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Saturday, December 7

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This week's question was submitted by Andrew. Thanks!

Q: [My friend] and I were talking about going to a haunted house this Halloween season, but I have no clue which ones are good or who even does one anymore.

Halloween equals big business. A survey conducted by the National Retail Federation estimates that people will spend over $3 billion on Halloween decorations and related items this year, making Halloween rank second, just behind Christmas, for holiday spending. This one-night-a-year holiday now stretches over the entire month of October and is marketed more and more to adults rather than kids.

Chicago Halloween celebrations are no exception. A quick search turns up hundreds of Halloween events and attractions, including more than 60 haunted houses in the Chicagoland area. But how do you find out which attractions will leave you screaming and which ones will just leave you with an empty wallet? The following resources will help you find out which places give you the most scare for your dollar.

Directories

Haunted House Chicago
Haunted House Chicago is the best and most complete guide to Chicago area haunted houses. Search by city, region, date or browse the entire list of 60 attractions. Each listing includes cost, hours, directions, a scare factor rating and visitor reviews. The site also lists available discounts and coupons.

Haunted Illinois
Directory of haunted houses and Halloween events.

Haunted Heartland
Haunted Heartland focuses on Halloween events in Central Illinois. The site includes descriptions, hours, dates and contact information for attractions ranging from the Peoria Jaycees House of Illusions to the Pekin Cornfield Maze and Pumpkin Patch.

Metromix's Halloween Guide
Of course, Metromix has its own rundown of Chicago area Halloween events. Features include top local haunted houses, Halloween parties and guides for more mundane seasonal activities, such as apple picking and finding the perfect pumpkin.

"But," I hear you saying, "Halloween is only a week away. I don't have time to dig through all these websites." Fear not! (No pun intended.) I combed through all the sites for you and now present the scariest, most popular and best-reviewed haunted houses in Chicagoland.

Haunted Houses

Statesville Haunted Prison
This Halloween staple has been voted the #1 haunted house in the area by Haunted House Chicago for four years running. You must find your way in the dark through 30 maximum security cells filled with "over 50 of the most dangerous monsters ever imprisoned." A claustrophobic atmosphere heightens the scare factor.

Dream Reapers
According to visitors, Dream Reapers in Melrose Park runs a close second to Statesville for best local haunted house. Check out the multimedia page on the website to see photos from Dream Reapers and watch a fun video tour of the attraction.

Halls of Horror
Located at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point, Indiana, Halls of Horror is a must-see for many haunted house enthusiasts. Check out the photos on the website, which feature enough gore and fake blood to convince me these guys take their jobs seriously. And, if you're charitably minded, a portion of the proceeds from this year's Halls of Horrors is being donated to Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana. UPDATE 10/08: Halls of Horror is now on MySpace.

Asylum of MAD Dreams
Asylum of MAD Dreams, located in Morrison, Illinois, consists of 26 rooms on three levels. The attraction is known for its unconventional layout, including slides, multiple paths and hidden exits. UPDATE 10/08: The Asylum is rebuilding its main property, so the haunted house has moved to Cordova Dragway Park, 19425 Route 84 North in Cordova, IL, for 2008. They promise to be bigger and better in the original location in 2009.

Check out the websites for each haunted house for hours, cost, maps and directions. And visit the directories listed above for visitor reviews and links to additional attractions.

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About the Author(s)

Alice Maggio is a real, live Chicago librarian. If you have topic ideas or questions you would like answered, send your suggestions to and it may be featured in a future column.

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