I’m a connoisseur of haunted houses though I don’t get to see very many of them each year. Mostly, once September arrives, I’m in high gear working toward our own Halloween season of thrills and chills at School District 13 Haunted Attraction in Brule, NE. But while we were relocating our haunted attraction in Grant, NE between 2010 and 2014 to a new and better place in Brule, John, Lydi, and I did take some time to go sample the haunted houses in Omaha, NE.
Omaha has a fairly rich array of different haunts to choose from actually. Each one is a little different from the others. During our moratorium, we visited Scary Acres, Mystery Manor, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, the Shadow’s Edge, and Carnival of Terror to see which one was the scariest.
I have to admit that it was hard to decide. At Mystery Manor, Wayne Sealey gave us a behind-the-scenes tour and for that, I remain partial to him and his haunt. He’s got a seriously, paranormally creepy set-up in his old brothel-of-a-building and what can I say? The 3 story slide at the end of the haunt was traumatic in a very memorable sort of way. He and his son, and a team of other people, have worked hard to make their haunt into something that people want to return to again and again. And Wayne is a likeable guy. So I rank Mystery Manor as the scariest haunted house in Omaha, or at least the most theatrical.
But how can you compare Mystery Manor with Scary Acres? Or The Shadow’s Edge? I mean, It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Mystery Manor is a building that’s been decorated and massaged. Scary Acres is a landscape of terror and a collection of haunted houses. The Shadow’s Edge is different from both of them as it’s a temporary haunt located in the Mangelson’s parking lot. It would be tempting to poo-poo The Shadow’s Edge haunted attraction but in reality, it too is a work of art in an unlikely setting. Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, of course, is only secondarily a haunted attraction…what they’re selling is the kiddie version of Halloween (click here for a line-up of attractions that cater to Halloween fun for kids). But I think for real haunt enthusiasts, for people who want to have fun with a haunted attraction, the real question is not, “which haunted house is the scariest?” but rather, “how can I go see them all?”
Haunted houses are an art form, after all, which is why we always have people from all over the world who travel to see our tiny town lit up with the weirdness of School District 13 Haunted Attraction. No other country in the world celebrates Halloween as we Americans do. Travel to Mexico for Dia de los Muertos (as we did in 2013) and you’ll find a different type of autumn celebration that dances along the fringes of what Americans celebrate. It’s similar but still very different. We could relate to it, but only distantly. Dia de los Muertos is an amazing cultural event by the way, totally worth seeing if you ever have the chance, but as Americans, I think it’s easy to miss the fact that our Halloween celebrations are totally unique and cultural. Each and every haunted attraction in America is a piece of artwork from the tiny fundraiser in a far off, rural village, to the big-city haunt that’s lit up with the latest and greatest technologies in fear.
I know that School District 13 Haunted Attraction is the scariest haunted house in our neck of the woods, but I also know that what’s scary to some people is not scary to others. So I make those claims with a little peppering of subjectivity thrown in for good measure. What I do know for sure, as a fact, is that there’s nothing like School District 13 anywhere else in the whole United States. Our haunt is entirely unique and in fact, it changes from night-to-night with our mutable team of the costumed volunteers who populate our streets.
There are plenty of Omaha haunted houses that will leave you satisfied as a Halloween enthusiast and, in fact, I would say that not one of the haunted houses is really better than the others. Rather each one is very different and you should go see them all if you can. Get the rural flavor of Halloween on the other end of the state in Brule, NE at School District 13. We offer a bit more isolation…a quiet walk along abandoned streets and close-up and personal attention from the zombies, while Omaha or Denver haunt samplers stand in line and wait. What we offer isn’t better, per se, but different. It’s our own work of art, carefully crafted out of the backwards, country life of people who live in the middle of corn fields, the eerie leftovers of a once active main street, and grazing cattle on all sides.
The haunted houses in Omaha deserve your attention. Go see them all. And after that, pack your bags for a Halloween road trip along I-80…come visit us out in Brule for a completely different experience to round out the season.