Visibility / Location:
Independence Park is a large, well-known location for most locals, and considering Spook Hollow takes up most of the entire park for its event, it wasn't difficult for me to find. However, if you're not local, a quick glance at Google maps combined with the well-lit marquis and signs posted within a mile of the event will certainly help you find your way.
Parking is in the grass, so be prepared (and know your vehicle). Volunteers and local police provided organization to the parking and were very helpful, though the parking area itself is not lit.
A short walk from the parking area toward the baseball diamond and picnic pavilion leads you to the entrance-walk to the Haunt itself, marked by old fashioned kerosene lanterns and construction tape. Before entering the line, there were indoor bathrooms available, as well as a trailer selling snow-cones.
The line itself takes you through a heavily wooded area of the park, which combined with the lanterns gives off good, spooky ambiance, but the walk is not particularly wheel-chair or crutches friendly. Talk to a volunteer if you need accommodations.
The ticket booths offered one of two line options; general admission and the Fast Pass ($20 more lets you skip to the front of all the attraction lines). Around the fifteen foot high wall is the real waiting line; canopied by the trees, it snakes back and forth leading up to the first attraction of Spook Hollow- the Nightmare House. Actors milled through the line providing scary stares and picture opportunities, and two large screen elevated TV's cycled through horror movie montages and the Rules feature. There were also concessions and merchandise being sold, and port-a-johns available in the first Master line, but only port-a-johns in the lines between the other stages.
$25 for general admission to all three attraction stages.
LPR Score = 4.351
LPR stands for Length/Price Ratio. It represents perceived value of an event, by comparing length vs price of admission. Higher numbers represent more value per dollar. Actual quality and/or entertainment value of an event are not factors in this calculation. Click Here to see how this event compares to others visited this year by the staff of HauntedIllinois.com.
We were sent through in groups of less than six or seven, and allowed to go through mostly at our own pace. The only problems occurred when I witnessed a few patrons constantly taking their cell phones out for light and/or quick selfies, causing groups to catch up with us. This was through no fault of the event staff or volunteers.
The Marquette Heights Men's Club has hosted Spook Hollow for 38 years, giving it the title of longest-running Haunt in Illinois. Even on a non-profit budget (which is considerably large, I'm told), they have a hell of a reputation to keep up, and they did not disappoint. The Nightmare House is a winding, claustrophobic journey through movie-quality 'haunted house' rooms, coupled by the effective ambiance of a raging thunderstorm (with realistic lightning flashes). My particular favorite was the music parlor, with spooky piano and several animal heads mounted on the wall, which lead through an even creepier wine cellar. The fact that all the rooms were connected by heavy doors guests have to move themselves definitely helps the effect. When there is more than one door in the room, it becomes difficult to know if you're picking the right one. My only note for the Nightmare House is the use of more actors. I only saw five, possibly six actors in the entire house, which may be due to lack of volunteers on the first opening weekend.
Outside the House, you enter the outdoor line for the Haunted Mine. Once released in your group, you meander down a very dark trail through the woods marked off my rope and kerosene lanterns (with plenty of shadowy places for spooks to hide), the end of which is a large wooden structure with two entrances (one lit, one not), and a few key actors who like to separate the more squeamish visitors to go by themselves in the unlit chamber. Either one leads to the same room in the end, but you have to squat or crawl, then sideways lean for a short distance. Please note: this part of the attraction is NOT handicap accessible. Actors inside the mine rely mostly on jump-scares, and because of the close quarters, were extremely effective.
From the mine (and through what is undeniably the BEST looking graveyard I have ever encountered, shout-out to the violin-playing Reaper), and through another outdoor line area is the third stage of Spook Hollow; the Slaughterhouse. Entering a large warehouse-type structure with a massive, two-story Jacob's Ladder at the front (which unfortunately I did not see spark), watch out for rusty tools, live wires, and the unfortunate souls inside, angry about whatever explosion they went through to look like sentient hamburger meat. Seriously fantastic make-up and costumes, especially for a non-profit budget. My favorite was the man with half a buzz-saw lodged in his face. The Slaughterhouse is full of fake-halls and black-out rooms to keep visitors disoriented and in high tension.
After the Slaughterhouse is the final stage of Spook Hollow, though there is no separate line to wait in for this part of the attraction. A haunted 'trail' like that which lead to the Mine winds through the woods, leading to a spooky pirate ship with many twists and turns (though they seemed to be lacking actors at the time I went through), and a haunted 'town', complete with very realistic hologram projections (look for the ghost librarian- truly creepy). The final 'house' in the ghost town is actually another merchandise booth, which also offered a frighteningly realistic werewolf prop for group pictures.
For a non-profit organization, Spook Hollow is definitely up to par on scares and lasting creep-factor. Great for ages 13 and up. I wouldn't bring the kids for this one.
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