The 13th Floor Haunted House reaches new heights in 2021

Fri. October 8, 2021 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group is rising to the spooky occasion this October with two large-scale haunted houses in Illinois. The group couldn't have picked a better setting with The Old Joliet Haunted Prison at 401 Woodruff Road in Joliet. On a good day, this spot most likely has ghosts floating around or at least some bad vibes from its troubled past. The property takes up a great deal of land in this suburb of Chicago and is ripe for exploring.

There are two attractions inside the space with The Forsaken and Ghost Chamber. The first half gives ticket holders a chance to see the correctional facility up close and in person. The second half is a laser gun maze where participants pick up a gun and try to shoot the monsters along the way.

The ghouls have the power in the first section and lose their power in the second. Somewhere in the process, the prison becomes less scary, possibly because of understaffing or not enough pop-out moments to rustle up fear.

While this is the first year for this endeavor, some improvements could be easily made for next year. The prison was originally built as a women's prison back in 1896, so why not focus on that? Have a tour guide that sets things up with a history of the iconic building at the entrance. Guests want to hear tales of the past and how hauntings may have occurred over the years. The characters of the stories can then be brought to life by the cast to really pump up the experience.

After working in haunted experiences at Navy Pier over the years, I learned a cast can make or break a show. Well, 13th Floor Chicago at 5050 River Road in Schiller Park is the perfect example of that. On the night I attended, the staff was extremely friendly and helpful outside the new site. Inside, the team was all on board to create a terrifying experience for those that entered. The pop-out scares were immediate thanks to mechanical puppets and talented actors. Be prepared for monsters to follow you throughout the corridors and creepy ghouls to greet you at every turn.

Both haunted houses have chainsaw wielders chasing patrons at the end, but once again 13th Floor triumphs in the execution. A fun photo opportunity just added to the experience once again at 13th Floor but was lacking at the prison. Gift shops were at both places and make sure to stop at the bar while exiting the prison location for a twisted cocktail to ease your nerves. Hey, there's even an escape room available if one needs more anxiety!

Fast pass options are recommended as Halloween approaches and lines will definitely grow longer. Many may not know the amount of work that goes into making these environments a success, but exhaustion always sets in as we approach the haunted holiday. Sooner is better than later in this case and get your ghoul while they are feeling fresh earlier in the month.

Start planning your own eery experience at and as soon as possible. Time is running out, Boo!