Niles Scream Park creates ‘yell’ on Earth

For years, people have been celebrating Halloween throughout the whole month of October by carving pumpkins, decorating and going to haunted houses. Not only a haunted house, Niles Scream Park is 44 acres of the undead, ghouls and screams. The park opened its doors for its 46th season on Friday the 13th of September, which is perfect planning for perfect scares. 

Niles Scream Park consists of seven different attractions (descriptions below) that, for six years running, have been on Haunted Attraction Magazine’s Top 31 Must-See Haunted Attractions. The park has figured out how to make people come back every year by changing the interior of its three indoor haunted houses each season so no two years are alike. 

This park isn’t like most, however. Niles is a nonprofit organization that donates scholarships to students in Niles, Cassopolis, Dowagiac and Edwardsburg along with local organizations. So while you get scared, you can feel good about what your money is going towards.

The Attractions

Niles Scream Park’s official logo teasing to how scary the park can be. Photo Courtesy of Niles Scream Park.

Niles Haunted House is the original attraction that started it all for the park. The attraction isn’t just walking through a dimly lit house with people who scream at you; it’s a hike across shaking bridges, foggy paths and a tedious long, winding path that increases your heart rate with every step. 

Upon entering the house, you are thrown to the wolves. With more than 100 paths through the one house, you could spend your whole night at this one attraction after the house has chewed you up it spits you out into the “rear swamp” full of scares that squeeze the last bit of bravery out of you.

N’awlins Nightmare transports you to a different state not only with what you see around you, but psychologically. N’awlins Nightmare is set in New Orleans at night. When someone thinks of New Orleans, it’s common they think of cajun cooking, great parties and urban legends to come up in conversation. However, if you ask a local about Marie Laveau, the Queen of Voodoo herself, there will be a shift of mood in the room. 

Enter with hesitation because when the sun goes down the Queen comes out and is unpredictable with the deals she will make with the Voodoo King over you.

Deadwood takes a horror fanatic back to circa 1850 to the Gold Rush where there was fortune and fame but also chaos which led to countless murders. This house features the followers of the Wild Bill Gang wanting to return the town back to the simple and in their opinion, “glory days” by any means necessary.

Three actors with the 1,200,000 visitors taking a break from the scaring to have a small photoshoot, making it one for the memory books. Photo courtesy of Niles Scream Park.

The Field of Screams is one of the more popular attractions at Niles Scream Park. It is full of twists, turns and pretty tight spaces to try and attack every person’s phobias. 

The Field isn’t just one maze, it is a few mazes inside of another that all blend together seamlessly making it so that as soon as you take a deep breath of relief, you are right back in the maze just with different challenges. Scenery in the maze varies from killer clowns to the Bayou, and then to a cemetery that’s a new attraction this year. 

The Dark Terror-tory Haunted Hayride gives you a chance to finally sit but not without consequence. The tractor pulled wagon takes you through over 30 different scenes in the span of a mile. Not only is the hayride a break on your feet but also a palette cleanser of sorts with it mixing humor and horror into one. 

Hooded is as creepy as it sounds. Before a patron can even enter the attraction, there are waivers that are required to sign to do the activity because the actors can touch you, which almost blurs that line between being “fun scared” and actually screaming in true horror. The touching causes this attraction to only be open to people 18 and older. 

Mini Escape Rooms as a new addition this year, Niles Scream park decided to jump onto the trend of the challenge escape rooms that are popping up everywhere. However in true Scream Park fashion, there is a twist. These rooms are fast paced and take around five minutes to complete.

Other Attractions

If all that running and screaming makes you work up an appetite, the park has you covered. Carnival-style food is offered at the park to make you feel weirdly nostalgic. 

The park also has shops set up like a theme park with games, a museum of oddities, and gift shops to remember your trip by, although I think one would have a hard time forgetting a place like Niles Scream Park.

The Experience

When walking into the park, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Upon entering it looks just like any theme park at night, but upon further inspection, you see terrifying characters walking around creeping up behind people, drinks that have smoke coming out of like toxic brews, and all you can hear are chainsaws and people screaming. The sounds alone made me excited to start. 

1 My top ranked attraction is the Field of Screams and I completely understand why it is one of the parks most popular attractions. Not only does it take the longest, but it’s the most unpredictable and has constant building of fear which I personally enjoy. This maze doesn’t give you the chance to collect yourself and the actors count on the fact that people are used to a scare then a chance to recuperate, which is a really neat change in pace and predictability. 

The scares ranged from the traditional jump scares to phobias and even loss of our most used sense, sight. I was in a group of four, and I applaud one of the actors for purposely separating our group into two. Two of my friends went through a handcrafted pool noodle tunnel that looked like the sweetest path and forced my group to go through the claustrophobic tunnel, which was two inflatable rubber mounds held together really tight that was not only stressful but uncomfortable to go through. 

A part of the maze that terrified me the most was where it became pitch black to a point where you couldn’t see a single foot in front of you. The darkness mixed with the curves and dead ends made it so just this part lasted a few minutes. I am grateful that no actor jumped out in that darkness because I may have accidentally hit them as I was running my hand over the wall to try and navigate. 

2 N’awlins Nightmare, is the attraction that got me excited for what was in store for the rest of my night. The haunted house was full of strobe lights, oversized spiders, terrible fake southern accents and yes, the Voodoo God and Queen themselves. 

This attraction definitely got a scream out of not only me but my whole group. The house lasted around 10 minutes from entering to leaving the back swamp, which really merged well with the theme of the house. 

3 I had heard rumors that the Dark Terror-tory Haunted Hayride was the kind of scary you mock which, quite honestly, it was. Though I enjoyed myself on the ride with some laughs, and the occasional jump scare. I wouldn’t recommend going to this attraction if you have any kind of hearing sensitives. At a point after the second prop gunshot my ears were ringing because the shot was less than 50 feet away from us. 

With that said, I understand why the park includes this attraction just because it is child friendly, or if someone doesn’t want to be scared but donate to the cause, I would say by itself is almost worth the $13 admission price for just this attraction.

Honorable Mentions

In the Niles Haunted House, the day I went they had 25 paths open, which was a surprising amount.  As they lead us down the path they forced our group of four into a tiny and claustrophobic elevator. As we all were filed in the door closed and the lights turned off. We just thought it was to create a spooky effect, but 20 seconds after the lights went out the floor underneath us dropped down first the left side then the right, just enough to make us feel like we were falling but not possible for it to hurt us. 

Another thing in the Niles Haunted House that needs to be mentioned is the pop culture references such as the Conjuring universe, Jaws and many others with a twist to put you into these terrifying universes. 

Overall, I had a great time at Niles Scream Park and would recommend it to all of my friends over other haunted attractions because of the overall experience and amazing scares. The park had exceeded my expectations and besides one of the attractions not being what I expected. It was a fun time screaming, laughing, and possibly making a tradition to follow in the future. If you are planning on going to Niles Scream Park this year, be sure to bring an extra pair of pants.

If you are interested in going to Niles Scream Park this year or would like more information on attractions and prices you can visit their site here.

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Caidyn Hutchinson

I'm a junior at Gull Lake High School, and I am striving to pursue a career in journalism. I enjoy writing about current events both local and national along with photography.I hope to grow not only as a photographer and a writer but as a person through the experience of the newspaper staff.

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