The Haunt offers unique opportunity to laugh at friends

Courtesy Photo /
Dancers at the haunt entertain the audience

Courtesy Photo / Dancers at the haunt entertain the audience

Emanuel Johnson

With Halloween less than a week away, it’s time to start gearing up for the annual haunted house visit, if you haven’t already.

If you’re looking for a Halloween experience complete with confusing mazes, creepy clowns, elaborate scenery, rattling chainsaws and fear-inducing freaks around every corner, then The Haunt is your primary destination.

Located east of the intersection at Walker Avenue Northwest and Wolford Street Northwest in Grand Rapids, the venue offers four attractions – the Dark Maze, the Haunt, Claustrophobia and the Clown Asylum in 3-D, in that order – for an affordable 10th-anniversary price of $25.

The Dark Maze is the first of the four and is, well, a dark maze. Attendants must navigate through a wooden maze set against a forest backdrop and filled with grim reapers, crazed clowns, chainsaws and the shortest Jason Voorhees I’ve ever seen in my life. Though the actors are not allowed to touch the patrons, they do a decent job of distraction and doubling back in an effort to get a decent scare. The Dark Maze didn’t do it for me, but it was worth it to see my friend, who shall remain nameless, push me into the chainsaw gang and run out of the end of the maze.

After the Dark Maze comes the Haunt, the main attraction housed entirely in a warehouse. And being the main attraction, it commanded a long waiting list — I stood in line for more than an hour before finally entering the house. But while we waited, five dancers came onto a stage next to the line and entertained those still waiting to go in. Though I expected a less-than-stellar performance, I was actually impressed with the level of talent they displayed.

Upon entering the house, visitors are greeted by what looks to be a sarcophagus inscribed with the words “As you are, we once were. As we are, so shall you be.” The first part of the house is a haunted funeral home in which ghouls pop up from behind creepy portraits to scare visitors. There I realized how difficult it was to distinguish between actors and stuffed puppets. From the funeral home, visitors move through the back lot and into a wax museum complete with wax dummies of Freddy Kreuger, Hannibal Lecter and a more life-sized Jason Voorhees. Michael Myers then pops up with a butcher knife to scare the crap out of you.

After that, it became difficult to keep track of where I was going, though I took notice of the elaborate scenery. Everything looked so real, part of the reason why my original group of six merged into a larger group of 12 midway through the quarter-mile walkthrough. The most thrilling part for me came when we walked across a metal bridge and electricity began to spark on either side of us as the bridge moved.

I ran. So what?

As I made my way to the end, it got dark — really dark. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, let alone the source of several strange noises all around us.

The third attraction, the Clown Asylum in 3-D, makes visitors navigate through a short maze of a room with 3-D glasses on. If you have friends that are afraid of clowns, you have to somehow convince them to make a quick run-through. It’s bad enough that the clowns are free to roam and interact with visitors, but the glasses give them an erie, in-your-face effect that adds an interesting spin to a popular phobia.

Speaking of phobias, Claustrophobia forces visitors to navigate through tight spaces and a confusing maze while strobe lights and ghouls further disorient them, a chilling end to an already thrilling experience.

The Haunt will continue to run until Halloween. The venue is open for admission from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It closes at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, check out the venue’s website at

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