The moonlit setting in Olin Park overlooking Lake Monona is creepy enough, but then add a haunted house and you’ve got the makings for a spooktacular way to spend the Halloween weekend. If you’re looking for fun, but don’t want to get too scared out of your wits — Horror in the Dark at Olin Park is the perfect event.
Upon arrival, participants are informed of a top-secret U.S. military facility where the government has been working on dreadful and horror-stricken biogenetic experiments. For years the military there had been performing experiments on their own soldiers, but something went terribly wrong. The self-guided experience takes you on a winding path through the now-haunted facility.
Even before stepping foot in the building, you can hear shrieks of pain and terror. Unsure of what to expect, brave participants step into a completely black hallway. From there comes the best attraction: an elevator. This elevator is made to feel like you are actually moving underground, which it impressively succeeds in doing. From the elevator, you make your way through darkened rooms — a few rooms are filled with experiments gone haywire and rampant zombie soldiers running amok. However, the majority of the rooms and hallways seemed to be filled with nothing, but blackened emptiness, which can be terrifying in itself.
Nearing the end of the haunted military facility, you enter a science lab where scientists attempt to steal your brain or take a bite out of your cranium. If you’re lucky enough to make it through there without getting your frontal lobes chomped, you are led towards “the light.” This is the last room and definitely the most confusing. White sheets hang everywhere and there is a high potential of getting lost while trying to avoid being blinded by the strobe lights and black lights. This room provides the most light, but also has the most potential to scare you.
You might find yourself happier than ever to stay alive with your sanity throughout the experimental tour, but the scares don’t stop there. Outside the military facility, you step into the haunted forest where U.S. military men and women have been experimented on, careening around threateningly and warning you to leave while you still can. This takes you all the way back to the parking lot, leaving you wondering if you’ll be lost forever.
Overall, it was a well-thought-out and put together attraction. The hallways are easy to get lost in or stumble through because you cannot see the floor or even remotely where you are. The darkness can be a benefit at times, though — you also are unable to see anything that might scare you. Even if there is nothing there to scare you, participants are still on edge through the entirety of the horror show.
The overrun military facility uses fog machines strategically and mad scientists to help the interaction between their workers and participants. There isn’t a whole lot of interaction, and haunted house goers might feel as if they didn’t get scared enough. In fact, they shouldn’t expect to. A few screams and heart pounding moments here and there should be expected, though with a few more volunteers or workers, Horror in the Dark at Olin Park has the potential to be downright terrifying.
The facility itself takes about 10-15 minutes to walk through depending, of course, on how many times you get lost and how quickly you stumble through with an added five minutes for the haunted forest at the end. Horror in the Dark at Olin Park, set up through the Madison Metro Jaycees, costs $8 with proceeds from this year benefitting The Road Home, a Madison organization helping homeless families in the area. It would be an ideal Halloween attraction for tweens and teenagers, those who frighten easily or anyone just looking for a novice haunted house experience.