*UPDATE: Mold has forced the Missouri State Penitentiary to cancel tours for the rest of the year.
COLUMBIA — October in Columbia brings more than chilly weather, football and pumpkin spice lattes: Haunted houses across mid-Missouri are warming up their fog machines and mixing vats of fake blood to prepare for their busiest month of the year.
NecroPlanet opened for the season on Thursday, and FearFest Haunted House will have its opening night this Friday. Here are some of the spooky attractions to keep your heart racing through Halloween.
This year, NecroPlanet offers patrons a turn in a new simulator, Chaos in 3D, as well as two traditional haunted attractions: the Necropolis, an abandoned factory "filled with torture, bloodshed and murder," which is now in its ninth season, and The Pit, a nest of post-apocalyptic cannibals remodeled for the 2013 season.
When: 8 to 11 p.m. Thursdays, and 8 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. The season closes Nov. 2.
Where: 1207 Rogers St.
Tickets: Necropolis, $13; The Pit, $7; Chaos in 3D, $5; Necropolis and The Pit, $15; and all three attractions, $18. Tickets can be purchased at www.NecroPlanet.com
FearFest Haunted House
The constellation of FearFest attractions sits in a quiet clearing west of Columbia. The Cursed attraction takes people through a haunted farmhouse, and the Forgotten attraction leads through the woods. Teams can use paintball guns to carve a path to safety through the Zombie Safari attraction.
When: 8 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays in October; 8 to 10 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20 and 27; and 8 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 24 and 31. The haunted attractions end Oct. 31.
Where: Take Exit 121 (Fayette exit) on Interstate 70 and follow U.S. 40 for 1/4 mile. The haunted house will be on the right.
Tickets: Cursed, $15; Zombie Safari with the Forgotten and the Maze of Terror, $15; All attractions, $20. Tickets can be purchased through FearFestHauntedHouse.com and at the haunted house.
Missouri State Penitentiary
Opened in 1836, the Missouri State Penitentiary used to be the largest prison in the country. When it closed in 2004, it was also the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi. Nowadays, the dungeon cells and the gas chamber are open for tours — historical and paranormal. The prison also offers ghost-hunting classes and overnight observations. However, tours were canceled for the remainder of the year after authorities discovered mold.*