When it comes to scaring customers, Statesville Haunted Prison manages to do just that in both a conventional and unconventional way. When evaluating haunted houses and tours, your main concerns should be location, commute time, tour length, crowd factor, price and most importantly, scare factor. Hopefully, my recent trek to Statesville will answer these questions and give you a better idea of how Statesville stacks up to other haunted houses.
Location and Commute: Statesville Haunted Prison is located at 17250 S. Weber Road in Crest Hill, Ill., not too far from Joliet. The prison lies isolated in an empty farm field and plays up the mood of the prison. It also isn’t hard to spot because of the large, illuminated pumpkin along with multiple signs near the road. As far as the commute, depending on traffic, the drive is about one to two hours from the River Forest area, so bring along a few friends to pitch in for gas.
Length of Tour: The prison is separated into two areas: Statesville Haunted Prison and the City of the Dead. The actual tour of the prison lasts about 20 minutes while the City of the Dead is approximately 10 minutes; combined with the waiting time applied throughout the tour, the experience becomes 30-40 minutes.
Crowd Factor: There are many “horror” stories about the amount of time spent waiting in line at Statesville Prison and unfortunately, all are true. My visit was on a Thursday night, rather than the busier Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the wait was approximately 90 minutes. Along with this, group sizes range from 15-20 people, and the large groups make the tour less frightening and more congested. The tour is set up where only people at the head of the group feel the brunt of scares while people in back are left in the dark. Overall, the actors try their best to scare everyone for the best experience possible while in line and in the tour, yet it’s a far cry from perfect.
Price: This is the tricky part. The regular admission is $30 but there is also a VIP line where, for an additional $10, you can bypass the long wait. Conveniently, if you decide the regular line wait is too long, the VIP line is only a short distance away so the extra $10 price is highly recommended. Thankfully, parking is free.
Scare Factor: Although the tour as a whole is called Statesville, the two areas provide equal scare factor. The Statesville Haunted Prison section is a terrifying and fun experience if you are near the front of the group. This portion of the tour lives up to the hype, because of the costumes, actors, realistic special effects and various areas that create a frightening and sometimes overwhelming mood. The City of the Dead segment doesn’t seem to relate well with the prison. The setting has nothing in common with the grisly, stunning prison as this part consists of walking through a dark, dreary cave. Don’t get me wrong, though; the setting itself is pretty amazing and realistic, but the actors attempting to scare you here are wearing standard run-of-the-mill costumes like hooded ghouls and ghosts, a far cry from production standards of the prison. The “pop up” actors are also easier to spot, making it harder to get scared in the City of the Dead.
Overall, is Statesville Prison worth it? My answer is… it depends. The drive is not nearly as far compared to other haunted tours. The actors, sets and production are borderline movie like and there are plenty of screams to let out. But, admission is extremely overpriced. Lines and crowds can be agonizing and you seem to not get enough bang for your buck. For me, it’s a great one-time experience but I don’t expect to become a Statesville prisoner again. For more information on Statesville Haunted Prison, please visit their website http://www.statesvillehauntedprison.com/.
– Anthony Garcia, Staff Writer