Lenawee County haunted house offers 3-D Fear FestWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanishing rooms, murderous butchers and giant spiders are a few of the many thrills available at The Haunting, a mainstay in the local Halloween scene. Owner Stuart MacDonald said he is proud of the progress the attraction has made since it first opened.
“Just like any business, you look at how far you’ve come and think, ‘Why did anybody come the first year?’” he said. “People had faith in us. I come from a show business background, so I know how to listen to my crowd. I know how to write a show that makes sense and has fun. By doing that, each year the show grows exponentially in quality because we can do that.”
MacDonald opened The Haunting 17 years ago and has been a professional magician even longer under the name The Magic Stu. He put his illusionist skills to good use in the design of his haunted house.
“There’s a room in The Haunting called The Vanishing Room where you go into an elevator, you come out and where you were isn’t there anymore,” MacDonald said. “We have a 12-by-12 room that completely vanishes and ends up being a 100-foot-long room. Nobody knows how we do it. That’s a trade secret. We’re the only ones that do that. We have a little bit of magic involved in that.”
Another returning attraction is the 3-D Fear Fest. Guests are provided 3-D glasses, and the specially painted walls produce an added dimension of fear. New to the haunted house this year is Nightmares, an exhibit designed to make your nightmares a reality. MacDonald said it has some of the best twists they have ever come up with.
“You can go into The Haunting every year and it’s a completely different house,” MacDonald said. “We break it down to the ground and rebuild it from the grave up. If people come to The Haunting two years in a row, they won’t see the same show. It’s completely different.”
One aspect of The Haunting that is familiar is the actors. For the first time in 17 years, MacDonald decided to forgo the audition process and bring back what he is calling the alumni cast.
“If you’ve done The Haunting before, then you get to do The Haunting this year if you have the time,” MacDonald said. “So the cast is 100 percent alumni this year. We usually have an audition process and have auditioned 75 people for 20-30 positions. Some people have been here for nine years, and a couple people have gone from The Haunting into the Hollywood makeup effects industry.”
The alumni cast is one of several steps taken this year aimed at improving cost efficiency and increasing the quality of the haunted house. MacDonald did away with the side attractions to focus solely on the haunted house.
“We don’t have an indoor lobby anymore, so we don’t have to decorate that,” he said. “We don’t have a store, so we don’t have to stock that. We don’t have a concession stand, so we don’t have to man that or stock that. So now we focus 100 percent on just the haunted house, which is what we’re here for anyway.
“By doing that, we’ve allowed ourselves to put more time and decoration in. The production value went up by scaling all of that back. People are going to find themselves enjoying Halloween like they used to.”
These steps have also allowed MacDonald to cut the cost of tickets to $10, with a coupon available for $5 tickets on Friday nights.
“People were finding that it was too difficult to handle paying $15-20 for a haunted house,” MacDonald said. “When we first started this 17 years ago, people would come to as many as 10 haunted houses in a season. Now they can only pick one, because some of the ticket prices are $30. With us having a coupon where you can get in for only $5 on Friday, it’s allowing people to go to more than one haunted house.”
The Haunting is located at the Lenawee County Fair & Event Grounds, 602 N. Dean St. in Adrian, Mich. General admission is $10 with a coupon available at MyHaunting.com for $5 admission on Fridays. The discounted admission is available all nights for groups of 20 or more. The attraction is open every Friday and Saturday in October from 7 p.m. to midnight. It will also be open Oct. 30-31 from 7-10 p.m.
“We’ve been here 17 years, so we’re not a flash in the pan,” MacDonald said. “There have been a lot of haunted houses that come and go because they don’t get it. They are get-rich-quick. I have a show business background, a theater background and a business background. I’m also a paid on-call firefighter. All the elements come together to promote a house that is not only safe but fun, enjoyable and family-friendly. It’s scary enough for a college student, but we keep it on a tasteful level.”
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