Evil dolls, killer clowns and ghosts sound like the stuff of nightmares. That’s exactly what Campus Costume wanted with their new haunted attraction,“Nightmare Asylum.”
Campus Costume has been in business for 49 years, but this is the first year it’s had the haunted house in a back warehouse of the shop on South College Avenue.
It’s open every Friday and Saturday in October and the whole week of Halloween, Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. It’s $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
She said the attraction takes three to five minutes to get through but sometimes people are in there up to 10 minutes.
Owner Kimberly McGuire said people who used to work at Harrodsburg Haunted House contacted her about a partnership and this started the process of opening the haunted attraction.
“We met with some people who have almost thirty years experience in the haunt industry and decided to partner together to appeal more to the Halloween crowd that we’re already drawing,” McGuire said.
The group first met at the end of August, so the whole design and build process was done in a little over a month.
“We put it together very quickly,” McGuire said.
She said it has been a success so far. About 400 people have gone through and their feedback has been positive.
Owner John McGuire said at first they had planned to start it next year, but then decided they would be able to have it ready for this year.
The attraction takes about 35 actors to work the nine rooms.
John McGuire works in the attraction wherever he is needed.
He said his favorite experience is when a big group that went through together and all fed off each others screams.
“When you have eight people screaming and being scared, it just really pumps up the actors,” he said.
One of the actors is Kenny White. He started working in haunted houses in high school, doing one at a local fair. Since then, he has worked at various ones in pop-up Halloween shops like Spirit Halloween.
He usually works the clown room, morgue room or outside farm area.
“I love the part of people coming in and getting scared,” White said. “I’ve always been a jokester, so I like to scare my friends and being able to do that full time is the greatest.”
He said one of the funniest experiences he’s had was when he scared a young customer so much he peed his pants. He said he never wants to make people so scared they cry, but peeing your pants from fright is a good story to tell.
Campus Costume is one of few costume shops open year-round, but they always have business.
“Everyday there is a reason somewhere that somebody needs a costume shop,” Kimberly McGuire said.
She mentioned many events at IU require students to get a costume in times other than Halloween such as themed parties, student theater shows and the IU Dance Marathon.
Halloween is the busiest time for the shop.They prepare all year for Halloween and hire 30 to 45 extra employees.
“We order in January and we are working all year long getting ready for the next year,” she said.
They started the haunted house to help their business. Since they had to relocate recently, they said they want people to know the new location.
“We’re just trying to get people to know that we’re here again and we’re downtown and we’re bigger and better,” John McGuire said. “That’s really what the haunted house was for. To drive some more traffic over here.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated McGuire was contacted by people from the Harrisburg Haunted House when she was actually contacted by the Harrodsburg Haunted House. The IDS regrets this error.
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