News

Haunt Manor bigger, more spooky than ever

By Ray Spiteri, Niagara Falls Review

Phil Van Kleef, owner of Haunt Manor located Campark Resorts in Niagara Falls, is working on the Inn at Bates Motel, one of the new attractions at the haunted park. Opening on Sept. 24, 2016 and running until Oct. 30, 2016, the seventh season will also feature Dark Raven Manor, the newly expanded Haunted Trail, and the re-branded signature hayride, the Folklore Grove.
(Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

Phil Van Kleef, owner of Haunt Manor located Campark Resorts in Niagara Falls, is working on the Inn at Bates Motel, one of the new attractions at the haunted park. Opening on Sept. 24, 2016 and running until Oct. 30, 2016, the seventh season will also feature Dark Raven Manor, the newly expanded Haunted Trail, and the re-branded signature hayride, the Folklore Grove. (Mike DiBattista/Niagara Falls Review/Postmedia Network)

Fans of the classic horror film Psycho and the TV prequel spin-off, Bates Motel, will want to check out Haunt Manor in Niagara Falls.

The attraction, located at Campark Resorts along Lundy’s Lane, opens Saturday at 7 p.m. for another Halloween season.

There will be 10 new and revamped attractions, the newest being the Inn at Bates Motel, a haunted house inspired by the 1960 movie and the ongoing television series.

“(Visitors are) definitely going to scream, they’re going to freak out,” said owner Phil Van Kleef.

Since its inception seven years ago, Haunt Manor has become known to locals and tourists as an ever-changing and growing yearly tradition, he said.

It all started with a simple hay ride, but has expanded to cover 15 acres of land with creepy goodness.

“We had hay rides already at the campground, and I said why don’t we try something in October, and it exploded,” said Van Kleef, who also manages the campground.

“Then from there it was like, wow, this could be a big thing, let’s add a haunted house.”

Van Kleef said he then met the owner of the Headless Horseman Hayride and Haunted Houses, an outdoor haunted attraction in New York State.

“He’s like a celebrity in the Halloween-world industry, and his name is Michael Jubie, and he kind of took me under his wing,” he said.

“He has the guys from CSI, Entourage, they come down every year. He’s basically mentored me to bring this park up to where it’s at right now, so it’s kind of cool.”

Haunt Manor has been named Canada’s Scariest Haunted Attraction by Fangoria magazine.

Attractions include an expanded hay ride, which last year had more than 10,000 riders and this year is dubbed Folklore Grove.

Dark Raven Manor will add more than 2,000-square-feet of props, actors and interactive scares.

The returning Body Harvest Trail, Night Feast Greenhouse and Curse Haunted House, have all been given significant makeovers.

Last year, Haunt Manor debuted the Escape from Millers Penitentiary, a haunt that featured authentic jail cells used at the Don Jail, formerly located in Toronto. The featured attraction has also been revamped.

Van Kleef said in addition to advertising, word of mouth has benefitted Haunt Manor the most.

“We track where people come from, and it’s always like repeat customers. They say, ‘I heard about it from a friend.’ More than half of our people coming in are coming from that.”

Van Kleef said his love of Halloween led to the creation of Haunt Manor.

“I just look at what would people want to see. What do people want, locally? What do they want to experience? I just want to take people out of the ordinary, every-day routine. I want to give people something different. I found myself in the lucky opportunity to to be able to that.”

He said it’s “incredible” how the haunt has grown.

“With all the new faces attending each and every year, we felt it was time to step it up. People come here expecting a good scare, and we want to make sure we give it to them.”

Van Kleef said they also wanted to “spice it up” for returning fans that have supported the attraction from the beginning.

“Every existing haunt has been overhauled for a completely different experience from previous years. This was definitely the hardest expansion we have ever attempted, but in the end, I am positive it will be one of the most terrifying experiences for our fans.”

Haunt Manor opens Saturday and runs until Oct. 30. Tickets can be purchased online or on site. For more information, visit hauntmanor.com.

rspiteri@postmedia.com

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