13 Terrors on the Lake: The best park district haunted house EVER

13 Terrors on the Lake: The best park district haunted house EVER

It’s the second annual haunted house week at Chicago Quirk! I’ve visited five different haunted houses this season, and every post this week will be dedicated to reviewing a different 2012 Chicagoland haunt….the best and the worst.

For the longest time I just assumed that since 13 Terrors was through the Chicago Park District it would be a kid’s haunted house. I decided to check it out this year, and I was very happy I did. It had some of the same effects as the top haunted houses in the state, and the actors did a great job of enhancing the scares.

However, I want to clarify something: Theater on the Lake was never an insane asylum. I heard so many people in line trying to scare each other with stories of crazy people living inside the old building. It was originally a sanitarium, a place for children with tuberculosis to recuperate outside of the grimy city. (Fullerton was pretty undeveloped back in the day.)

Getting There

It’s so easy to get there. Take Fullerton until just before you walk into the lake. Then, don’t walk into the lake. If you’re driving, there’s free parking at the Diversey Harbor lot on Cannon just north of Fullerton.

The Sets

I love when I go into a haunted house not knowing the story, and I don’t have to guess what’s going on. The ghostly lake ship wreckage was very apparent and very well done. This might sound dumb, but they really know how to work a smoke machine. It’s usually just an afterthought/smell in even the best haunted houses, but 13 Terrors had a whole “Thriller” look to it. The sets could have been total crap, but the fog was so good I couldn’t tell.

The Creatures

The costumes and makeup were great, and I didn’t feel like there were too many actors. Not only did they stay in character without screaming directly into your face, but they all seemed to work together to provide excellent crowd control. There were a few spots where you could tell that’s what they were doing, but it didn’t ruin the experience.

Best Feature

My favorite thing about 13 Terrors is that the monsters were hidden inside the sets for maximum scare. It’s one thing to have people jump out at you from behind corners, but when the wall starts walking towards you, that will make you jump. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were a few times where a combination of lighting and color effects hid the monsters so well that I didn’t even know they were standing right next to me.

Worst Feature

The creatures “scaring” people waiting in line made me want to turn around and leave. They looked like creepy middle aged men who walked in off the street to jump out at screamy teenage girls. Just ignore them.

Would I go back? 

I definitely would. A) it’s fun and B) it’s the only haunted house in the city.

Discounts and Coupons

I know there was a Groupon for last weekend, but I haven’t seen anything since.


13 Terrors is open October 26 – 28 from 7 – 10 p.m. Admission is $10.

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