Wichita haunted houses, experiences will keep you trembling

The whirring of a chain saw pierces through an otherwise tranquil October night, followed by shrieks of terror that typically might prompt neighbors to call the police.

They may not be straight out of "Friday the 13th," but the haunted houses and experiences in the Wichita area offer plenty of scares this Halloween season.

This Eagle recently visited three of them: House of Terrors, a 23,000-square-foot haunted house; Field of Screams, a cornfield maze populated by deviant characters and gruesome scenes; and Isle of Screams, a smaller version that includes its own demonic characters haunting a wooded trail.

Here are our impressions:

Field of Screams

Field of Screams is a 30-minute walk through a haunted cornfield, featuring scenes like a disorienting backyard entanglement of hanging sheets, a crashed school bus and a farmhouse filled with unearthly beings.

The suspense mounts as you begin walking through the cornstalks, wondering when the first monster or ghoul will jump out from the darkness. A tip: Don't watch "Children of the Corn" beforehand.

As our group of eight made its way through the field, the sound of a shotgun blasting could be heard, followed by screams. Twelve-year-old Brycen Busch clutched the waist of his friend. "I held on for dear life," he said later.

Being outdoors contributes to the building of tension, especially as you hear shrieks in the distance and even when all you can hear is the wind passing across the tops of cornstalks.

House of Terrors

Housed in a former big-box retailer, the exterior of House of Terrors doesn't make one's hair stand on end, even with an old hearse parked in front. As you walk into the first room, the gruesome inhabitants don't either.

The plastic figures seem over the top. One life-size zombie with blood dripping from his head rests in a corner. You smirk, thinking you can handle this. Then the monster jumps to his feet, bares a huge knife and yells.

At that moment, you forget about everything, including how tame the entrance outside looked. You're too busy screaming.

The brilliance of House of Terrors is the staging. Narrow passages shrouded in darkness connect rooms. At one point, we used a cell phone light to find our way. (Technically, that's against the rules; the "performers" will direct the lost, if needed.)

The rooms include different scenes, from a haunted fun house to a toxic waste dump to a mental hospital that, if real, would surely be served with several malpractice lawsuits. One scene involves nearly getting squished by a truck or a train; our group was so scared we didn't have time to get a good look at it.

Isle of Screams

As you approach a thick wooden door, a woman appears, asking you to hurry because "they" are coming.

They are the dozens of mutants awaiting you on the twisting and turning path through Watson Park, where this attraction is located.

Similar to Field of Screams, Isle of Screams is a 20-minute walk with a group of about eight people. But instead of a cornfield teeming with bleeding mutants ready to make you recoil, the Isle is filled with haunted demons that come at you from nowhere, including a tree. One ghoul does just that, aided with a sort of Bungee system in the branches.

Like the other two haunts, chain saw-wielding maniacs heighten the tension, leaving visitors screaming and looking for escape. A few in our group wondered aloud whether the chain saws were real, but most were too frightened to look closely.

A bridge at the end of the Isle also features a particular surprise that we won't ruin here.

If you go

Wichita-area haunted Houses

A few tips for scare seekers:

* Plan on standing in waiting lines.The attractions tend to fill up as soon as doors open and the large corrals in front of each location aren't for show. One worker at Trail of Terror said waiting lines can stretch to three hours on some nights. Some attractions allow customers to purchase a more costly "Fast Pass" that will cut down on wait times, but even with that option, expect to wait on a busy weekend night.

* Dress warmly. If you're going to an outdoor attraction, plan on chilly temperatures as night falls. Some of the attractions involve walking on a dirt trail, which can turn muddy in rain, so wear appropriate shoes.

* Make sure the attraction is age-appropriate. Some of the attractions around town are meant for teenagers, rather than for the younger set. Check first with a haunted attrraction to see if it's a good fit. Some of the attractions might not be recommended for those who are claustrophobic.

Field of Screams

Where: Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler Road in Maize

When: Gates open at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Oct. 28-31.

How much: Tickets $15; fast pass $25. Combo ticket with Clown Town attractions are $20. Information, www.scaryprairiepines.com.

House of Terrors

Where: 3053 N. Rock Road

When: Opens at 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday and Oct. 27-31.

How much: Tickets $23, VIP fast pass $28, children 14 and under $18. Information, www.thehouseofterrors.com.

Isle of Screams

Where: At O.J. Watson Park, 3022 S. McLean Blvd.

When: Opens at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday and Oct. 28-31.

How much: Tickets $15; combo tickets with Field of Screams available. Information, www.scaryprairiepines.com.