The House of Shadows in Sparta is set in an old orphanage built in the 1930s to house abandoned and neglected children. (Photo via TravelWisconsin)
The House of Shadows in Sparta is set in an old orphanage built in the 1930s to house abandoned and neglected children. (Photo via TravelWisconsin)

From haunted paper mills to scary ski hills, choose your fright this Spooky Season at terrifying locations throughout the state.

Haunted houses are so 2019. 

With the pandemic entering its second Halloween season, many of Wisconsin’s haunted attractions have pivoted toward outdoor scares. 

There’s a huge range of offerings, from those run by volunteer groups as fundraisers to slick professional operations that may leave you sleeping with the lights on for weeks to come.

Unless otherwise noted, the attractions are open every Friday and Saturday night in October, with special events on Sunday Oct. 31. Here are a few good ones:

Sparta’s House of Shadows Set In a Creepy Old Orphanage

The House of Shadows in Sparta gets top marks for historical scariness because it’s set in an old orphanage built in the 1930s to house abandoned and neglected children.

Locals say the old hospital of the orphanage really is haunted, and the whole building looks creepy as heck. The House of Shadows operates a less-scary version from 6-6:30 p.m. and the super scary tour from  6:30-10 p.m.. 

Fittingly, the Boys and Girls Club of Sparta benefits from the event.

Haunted Sawmill In Merrill Pays Homage to Wisconsin History

The Haunted Sawmill in Merrill is also on-point with its setting in one of the great industries of the Northwoods. (People old enough to remember the 1990s know there actually was a mill murder in which the victim was tossed into the vat of a Green Bay papermill.) 

The Merrill Sawmill is haunted by the ghost of an undead millworker named Vincent Mudgett. 

This attraction benefits the Friends of Vincent Foundation, which supports children in the Merrill area. They also involved local youth in planning and staging the event. The Sawmill opens Oct. 8.

The Haunted Sawmill in Merrill is haunted by the ghost of millworker Vince Mudgett. (Photo via TravelWisconsin)

Terror at Tyrol Brings Crazed Ghouls to the Ski Hill

A haunted ski hill? Why not? 

The Terror at Tyrol Basin, located near Mount Horeb in southern Wisconsin, has taken its show into the woods. Visitors ride the chairlift up to the top of the hill, then follow a trail that winds down through the woods. 

On the way, they’ll encounter professional actors and four attractions, including Onslaught, Hecate’s maze, The Twisted Woods, and The Scrapyard. Those who survive will wind up at the bottom of the tubing hill, where the “magic carpet” lift will return them up to the parking lot.

Screamin’ Acres Haunts a Cornfield Near Stoughton

One of the Madison area’s premier haunted attractions is Screamin’ Acres, located on the Eugster Farm between Stoughton and Oregon. 

The haunt includes The Meat Market, where local butchers have turned into zombies looking for fresh meat; Crawl Space, an underground bunker with a tunnel entrance on the edge of the cornfield; The Last Resort, which has an evil-Nazi-scientist theme straight out of “Indiana Jones”; Side Effects, a disorienting maze; and Deathtrap, which this year features “shock therapy.”

Screamin’ Acres is not open on Halloween.

Oconto County’s Trail of Terror Is Wisconsin’s Longest Haunted Trail

According to the folks at Haunted Wisconsin, who visit and rank these attractions, the Northwoods trail located a half-hour north of Green Bay near Brookside is the longest haunted hike in the state. 

It promises 20 acres of eerie woodland experiences. 

2021 is the venue’s final year, so go now or regret it forever. 

The trail opens Oct. 9 and is open Oct. 15, Oct. 16, Oct. 22, Oct. 23, and Oct. 29.

Oconto County’s Trail of Terror, which is coming to an end this year, is reportedly the longest haunted trek in the state. (Photo via TravelWisconsin)

Wisconsin Fear Fest Is New This Year Near Beaver Dam

The organizers of this event, located at the Dodge County Fairgrounds, claim to have visited 57 other haunted venues and selected the scariest elements from each. 

In addition to the haunted houses, the venue will have axe throwing, paintball, food and beverages. Entry into the Fear Fest grounds and parking will be free. 

However, several of the activities will require admission. Admission is required for the outdoor haunted house, Blackout Biohazard, which has a zombie theme, and for the indoor house, The 13th Ward Asylum, which features a scary hospital setting. Fear Fest opens Oct. 8.

The organizers of Wisconsin Fear Fest near Beaver Dam say they’ve gleaned the scariest elements from nearly 60 haunted attractions. (Photo via TravelWisconsin)

Abandoned Haunted House Complex Gets National Kudos

This venue, convenient to both Milwaukee and Chicago, is located off I-94 in the village of Mount Pleasant. 

The Wall Street Journal wrote it up for being among the haunted houses “giving new life to zombie strip malls.” It features four separate attractions: Ambush, Hysteria, Stalker, and Axe throwing, which organizers claim will prepare you for the Zombie Apocalypse. 

Billed as “Midwest’s Fear Capital,” the venue is open Friday and Saturday nights in October and the first weekend of November.

Burial Chamber Neenah Will Bury You Alive In a Terrifying Pit

This sister attraction of the Abandoned Haunted House Complex features two haunted houses: Insanity and Adrenaline. It also has the Phobia Haunted Woods, an outdoors attraction. 

New this year is a scare called Buried Alive Trapped, in which you and up to 30 people will be “buried alive” in a pit filled with 80,000 black play pit balls. Organizers promise this will be “truly terrifying to the claustrophobic.” Open the same schedule as Haunted Complex; some passes are good at both venues.