HellsGate Haunted House 2018
Reviewed on: Sunday, October 21, 2018
Taking up residence for its third year in Lockport, Illinois, is Hells Gate Haunted House. This is not just your normal haunted attraction, but a haunted adventure! Steeped in a history of unfortunate circumstances, Hells Gate is one of those legendary haunted attractions you have read about. And for those that have yet to experience this, you are definitely in for a treat.
Embarking on your journey to Hells Gate is a lot different than other attractions. Here, guests don’t have the opportunity to travel to the attraction themselves. They must park in the nearby Metra lot, where buses are set up to shuttle you to and from the grounds. As if something out of Disney, it keeps you off your guard, submerses you into the unknown, and sets the tone for your experience from the moment you leave your car!
Finally arriving at the landing, we made our way toward the beginning of the trail through the forest. We were greeted by many creatures that had been taken over by the darkness lurking about. The creatures were cleverly attacking from all angles, and this was before we even started walking! One of the characters that certainly stood out was, “Earl.” Upon our introduction, we were informed that he was the last human that the darkness was trying to take over. Another character that definitely captured our full attention was Boona, a gypsy, who in fact was able to join our group throughout our journey. With witty banter and hilarious commentary as we traveled, she made the trek into the unknown extremely entertaining!
Throughout the trail, the monsters of the forest made themselves known, but only when they wanted to be seen or heard. Using the moon’s lighting to their advantage, they struck with perfect timing and attacked at multiple points throughout our group, ensuring every patron received attention. With the forest causing natural shadows, actors knew exactly where to hide to make sure we didn’t have a clue. Actors even used the natural rock formations included on the tour in their routines. Bravo!
What really made our heads spin was having to climb through the fallen tree that blocked the path of the trail. Infested by ghouls (and bees), we attempted to find our way through to get back on course.
When we finally were able to escape the forest, we entered the Lost Souls Cemetery. Creatures here were even more relentless in their attacks. Crawling through the dirt and trail, we were never left alone. There was an eerie sense of evil that was growing, as our group grew closer to the mysterious mansion.
As we reached the clearing, we found ourselves face-to-face with the gates of Hells Gate themselves. Wrapped in perfectly layered fog, and flickering torches, the mansion appeared to rise out of nowhere. As a plethora of actors ran amuck in front, they played with our group but also continued in their own self-contained routines.
Making our way towards the front of the house, we waited patiently to enter. Once inside, we entered the great room. With detail from floor to ceiling, it was truly breathtaking! The sound of an outdoor thunderstorm could be heard, along with lightning just outside the stained-glass windows. Many actors murmured about the darkness and evil contained within the house. Just as we were about to find out more, the lights vanquished and the stars of the show appeared. Enter: The Twins.
Quick advice: Not only in this room, for the entire house, make sure you look everywhere as there are typically multiple things occurring at the same time. We found ourselves spinning to make sure we didn’t miss a beat of the action!
Without giving anything away, our group was forced to escape through a secret passage way and into the walls of the house. Exiting into the study, we were given additional information and then continued through a secret bookshelf! Through the kitchen, library, hallways, and trophy room, the chaos that was unearthed was certainly very illustrated.
One of our favorite rooms that we encountered is the doll room. With hundreds of dolls housed in the shelves, it made us feel as if one of them is going to come alive at a moment’s notice. Hosting many different shapes, styles, and sizes, some were even larger than life and played with a creepy dollhouse that looked very similar to the mansion itself! Watching a devilish tea party was just icing on the cake for this overly creepy encounter!
Continuing through multiple secret passageways, we found ourselves at one point in a “critter” room. Home to some snakes, cockroaches, and other creepy-crawlies, there were no animatronics here. (You read that correctly: There are REAL creatures here.) Afraid of spiders? It would be our best advice for you to not say a word.
Our tour continued on with additional twists until we were finally faced with a group of slides! Our group was asked to line up and slide into the caverns below Hells Gate mansion. We obliged, and found ourselves landing in the middle of a laboratory filled with various experiments.
Finally, we arrived at one of the most advertised portions of this attraction: an opportunity to get your ticket for free! In the middle of a room with many crates and creatures, patrons are given 30 seconds to locate a physical key. If they are able to do this, their money is refunded, and they get to take a picture in front of the infamous Hells Gate gates. While this isn’t scary, this is certainly very intense and heart racing! Sadly, our group was not successful.
As we expected the tour to end, we were notified that more rooms were uncovered underground and that our tour would continue. Something was found… the Dragon Caves. Fully immersing us into the caves below the house, two full-sized dragons emerged roaring and rumbling the ground below our feet! What an amazingly beautiful and breathtaking scene to be experienced! (I’m not sure words or pictures would be able to do it justice.)
(Editor’s Note: Yes, we know that Days of the Living Dead did a feature on the new inclusion of the dragons at Hells Gate. BUT, we didn’t watch, as we didn’t want to spoil the experience.)
Monsters of Note: Boona, Momma, the Twins, Mister Crow, and Earl
The Bottom Line: You know how when you go down that dark road, you’re not quite sure where you are, and suddenly your cell phone won’t work, and a chill goes up your spine and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand? Yeah… this is that place. Calling it a “tour” just isn’t an encompassing enough word. Through the woods, over the top detailed mansion scenes, theatrical opening, secret passages, down slides, live snakes, and dealing with dragons, this is definitely an adventure and by-far one of the most detailed and fully-immersive haunted attractions… anywhere! But, don’t take our word for it. This MUST be experienced first-hand!
~ Official Haunted House Chicago Review Team Review