Spook Hollow – Full Review

Spook Hollow is a Haunted Attraction located in Marquette Heights, IL.

613 LaSalle Blvd, Marquette Heights, IL 61554
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple HauntsCharity HauntHaunted HouseHaunted Trail


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Free Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, “Old-School” (Low Tech), “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on October 12, 2019 by Team White City Devils.

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Final Score: 8.7

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Spook Hollow in Marquette Heights (about a 15-minute drive from Peoria) is a standalone for many reasons:

-They are the longest running haunt in the Central Illinois area (this year marking their 41st season).
-They are a non-profit men’s club haunt with all proceeds going into the Marquette Heights area as well as surrounding communities.
-SH are all volunteers with about 100 actors at any given night.
-SH is made up of 3 attractions for one ticket price.
-They are really good at what they do!

This haunt of course took all of the 41 years in changing and building and devoting time to turn it into the top-quality haunt that it currently is. Hundreds (if not thousands) of people from all over the central Illinois area (and us in the Chicago area) came out to SH for the haunt season to get their scare on! I can confidently say the only bad part of SH is that it is a 3-hour drive from us.

Cast: 8.69

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Considering actors at SH are all volunteers, they all were very interactive and amazing. Most actors we encountered seem to have written up dialogue and worked on the fly when we would try to throw some of them off. We had the occasional screamers here and there, but a majority of actors spoke lines. It was clear everyone was there to have a great night.

We did have a few actors break character, but it does not count because they were 5-7 year old girls having the best time of their lives! ‘Do you want to play a game?’ one whispered at us, when we asked what game she paused’ then responded ‘Kill.’ When we laughed nervously, she ran to her friends and told them what she said, and they giggled. Another kid actor had screamed at us ‘never come back here! Until next year, thanks!’. It was really cute actually. I am always happy to see kid actors have that sort of fun; I know they will continue years from now, and possibly become really great and convincing in a haunt.

Most of the other interactions we had were really good and plenty scary. It is the second time this season one of our team had to eat a meal worm. Not sure if this was an Illinois meeting for haunters and majority vote was to make us eat worms, but it’s not that bad.

There were a few queue line actors around, including the always fun to be around Scary Gary! He is a celebrity of sorts in the haunt industry and it was great to see him haunting the lines at SH. I am almost positive there was a few husbands who had lost their wives that night to Scary Gary, as he is always stealing them. Thankfully, I am not a victim here (almost was though).

One of the more interesting factors that SH does along with being part of their community is work with an organization called EP!C. They are an organization that works with families and community members to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Some of these individuals really love the Halloween season and all things scary, so SH works along side EP!C on letting them volunteer at the haunt as actors! There is a specific room at the end of MC Manor where most of these actors are, and they really love to scare! Its honestly an above and beyond moment as far as a haunt taking the time to work with a group such as EP!C and getting their volunteers in makeup and giving the fright to everyone for the season!

Costuming: 8.16

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The costuming and makeup at SH were pretty convincing. Makeup and attire seemed to coordinate according to what room or scene actors were in and added extra believability to the overall effect of each scene.

One of the more memorable scenes for makeup and costumes had to have been the freak show, hands down. In the trail portion of the haunt (one of 3 main attractions) we walked into to the middle of an old-time circus sideshow attraction. The costumes here really helped sell the idea that this was a 1930’s show and all the booths had some gruesome twists as well (more on that specifics later) The bearded lady pretty much told me my beard was trash. The gypsy fortune teller really fit the bill on looking mythical and aged. There was one very interesting costume in this area, and that was the Arachna-boy, half spider half boy. Its honestly really creative the way they pulled that one off and needs to be seen to understand.

Throughout SH, we never noticed any signs of everyday clothes on actors, everyone was detailed to fit the part they were for the night (other than the previously mentioned kid actors, but again they will get a fun pass for that).

Customer Service: 9.47

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SH is located in the Marquette Heights area of Central, Illinois. All info needed regarding pricing, tickets, times, and dates can be located on their website. Plenty of parking is available throughout the area, as the haunt does sit on a public park of all places. Being on public property means they have to take down anything not inside the building part of the haunt every year after season.

There was plenty of staff around including local police and fire departments that could help out in any sort of situation or issue that could come up. Again, having that much support from the community really speaks volume and shows by having a local active police car with a haunt logo on the hood!

Atmosphere: 9.56

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When we first walked onto the SH property well before the start of their evening to meet with the owners and talk haunts and tour the grounds, we didn’t know what to expect. This area was all new to us and we haven’t even seen pictures. When we were first introduced to the face of MC Manor, it was jaw dropping. The face of the manor actually is very theatrical and interactive in itself.

There are so many interesting hidden parts that are very fun when found. They have a ‘phone booth’ with a bunch of cell phones people have left behind and never recovered nailed to the wall (they are old flip phones before anyone starts freaking out at the idea of finding a modern-day phone nailed to a wall). The lighting in the queue line was a great dark blue and a green color that set an overall tone. The interactive parts of the queue line environment were the lighting flashed and thunder strikes that were loud and effective. When the Thunder went off, the floor actually vibrated as well, giving a realistic nearby feeling. They also included a misting hose to lightly sprinkle guests (at that part in line) ever so lightly with rain. The entertainment they provided was two giant projection screens that listed their own homemade spoofs of ‘rules and regulations’ videos as well as movie scenes and trivia.

When we approached MC Nightmare, the setting was mimicking a factory. The towers overhead actually had fog coming out of it every so often, and even a center piece that would shoot out fire, a perfect mood setter! The whole appearance of MC Nightmare was rustic, all hand-built industrial stuff and was a definite mood setter on what was to come.

Special Effects: 8.81

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SH was not short in the effects department. Everything from the sound effects being earsplittingly loud to all of the scenes and props was only something 41 years years of experience could really put together.

Inside the MC Manor, the setting as a whole was walking through different rooms under one roof. The team at SH did a fine job on putting together effective props. They take all sorts of donations from people all over and put them right into the haunt. SH had the most taxidermy I have seen outside of private collections or sales expos. These real head mounts and full mounts of various animals really helped convince that what we saw was what we got. The kitchen scene had an old working fridge and stove that had to be from the 1940’s era. There was a nautical room with a creepy mermaid and even a full-sized rowing boat! I could go on for a while talking about MC Manor’ but there is still two other attractions to touch on!

The trail was the next part at SH. They use the woods natural darkness to hide actors and really freak out everyone. They have very few lanterns to light the way on the trail, but its enough for basic instincts to kick in and head toward the next lantern. The effects on the trail were awesome. The graveyard had many head stones throughout and even a church on the property, with 5 robed figures around it. It was very creepy as we couldn’t tell if any of them were actually actors or just props. Eventually, we came across a mining area on the trail, this was a great scene that paired some convincing actors with it.

Some of the trail actually has many pitch-black rooms, causing a natural panic at times. These small cabin-like areas would only sometimes have light, and that light source was meant to scare! We did come across the previously mentioned freak show area with some really great scenes. They had midway games to play (not actually) that were horror themed like ‘basket case’, where we tossed a head into the basket for a prize, and also the knife throwing game where they wanted to use our hands as targets. One of the simpler yet really cool looking effects was the puppet show at the end of the trail. I do think with a bit more of an ominous approach to that particular side show part, it could make for a more effective scare.

MC Nightmare had some really great scenes and settings. The whole idea is an industry factory setting. The props in there are really convincing and well done. I honestly believed they had a part of a big draw bridge inside the haunt, but it turns out it wasn’t real, just really convincing. Most of the props throughout were actual, giant gears from local barn finds, no longer used and are now props in the haunt. In a morgue setting, they have an actual stretcher from a local funeral home when they closed down. Smaller details include an actual embalmers state of Illinois license from many years ago.

Overall, many of the actual bigger tools and equipment used in the haunt really transformed us into the scenes and made for a really great experience.

Theme: 8.06

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SH follows a theme that is pretty solid, and as we all know by now, I’m a sucker for themes.

One, Sir Osiris founded a mining company on his land. He had built up a small empire and while doing so built a town for all of his employees including a new factory to help the mining, a cemetery (accidents happen), shops, and a mansion at the edge of town for himself. A worker he hired named Montgomery Crescent (MC) took over the business and mansion after Osiris’ untimely and questionable death.

MC proceeded to treat the workers unfairly and pushed them to band together and lock him away in the wine cellar of the mansion where he eventually died. In celebration, the workers were all happy to have rid themselves of MC’ or did they? Terrible things started to happen all over town including the collapsing of the mining tunnels. Factory workers were taken out one by one and everyone in town was dropping like flies, maintenance workers started breaking mentally and became psychopaths. Everyone around feels it’s a curse brought by the death of MC, who has said to have appeared in the cemetery many a night.

I would recommend visiting the SH website for all of the details behind the story of the haunt, as what I wrote is just a small run through of a bigger story!

Scare Factor: 8.35

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As far as being scary goes, SH is a solid scare. Each main attraction had a different style and approach at giving scares throughout its entirety.

MC Manor was really good at being actor forward and scene/prop scary. Jump scares and screams all around made us struggle with getting ourselves reset for the next scene. The first two actors inside the manor were fierce looking and were easily intimidating. There was a great actor who had stilts on inside the manor and kind of crept in from nowhere causing a great scare. Down the long hallway, we were freaked by all of the doors and potentially anyone being used as a passageway for an actor to pop out of. Overall, the manor was plenty scary!

During the trail, we could base most of the success of actor scares on the surrounding groups running for their lives. It has to be the perfect combination of the natural cold and dark night to well placed actors that are high driven for scares. Inside the cemetery, there was some really great angle statues that aren’t all what they seem’ its frightening stuff. The shacks with pitch black rooms are super effective because its guests’ natural fear playing itself. Throw a well-seasoned actor in there and that is an easy cause for many customers running off the trail.

Inside MC Nightmare, it instantly starts off with a scare. There are plenty of demented clowns wandering the building, looking to torment anyone they can. As we progress through MC Nightmare, scenes continue to grow, and prop effects work well with scenes. Nightmare wasn’t as scary as the others to us, but we can easily judge that level of fear from other groups, again, running for the door.

The haunt as a whole does have great effects, great scares, and can easily mess with senses. Really effective work and I know it will only get better as the years go on, here’s to another 41 years!

Entertainment & Value: 8.62

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General admission for SH is $25 and $40 for a speed pass. As always, I would recommend the speed pass because everyone in the Central Illinois area and their mothers are trying to come here. We arrived at 7:30 pm, just an hour after they opened the ticket booth and there were hundreds of people in line already.

Our walk-through time was pretty good too! All 3 parts of the haunt clocked in at 34 minutes. I did indeed set laps and paused the timer between all 3 attractions, so I feel that 34 minutes is accurate for our walk-through. I will say a majority of that time spent happened to be within the trail compared to the other two attractions. Giving all the numbers we need, the MPD value of SH is 1.36 for general admission.

Simply put, SH is worth the visit. With the insane amount of time they have been open for and providing a haunt for the Central Illinois area, it is safe to say SH knows what they are doing and execute it very well. If this review isn’t enough to convince anyone to go and check them out, not only are you snoozing on this haunt, but it’s also worth noting it is indeed Scary Gary approved!

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Guest Reviews
Guest Average: 7.86 out of 10

Brittany – 10/10October 18, 2019
This was my first time at this haunted house, but definitely NOT my last. The wait time was very …show more minimal, even without the skip the line pass. They had people walking around scaring you, snacks, and things to watch and look at. Got more than my money’s worth between the three attractions for the price of one and how long the haunt lasted. It was actually very scary, and I was cowering in my boyfriends back the entire time. Awesome job, and happy 40th birthday!

Joshua – 10/10October 13, 2018

Emily – 10/10October 21, 2017
The best haunt in the area by far. There are so many great things to say about this place. Yes the …show more wait was long but well worth it. The old creepy house had my group screaming in fear. The trail is crazy scary too. There is just to much to talk about. If you get the opportunity to check it out you definitely have to.

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