Spider Hill opens Saturday

David Brankin
Jack Morgenstern prepares a clown ghoul at Spider Hill recently. The Halloween event begins Saturday and runs every Friday and Saturday throughout October.

The Spider Hill team is ready for another hair-raising October at Three Sister’s Park.

For more than 10 years organizers have transformed the park for the month of October into Central Illinois’ largest haunted attraction. This year is no different, and in anticipation of high attendance the volunteers at Spider Hill are hard at work.

“We typically start setting up the second week in August,” says Frances Perkins, events coordinator at Three Sisters. “But we should probably start a week earlier next time,” she said.

When the event premiered in 1999, Spider Hill consisted of a haunted house inside two donated trailer homes. Since then the event has grown in popularity. Organizers now boast a state-of-the-art indoor facility and enough command of the surrounding woods to accommodate the estimated 168,000 brave visitors Spider Hill has had to date.

This year the trails throughout Three Sisters Park have been expanded for added safety and the expectation of larger groups. But visitors can expect much more than safer trails from Spider Hill this season.

Each year Perkins and other organizers such as Jack Morgenstern, a lifelong volunteer and organizer at Spider Hill, travel to the Transworld Halloween and Attractions Show to select frightening new material to keep returning and first time thrill-seekers on their toes.

“We always have some new tricks,” says Morgenstern, “and we’re always thinking of new ways to keep things fresh. Things change by the night too. We just have a lot of fun with it.”

The top returning attractions include: Trail of Terror, a haunted walk through one of Three Sister’s wooded areas where killer clowns and giant wolves stalk visitors; Massacre Mansion, an indoor attraction of darkened corridors leading visitors through a maze of frightening rooms including the disorienting vortex tunnel; Haunted Express, a tractor-pulled wagon ride past the Egyptian ruins and through the Jurassic jungle is loaded with perils such as the resident Tyrannosaurus Rex; and Fright Theatre, a new reel-to-reel marathon of scary movies projected on a big screen.

Additionally, Boo Barn, a family-friendly area offering kids’ games, souvenirs and concessions, will be held in the pavilion. With October just around the corner organizers are welcoming all the help they can get.

“Spider Hill puts a minimum of 120 volunteers to work each night,” said Morgenstern. “We need builders and actors and ticket takers. We have a job for anybody and everybody.”

Those interested in volunteering at Spider Hill are invited to contact organizer Frances Perkins at 253-4812.

Spider Hill kicks off Saturday and continues every Friday and Saturday throughout October at Three Sisters Park on Illinois Route 29. Single tickets are $8 per person, per attraction, and wristbands for unlimited scares are available for $20. Both can be purchased at the gate beginning at 6 p.m.

All proceeds go to the improvement of educational facilities at Three Sisters Park and to the funding of local not-for-profit organizations. Nightly scares run from 7 to 11 p.m.