first two weekends if you print a coupon from their website.
Website : https://www.linnshauntedhouse.com/
Phantom Fall Fest
There is one part of Halloweentown that has been known as a place for happiness and fun for almost fifty years … but all that changes this year. Reports of a phantom at Adventureland Park have been confirmed. It seems this once lovely amusement park has been turned into four different houses of haunts, while three other zones in the park have become quite scary. So scary, in fact, anyone under 18 must have a chaperone (21+) with them to even be there. But, for family fun, Saturday and Sundays before 6 p.m. will be far more pleasant. Family rides will be available during the day, then the phantom takes over and shuts them down leaving only thirteen rides that will shake, rattle and roll visitors. There hasn’t been a Halloween event at Adventureland since their 2018 Haunted Hotel, and never one inside the park, so this is one you don’t want to miss.
What : Phantom Fall Fest
Where : 3200 Adventureland Dr, Altoona, IA 50009
When: Sep 30-Oct 2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23 and 28-30, 2022. Fri 6pm-11pm, Sat 1pm-11pm, Sun 1pm-8pm
How Much : $69.99 + $20 parking (plus tax) at the gate. Credit/gift cards only (no cash).
Discounts : $34.99 + $15 parking (plus tax) online.
Website : https://www.adventurelandresort.com/things-to-do/events/phantom-fall-fest
Folks who frequent downtown may think finding a parking spot scary, but if you’ve ever driven down Locust St. late at night, you might find something even scarier: the remnants of an old abandoned (?) Slaughterhouse. The old timers say it’s no place for children. Loud music and screams can be heard reverberating through the thick walls. Yet brave, brave folks still line up to go in. Sometimes they come out, assuming they don’t get stuck admiring the movie-set quality scenery.
What : The Slaughterhouse
Where : 500 Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
When : Sep 30-Oct 2, 7-9, 14-16, 20-23 and 27-30, 2022. Opens at 7 p.m.
How Much : $25-$30 (online discount) depending on the night.
Website : http://slaughterhousedm.com/
If a former slaughterhouse still isn’t enough, just over a mile away on Indiana Ave is Scare DSM. Some say this location was haunted before the new crew opened up shop in 2021, but we have it on good authority that any hauntings here now are completely different hauntings. Details on what goes on inside are hard to come by, but based on some images that have been smuggled out, whatever it is sure looks terrifying.
What : Scare DSM
Where : 97 Indiana Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314
When : Sep 30-Oct 1, 7-8, 14-15, 20-23 and 27-30, 2022. Opens at 7:30.
How Much : $25-$45 depending on the night.
Website : http://scaredsm.com/
Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park
If all of this downtown activity sounds a bit too intense, perhaps a trip out east would be more relaxing. Just past the state fairgrounds is a little Sleepy Hollow. It is quite peaceful…usually. This time of year, there’s a reason they add “haunted” and “scream” to their name. Not all their attractions are scream inducing, though, so this one might be the best bet for families wanting to spend an evening together with food and decorations. If anyone braves their multiple haunted attractions, they will find that the terror is often over quickly enough to not cause too many nightmares…
What : Sleepy Hollow Scream Park
Where : 4051 Dean Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50317
When : Sep 30-Oct 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-23 and 27-30, 2022. Opens at 7 p.m.
How Much : $30-$48 depending on the night.
Discounts : $19.99 offer for opening weekend only.
Website : http://sleepyhollowscreampark.com/
Tormented Souls Haunt and Scream Park
Sometimes running away is the only way to survive. Running away just over half an hour northwest to the peaceful Edgewood Park in Madrid, Iowa might be a great survival technique. The park is quite safe, the locals say, but don’t linger too long. A mysterious “terror bus” has been known to show up regularly and transport visitors deep in to the woods, dropping them off at the abandoned mining town of Zook Spur. Many Tormented Souls haunt this area, but if you see any zombies, you can sign up to blast them with paintballs and try to end the Zee-pocalypse.
What : Tormented Souls Haunted and Scream Park
Where : Edgewood Park, 340th St, Madrid, IA 50156. (follow the signs to the proper side)
When : Oct 1, 7-8, 14-15, 22-22 and 28-29, 2022. First bus pickup is at 7:15 p.m.
How Much : TBA as of 9/26/2022, so check their website.
Website : https://tormentedsoulshaunt.com/tickets/
And, as they say, more…
And if this isn’t far enough away, there’s always a drive up north to the Ames Haunted Forest ( http://www.ameshauntedforest.com/ ) or perhaps to the Trail of Terror fundraiser ( https://www.baxterfundays.com/trail-of-terror ) in Mingo, Iowa. Both are extensive outside haunted hikes.
Regardless of which ones you choose, the haunts of Halloweentown greatly appreciate your visit.
2022 is the year we say goodbye to the Waukee Haunted House as well as the Ankeny Haunted Barn. Both have closed down, and will be missed by all who screamed there.
Allen Huffman publishes a website that covers all the haunted attractions in the area. Find even more information on spooky spots in Des Moines at www.dmhauntedhouses.com .
For additional Halloween fun, be sure to visit dsm4kids’ Halloween Fun Guide .
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Haunted Houses in Des Moines
Explore the scary side of Halloween, if you dare…
In the Des Moines metro, there are several options both indoors and out to enjoy being scared. Grab your older kids or book a babysitter for the night and get spooky.
Where: 500 Locust St Des Moines
When: Weekends starting September 29th, times vary
Admission: $20 – $45, advance tickets required
Features: A local favorite takes scary to a whole new level, literally. Now located in a massive subterranean lair, you can be sure they’ll take advantage of the darkness below.
Ames Haunted Forest
Where: 1400 S 4th St, Ames
When: Weekends in October, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Features: Take a nighttime walk through these woods if you dare. The added element of the outdoors creates an extra chill during fall nights, just beware of what lurks behind the trees.
Barnum: Circus of Freaks
Where: 97 Indiana Avenue, Des Moines
When: Weekends in October, 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Admission: $25 – $45
Features: From spine-tingling spectacles to jaw-dropping curiosities, this haunted attraction is a chilling journey through the macabre. Dare to witness the eerie, the unsettling, and the supernatural as you navigate through darkened corridors and shadowy chambers.
Sleepy Hollow Haunted Scream Park
Where: 4051 Dean Avenue, Des Moines
When: Weekends in October, times vary
Admission: $28 – $48
Features: With features like Nightmare’s Funeral Home, Castle of Blood, Terror in the Trees, and new this year, The Island of Dr. Demonik, you are sure to get a good scare or two in.
Linn’s Haunted House
Where: 3805 6th Avenue, Des Moines
When: Weekends starting September 29, hours vary
Features: In its 39th year at this former supermarket you can crawl through several claustrophobia-inducing tunnels. Also, watch out for spider webs and flying insects while trying not to get crushed by moving walls!
Phantom Fall Fest
Where: Adventureland, Altoona
When: Weekends in October, hours vary
Admission: $34.99 and up
Features: When the sun goes down, the Phantom takes screams to the extreme with four haunted houses and three scare zones. Creepy characters create hair-raising haunts as they prowl the park after dark.
Where: 2310 saint charles rd winterset, iowa.
When: Weekends in October
Features: Nights include lights, sounds, fog, and special effects. Kids ages 6 and older can come during daytime hours.
Tormented Souls Haunt & Scream Park
Where: Catch the Terror bus in Edgewood Park in Madrid, Iowa.
When: Fridays and Saturdays in October
Admission: starting at $22
Features: 22 acres of spirits, zombies, demons, and mayhem. Scares include a haunted maze and Zee-Pocalypse paintball.
Bonus – Villisca Ax Murder House
Where: 508 E 2nd St., Villisca
When: Year-round, Tuesday-Sunday, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Admission: $5 – $10 for day tours
Features: Take a little drive down to Villisca in southwest Iowa for not technically a haunted house or is it? This scene of a gruesome crime in 1912 provides daily tours or for the true-crime enthusiast, you can spend the night!
<< BONUS: Find more Halloween and fall activities here . >>
What are your favorite haunted houses in de moines let us know, related articles more from author.
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Des Moines Haunted Houses
Iowa-based haunted house information, since 2010. Posting haunted house videos since 2006.
Vote for your favorite!
If you think you are done visiting haunted houses for the season, please vote for your favorites now. (If you are not sure you are done, you can’t still vote, and if you go to any more haunts later, you can re-vote using the same e-mail address and I will discard your earlier entry.)
Ames Haunted Forest Renaissance Faire?
11/20/2023 Update: Their website has been updated to have more info on the first page.
Coming to the haunted forest in 2024 will be a different type of walk thru the woods.. the new Ames Renaissance Faire . As of today, November 19, 2023, not much is on their official website – in fact, the main page doesn’t even give the date (never a good sign of being organized), but some clicking around reveals the weekend of April 13-14, 2024 will be the date.
There will probably not be any chainsaws…
But first, some history…
2010: The Beginning
In 2010 , a new haunted house appeared in Des Moines: Big Al’s Slaughter House . The cost was $12. It was not open when I tried to visit, but I recall it listed a whole bunch of nights of operation. They were clearly thinking big. This began the evolution that led to today’s downtown location.
2011: Skate South
In 2011 , the haunt returned as simply “The Slaughter House.” It also moved to a different location – 10506 Southwold Rd. (just behind Skate South, and currently home of an auto repair store ). The cost remained $12 (or $10 with a coupon). This was the first time I visited. This was also the first video interview I did for this website:
This in-character interview with “Trig” let us all know that this would be a different type of haunt. The theme was a pig rendering plant — with visitors acting as the pigs. In the interview, you can see some clips of the original “long metal wall hallways” that made up the majority of the path through the haunt. I do not know if the 2010 location “rolled visitors in” on a platform like 2011 did, but you can see this concept appeared very early on in the evolution of this attraction.
2012-2013: Pleasant Hill
In 2012 and 2013 , the haunt was held at The Batter’s Box at 1300 Metro East Dr Suite 126, in Pleasant Hill (currently Becky’s Dance Studio ). The price remained $12 and a $15 “front of line” ticket was offered online. These early editions of the haunt features crawling, and the cart to pull visitors in was upgraded. I seem to recall they used a movie dolly track.
In 2013, they were awarded “ Best Actors ” (always in character) and “ Best Theme ” (consistent throughout) by Des Moines Haunted Houses.
And that, we thought, was the end of The Slaughterhouse. No event was held in 2014 , but the website had some interesting messages:
And while today they have over 11,000 followers on Facebook, that wasn’t the case back then. Here is a list of Facebook likes after 2014 to show where The Slaughterhouse was after three years of operation:
The event did not return in 2015 or 2016 .
In 2017 , Slaughterhouse returned in a brand new downtown location. Instead of temporary metal walls put up and torn down each season, they had a location that allowed them to build permanent sets. These sets were incredibly detailed and looked like something from Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights or even a movie. The price for this upgraded experience was $20.
In 2018 , something happened that changed the landscape of haunted attractions in Des Moines forever: Slipknot . Slaughterhouse partnered with the Iowa-born band and got national attention. News articles that formerly would list all kinds of haunted houses to visit began only reporting on “the Slipknot haunted house.” My news alerts went crazy that year, picking up articles and blog posts from across the country discussing this collaboration. To this day, when folks join my discussion group on Facebook and are asked “what is your favorite haunted house?” quite a few will still simply type “Slipknot.” The price remained $20 with a $30 VIP ticket available.
Things continued at this location in 2019 .
2020: Locust Street
In 2020 , the haunted would move deeper into downtown at 500 Locust St. The new 20,000 square foot facility allowed building even larger sets and gave it room to add a heavily-themed escape room experience and, coming soon, a speakeasy (bar) called The Haunt . The new bar is expected to open in November 2023.
After four years in the same location, it looks like Slaughterhouse has found a permanent place to call home. Along with this new home, a new theme has replaced the “here, pig!” rendering plant motif. Visiting today leads guests through a detailed story about finding old coal mines below ground and exploring them to find all kinds of places—including a hideout once used by Al Capone. About the only thing remaining from the “pig rendering” versions are their actors who refer to guests as “pigs” or “piggies.” (So don’t be offended if someone calls your significant other a “short pig.” It’s not like that. 😉
DMHH visited on Halloween night. This was my first time going through since it moved to this location. We purchased tickets in advance and were part of the first group to enter when they opened at 7pm. After being wanded for weapons, we were give the chance to get a photo at a backdrop which featured a “face in a hole” over two human torsos.
After this we waited for a bit, then a group of about eight of us was lined up against a chainlink fence. An amplified worker gave us the rules (basic stuff like no touching, no lights, etc.). The outdoor music was very loud and drowned out most of what she said, but we all got the gist. (There is also a warning sign next to the entrance door.)
About about two minutes, we entered the building. We wandered through some halls and were lined against a wall by another worker. She quizzed us on the “gosh darned rules” we just learned outside. Someone answered wrong and was sent to the back of the line. Hopefully they was able to rejoin their group later 😉
A minute and a half later, we were sent down a hallway to a flight of stairs. (A bypass elevator is available, so be sure to ask about that if you have trouble doing stairs — you’ll have stairs coming up when you exit as well.)
Our group of about eight kind of got lost down a backstage path and had to be nudge back on course which they did as soon as they found us about thirty seconds later.
“This is not good. We’re lost already.” Someone in our group
We were ushered in to an “elevator” (which worked perfectly fine and absolutely nothing terrible happened to it), and then we were lined up against a wall a third time (akay, is this a Slaughterhouse kink?). They started splitting us up and loading us in to four-seat mine cars which where then pushed through what can only be described as a “kick ass classic carnival dark ride.” Nothing in town comes close to this. It was my favorite part of the visit.
Up to this point, I think most of the experience could be described as “rules and preshow.” At about ten minutes in, we leave the cart and a more traditional haunted house experience begins. For the next twelve minutes, we wander through dark hallways, amazing sets, scenes of gore, caves-, and basically more different scenes than I can recall. The final one is a walk through The Haunt , the upcoming speakeasy that is one big show scene during the haunted house.
It finally exits through the gift shop where you can buy shirts, coozies and more. (There are no photos allowed while inside the haunted house, so this photo was taken on the day I did the video interview with Ian Miller. The normal work lights were on. Even the gift shop is spookier when the haunt is in operation.)
Our total experience from being lined up outside to exiting the gift shop was about twenty-two minutes. Oddly, we came out alone and do not know what happened to the rest of the group we were initially in. Did they get out before us? Or did they get stuck inside? (There is one particular thing in the haunt which caught us off guard — even though we had been shown it during the interview — which may have allowed us to get separated from the rest.) If you are with a group that is more cautious (I was leading for the beginning section of the tour, blindly walking in to the darkness without hesitation because I’m totally that brave), I could see the whole experience lasting longer.
It is a heck of a bang for the buck.
I have never seen a haunt in Des Moines that had sets as detailed as the ones here. The place is designed with many (many) actor hiding spots that allow them to “boo” at groups multiple times as they twist through the hallways. There are several very large moving props (our favorite was in the “sewer”), a squish hallway, a laser swamp and even a Vortex Tunnel. It felt very much like the Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights houses, except is was four times longer and the actors get to be characters rather than just endlessly acting to a sound track throughout the night. (This let some ass-hat hidden in the walls call out my name repeatedly during the first section. Hey, Slaughterhouse! NO ONE LIKES THAT. Which is exactly why the haunts love to do it…)
It was a fun time. For those who appreciate details, the rooms were generally too dark to really catch the level of detail they have. Many areas could have just been black painted plywood as we bumped our way through them. But, when they do want you to see something, it’s usually large, epic and scary.
Slaughterhouse separates itself from other haunts in the area by being more of a “lifestyle.” It has a huge following of loyal fans. This makes it unique and it stands apart from anything else we have in the area. Whether you find it scary or not is up to what scares you — just like with any other haunt around.
And if you missed out, they will open for one special night on December 2nd, 2023 for a “Christmas” overlay featuring Krampus . We already have our tickets, and you can get yours at https://slaughterhousedm.com .
Maybe we’ll see you there. (Or not. Since this version is a “lights out” version.)
The Haunt speakeasy recap
We visited Slaughterhouse’s new The Haunt bar this past weekend, and have a quick writeup about it over on Doing Des Moines . Drop by and check it out :
The Haunt speakeasy
Night Eyes video
And with this, my haunted house videos for 2023 are done. For now. There may be another one focusing on the Krampus event coming up on December 2nd, and maybe something about the horror-themed speakeasy, The Haunt , opening up later this month as well. But until then, this is it…
A second Slaughterhouse video interview
On Halloween night we visited Slaughterhouse and finally got to see it at its current location. I’d seen it at three different spots over the year, so I think the only one I missed was the very first year in 2010 when it was “Big Al’s Slaughterhouse.”
I will have a whole recap of the attraction, but for now, here’s Lefty…
Tunnel of Terror video
Ever wonder just what a “haunted car wash” is? So did we, so we visited Tommy’s Express Tunnel of Terror last week and found out. This video is mostly raw footage of what they were doing outside the car wash, and then a few snippets of things they had inside. It was mostly lots of clowns with knives messing with people in their car 😉 FUN! And my car now shiny again.
Review on Google, Yelp, Facebook…
After you are done voting , please help others know where to spend their money by reviewing the haunted houses on Facebook , Google and Yelp.
Facebook is important since it shows up high in search results. Google is important because that’s what Android phones use. Yelp is important because those are the reviews that show up on iPhone. (Obviously you can use Google and Facebook on anything, but it’s important to note that Yelp is a default for iPhone reviews.)
To make it easier, I have made this page with links to all the haunt’s review pages:
Click here to Review .
Pirate-Potter House video interview
Since 2001, the Selbys have been decorating their Des Moines house. Over the years, it has gotten famous (with TV news coverage) for themes such as Harry Potter and, this year, Mono-Chromatic Madness.
Halloween Silent Disco video interview
On Saturday, October 28th, Iowa Silent Disco took over space at The White Rabbit VR Arcade for a Halloween Silent Disco.
$10 off Haunted Woods on Mon 30 and Tue 31
Tonight (October 30) and tomorrow (October 31), you can get $10 OFF a trip through the Carlisle Haunted Woods by showing a post from their Facebook page. Go to the link below and scroll to find the discount offer:
You must show them the offer loaded up from their Facebook page. Be sure to give their page a Like or Follow while you are there.