The best haunted house in Chicagoland: Screams in the Park AND Fear City

The best haunted house in Chicagoland: Screams in the Park AND Fear City

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.

I’ve been struggling with this for over a week, and I just can’t decide which haunted house is better, Screams in the Park or Fear City. Fear City is just as good as it was last year, but they didn’t add many new features. Screams in the Park is world’s better, but the ending was disappointing. It’s so hard to choose! Check out my comments below, and decide for yourself.

Getting There

Screams in the Park:  Now that it’s in the basement of the Muvico parking garage, it is much easier to find.

Fear City: It’s pretty close to the city, but you’ll still need to drive. You actually end up driving down some very dark back roads by the expressway, so it’s kind of cool.

The Sets

Screams in the Park: The haunted house stuck with the same H.H. Holmes murder castle theme they went with last year, but they finally figured out how to do it right. Not only did the sets look like they were straight out of a really messed up horror movie, but the animatronics were fantastic. I also loved the extra details they placed throughout the scenes. At one point, you walk through a “graveyard,” and they actually put dirt on the ground so you not only feel like you’re walking outside but it also smells like it. (And the smell doesn’t make you want to vomit, like some haunted houses.)

Fear City: The premise this year is a zombie apocalypse has hit the city, and you missed the last train out. The sets were just as amazing as they were last year. Actually, they were almost the exactly same as they were last year. Still Hollywood blockbuster meets undead Chicago amazing, but other than a few theme changes, all of the things that blew me away last year were the same. I was a little disappointed they didn’t switch it up more.

The Creatures

Screams in the Park: As you know by now, I’m against the “pack as many creatures into a house as possible” philosophy. Screams in the Park had much fewer people than they did last year which made it even better. The actors were a part of the theme instead of just screaming at you. They found subtle ways to freak you out.

Fear City: Instead of taking volunteers, Fear City made their creatures audition to be a part of the haunted house. It definitely shows. The actors are just the right amount of interactive without being too obnoxious.

Best Feature 

Screams in the Park: Last year, the actors were the worst part for me. This year, they were my favorite. Because the animatronics, costumes and makeup were so good, you couldn’t figure out what was real and what wasn’t. They went to great lengths to hide the monsters so that just the slightest movement scared the crap out of you. The real test: I screamed. I NEVER scream in haunted houses!!! I’ve been to so many of these things that I’m lucky if I even get startled. That’s 90 percent of the reason I picked it as one of my favorites.

Fear City: Fear City did something I haven’t seen before: they used 3D through some of the scenes. I won’t give too much away, but think scary clowns in glow-in-the-dark 3D. Love it! It was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced all season.

Worst Feature

Screams in the Park: I chose Screams in the Park as my number one haunted house, except that the end sucked. You’re made to sit down and watch a poorly performed funeral, then you walk down about five minutes of empty hallways and you’re done. So anticlimactic! I was having the best time, and this was a huge let down.

Fear City: Like I said before, even though the sets were amazing, a lot of them were the same. What’s worse: some of them didn’t even fit! One of the funniest things last year was that you had to walk through a giant Blagojevich mouth with punching bag tonsils. It was still funny, but it didn’t fit with the new theme. If I’m just going to see the same thing every year then I’m not going to want to go back.

Would I Go Back? 

I would absolutely go back to Screams in the Park. I would check out Fear City again if I knew that they weren’t going to use the same sets for a third year in a row.

Discounts and Coupons

Screams in the Park: If you buy your tickets online, you’ll save $2 AND you can skip the line.

Fear City: Culver’s and Giordano’s supposedly have coupons for Fear City, although I’m not sure which locations are participating and how much the discounts will be.


Screams in the Park is open every night until Halloween from 7 – 11 p.m. It’s open on Sunday from 5 – 9 p.m. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door.

Fear City is open every night until Halloween from 7:30 – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights will be open from 7:30 p.m. – 12: a.m. General admission tickets are $25 and VIP passes are $35.


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  • fb_avatar

    Thanks for our review at SCREAMS. It was a pleasure scaring you. :)

  • fb_avatar

    Try going to more than two haunted houses if you are going to write a review.

  • In reply to David Lawrence:

    I've been to five this year alone. Try looking at the rest of my posts before making a judgement.

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