Zack Busse knows the haunted house industry well. He practically grew up around Phoenix’s 13th Floor and Fear Farm.
This year is Fear Farm’s 20th anniversary and it’s kicking it old school for the celebration.
“Back in the day—quick history lesson—it was just one really huge corn maze and we decided to throw actors in there for fun,” Busse says.
“People really loved it. Over the years, we grew and we built the haunted house. Everybody’s favorite thing, though, was the haunted corn maze. We’ve brought it back for one year only. It’s an amalgamation of everything that’s worked over the last 20 years—all of our favorite actors and characters and gags and scares.”
Busse and his team try to mix up the Halloween destinations each year. At 13th Floor, a new production crew replaces the eight-year employees to give it a “new feel, look and vibe.” This year, classic monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula, werewolves and mummies are roaming the property.
“I think it’s going to breathe new life into the haunted house,” he says.
As for Fear Farm, The Plague is infected with zombies and interactive displays.
The property owner is Busse’s great uncle, who sold it to 13th Floor Entertainment Group. The family leases the property now.
“My entire life I had big goals and aspirations,” Busse says. “I wanted to go to medical school and be a doctor.”
He decided it was too much work, and he wanted to do what he was good at: haunted houses.
Absolutely. It’s bene my entire life pretty much I had big goals and aspirations. Go to medical school and be a doctor.”
He tossed that aside and got into the field of fright.
“It’s pretty crazy looking back on the 20 years,” he says. “The industry has changed so much. It’s hard to put words to it. If you could describe it, it started as a small mom-and-pop family business and we really made it a staple of the Valley.”
Haunted house guide
The smell of candy corn is in the air and the season of shocks and horrors is upon us. Experience the thrills and cryptic stories that local haunted houses have to share with those who dare venture through, or just grab a pumpkin from a patch if scary isn’t your style.
Listed here are some of the Valley’s best (scariest) attractions.
Sanctum of Horror
Those who enter the Sanctum of Horror enter the twisted mind of Lenore and relive her terrifying past. Navigate through an ancient graveyard and through St. Charlotte Asylum where the inmates have taken over. The only way out of this realm of horror is through Lenore’s cell, but beware of her terror.
Sanctum of Horror, 6555 E. Southern Avenue, Mesa, 480.200.8163, sanctumofhorror.com, various days and times through November 2, $22, and $35 for fast passes.
This year the Scarizona Scaregrounds features four haunted houses with Startled Darkness, Epic Fear, Slayer’s Slaughter House, Operation Zombie Storm and Virtual Terror. Attendees can purchase merchandise, a snack deal or a scaredy-cat care package upon arrival. Fast passes are also available for those eager to skip the long lines.
Scarizona Scaregrounds, 1901 N. Alma School Road, Mesa, 480.444.2590, scarizona.com, email@example.com, various days and times to November 2, tickets start at $15.
Located on a vast 30 acres of land, Fear Farm invites guests to jump into one of their six main attractions, if they dare. Come with friends or family and enjoy the largest outdoor haunted attraction in town.
Fear Farm, 2209 N. 99th Avenue, Phoenix, 623.866.5378, fearfarm.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, various days and times to November 2, $24.99-$32.99 for general admission, $10 for a fast pass and $20 to skip the line.
13th Floor Haunted House
Welcome to Phoenix’s most horrifying haunted experience. Attempt to find your way out and away from the horrific nun, Mara in The Possession or fight your way out of decayed town where the virus PL4-GU3 has taken over the remainder of its population within the Shadows. The 13th Floor may not be suitable for children 12 and younger.
13th Floor Haunted House, 2814 W. Bell Road, Phoenix, 602.456.2250, 13thflooraz.com, various days and times to November 2, $24.99-$32.99 for general admission, $10 for a fast pass and $20 to skip the line.
AZ Field of Screams
The AZ Field of Screams features a haunted corn maze that’s planted over a long-forgotten cemetery where the dead seek to raise terror on anyone who dares trespass. Also featured is a less spooky family maze and pumpkin patch where you can purchase your Halloween pumpkin.
AZ Field of Screams, 5726 N. 75th Avenue, Glendale, 602.999.3276, azfieldofscreams.com, 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays October 2 to October 31 $15-$25.
Jack & Jill’s Haunted Hill
This “psychological thriller” enters its eighth season in the Valley at a hilltop in Sunnyslope. Groups are sent into the 100,000-square-foot, two-story building and experience original theatrical effects and scenes from a live and story-driven cast. Other attractions include pool tables, a dance floor, full-service bar and grill.
Jack & Jill’s Haunted Hill, 3401 W. Greenway Road, Phoenix, jackandjillshauntedhill.com, various days and times to October 31, $25-$35.
Terror in Tolleson
Nightmares turn into reality in Tolleson, with 20 new scare zones and themes. Escape the tortured asylum where deranged doctors test toxic waste on patients. Then try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse that follows.
Terror in Tolleson, 8609 W. Preston Lane, Tolleson, terrorintolleson.com, 7 to midnight Friday to Saturday from October 4 to November 2, $14-$55.