Land of Illusion ‘scream park’: What’s new and different in 2020?

Land of Illusion has evolved a great deal since its 1997 opening. Starting out as the Middletown Haunted Trail, the venerable Middletown “scream park” now boasts seven state-of-the-art haunted attractions, including a food court, full bar, live music, movies, and themed weekends.

“The first day we close is the first day we start working on next year,” said Michael McKnight, Land of Illusion’s Operations Manager. “We have prop builders, maintenance people, and managers working year-round, looking for things we can add or old things that can be exchanged for something new. We employ over 400 people on a single night, from monsters to bartenders, most on the haunted trail.”

While Land of Illusion has also recently added seasonal Christmas and summer attractions, it’s fright time now, and the intensity level is fairly high. Special “boo” necklaces are available for anyone who doesn’t want too big a scare, at which point the attraction becomes more of an interactive walk-through than a hardcore haunt.

“Kids 10 and up do pretty well,” McKnight said. “But we leave that decision up to the parents. They’re the ones who might be up with them until 2 a.m. explaining that Michael Myers lives in Land of Illusion, not the basement.”

The Attractions

Temple of Terror: Unless you’re Indiana Jones, your chances of surviving this temple of doom are pretty slim. This Egyptian-themed haunt features a full gallery of undead.

Phobia: Total darkness and a phobia around every door. Each person has an irrational fear of different things. Phobia hits them all.

Killer Klowns Haunted Maze: How about an entire haunt dedicated to the irrational fear of clowns? Finding your way out of a haunted maze is difficult enough without a host of leering, painted faces jumping out at you.

Dr. Psycho’s Haunted Hospital: Enter this haunted hospital where the mutilated victims of Dr. Psycho’s experimental sadism await to take revenge.

Big Mama’s Revenge: A Dr. Pyscho spinoff, if you will. Big Mama was originally imprisoned in the Haunted Hospital for torturing people. Now, she’s escaped and formed a haunted labyrinth all her own.

The Historical Mystery Mansion: Built in 1960, this old-school ride takes you through cobwebs, dust, bad smells, and vintage ghosts.

The Middletown Haunted Trail: Come back to where it all started. Land of Illusion’s very first haunt is a one-mile trail through 40 scenes, featuring sickos armed with blades, chainsaws, and blowtorches, as well as creatures who enjoy the taste of human flesh.

Why Go?

“We’re ranked as one of the best haunts in the U.S.A.,” McKnight said. “It’s up to six hours of fun with live entertainment every night. If you break your $50 ticket down by attraction, you’re basically paying $7.14 per attraction, which is a steal.”

Best Time to Go?

“We often see lower capacities on Friday nights because of high school football,” McKnight said. “Most teen-agers would rather go to that.”

COVID Restrictions?

Masks are required for guests inside and recommended outside. Employees will be wearing masks if serving food and drink or working within 8 feet of the guests. Employees will have their temperatures taken daily and asked to stay home if they’re feeling sick.

There will be social distancing signage throughout the park and in lines. Groups entering attractions will be timed to prevent overcrowding.

Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the park.

High-touch services will be sanitized regularly, and tables will be socially distanced.

Deals or Promotions?

A $20 ticket grants you access to the park, the live entertainment, and one haunted attraction of your choice.

Places to Eat Nearby

Land of Illusion frequently partners with the nearby Swire Inn for date night packages that include dinner and two tickets to the park. There is also Combs BBQ, The Jug, Bourbon’s Craft Kitchen and Bar, and the usual fast-food places. Inside the park are Cassano’s Pizza, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken, Lil Orbits Donuts, and a kitchen on site serving burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, baked potatoes, caramel apples, hot chocolate, popcorn, and more.


Where: 8762 Thomas Road, Middletown

When: Through Nov. 7, 7 p.m.-1 a.m.

Cost: $20-$199

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