Ahwatukee Foothills couple Michael and Jenifer Corey don’t mess around when it comes to their annual haunted house.
The décor for just the outside of the house takes a crane to set up and take down, and there are so many decorations inside that they have to be stored in a vacant house down the street.
The Corey house, at 4120 E. Thistle Landing, is famous for its annual Halloween display. Each year the house is transformed into a castle of terror on Halloween night.
Guests can enter the haunted house for free. A maze of walls, designed by Jenifer who is an architect by trade, takes visitors through rooms filled with pirates, aliens, creepy baby dolls, spiders, murderers and even clowns. Lasers, black lights, fog, strobe lights and moving characters all add to the décor.
The family finds its characters and decorations at trade shows, online and in random stores. They’ve even found characters while on vacation and brought them back home with them.
Jenifer designs the layout of the castle.
“A lot of people are amazed by how long it is,” Michael said. “You’re 100 percent enclosed all the way through. Lots of people think with all the weaves and turns that it goes all the way through our house.”
Ten people help run the inside of the haunted house, including a close friend, Jason Houle, who has helped with the haunted house from the beginning. They each have places they can hide to scare guests.
Everything is completely changed each year. It takes about a month to get it all set up. After being open for about five hours on Halloween night it all comes down at midnight. By the next morning, Michael said it looks like nothing was even there, besides all the bags of trash that line the street.
“It is a scary haunted house,” he said. “It’s not meant to be a cute friendly thing. When you go in people will jump out at you. There will be fog so it’s hard to see. There’s a lot of fake walls. Sometimes you go one way and think you’ve made a wrong turn so you go back, but the wall has moved and suddenly you’re trapped.
“The funniest thing is at the end of the night, we sweep up all of the candy people have dropped and we just get bags and bags of candy. So many people get so scared they just drop their bags and run.”
The haunted house is only open for Halloween night, because the set up is so detailed. The family rents tables and chairs and provides free pizza, drinks and snacks to visitors. They also have some crafts for kids to do who might be too young for the haunted house. In all, Michael estimates they spend at least $3,000 running the haunted house for one spooky night. They receive more than 1,000 visitors to their home each year.
On the same street there is also a smaller, more family-friendly haunted house. Michael warns that traffic gets crazy, but that the visit is well worth it.
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