HAUNTING IN THE HILLS

ONSTED, MICHIGAN

ARTICLE BY: THE BARON & SINDEE NYTE

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For stop #4 of The Baron & Sindee Nyte Michigan Haunt Tour, we head south on highway 127, then on to US 12 to the Irish Hills of Michigan. This trip is about an hour away from our home hub of Lansing. Unless, you take a wrong turn and add a half hour to your trip…Which we did. Oh well, we like long road trips.

The destination is an old Western town attraction that was opened in 1965 and featured gun fights, panning for gold, western/cowboy-themed shows and an on-site hotel. The town sat vacant for several years until new owners came in this past year and converted the town to what is now; Haunting In The Hills.

 

Right off the bat as you turn into the attraction, you are immediately taken back to your childhood when you took family vacations and stopped at the side road attractions that used to dot our highways and byways. Pulling into the parking lot this place just screams fun! There are several old western buildings, an ominous train car, several outdoor scary displays, a fire pit (that was much appreciated the night we went), a custom made midway concession trailer, fun characters running around and scaring everyone. And, wait for it…A HEARSE!

 

Haunts to choose from.

You have a few options to satisfy your spooky appetite and all are reasonably priced…Or do all 4 haunts and make a nice long night of your trip. We spent about two and half hours here and the lines were short and quick.

The first haunt we entered was a classic indoor walk-through haunted house. This was a gem. We had so much appreciation for this particular haunted house. Not because it was filled with hi-tech animatronics and expensive props. It was because of the lack of those things. I got my start in the haunt industry well before the " super haunts" of today. So when we went through this haunt we felt like we went back to the late 70's, early 80's…And it was wonderful. The first haunter you come across had people screaming AND laughing at the same time. He makes A LOT of noise and he will scare you…He got us! You're so distracted by his antics you are totally taken by surprise by his cohort that lurks in the shadows. There is a familiarity to these two haunters. Hmmm, they kinda reminded us of the zany duo of Sicken & Scurvy…But look nothing like them.

Another room that was a total knockout is what we called "The white room". We have NEVER been so disoriented going through a haunt. You have no idea where to go. There are flowing white sheets in every direction, along with thick fog. To top the experience off, there is some creepy dude in there to add to the terror.

The rest of the house is, again, a wonderful trip down memory lane for those of us that were lucky enough to experience and enjoy the old school haunts. Don't be fooled with the lack of hi-tech in this haunt. There are some good scares, fx, props and quality actors in this house.

Our next haunt was the ominous train car you see when you pull in. This was certainly a unique experience, as neither of us has ever gone through a haunted train car before. It's always refreshing to experience something new when you have done this for so many years. What makes this a bit scary is the narrowness. Everything is right on top of you. From your left, to your right and even upwards, everything is literally inches from you. The fear factor is spot on inside the train. Although it's a fairly quick trip through the train, it is well worth the trip. When you exit you are walking through an outside haunted trail that surrounds the train. I would love

to see them add a haunter out there in the woods, as it is a very creepy trail and is just "dying" to have someone or something jump out from those woods.

Leaving this very cool train, we take a nice stroll through the "town" to catch the haunted hayride. Now, before I go into detail of the hayride, we must talk about "The PeeWee Herman" girl. We named her that because of her infectious laugh…And we don't know her actual name. This haunter is straight from the haunters textbook (if there was one) of what a haunter should be. She was full of energy. She was everywhere you went. You could hear her from far away tormenting and entertaining guests. She was, in a word…Brilliant!

Ok, back to the hayride. This is a big, long haunted attraction. The hayride takes you behind the old western town and you're treated to; a graveyard, bonesville, a coven of witches, a mill, old vehicles and out buildings. All are filled with lots of haunters and characters coming out from every nook and corner you come across. One stand out that everybody seemed to enjoy was the gorilla. This big guy was hilarious. He dances to music and follows you through his section of town getting right up and personal with you. The costume itself was outstanding…Very realistic.

There are so many fun things to see on this hayride and you are twisting your neck back and forth, side to side, you would think you were at a Wimbledon tennis match.

Drive thru haunt.

Another option you have is to drive your own vehicle through a haunted trail. I wasn't sure if this would be popular, but I was way wrong. We didn't actually do the drive thru, but it had a very long line the entire time we were there. It's a bargain too. You can fill your vehicle with as many people as you can, all for 30 bucks! Low and behold, "PerWee Herman" girl was also running around the line of cars tormenting them too.

We ended our night taking a little walk around the town checking out the old buildings and the still functional motel. As we walked through the town Sindee and I discussed all the fantastical potential this place can have in the future, such as; a gift shop, more static displays inside the empty buildings, performers and interactive activities. The sky's the limit for this first year haunt and they certainly have the room to do whatever they want. If done right they could certainly be one of the best and largest haunts in the State.

On the way back to the car we had to stop at the concession wagon. They have all the favorites you would expect from a carnival midway concession. We grabbed some pizza, breadsticks, fried oreos and fried Twinkies. We sat in the car and ate our delicious haul and watched all the kids and other patrons running around having a great time.

We really look forward to seeing this place grow and expand in the coming years.

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