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5 best ways to explore haunted Butler County (and beyond)

Land of Illusion’s Haunted Nights includes six haunted attractions in one Scream Park. CONTRIBUTED/E.L. HUBBARD
Land of Illusion’s Haunted Nights includes six haunted attractions in one Scream Park. CONTRIBUTED/E.L. HUBBARD

There are spooky trails, houses and more to visit this Halloween season

The days aren’t getting much cooler, but don’t let that fool you. October marks the official beginning of Halloween season. That means haunted trails, haunted houses, costume contests, and all manner of tricks and mayhem right up until Oct. 31.

As always, our region is serving up its share of haunts. Most places will be getting a new look, including one park that’s entirely new in 2019.

LAND OF ILLUSION

Middletown’s premier scream park offers six haunted attractions in one setting. Of course, you’ll want to experience them all, and there’s plenty of food, drink, live entertainment, and places to sit down to let your heart recover. In the meantime, here are the Big Six:

• Phobia: Land of Illusion's most recent haunt plays on popular fears, whether they be spiders, bugs, or enclosed spaces.

• Temple of Terror: Enter this temple, and you'll be confronted by the angry souls of civilizations long dead.

• Killer Klowns Haunted Maze: It's not just the inhabitants you have to fear, but the dizzy tunnel and intricate mazes that might leave you trapped and paralyzed to the point where the homicidal clowns can take their time coming to get you.

• Dr. Psycho's Haunted Estate: Dr. Psycho liked to take his patients apart much more than putting them back together. Come inside and see the results, if you dare.

• Zombie Sniper Patrol: Introduced just when "The Walking Dead" was gaining popularity, the Sniper Patrol lets you join a crack zombie-hunting unit aboard a U.S. military cargo truck and shoot zombies with lethal paintballs. For the first time this year, the sniper patrol will be included in the admission price.

• Middletown Haunted Trail: This walking trail has gotten longer and changed themes several times over the years, making for a classic that never gets old.

WHEN: Through Oct. 31, 8 a.m.-2 a.m., Fridays-Saturdays, 8:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays

WHERE: 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown

COST: $39.99 (general), $59.99 (fast pass)

MORE INFO: www.landofillusion.com

KING’S ISLAND HALLOWEEN HAUNT

For today’s thrill-seeker, nothing beats supplementing your scare experience with a quick jaunt on the Beast, the Vortex, and other conventional thrill rides. This year, a few new scares are in store including:

Shipwrecked: Explore a town full of ghoulish merchants, pirates and ruffians that would've scared Blackbeard himself.

Rivertown Reaping: Rivertown was a thriving mining and logging community until its population was wiped out by a plague. Do you dare interact with the ghosts who remain?

Zombie Mall: This is the only market where a good deal costs you a few body parts.

International Street Fear: Strange and mysterious creatures lurk in the shadows and leap out of every corner on this thoroughfare that transcends time and place, life and death.

The remaining three scare zones are Coney Maul (circus freakshow), Dance of the Macabre (bloody masquerade ball), and Pumpkin Eater (the pumpkin eater and his demons are all that’s left of an awful murder committed 400 years ago).

The themed mazes include Backwoods Bayou (swamp horrors), Killmart (Wal-Mart from Hell), Blackout (claustrophobia), C.H.A.O.S. (post-apocalypse), Field of Screams (evil farmers), Slaughter House (descendants of Leatherface), Urgent Scare (a macabre health clinic; you decide whether it’s better than Urgent Care), Wolf Pack (werewolves), and Madame Fatale’s Cavern of Terror: Lights Out! (wax museum).

When you need to take a break, check out some light-hearted (but still plenty spooky) shows, such as Haunted Homecoming, Monster Rock and, new this year, Drums of the Dead, celebrating Dia de los Muertos.

WHEN: Through Oct. 27, 6 p.m.-1 a.m.

WHERE: 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason

COST: $33.99

MORE INFO: www.visitkingsisland.com

ALL HALLOWS EVE TERROR TOWN

If you’ve ever attended the annual Old West Festival in Williamsburg, our region’s newest haunt will look somewhat familiar. The gunslingers have been replaced by ghouls, and with its Old West festival streets and buildings still intact, the horrors of Terror Town will retain a 19th-century, frontier feel.

As you wait to be paged for your turn on the Haunted Trail, you can patronize Terror Town’s shops, vendors, bars, and restaurants, or watch classic horror movies on an outdoor projection screen.

Like the town itself, the haunted trail will be true to the era, so don’t expect to see Freddy or Jason.

WHEN: Through Nov. 3, 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m.-12 a.m. Sunday

WHERE: 1449 Greenbush Cobb Road, Williamsburg

COST: $25-$40

MORE INFO: www.allhallowsevellc.com

POASTTOWN HAUNTED SCHOOL

There are two origin stories for how Middletown’s Poasttown Haunted School, which closed its doors as an educational institution in 1999, became haunted. One is that, in the early 1900s, the school was used as an emergency hospital after a catastrophic train wreck killed 24 people. The other, put forth by Darrell Whisman, Poasttown’s current owner and resident, is the school is haunted by the ghosts of children who couldn’t cross over so they hang around the place that made them happiest.

That second story is a bit unusual for a haunting, but evidently nobody leaves the place a skeptic. People report footsteps, voices, and the sound of a desk being dragged across the floor when there’s nobody there.

Poasttown will host a shopping event and Masquerade Ball on Oct. 4-5. Shopping will take place from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5. The Masquerade Ball starts at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Admission is $25. Costumes are required, and there’ll be dancing, prizes, raffles, activities, and vendors. Indeed, shoppers are admitted free.

WHAT: Poasttown Haunted School

WHERE:6600 Trenton Franklin Road

MORE INFO: www.poasttownschool.com

BRIMSTONE HAUNT

The curses just keep piling on this once-prosperous family farm. In addition to the usual Haunted Hayride and Forgotten Forest, Brimstone Haunt is proudly introducing “Psychosis” in 2019. Consisting of maze-like pathways, you’ll experience grotesque scenes of horror as you try to find your way out. If you can’t, well, note the attraction’s title.

For complete Brimstone newbies, the Haunted Hayride will take you through a light-scare, ghoul-infested cornfield, appropriate for families. The Forgotten Forest, full of unnatural creatures and doings, is a 20-minute “high intensity” walk (or a 10-minute stumble and run).

WHERE: 472 Brimstone Road, Wilmington

WHEN: Through Oct. 27, 7 p.m.-11:45 p.m.

COST: $8-$27

MORE INFO: www.brimstonehaunt.com.

WILMINGTON HAUNTED HOLLOW RIDE

This annual haunt boasts five attractions that, if not entirely new in 2019, have received an extreme makeover.

Death Trap: The attraction formerly known as Buried Alive is not for the faint of heart. Six people will enter a room. Five people will each be assigned a different gory task. Only until all five have completed their tasks will their friend be set free. The haunt is also keen to remind you that you assume all liability for anything that happens in the Trap. So, be prepared.

The Ride: The Ride's famous fire-breathing semi-trucks will chase you through a course filled with obstacles and demons. Beware the Rattlesnake Mine and Farmer Dave.

Eville Asylum: When Dr. Eville bought this asylum from the state, he sequestered not only his patients but his medical staff, freeing them to torture their patients with impunity. Would you like to see the resulting living and dead? (Hint: the dead are still mobile, too).

Slaughter Hotel: This underground hotel was built by a disfigured eccentric who had an unhealthy interest in "afterlife reanimation techniques." Rumor has it his lab is still buried in the hotel somewhere, and there might still be something living within it.

Riddles of Horror: New in 2019, this "line entertainment" game will test your knowledge of horror trivia as you wait to enter the various attractions, making those long line waits a little more bearable.

WHERE: 1261 W. Dalton Road, Wilmington

WHEN: Through Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.-midnight

COST: $22-$28, $48 (fast pass), $5 (death trap), free for children 5 and younger

MORE INFO: www.wilmingtonhauntedhollowride.com