by Kar-Leigh Kelso
The Lance – Contributor
Looking for something to make you pee your pants in fear this weekend? Grab an extra pair, and read on, as The Lance has scouted out some of the most popular Halloween attractions across Windsor and Essex County. However, please be advised some of the below attractions are intended for ages 12 and up. Having disclosed this, here are some things to do in Windsor to celebrate Halloween the right way.
First and foremost in the lineup is the Scarehouse of downtown Windsor.
Located this year at 576 Ouellette Ave., Scarehouse is celebrating its eighth year serving the need to terrify its customers when it comes to classic and pure haunted house shenanigans. At three floors and 21,000 sq. ft. of scaring space, Scarehouse is the largest haunted house attraction in Southwestern Ontario.
Production designer Shawn Lippert said no one is safe in Scarehouse and your $15 admission will be well-spent as you roam between its rooms.
“All your fears and phobias are in there,” said Lippert.
In order to keep some secrets, Lippert listed some common phobias indulged inside Scarehouse including, but not limited to, claustrophobia, fear of the dark, creepy crawlers, clowns and “the crazy girl in the insane asylum.” Most actors will not touch you but they will come within close proximity of you.
“We understand if you’re going to dish out $15 to get into our haunt it’s got to be at a level that’s worth that fifteen bucks,” said Lippert, as his wife wandered by dressed as a White Walker from the television show Game of Thrones. “There’s always something that will mess with your head inside one of our haunts.”
With a lineup around the corner all the way to the old Capri Pizza location, they must be doing something right. Get there before 9 p.m. if you want to avoid a massive lineup. They will be open every night from October 22 to 31, and it will only get busier as Halloween approaches.
Haunted Fort Malden
Next up is Fort Malden in Amherstburg. If you have a friend who drives, it is a great way to learn some local, creepy history. Sometimes the scariest things can be found in the true stories of history.
Fort Malden tour guide Alex Dale divulged in some of the local history of the fort, including some events which, according to him, not many locals know themselves.
“I think that the fact that we are a fort and we are a military site involved with the war of 1812 and the rebellions of 1837, and we’re the only fort in town really makes it into a unique setting,” said Dale. “It’s a gloomy setting … and it has the history of being not only a garrison for soldiers during war but also it [was] a more bizarre period. Most people in the area [don’t realize] it was a provincial lunatic asylum in the 1800s.”
Ever wanted to wander through a potentially haunted mental institution? Here’s your chance.
The guided tour winds through various fort areas including a barracks and cookhouse, where local actors will be performing skits to visually display the stories being told by the guide. This includes soldier desertions, amputations and executions. Not to mention the imprisoned mentally ill.
Because of the very real nature of the fort, Dale advises not to wander—you may fall into a trench or the Detroit River itself, as the grounds are not well-lit.
Admission is $9.80 and all money raised goes to The House Youth Centre in Amherstburg and the tours will continue to run October 23, 24, 25 and 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and leave every 15 minutes from the visitor’s centre.
If paying $15 isn’t particularly in your budget this Halloween season, but you still want a great scare, one of Essex County’s longest running haunted attractions returns this weekend at a highly-anticipated brand new location.
For more than 40 years, the Gesto Spookhouse has been a staple in the Essex community, drawing in over 100 volunteers and attracting attendance records of more than 2,000 patrons. The Spookhouse is geared towards collecting canned goods for their local food bank, typically donating 5,000 goods. Run this year by Kathy Mailloux and her three co-partners, the Spookhouse has been preparing for this weekend’s performances since late August.
From clowns, to zombies, witches to goblins, tight spaces and dimly lit rooms, the Gesto Spookhouse will certainly have you clinging onto the poor soul you dragged in with you, screaming all along the way.
Thiessen’s Haunted Orchard
Last but certainly not least in our series is the locally famous Thiessen’s Orchard, who this year introduced their haunted orchard and (unhaunted) corn maze attractions.
Part-owner Krissy Thiessen said there is nothing tame about their orchard-greenhouse hybrid haunting walk-throughs. She noted their most prominent actors are the creepy clowns who will be roaming.
“If clowns aren’t your thing, this probably isn’t the place you want to be,” said Thiessen.
Thiessen said there are plenty of jump scares which may affect even the bravest of souls.
“Three people peed their pants [Friday] night,” she said. “It’s a really fun night. We definitely feel you will 100 per cent be scared.”
Just in case there are those interested in getting into the Halloween spirit but really are not looking to have to change their clothes, they do also offer “Scaredy Cat” afternoons where the attractions are up and running with all the lights on. They do also note the haunted barn is too intense for young children and that actors or special effects may touch those walking through.
Thiessen’s haunted orchard is open October evenings and admission is $12.
If you’re feeling courageous this Halloween season, definitely consider giving something back to your community and participating in some Halloween fun. Besides, how many times can you watch Friday the 13th II and still enjoy it?