Our 2nd stop in the Midwest brings us to Hillside House of Hell in Glenwood, Iowa.
We were invited out by one of the owners who noticed that our tour was coming through their neck of the woods. Upon arrival we knew nothing about the haunt or the building. We could have looked it up but we decided that we wanted to be surprised and have no expectations leading up to the experience.
I will say this, parking could be an issue on busy nights. We advise you arrive early to make sure you get a spot on the street. Parking is tricky and visit their website for more details on that. You can only park on one side of the street and it is heavily enforced. Your vehicle will get towed if you park in the wrong place. There is a small grass lot way down the road that charges $5, but the catch is, you have to walk a pretty long distance to get to the haunt. Again, arrive early to ensure you a spot on the street closer to the entrance. As we walked through the gate, we were greeted in such a positive manner as they made sure we had masks, they sanitized our hands and did a temp check. We made our way up the stairs where we met with Jon. They welcomed us to their haunt with open arms and the hospitality was amazing. Everyone we talked to was very nice and welcoming and wanted to know about our experience after the fact. Love meeting with owners and crew who care about your experience. That being said, we were excited to be there and ready to experience Hillside House Of Hell.
Arriving in from the street, it’s as advertised. It appears to be a house on a hillside. You walk up the steps to purchase your tickets and walk around the side of the property and there you find the que-line and the “midway”, or would it be considered a “Sideway” here?? Either way, they offer plenty of room to walk around. Not sure if there were any vendors or not, we did arrive towards the end of the evening and it was raining. Definitely seems in better weather conditions they will have things going on out there. We arrived not knowing anything about this place and it blew us away when it came to the overall size of the haunt.
Every actor we encountered 100% looked the part. Some were more detailed than others. The costuming fit the scenes and the characters and they really brought the scenes to life. A few standouts were the gatekeepers, clowns and the actress in front of the church.
We’re not going to give away any spoilers, we’re just going to slightly touch on certain things.
I absolutely loved every bit of visuals throughout this haunt. Was very impressed with the authentic medical equipment throughout the first part. The dressers stacked and lined up really puts you on edge. This entire area does its job of making you uneasy with every step. It really sets the mood for what's to come. Coming into the church yard really blew me away with the upside-down crosses and the body parts stuffed within the crosses. This goes further as you enter the church and the eye candy increases dramatically. Then onto the school where we both had to really stop and question ourselves, “did we take a wrong turn? This is the same room, or is it?”. Hillside did a wonderful job with creating effects and visuals to really mess with your mind.
Bang for your buck
The ticket price is $40 per person for just Hillside. With that you get an experience that could last you anywhere from a 30 to 40-minute walk-through, (depending on the speed of your group and how long they want you to stay in certain areas) $40 is very steep for a haunt and I know where I’m from, a lot of haunt goers would be skeptical of that price. But I will say, you will get a unique experience with walking through an old asylum that has claims of paranormal activity. House of hell definitely has some history on its side with this building that was built in 1964. Which they do offer paranormal events on their website. So, if you’re into the paranormal, this is the place for you!
They also offer “The Devils Deal”. For the price of $60 per person, you get 2 promo posters, admission to House of Hell and admission to Bloodrush in Elkhorn, NE. Which is 45 miles away.
At first, we really didn’t know what was going on. We were zig-zagging in and out of rooms of an old hospital. In which, it was very creepy and disturbing. It definitely played with your mind after a certain point of walking around with no actors, no sounds other than the shuffling of your feet with the distant sounds of objects clanging against each other. I was thinking to myself, “Wow, they must be really short on actors. Then we arrived to the gate keepers and it dawned on me that the entire section we walked through was the preshow. It was a setup for the real experience and I applaud that. From that point forward the show really took off and the intensity picked up.
Going into this haunt, I knew nothing about it. As for the theming, they took on a few themes with the church and religious aspect and then to the evil school teachers who keeps you in class for what seemed like eternity. They really did a great job on the theming, the lines from the actors to the scenery and visuals. I could tell they were short a few actors due to obvious spots being vacant, but it did not take away from the show as a whole. Most haunt goers would not notice certain dead spots that we encountered. The trail experience was very lengthy and full of surprises when we least expected it.
Is it Scary?
Simply put, yes. You will get startled numerous of times throughout this 30-minute walk-through, I did.
At times you will walk through asking, “where are the actors?” They do a great job at making you forget about the potential creatures lurking around and get you paying attention to the detailed scenes. Then out of nowhere an actor pops out of the shadows for that perfect startle scare. A lot of haunts pounce on you the minute you step foot into the first scene. House of hell makes you wait and forces you to let your guard down. That is when they attack!
Did I feel safe?
I absolutely did. House of hell has strict guidelines when it comes to covid. Masks are required for all guests and crew. They sanitized your hands right at the front entrance along with a temp check, then again before you enter the haunt and they do it throughout the experience. The one thing that I absolutely loved was how they incorporated sanitizing your hands within their storyline.
House of hell offers some of the most creative and original scenes that I’ve ever experienced. The preshow walk through was unique on its own. Walking through the church yard and into the church. The 3D clown experience was one of the best I’ve ever experienced with how it was done and the artwork. I put their 3D experience right up there with Woods Of Terror in North Carolina. How they structured the school house and how it truly messes with your mind.
Even though this is my first trip to Midwestern haunts, I have been to tons of haunts in the Southeast. I will say this. Hillside House of Hell has some of the most original and creative scenes I’ve ever experienced.
I will start off with what we noticed throughout; they were shorthanded. In some areas it was obvious that an actor or two should have been there. But it did not kill the experience as the actors who were there did an incredible job with their timing and performances. A lot of actors leaned on pop scares which that is where their timing was on point. A few of them got a great startle out of me. The actors that did stand out to me were the ones who had more in-depth roles such as, the actress in front of the church, the bus driver, the clowns did a great job with sticking with us throughout their entire area, the patient screaming for us to get him out (which he was pretty intense with his role, so intense we think he accidentally broke a door as we walked past him) and the gate keepers. Great job to the entire acting crew.
This is the first year of House of hell and they did not disappoint. They have an amazing foundation and they have history on their side. As mentioned before, we came in knowing nothing about this place or the haunt. Sometimes, it’s better to go into a place that you know nothing about. It leaves expectations in the parking lot. House of hell has something special and they will be successful going forward. I am grateful that we got invited out and I am glad that I got to experience this unique haunt. You should definitely experience it as well!