It's been years since I've been to a haunted house, but this Halloween my friend John and I decided to go to The Beast in Kansas City, the largest haunted house in the United States. That's right, the largest haunted house in the United States! And at five stories tall, that's not a surprising title. It is an elaborate maze through various scenes from the haunted Bayou, to the haunted English castle, to the serial killer's torture chamber - you wind through the dark and the fog until you have absolutely no idea where you are and how you got there. Then, you exit through a four story slide! (Which is why I don't recommend wearing a dress like I did - you will end up with your skirt over your head at the bottom.)
It wasn't too hard to find the haunted house or parking (if you don't mind paying for parking). We decided to drive there but there are regular pickups throughout town for those who don't want to drive downtown. We bought our tickets in advance, which I recommend doing. The line to buy tickets and get in was insanely long but the ticket line wasn't too bad. You can pay extra for a line jumper ticket, but I didn't really see the point in it. Unless you get there really late on a busy night, it's not really necessary.
I absolutely loved The Beast! The dark maze is disorienting in the best possible way. Some rooms are identically decorated so you have no idea if you've been there before - whether you are going up or down or in circles. It really creates a suspended sense of reality. The main scares are the surprises - sudden bursts of air, things popping out of walls or dropping from the ceiling, and of course the costumed employees suddenly appearing out of nowhere. There are plenty of high tech elements - a ghost king dancing, animatronic skeletons that leap out of coffins. I learned my friend John screams like a little girl and clings to me when an animatronic demon drops from the ceiling amid strobe lights and recorded shrieks. (Although I screamed like a little girl, too, so who am I to judge?)
The only downside to this amazing haunted house were the other patrons. The maze had very tiny hallways and there were way too many people inside. At several points it was like being cattle trapped in a chute to the slaughter, we were pressed against each other without hope of moving and at several points I had difficulty breathing in the cramped space. Overall, most customers dealt with this well by making jokes (mostly about being cattle), but a few people decided to blame everyone around them for the inconvenience. One man turned to me and got angry that I was somehow interfering with his group of friends. John and I were both a little shocked that he would be nasty and rude to a complete stranger, but I suppose some people are just unpleasant (Like me, because I hope he tore his pants on the way down the slide).
And, of course, there were the unsupervised children. I don't know what parents think it is a good idea to send eight and nine year olds into a dark haunted house at 10 o'clock at night without a parent but apparently there are many of them. The children enjoyed taunting people working in the haunted house and even trying to grab some of the props. I had an overwhelming urge on several occasions to turn into my mother and lecture them about respect for others. But instead, I suppressed my annoyance and focused on enjoying myself. I particularly enjoyed seeing a man in a serial killer costume chase one of the annoying little brats with a metal bar.
If you are looking for a road trip destination with a good scare, I really recommend making the trip to Kansas City for The Beast. Think about it - a good scare, a four-story slide, and you get to say you have visited the largest haunted house in the United States. You can't lose!
Total Trip Time: 3 hours
Total Distance Traveled: 40 miles
Soundtrack: "The Warrior Code" Dropkick Murphys