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Ghoulish Halloween fun abounds at local museums, theaters

Statesville Haunted Prison/City Dead promises plenty thrills chills Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3 plus Oct. 30-31 Crest Hill.

Statesville Haunted Prison/City of the Dead promises plenty of thrills and chills Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3 plus Oct. 30-31 in Crest Hill.

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Updated: October 18, 2012 7:05PM

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are rustling and days are getting shorter, all of which help set the scene for Halloween high jinks in the Chicago area. Plenty of that is on hand at the Museum of Science and Industry, where “Spooky Science” is under way through Oct. 31.

“Spooky Science” offers hands-on activities throughout the museum that use science to get visitors into the Halloween spirit.

“This is our fourth year of doing ‘Spooky Science’ activities for our guests,” said Meredith Black, manager of specialized experiences. “Every year we kind of look to see what new activities we can do to make sure that we can have something fun for everyone in the family.”

So along with perennial favorites like the Haunted Coal Mine (for ages 12 and older; extra fee) and the Haunted Zephyr, new for this year is “FrankenFoley.” Learn about how sound is made, why it’s important and how Foley artists combine science and imagination to create sound effects for films. Guests will have the chance to become Foley artists themselves and create sound effects for the 1910 silent film “Frankenstein.”

Younger guests will enjoy “Mummy Tomb of Pharaoh FunSci,” where they’ll make paper pyramids and scarab beetles. Other “Spooky Science” highlights include “Pumpkin Pyrotechnics” (learn about chemistry while finding new ways to light up jack-o-lanterns), “Code Boo!” (use Morse code to send spooky messages), “Get Slimed!” (create your own slime) and “Pumpkin Smashing” (learn about gravity and discover if pumpkins bounce). Or spin the “Trivia Wheel of Terror” and test your knowledge of all things spooky.

All “Spooky Science” activities are offered daily; check the museum website for times for specific events. Times also are listed on the museum map passed out at the admissions desk. Included in general admission of $15 for adults, $10 for kids 3 to 11. MSI is at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive; call (773) 684-1414 or visit

Here are our picks for some of the best of the upcoming spooktacular Halloween season throughout the area.


Brookfield Zoo: Creatures of the Night and Boo! At the Zoo. Creatures of the Night offers three levels of scariness from 6:30-10:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21 and 26-28. Boo! at the Zoo runs Oct. 20-21 and 27-28 and features not-so-scary Halloween activities during the day. Adults, $15; kids 3-11, $10.50; parking, $10. 31st Street and First Avenue, (708) 688-8000;

Chicago Botanic Garden:Spooky Pooch Parade, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 20, and Hallowfest, 6-9 p.m. Oct. 26-27, 4-7 p.m. Oct. 28. Costumed canines and their handlers can join the noon parade led by Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Hallowfest offers friendly and spooky paths to holiday activities. Tickets $17 in advance, $20 day of; parking $20. 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440.

Garfield Park Conservatory: Creatures of the Night, 4-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Learn about night-dwelling animals, enjoy boo-grass music and take part in “snack-tivities.” $3. 300 N. Central Park Ave., (312) 746-5100;

Lincoln Park Zoo, Spooky Zoo Spectacular, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 20. This kid-friendly event turns the zoo into a Halloween haven. Free. 2200 N. Cannon, (312) 742-2000;

Morton Arboretum: Theatre Hike’s “Werewolf’s Curse; Or Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow,” 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in October. Adults, $19; kids 2-17, $13. The “Glass Pumpkin Patch,” Oct. 17-21, showcases blown-glass pumpkins available for sale. Or stroll the Scarecrow Trail around Meadow Lake featuring 50 nature-themed scarecrows through Nov. 4. Adults, $12; kids 2-17, $9. 4100 Illinois 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074;

Taltree Arboretum: Harvest Fest and Haunted Railway through Oct. 31. A trail of scarecrows awaits visitors and the railway garden dons its Halloween attire. Adults, $10; kids 5 to 12, $5. 450 W. 100 North, Valparaiso, Ind., (219) 462-0025;


The city’s annual Halloween celebration takes place at various locations through Oct. 31. From museums to theaters to historic homes, Chicago opens its doors to frighteningly fun family-friendly events, the centerpiece of which is Franken Plaza running Oct. 26-Oct. 30 at Daley Plaza. 50 W. Washington. Highlights of the five-day celebration include performances by Chicago’s Midnight Circus (several times each day) and the annual Monster Bash (Oct. 27) with a costume contest (for kids 2 to 12), trick-or-treating and hayrides. Franken Plaza is free; other Chicagoween events may have fees. Call (312) 744-3315 or visit for the complete schedule.


Asylum Xperiment Haunted Attractions: Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 28 plus Oct. 31. Housed in the Odeum Expo Center, this event offers three chilling experiences in one location. Recommended for older kids and adults. $25. 1033 N. Villa Ave., Villa Park, (630) 941-9292;

Chicago Park District haunted houses: “13 Terrors,” 7-10 p.m. Oct. 19-21, 26-28, Theater on the Lake, 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive, 8 and older, $10. 4-8 p.m. Oct. 25, Austin Town Hall, 5610 W. Lake, all ages, $3. 6-9 p.m. Oct. 26, Anderson Playground Park, 3748 S. Prairie, 6 and older, $5. 7-9 p.m. Oct. 26-27, Archer Park, 4901 S. Kilbourn, all ages, $5. Visit

Fear City Apocalypse/Hades Haunted House: Oct. 19-21, 25-31. Double the fear factor here, where two classic haunted houses join forces in one location. $25 per house, $35 for both. Recommended for ages 12 and older; younger kids must be accompanied by an adult. 8240 Austin Ave., Morton Grove, (224) 888-1031;

The Nightmare from North Street: Oct. 19-20, 26-27. Terrifying trails and a haunted house transform Santa’s Village from friendly to fear-inspiring. $10. Recommended for ages 12 and older. 601 Dundee Ave., Dundee, (847) 426-6751;

Realm of Terror Horror Experience: Oct. 19-21, 25-31. Attempt to escape a haunted house described as “one of the most over-the-top” haunted houses to exist. To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Realm of Terror has been completely reimagined. $16. Recommended for older kids and adults. 421 W. Rollins Road, Round Lake Beach, (847) 363-8799;

Statesville Haunted Prison and City of the Dead: Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3 plus Oct. 30-31. One of the highlights of the haunted house circuit, Statesville employs more than 150 actors to scare visitors as they wend their way through 40 haunting rooms. $30. Kids must be 11 or older; 11- to 15-year-olds must be accompanied by a legal guardian. 17250 S. Weber Road, Crest Hill, (877) 722-7332;


Haunted House Bus Trip: Oct. 25. Patrons of Lottie’s (1925 W. Cortland) and The Pony (1638 W. Belmont) can journey together to the Statesville Haunted Prison. Safety in numbers, right? Pickup times are 7 p.m. at Lottie’s and 7:30 p.m. at The Pony. Cost is $40 and includes pre-bus-trip domestic beverages, transportation, haunted house admission and refreshments to and from Crest Hill. Register at or

Hilton Chicago’s Haunted Hotel Ball: 9 p.m. Oct. 27. Enter the costume contest for a chance to win $5,000 and dance to the music of Matt Darey and Alex Peace. $30. 720 S. Michigan, (312) 922-4400;

“How to Train Your Dragon” is the centerpiece of family Halloween festivities at York Theater, 150 York St., Elmhurst, and Tivoli Theater, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. The screening starts at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 27 at the York and will be followed by trick-or-treating. The Tivoli invites filmgoers to come in costume for the pre-screening costume contest at 9 a.m.; show starts at 11 a.m. Free.

Navy Pier’s Really Big Halloween Party: Oct. 19-21, 26-28 plus Oct. 31. This mostly free event (some activities may have a fee) offers a petting zoo and hayrides, a dance party after 5 p.m., nightly fire-spinning shows, trick-or-treating on select dates (visit website) and a costume party on Oct. 27. 600 E. Grand Ave., (312) 595-7437;

Northalsted Halloween Parade: 7 p.m. Oct. 31. The 16th annual parade with costume contest steps off from Halsted and Waveland, ending at Bradley and Halsted where a post-parade party starts at 8 p.m. Free. (773) 325-2233;

Original Kiss Army, Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30. Rock in Halloween with the Kiss tribute band; come dressed in your Kiss best for the Kiss Costume Party. $30, $35 for stage tables. 111 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 577-2121;

Santa’s Village Harvest Fest: Oct. 20-21, 27-28. Celebrate the season with seasonal activities and enjoy Santa’s Spooky Adventure, appropriate for young goblins and ghosts. Oct. 27 will feature trick-or-treating from 2 to 3 p.m. followed by a costume contest. $17.75. 601 Dundee Ave., Dundee, (847) 426-6751;

Wicker Park’s Haunted Indoor Drive-In Movie Series: Oct. 26-30. The film fest features “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies; children must be accompanied by an adult. $2. 1425 N. Damen, (312) 742-7553;


Art Institute of Chicago, the Art of Darkness Scavenger Hunt: 2 p.m. Oct. 27-28. Explore the creepy side of art while searching for skulls, skeletons and monsters. $36, includes museum admission. Michigan and Adams, (866) 811-4111;

Chicago Children’s Museum, “Halloweeum”: through Oct. 31. CCM’s “Big Backyard” is transformed into a “Spooky Backyard” for daily thrills; on weekends add in making a pumpkin patch pal (2:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday) and groovin’ to the beat during the Monster Mash dance party (4 p.m. Friday-Sunday). $12. 700 E. Grand, (312) 527-1000;

Field Museum, the Field of Screams Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt: 1:30 p.m. Oct. 20, Nov. 17. Discover who’s been bumping off Field Museum staffers by cracking a hieroglyphic code. $32, includes museum admission. 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, (866) 811-4111;

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Halloween Holiday Highlight: Night Life, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 27-28. Get to know creatures of the night while doing Halloween activities. Adults, $9; kids, 3-12, $6. 2430 N. Cannon, (773) 755-5100;

Shedd Aquarium, “Spooky Seas”: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 26-9 a.m. Oct. 27. Families can sleep over or not during the Shedd’s annual Halloween celebration with animal encounters and dancing to a live DJ. Children must be 5 to sleep over. Overnight, $75 per person; evening only, $35 per person. 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, (312) 939-2438; sheddaquari


Four new attractions — Wicked Woods, Manslaughter Mansion, the Dead Line and Fright Club (which expands Fright Fest into Hurricane Harbor and is rated NC-17) — add to the thrills at the Gurnee theme park. Running from 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays Oct. 19-21 and 26-28 as well as 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 25, the fest is child friendly until 3 p.m. on weekends. Adults, $61.99; kids less than 48 inches, $41.99 ($46.99, $30.99 online). Interstate 94 and Grand Avenue, (847) 249-4636;


“Boneshaker 2102: A 21st Century Halloween Happening,” Redmoon Theater, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 27. For the 21 and older crowd, this event features Redmoon spectacles such as skeleton drummers, confetti canons and the dance floor slide; costumes strongly encouraged. $50 (includes entertainment, drinks, pancake breakfast). 1463 W. Hubbard, (312) 850-8440;

Boo Ha Ha!, Raven Theater’s Fall Festival, 2 p.m. Oct. 27. This outdoor party includes kids’ activities, trick-or-treating and more. Free. 6157 N. Clark, (773) 338-2177;

“Drakula … the Musical,” Kidz Kabaret, 7 p.m. Oct. 26-27, 3 p.m. Oct. 28. Come in costume for this performance by kids for a free concession item. $8. Center Stage Theater, 1665 Quincy Ave., No. 131, Naperville, (630) 355-9212;

“500 Clown Frankenstein,” 500 Clown Theatre, Oct. 31-Nov. 18. Three clowns attempt to construct Frankenstein’s lab, resulting in mayhem. $25 ($20 for students with IDs). Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western;

“Frankenstein,” City Lit Theater, through Nov. 4. Revel in the haunting classic based on the Mary Shelley novel. $28.50. 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, (773) 293-3682;

“Halloween Magic 2,” Akoo Theatre at Rosemont, 3 p.m. Oct. 28. Dr. Mark Kashube, “The Magic Dentist,” and the quick-change duo of David Mass and Dania Kaseeva team up for an all-ages show featuring spooky tricks and treats. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit Salute Inc., which provides financial support to military families. Adults, $25 to $35; kids 12 and younger, $15. 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont, (847) 671-5100;

“The Magic Cabaret,” 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 and 31 with magicians P.T. Murphy and David Parr. The pair put a ghoulish spin on their Chicago-themed show (recommended for ages 13 and older). $20. Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln, (773) 404-7336;

“Musical of the Living Dead,” Cowardly Scarecrow Theatre Company, through Nov. 17. This remount pays tribute to classic zombie films and musical theater. $24-$28. Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton,

“Scarrie The Musical,” Hell in a Handbag Productions, through Nov. 10. This original musical parodies the novel/film “Carrie.” $15-$40. Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark, (800) 838-3006;

“The Witch’s Brew,” Citadel Theatre Company, 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21. This Halloween theater hike incorporates nature into the holiday; costumes encouraged. Ages 5 and older. $15. Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve, 1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest, (847) 735-8554;

500 Clown Frankenstein, by 500 Clown at the Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western: Oct. 31-Nov. 18 (show times/dates vary). Three clowns decked out in elaborate Edwardian costumes embark on a journey to construct Frankenstein’s laboratory. Along the way to stitching together the story of the Doctor and his Monster from pieces of the iconic novel and classic films, they’re propelled into acrobatics while they battle an unruly table. Comedy and mayhem turns devastating. Tickets, $15-$25;

New Millennium Theatre, “Kill Viktor: Vol 1&2: at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; through Oct. 28. Join The Bride of Frankenstein in this tribute to one of Quentin Tarantino’s most ambitious projects, in her quest for righteous revenge against the mad man who gave her life and the monster mash of enemies in between. Action-packed with martial arts and more. For dates and show times, visit

First Folio Theatre at Mayslake Peabody Estate, “The Madness of Edgar Allan Poe: A Love Story”: 1717 31st St., Oak Brook, through Nov. 4. A spellbinding tale of life and death, love and heartbreak unfolds as Poe and his wife, Virginia, guide the audience from room to room throughout the historic mansion, delving deeper and deeper into the author’s obsession with his young wife, who died at age 24. Tickets, $26-37. For show times and dates, call (630) 986-8067 or visit

Chemically Imbalanced Theater, “Troll the Sequel, Troll Again!”: Chemically Imbalanced Theater, 1422 W. Irving Park, through Oct. 31. A loving tribute/sequel to the 1989 film “Troll 2” (absolutely no connection to the 1989 “Troll 2” film, dubbed “the worst movie ever made”). It also features no Trolls. But it does feature a family vacationing in the small town of Snilbog who discovers the entire town is inhabited by goblins in disguise as humans — who plan to eat them. For show times and tickets ($12) Call (773) 865-7731, visit

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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