Haunted Houses owners share insider secrets

Four haunted thrills less than a half hour drive from campus

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Wisconsin Fear Ground’s “de-glam” squad applies make up to the actors.

Rachel Kubik

The nights are getting colder, the wind is picking up and with the start of October comes thoughts of Halloween. Besides the innocent apple picking traditions and pumpkin carving fun you may partake in, there are several places to go in the Milwaukee area if you’re looking to get scared out of your mind.

Hauntfest Warrior Wasteland is an easily accessible location to visit right here in Milwaukee. Located at 1741 W. Saint Paul Ave., this cite is less than a mile away from campus. Hauntfest is a single haunted house located in a warehouse that is crawling with actors and actresses who will walk up to you and scream (or whisper creepily) in your face. There are also plenty of pitch black rooms, a maze to find your way through and strobe lights.

Taj Jordan, owner of Hauntfest and the company, Music on the Move Plus said that it’s very entertaining and easy for him to scare people. Several Marquette students act for Hauntfest, most of which are typically theatre arts majors.

“My favorite (spot within the house) would be the vortex or the cage maze, but there are a bunch of others,” Jordan said. “We’re working on (the house) right now, and we’re doing some more changes to it to make it even better.”

“We’ve had people faint and people fall on the floor in complete (fear) … they just freak out,” Jordan said.

These incidents are rare and surprise him when they occur.

“It is entertainment after all, nobody’s going to die,” Jordan said.

He wants to act sometime during this season, but given his busy schedule he doesn’t know when he will have the chance. However, he still pulls pranks on other staff members.

“I scared one of our cast members last Friday night — he jumped five feet in the air. We’re always pulling pranks. That’s what makes it fun,” Jordan said. “From what I’ve heard, everybody’s really enjoyed (Hauntfest).”

Another close scare location is the Mars Haunted House on 734 W. Historic Mitchell St., which is about two miles from campus. According to the Mars Haunted House website, the Milton family was murdered in October 1943 in this house by their father, who was drunk and upset that he lost his job. Mars bought the house and tried using it for apartment space, but the project failed. Now it is a fun Halloween attraction open to the public.

“Some people say they experience a ‘chilling’ sensation when walking through the house,” the website says.

Another one is The Hill Has Eyes, located at 7900 W. Crystal Ridge Drive in Franklin, about a 20 minute drive from campus.

“The Hill Has Eyes is Milwaukee’s best haunted attraction, featuring a hooded march to the gates of two haunted trails, a ride on a run-down chair lift and a carnival of horrors,” the company’s website said.

Tom Bergles, an employee in charge of selling the admission tickets and getting waivers signed, said the CARNIvore is the best attraction on the property.

“Hooded” is a new attraction that is also very thrilling.

“(Actors wear) dark hoods over their heads and they lead you down the hill,” Bergles said.

There’s also an area where you can get shocked, which Bergles said is one of the scariest parts for people.

Another location to visit in October, if you don’t mind the drive, is the Wisconsin Fear Grounds. Located at 1000 Northview Rd., Waukesha. This is located about a half an hour away. The Grounds have three separate haunted houses: Morgan Manor, CarnEvil and Unstable.

Morgan Manor is the main haunted house, which the owner of the Fear Grounds, Tim Gavinski, named in a creative way. His wife was born on Friday the 13th, so Gavinski used the 13th letter of the alphabet, M, twice, to name the house. In addition, there are 13 rooms and 13 hallways inside Morgan Manor.

“It’s kind of an homage to my wife,” Gavinski said.

There are approximately 150 actors and an area at the end for Zombie Paintball for getting revenge.

“That’s where you can get your revenge on the monsters after it’s all over,” Gavinski said. “They don’t get to shoot back.”

Gavinski enjoys scaring people. Although he is presently not an actor, he was in his youth. He said that hearing screams is the equivalent of receiving applause at a concert.

“When I’m walking around on the Fear Grounds, no one has to tell me if I’m doing good or bad,” Gavinski said. “I hear the screams.”

As with any haunted house, there have been some pretty crazy stories of people getting scared.

“We’ve actually had a guy that was having a heart attack. The EMTs went to get him (inside the house), and he’s like, ‘oh, let me finish (walking through), I’m almost done,’” Gavinski said.

Now in retirement and over 55 years old, Gavinski said that the one main tie he has with people younger than him, such as college-age students, is a love for Halloween.