Midnight Terror Haunted House in Oak Lawn, which opens for its fifth season on September 28, was recently ranked the top “Must-See Haunt” in the entire state of Illinois by TheScareFactor.com, based on votes by fans. Midnight Terror beat out many other well-known Chicagoland-area commercial haunts in earning this honor.
Now in its third straight year at its larger location (5520 W. 111th St.), Midnight Terror Haunted House is riding a wave of increasing popularity, visitor acclaim, and strong word-of-mouth. Visitor counts have increased exponentially every year since the haunt relocated to its current site in 2016. Positive ratings online and via social media have certainly helped, and the site has been ranked in top 10 lists from the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, Haunted House Chicago, Illinois Haunted House and more. Creator/co-owner Justin Cerniuk attributes this success to several factors.
“We don’t rely on big animatronics. We work hard with our actors to give customers the best possible show,” says Cerniuk. “Our actors are given creative freedom versus having to follow a rigid script, which allows them to scare better. Plus, we provide haunt actor training all year long, not just a few days before we open.”
Secondly, he notes that the industry norm is to merely update a few rooms in a haunt during the offseason. “But we’ve spent the past 10 months designing a whole new layout, with all new rooms and every costumed character re-envisioned.”
Additionally, Cerniuk says he runs Midnight Terror as a family, not a corporation. “We build every aspect of the show as a group of friends who share the same passion and vision of the haunt industry,” he adds, noting that he and his managers also don costumes and scare along with the crew, which keeps morale high.
What’s more, every year Midnight Terror offers a great array of value-added promotions and discounts. In 2018, visitors can claim:
· Half-price tickets ($12.50 general admission) when purchased online at midnightterror.com and on opening weekend (Sept. 28-30).
· $5 off for students with a school ID every Thursday or Sunday.
· $5 off when you bring in any other haunted house ticket stub.
· $5 off for military personal with a valid ID.
· Free souvenir (Midnight Terror button, sticker or headband) when you take a picture at the on-site photo booth.
· The clowns take over on Nov. 3 – The haunt is entirely populated by evil circus denizens for one “Clown Takeover” night, with a limited supply of half-price tickets now available (only $10 when purchased online).
· Santa goes psycho on Dec. 14-16. That’s when Midnight Terror transforms into “Christmas Fear,” with a limited supply of half-price tickets now available (only $10 when purchased online).
· Take a photo of you and a Midnight Terror actor stalking the waiting line, share the image on social media in October (using hashtag #MidnightTerror), and you may win two free tickets to Christmas Fear (Dec. 14-16).
The haunt has earned considerable goodwill in the community, too. Midnight Terror partners with different charities every year and rewards its patrons. New for 2018:
· For every ticket bought on-site on Sundays, $1 will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.
· Free trick-or-treating for kids 12 and younger (who are accompanied by an adult) on October 31 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.; this annual tradition is appreciated by area families, whose children are given candy and a fun “lights-on” tour of the haunt by actors appearing in friendly mode.
Lastly, Midnight Terror’s scares truly satisfy. Visitor reviews continually hit on a prevailing theme: the fright factor at this haunt is exceptionally high.
“We pride ourselves on designing a uniquely terrifying and creatively horrific haunted house experience that keeps the crowds coming back for more,” says Cerniuk. He notes that Midnight Terror benefits from more than 60 rooms, over 100 actors, and 26,000-plus square feet. “The Midnight Terror production crew custom make every one of our props and sets. And our state-of-the-art animatronic, CGI, lighting, and sound effects are comparable to those used in a big-budget Hollywood horror movie.”
Midnight Terror Haunted House is located at 5520 W. 111th St., Oak Lawn, Ill., 60453, just east of the intersection of Central Avenue and 111th Street. Tickets can be purchased online or at the box office on site: regular admission per person is $25 at the door (discounts may be available online); VIP admission per person, which provides faster entry without having to wait in the general admission line, is $35 at the door. The attraction is wheelchair accessible and open, rain or shine (an indoor waiting area is provided), from: 7-10 p.m. on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30 and 31; and from 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (Sept. 28 and 29; Oct. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27; and Nov. 3). Visitors can park for free at the Oak Lawn Metra station parking garage (located at 9525 Tulley Ave.) and take a complimentary round-trip shuttle – with costumed characters aboard to entertain passengers – to the Midnight Terror site.