2020 has been such a depressing year thus far with all the craziness and negativity. That is now behind us and we ALL have something to celebrate. Haunt season is officially here.
My first stop on this 2020 tour brings me to Sidney, Iowa. I never ever thought I’d be traveling to the Midwest for a haunt, but here I am driving on a highway with cornfields on both sides that are taller than my vehicle. Sinister Sidney is my destination and it’s not that hard to find in the small town of Sidney. If you blink, you will drive right through town entirely. Make sure you use google maps to get to this haunt. If you don’t, who knows where you’ll end up. As you pull up to the haunt, there is a nicely lit parking lot with ample of space with the haunt entrance just within 50 yards of you. I never ever thought I would be able to ever physically go to this haunt and see Gravedigger and Mistress Laurie, but here I am, in Iowa, ready to experience Sinister Sidney!
Downright creepy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere Iowa in a town that’s no bigger than a mile. If you were not a haunt guru and just happen to stumble on to this place. One could think it’s a trap. You have a weird dude in a top hat trying to lure you onto his property so he can feed his family out back. That’s creepy. It’s a great setup to a wonderful haunt experience! You won’t find movies playing, bands rocking out, carnival rides, vendors. You get a downright creepy atmosphere that compliments the experience you’re about to go on.
Bang for your buck
It is $13 for the ticket but if you bring 3 canned goods you will receive $3 off the price of admission. ALL the canned goods are donated to the West Central Services Food Pantry.
It took us roughly 20 minutes to complete the entire experience. That being said, we moved pretty quickly due to the group we were with. It is well worth the price of admission and more.
The costuming was pretty good for the type of haunt Sinister Sidney is. In most home haunts, you’ll run into actors wearing what they wore to work that day but with a mask. They take pride in how they look for the haunt. The costumes definitely fit the theming of the scenes throughout the entire experience.
A few costume standouts, the witches, actor in the light up welder's mask, actress in the white dress crawling around on the ground, chucky, patient behind the bars and the creeper.
The makeup was no different. You won’t find over the top prosthetics or elaborate makeup jobs here. For the most part, the makeup was on par for what the scene or characters required. A few makeup standouts, the actress in the doll room, the ones in the Euthanasia's Theatre Bizarre.
The trail is a winding path throughout the woods with all sorts of surprises at every turn. You’ll encounter unique and original scenes that will take you back to the old school haunts that you’d find at your local high schools back in the day. With a great balance of actors and them allowing your imagination to run wild with what's lurking in the dark. Sinister Sidney will keep you on your toes throughout the experience. Make no mistake, this is a home haunt with a shot of steroids. Another little hidden gem among Sinister Sidney, it offers up a real cemetery. There are real bodies buried on the property. So, if you trip, it might not be that stump or stick that got you. It could be the local residents that was there long before The Gravedigger rolled into town.... Muahahahahahahaha...... No? Okay, but yes there is a cemetery there and the trail definitely delivers quite a bit of memorable scares and visuals. You won’t be disappointed!
I was actually shocked at how well everything looked. You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? That is Sinister Sidney in a nutshell. Every scene had its own distinct look to it, whether that be lighting, props. The best thing about it, it’s simple lighting and how it’s placed. Sinister Sidney does a wonderful job with light placement. You see what they want you to see and that’s it. One of my favorite experiences was walking through Euthanasia's Theatre Bizarre. That entire setup really stuck with me after our walk-through. It’s the little things that matter and Sinister Sidney truly knows how to make the most out of everything they have.
Is it Scary?
During our night there we got to hear multiple screams from every single group that went in.
The actors do a wonderful job with their timing and in some spots are able to capture your attention while another creature lurks in the shadows. I caught myself constantly peeking behind me because they do such a great job of sneaking up behind you without you ever knowing. For an outside trail, these actors have become very skilled at walking quietly through the woods. So, to answer the question, yes. You will get quite a few quality scares during your experience.
Sinister Sidney is all “natural” ... Gravedigger will tell you that himself and he is right. It’s practically all hand built and straight from the minds of the Sinister Sidney crew. It’s 100% original and it’s 100% fun and at times scary. The creativity of the scenes reminds me of the haunts that I went to as a kid, but with a Sinister stamp on it. They hide little easter eggs throughout the trail as inside jokes for themselves and if you’re lucky enough to spot one. I promise you there’s a story behind it and Gravedigger won’t mind telling you. I loved seeing all the scenes come to life once the sun went down. It truly put a big smile on my face as we walked through.
Did I feel safe?
Absolutely. They require all crew and patrons to wear a mask during the experience and while on the property.
You won’t find a huge crew here. It’s honestly not needed. The actors know their roles and what they’re supposed to do and they do it very well. Their timing was on point and they didn’t shy away from their performance due to our small group. In most small haunts like Sinister Sidney, you’ll have actors who stop mid scare or mid performance right when you pass by. Not this crew! They kept the scene alive until we completely left sight of them. Then they’d come back down the path to get seconds.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned. You absolutely could tell of the family atmosphere with this bunch. They LOVE being there and it shows. Mike and Laurie bring in all walks of life to give individuals a place that they are accepted. A place where they are not the “outcasts” or “rejects”. A place where they can be themselves and loved by others and not judged. Being told that and seeing it firsthand truly shows where Mike and Laurie's heart is. They love their crew and the crew loves them. That is truly needed more and more these days!
I felt Sinister Sidney is the benchmark for home haunts. It truly is The Hulk of home haunts or A home haunt on steroids. They prove that you can put on a great scary show without all the gore and edgy PG13 content. Sinister Sidney is a breath of fresh air *not so fresh in some spots* of the haunt industry. I am a fan of old school haunts like this. Haunts like Sinister Sidney are becoming rare and I for one am glad Mike and Laurie keep true to what they love. Sinister Sidney is a hidden gem within the Midwest and I highly suggest you get out there and visit them!
Support your local haunts! I’m not even local to the Midwest and I went! What's your excuse for not going?? DO IT!