With the chill in the air and the browning of the leaves, it is officially spooky season and per usual haunted houses are on the to-do list.
Haunted houses usually involve a group of friends running for their lives through constructed mazes that hide people’s worst nightmares coming to life. Ghouls pop out from behind unlikely corners and possessed beings screech at you from within cages. Attendees scream and jump and run through the house hoping it will be over soon. Just as hope begins to dissipate, the first member of a long chain of scared friends opens the haunted house door to the outside, running and screaming out back into the real world as a Michael Myers look alike chases them with a chainsaw.
Nebraska has a large number of these haunted houses and attractions, from haunted corn mazes to abandoned fields. One such haunted attraction is Eagle Hollow Haunts, which is located at the Eagle Raceways race car track in Eagle, Nebraska.
Rebecca Rose and Jared Minary have owned Eagle Hollow Haunts since 2009. They started their spooky career off by owning Dark Visions which was a downtown Lincoln haunt that had to shut down when the building it was housed in was getting turned into apartments. Shortly after, a friend called Rose about the opportunity to do a haunted house at the Eagle Raceways during the offseason and Minary and her agreed.
“A mutual acquaintance of the Hadans’, who own Eagle Raceways, called and asked us if we’d be interested in doing an off-race-season event of a haunted house,” Rose said. “That was 12 years ago. Since then we’ve grown the attraction immensely.”
Eagle Hollow Haunts consists of three attractions, Luminon, which is an alien world you explore while wearing 3D glasses, Night Terrors, which takes you through a little girl’s nightmare and Dark Lands, where a bus takes you onto the racetrack and deposits you and you have to walk back through a maze of scary monsters. Luminon and Night Terrors are indoor attractions, while Dark Lands is an outdoor, spooky attraction.
Other than scary entertainment, Eagle Hollow Haunts also has fire pits, scary-oke singing, a full concession stand and a bar for adults to enjoy a beverage.
At first glance, Eagle Hollow Haunts may not look like a scary place, but last year it was actually nominated “Scariest Haunted House in America” by ScaryOverload.com.
“The attractions are all so different from each other that, while one might not [scare] you, I can almost guarantee you another one will. You will get scared at least once,” Rose said. “But above that, our goal is to entertain you. We want everyone to have a good time.”
Another person that’s been with Eagle Hollow Haunts since it’s very beginning is Jordan Jacobson. She worked with Dark Vision along with Rose and Minary back in 2007 and when they unfortunately closed their doors, she decided to continue on with them at Eagle Hollow Haunts. She started as an actor, but has since then progressed into a monster trainer, who helps get actors into their niche and makes sure they can stay in character throughout the whole night of haunting.
“I enjoyed acting so much,” Jacobson said. “It’s the best improv theater there ever was. But now I’m a monster trainer and the ambassador of reminding everyone to go to the bathroom.”
One of the biggest things Jacobson loves about Eagle Hollow Haunts is that it’s a place where all the actors and staff fit in.
“Even people who are afraid of haunted houses and don’t really fit in anywhere else can fit in here,” Jacobson said. “It’s a place for the weird people to find a family. We’re the island of misfit toys.”
Since actors at a haunted house come up with their own skits and ways they are going to scare people, there is no script for any actor to go by. Jacobson said that she is always surprised to see what an actor can bring to a character.
“One thing I look forward to every season is seeing what the different actors bring to their roles each year,” Jacobson said. “If there is a new actor in a new role, they always do something different than ever before and we’re always like, ‘Ugh, why didn’t we think of that?’”
Jacobson said she hopes to continue monster training and making the end of the year slideshows far into the future for Eagle Hollow Haunts.
“Even if I do step back to do other life things, I will always be around training monsters in the pre-season and making the cast wrap video,” Jacobson said. “They can pry [the duty of making the cast wrap video] from my cold, dead hands.”
With the past year and all its turmoil, sometimes it’s nice just to go to a haunted house and dress up for Halloween. Rose said it’s a way to destress and forget about all the real world horrors.
“It’s so great to be able to end a stressful work day and become a different person and enter a different world,” Rose said. “Everybody gets to be a kid again, and that’s just something we need more of.”