Halloween is just around the corner, but with COVID restrictions limiting your typical October plans, it might seem like your holiday is ruined. However, one of Nashville’s most popular haunted houses is still open and this year, they’re running things differently to ensure their patrons stay safe. Besides the inevitable planning that goes into the decorations, themes and acting in their multiple attractions, the Nashville Nightmare Haunted House implemented several restrictions to give you a safe and scary way to spend your Halloween weekend.
The Nashville Nightmare Haunted House located in Madison Square is a thrilling Halloween experience, and restrictions such as temperature checks, social distancing within attractions, mask mandates for all attendees and actors and half capacity operation don’t inhibit the attraction’s fright factor. This is a haunted house unlike any other you have experienced, with not one but six haunted house attractions, all with varying themes and horrors.
Trick or Treat is the most traditional house of the six, with your run-of-the-mill jump scares from ghoulish skeletons and well-hidden screamers. The air is filled with visceral wails and eerie reverberations that left me on-edge awaiting the next fright.
As you move on through to Asylum, the atmosphere completely shifts—in this house, it’s not so much terrifying physically as it is psychologically. With deranged mental patients and headless, blood-soaked nurses, the true horror factor comes from within your own mind. Spend too much time gawking at the decapitated victims in outpatient beds, and you may just end up in one yourself.
Then, fear takes a fantastical turn as you enter the third house: Cursed. It first gives off a vibe of a sort of ghastly wonderland because of its dreamlike ambiance (well, as dreamy as a haunted house can get), but the life-size dragon and demon animatronics are bound to snap you right out of it. Beware the giant hand; one wrong move will land you into its fingers, threatening to crush you into a grisly pulverization of bloody loins and woozy entrails.
Following Cursed, we were led into the second section of houses, including Horror High and Sector 615. Horror High is intricately designed with typical high school features but with a twist; the familiar yellow school bus is filled with the scraggly skeletons of deceased students, and the never-ending halls of student lockers are definitely not filled with textbooks—we’ll leave the contents up to your imagination. Horrible high school memories came back to haunt us as vengeful cheerleaders and murderous professors shrieked gutturally in our faces. This high school thriller is bound to make you scream, but this time, not because of the test you failed in third period.
Into the fifth house, Sector 615, we found ourselves in the midst of an apocalypse. We entered a world with every imaginable worst-case scenario. First, the all-too-familiar global contamination scene, signified by the quarantine signs plastered on the walls and actors in 14th-century plague masks. Then, an alien invasion took hold, and the hallways were decorated extravagantly with oozing heads in tanks and curious substances in tubes. We unknowingly walked into dark, spiderwebbed hallways with flickering lights and zombie-like creatures at every turn.
The sixth house, Slaughter, is 18+ and will cost you an extra $5 to enter, but it was totally worth it. By far our favorite house in the attraction, it is not for the faint of heart. With creepy clowns at every corner and trippy light tricks, I could feel my heart pounding in my veins even after exiting the house. The smells of popcorn and cotton candy will make you feel as though you are at the eeriest carnival of your life, and the bright colors and neon lights added a fun twist to the traditional spooky haunted house.
The Nashville Nightmare Haunted House is open next week Wednesday through Sunday and the week after from Tuesday to Sunday for the rest of the season. Tickets range from $20-$30; charging a premium on weekends. A general admission ticket will admit you into the five main attractions, and Nashville Nightmare offers an extra $10 fast pass through lines or an extra $20 charge to skip the line altogether. The VIP pass containing access to everything and front of the line access is $99.99. Visit their website to buy tickets before they sell out, and if you need some warmup before braving the horrors, watch this year’s trailers for each haunted house.