Halloween happenings: 13 spooky, scary, safe ways to celebrate the season

  • Stitch taunts moviegoers at Dungeon of Doom's drive-in, Scare-Vision Theater in Zion.

    Stitch taunts moviegoers at Dungeon of Doom's drive-in, Scare-Vision Theater in Zion. Courtesy of Jonathan Unick

  • Elgin's drive-through Halloween haunt Terror in the Timbers offers revelers a chance to experience seasonal thrills from the safety of their cars.

      Elgin's drive-through Halloween haunt Terror in the Timbers offers revelers a chance to experience seasonal thrills from the safety of their cars. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/15/2020 10:38 AM

While the coronavirus has curtailed or canceled many Halloween celebrations, some venues and organizations are gearing up to deliver seasonal scares while obeying public health guidelines. Here's a sampling.

Drive-in/Drive-through

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Scare-Vision Theater

Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic forced entertainment venues to close, the owners of Zion's Dungeon of Doom began thinking of alternatives to their long-running haunted house. They came up with a drive-in, which co-owner Peter Koklamanis dubbed Scare-Vision Theater. The R-rated film "Sinister" alternates nightly with the PG-13-rated "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark." During the screenings, the Killer Crew (actors portraying ghouls and monsters) roam among the vehicles providing additional scares for patrons.

Details: 7, 9:30 and 11:55 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31 at 600 29th St., Zion. $59 four-person maximum per vehicle. (847) 262-3666 or dungeonofdoom.com.

Terror in the Timbers

The nation's first serial killer H.H. Holmes, a onetime physician and swindler who constructed a three-story building in Chicago wherein he tortured and killed his victims, inspired Elgin's drive-through, noncontact haunted trail. While the terror trail is recommended for ages 11 and older, a "toned-down" option is available and the trick-and-treating events are family-friendly.

Details: Terror drive from 6 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31, also Oct. 22 and 29; family trick-or-treating from 3:30-5 p.m. Oct. 23, 25, 30 and 31, 7826, 37W955 Big Timber Road, Elgin. Timed, reserved admission. Four-person limit per vehicle. $65 per vehicle for the terror drive; $20 per vehicle for trick-or-treating. (847) 235-6600 or terrorinthetimbers.com.

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H.H. Holmes, considered America's first serial killer, is depicted in one of the scare scenes at Elgin's drive-through Terror in the Timbers.
  H.H. Holmes, considered America's first serial killer, is depicted in one of the scare scenes at Elgin's drive-through Terror in the Timbers. - Rick West | Staff Photographer
Spooky Glen Ellyn

The Glen Ellyn Historical Society hosts a driving tour of Glen Ellyn's hidden history and creepiest locations, including some reported to be haunted. The tour includes a map and a link to a video with stories about the unique spots in the village. Costumes are encouraged and treat bags will be available.

Details: 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, beginning behind Stacy's Tavern Museum, 557 Geneva Road, Glen Ellyn. Free, but donations are accepted. (630) 469-1867 or gehs.org.

Tunnel of Terror

Halloween revelers can accomplish two tasks at once at Brittain's Express Car Wash in Elgin, which has crafted a terror-filled, drive-through car wash complete with ghouls, special effects and suds.

Details: 6-10 p.m. Oct. 28-31 at 1572 Larkin Ave., Elgin. $20 per car. (847) 931-0135 or brittainscarwash.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mack Manor

Fox River Grove's Mack family has been hosting drive-through Halloween haunts for more than 30 years. Attendees must remain in their vehicles. Check the Mack Manor Facebook page for updates.

Details: 6-8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 4-9 p.m. Sunday through Oct. 31 at Hill Top Lane and Algonquin Road, Fox River Grove. Free, but donations are accepted. See facebook.com/mack/manor.7.

Virtual chills and thrills

"War of the Worlds"

Theatre in the Dark presents an original, audio adaptation of H.G. Wells' science-fiction tale "A War of the Worlds" set in present-day Illinois. The Zoom-enabled performance features actors from Chicago, New Orleans and Vancouver, Canada.

Details: Live performances online begin at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, and continue through Nov. 21. $20-$25 suggested donation. See theatreinthedark.com.

Mbali Guliwe plays The Prisoner in First Folio Theatre's streaming production of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum," recorded from the theater's 2018 revival of "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story."
Mbali Guliwe plays The Prisoner in First Folio Theatre's streaming production of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum," recorded from the theater's 2018 revival of "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story." - Courtesy of Tom McGrath
Two tales by Poe

First Folio Theatre streams two chilling excerpts from its 2018 revival of "The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story," adapted by David Rice and directed by Skyler Schrempp. Sam Pearson plays The Madman tormented by the crime he committed in "The Tell-Tale Heart," and Mbali Guliwe plays The Prisoner awaiting a terrible fate in "The Pit and the Pendulum."

Details: Performances stream online from Oct. 20 through Nov. 1. Tickets are pay-what-you-can. (630) 986-8067 or firstfolio.org.

More spooky stories

Elmhurst History Museum staff members conjure the Halloween spirit with readings from Edgar Allan Poe's masterfully macabre tales, including "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" among others. Readings were recorded at the historic Churchville Schoolhouse.

Details: The 30-minute, prerecorded program is available online from Oct. 23 through Nov. 30. Free. See elmhursthistory.org.

Virtual haunted house

Fox Valley Mall's child-friendly Halloween activities include a virtual haunted house and a virtual coloring book. Additionally, Horrible Harry the Zombie Magician performs live on Facebook on Oct. 30.

Details: Free virtual haunted house and coloring book through Oct. 31. The free magic show takes place from 3-4 p.m. Oct. 30. See shopfoxvalleymall.com/events.

Haunted history tour

Author and Mysterious Chicago Tours host Adam Selzer leads a virtual walkabout tour via Zoom that explores the Lincoln Park Zoo's cemetery roots and its haunted history.

Details: Live Zoom virtual tours happen at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 31. $15, $13.50 for zoo members. See lpzoo.org/calendar.

Among the creepier visuals at Elgin's Terror in the Timbers drive-through haunt is the doll wall.
  Among the creepier visuals at Elgin's Terror in the Timbers drive-through haunt is the doll wall. - Rick West | Staff Photographer
In-person options

"Boo Fest"

The Museum of Science and Industry hosts "Boo Fest," a family-friendly, physically distanced Halloween celebration consisting of "creepy curiosities" from the museum's collection, science demonstrations, nonedible goodies, learning labs (additional fee required) and motion ride simulators (additional fee required). Patrons may wear costumes. Visitors over age 2 must wear a face covering.

Details: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, through Nov. 1 at 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. Timed admission, limited capacity. Reservations required. $12.95-$21.95. See msichicago.org.

Hitchcock movie marathon

Woodstock Opera House salutes master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock with marathon screenings of the classic thrillers "Psycho," "The Birds" and "Rear Window" each Saturday in October.

Details: 1, 4 and 7 p.m. Oct. 17, 24 and 31 at 121 Van Buren St., Woodstock. $7 per movie. Only 50 seats available per screening. (815) 338-5300 or woodstockoperahouse.com.

Zombie Apocalypse

Battle the undead outdoors at The Forge where the laser tag game is set in a zombie apocalypse. COVID-19 precautions include face coverings required for employees and patrons. Full-finger gloves (with a reinforced palm) and under-helmet head coverings are also required. Guests who don't have face masks, head coverings and/or full-finger gloves can purchase them at check-in.

Details: Games start at 4, 5, 6 and 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through Oct. 31, at Lemont Quaries, 1001 Main St., Lemont. $35 for 40 minutes; all transactions are cashless. Timed admission, limited capacity and physical distancing enforced. (630) 326-3301 or forgeparks.com/zombie-apocalypse.

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