Dungeon of Doom

Giselle Lopez

October 25th, 2017

It’s that wonderful time of the year, folks!

The time of year where everyone is encouraged to curl up on their couch, sip on their favorite pumpkin spice beverage – I’m more of a hot chocolate drinker, personally – and settle in for a night of horror movies.

The time of year where Halloween enthusiasts of all ages put on their costumes and travel through their neighborhoods in search of an abundance of candy.

The time of year where horror-junkies venture out to locate some of the best haunts to give them one of the most unforgettable nights of their lives, full of jump scares and thrills.

Well, if you fall into the final category specifically, you don’t have to look any further than Dungeon of Doom, Chicago and Milwaukee’s 60-Minute Walk Through Haunt.

Just a fair warning, though: if you’re looking for mere scares, then this is not the location for you. This attraction is not for the faint of heart during Halloween season, for Dungeon of Doom does more than just scare you; it terrifies you and leaves you “a shell of the person you once were.”

Located at the old Briquette Factory in Zion, Illinois, Dungeon of Doom is the leading haunted attraction in the Midwest. Attendees of Dungeon of Doom will cover 42,000 square feet of pure chaos and will remain within the attraction for approximately 58-68 minutes on average.

This year, Dungeon of Doom’s run will last from September 23 to November 4. At the moment, general admission tickets start at $30 for those wishing to attend. VIP tickets are also available for purchase if you desire the ultimate adventure.

If you wish to snag a ticket before closing weekend which is next weekend, I encourage you to do so on the Dungeon of Doom’s website today!

This year, the Dungeon of Doom has ensured that their attendees have the best time possible with improved technology, special effects, theatrics, and sound effects to provide a realistic atmosphere full of horror and dread.

There are multiple attractions made available to whoever attends Dungeon of Doom, including the following:

Slaughter House Mania is where attendees must maneuver through a gallery filled with butchered flesh and dead carcasses. Is there anything more that adds to the terror of this situation? Only the fact that man-eating killers are in the room with you, lurking in the darkness and wielding deadly weapons.

Hades Boiler Room has attendees walk through a maze of bursting corroded pipes, which drip water as pressure gauges indicate an impending explosion. Have fun anticipating the boiling death that can strike you at any moment!

A brand new attraction implemented this year at Dungeon of Doom is The Sacrifice: Tomb of Doom, where participants enter an eerie temple where an ancient monster resides.

Buried Dead or Alive is an experience found exclusively at Dungeon of Doom, and the name says it all. Willing attendees are given the chance to see if they can take the frightening experience of quite literally being buried alive.

This is not a mandatory part of the Dungeon of Doom walkthrough; you are allowed to bypass it, and should you choose to, the staff will direct you to a waiting area if you are a part of a group.

These are only a few of the attractions that Dungeon of Doom offers to ensure its participants have the most terrifying experience of their lives. It has gained immense popularity and fantastic reviews from customers that have attended at least one walk-through. Google Reviews have the attraction rated at 4.8 stars.

But with all the haunted houses and horror attractions surrounding the area during Halloween season, what makes Dungeon of Doom so unique and different from all the rest?

I had the fortune of conducting a brief phone interview with Peter Koklamanis, co-owner of Dungeon of Doom, about what makes this attraction such an overwhelming success with its customers.

“We’ve been operating for twenty-one consecutive years since we started in 1997,” Koklamanis stated. “It’s amazing to think of how we’ve evolved from a BNNA building, to fairgrounds, to a more permanent institution of 42,000 square feet that we rent out each year.”

Koklamanis recalled previously attending a haunted attraction that his father-in-law and brother-in-law were managing in Wadsworth, Illinois.

In 1996, a couple years following the closing of the haunted attraction, he was invited by his brother-in-law to attend a trade show with him. There, the proposal came forth to open up a brand-new haunted house, which became Dungeon of Doom.

“We ran our first year there, and for the first few years we noticed how it was growing into something phenomenal, and we were excited in seeing where we started and where we’ve ended up so far,” Koklamanis stated.

Dungeon of Doom’s beginning was a success and throughout its duration, it has only gotten better with each passing year. Folks that attend never leave unsatisfied with their experience, a unanimous review that, to me, was a little surprising to find with a haunted attraction. What makes Dungeon of Doom such a hit with horror fanatics?

For one, many – if not all – of the actors that form the Killer Crew, a cast of horrifying characters who aim to enrich the Dungeon of Doom experience, have remained united for many years.

“We have actors that are now in their fourteenth or sixteenth year here. Plenty of them have hit their tenth year,” Koklamanis said. “But that right there tells you what kind of an attraction we are.

“If you asked how many haunted houses in the Chicago-Milwaukee area have retained their people for more than a few years, you would find that ninety-percent of all the haunted houses may have an average of a year and a half, or two years at most. But you would not find a haunted house that probably has an average of five or six years.”

A huge part of the Dungeon of Doom’s success over the years is credited to the team that has banded together to create the best quality haunted house they can provide for their customers.

“When you bring that family of people that have been around us for so many years, there’s no way that our haunted house isn’t an experienced experience,” Koklamanis said. “At Dungeon of Doom, we have gained experience to give you that experience that you receive when you come through.”

It can be incredibly difficult to find a good-quality haunted house or horror attraction at an affordable price. Much of what I discovered prior to hearing about Dungeon of Doom was that for many people, haunted houses were not worth the hype they were initially given. To attend them, it was either too much money, too mellow of an experience, or a combination of the two.

“Haunted houses have a stigma to them that when you go to them, there’s all this buildup and it turns out all that they are is just a facade. They’re typically a disappointment to those who are looking for a horror experience,” Koklamanis said. “We understand that, and we see that.”

Another factor that sets Dungeon of Doom apart from all the other haunted houses is the immense size of the haunting grounds. Having 42,000 square feet may not sound like a lot when compared to other haunted attractions, but what happens within those square feet make all the difference.

“We have this building that’s 42,500 square feet and it’s almost all haunted house,” Koklamanis said. “A small section is Escape Room, and another small section is costume and makeup and break room. A lot of other people can say they have a 60,000 square foot complex, but measure their actual haunted house. It’s considerably less.”

There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a haunted house or attraction during the Halloween season – cost and quality are important in this aspect. But Koklamanis wishes to disclose another factor – “franchise” haunts.

“I just want people to know that just because a haunt states something, it doesn’t mean anything,” Koklamanis said. “We’re trying to tell you how we built the credibility we have. There’s a lot lost by taking a haunt and trying to replicate it in another state and away from its home. There’s no way you can franchise a haunt.”

Dungeon of Doom has it all, from affordable prices – during regular season, general admission tickets can begin at $25 – to the best crew of actors and cast that will scare the living daylights out of you. A revered, hour-long haunt, with tickets starting at $25 regularly?

Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

I realize that I posted about the Dungeon of Doom pretty late into the game because closing weekend is fast approaching, with Blackout Nights being the last two events on November 3-4.

However, for those of you that are hoping for thrilling events throughout the year, Dungeon of Doom’s Escape Room is the one sole attraction that will remain open for admission throughout the year.

Escape Room is a 45-minute experience in which participants must solve a series of puzzles in order to escape their enclosure in a time machine. Escape Room is sold as a separate add-on ticket to the Dungeon of Doom experience, but you can buy tickets for it all year round at edgeofescape.com.

Once again, tickets are available for purchase online at dungeonofdoom.com/tickets. I encourage every horror fanatic to take advantage of it this Halloween season!

Giselle Lopez

Features Editor

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