We came, we saw, we ran away screaming


Kernel Staff

Waiting in line for a haunted house can be a little uncomfortable.

The nervous folks in line have to watch and wonder as other shrieking customers burst through the exit doors to the steady hum of chainsaws and clinking blades. But when they’re done screaming—or crying—those frazzled thrill-seekers are usually all smiles and laughter.

“It was amazing. It really was,” said Kendel King a few moments after she finished the Nightmare Haunted House at Wicked World Scare Grounds. “It took my breath away several times. It was beyond amazing.”

Adrenaline junkies and Halloween fans looking for a new nightmare will find that there are two main haunted attractions in Lexington, the Wicked World Scare Grounds and Fright Nights at Jacobson Park.

Terror on Tates Creek, owned and operated by Wicked World Scare Grounds, sits on private property about 20 minutes down Tates Creek Road from UK’s campus. Wicked World costs $13 for a single haunt ticket.

“We want (people) to come out here and get a Halloween experience that they can’t get anywhere else,” said Jeremy Kinley, co-owner of Wicked World Scaregrounds.

In a world of ultra-immersive horror video games and movies, Kinley said that realism and detail in the sets and actors are necessary for creating “cool” haunted house experiences.

“The cool factor we’re trying to push as much as possible,” Kinley said. “So that people are like, ‘You got to go to this one! You got to go this one!’”

Kinley said that Wicked World Scaregrounds hopes to be the best in the state.

“Usually each state has that big, big haunted house that everyone’s like, ‘You got to go to that one,’” Kinley said. “We’re trying to be that one.”

Fright Nights, Lexington’s other popular haunted attraction, sets up shop in Jacobson Park, a public park that is about a 15-minute drive from campus. Fright Nights costs $18 per haunt.

“It was awesome. Better than expected,” said Maddie Morgan, a senior at BCTC, just after she left the 13 Doors haunt at Fright Nights. “There was a part with smoke and you can’t see anything—scared me shitless.”

Tyler Nelson, the lead director at Fright Nights, said the attraction aims to be “pretty extreme, but family friendly as well.”

“The goal is to interactively entertain people,” Nelson said. “We want them to go through and experience everything that’s going on out here and we try and scare them as much as possible.”

Nelson said that Fright Nights is a fun attraction for college students.

“I mean, you can go to the movies or you can come out here and spend all night and have some fun with us,” Nelson said. “It can be pretty intense so make sure that you’re ready for that.”

Both attractions are open every Thursday through Sunday night through the end of October.


Kernel staff members visited both attractions in the same night to see which haunt truly is the best option for college students.

Madison Rexroat- Social Media Editor

As jumpy of a person I might be, I actually really enjoy the adrenaline rush of haunted houses (as if senior year isn’t scary enough). In small doses, the haunted trails and scary actors can be pretty therapeutic when it comes to having a good scream. After going to both Fright Nights at Jacobson Park and Wicked World Scaregrounds, I’d say they both do the job, but Wicked World gives more bang for your buck.

Jacobson Park was pretty scary, but almost more annoying than anything. The line to get into each trail was long, but at least the actors walking around were entertaining. The trail itself was easily navigable but dark and littered with blinding strobe lights. That mixed with the forest setting, I’m surprised I didn’t wipe out on a tree root while frantically running away. Despite the pyrotechnics, there were plenty of hilariously scary moments and running away from a masked chainsaw murderer was a nice touch.

Compared to Wicked World, though, Jacobson Park could’ve been a lot better, especially considering the higher ticket price. For five dollars less, we waited a shorter amount of time and we were scared more.

Unlike at Jacobson Park, each trail at Wicked World had a backstory that contributed to the scariness of each situation and made the entire trail more cohesive. Also unlike Jacobson Park, the actors at Wicked World weren’t allowed to touch you, which I definitely preferred even though I was still scared half to death at least 32 times.

Being more scared while still feeling somewhat in control is a hard balance to achieve, and they did it. The trail we chose at Wicked World was more fast paced than the one at Jacobson Park and had a better variety of absolutely terrifying situations.

McKenna Horsley- Opinions Editor and Enterprise Manager

Haunted houses, hay rides, trails and other variations are just as much about the social aspect of being scared with your friends more than they are about the actual scare.

Both haunts Kernel editors visited lived up to this expectation. Each of us had a great time and enjoyed laughing at the others’ yelling in terror.

However, the Nightmare Haunted House at Wicked Worlds Scaregrounds was the more entertaining of the two haunts. The actors and atmosphere provided a great themed attraction and story that guests could follow throughout the house.

While being scared and walking through the attraction, it was almost as if the haunt-goers were walking through an actual interactive story as well.

Rick Childress- Assistant News Editor 

The Dark Forest at Fright Nights was fun, but not quite worth the price of admission. Sure, there were scary moments, but for the most part it felt like we were hiking in the dark while these masked-men popped out from behind trees.

We saw the monsters long before they tried to scare us and after we passed we didn’t have to worry about them. We moved through the trail almost mechanically. Our group didn’t slow down to edge around dark corners or evaluate whether a dead body would jump up and grab us.

Wicked World was a different story. The Nightmare haunted house felt like it lasted an eternity. We paced cautiously through the haunt. Every dark corner felt like a new battle and we flinched in fear at every doorway. The actors hardly felt like people in costumes, but more like the sub-human creatures they were trying to emulate. Their timing was excellent and they moved through the dark hallways like predatory animals.

I am an adult—although just barely—and the stone-cold stare of a horrifying little girl sent me (and our photo editor) screaming into the next dark hallway. Go to Wicked World and bring an extra pair of underwear.

Arden Barnes- Photo Editor

Before going to the haunts at Fright Nights and Wicked World, I considered myself more of a “fighter” than a “flighter”– I was wrong. The Dark Forest haunted trail at Jacobson park scared me, but it was a let down for the price. It felt like a hiking trail with a couple people in masks that occasionally got my heart racing and elicited a few screams.

Nightmare at Wicked World Scaregrounds on Tates Creek was the second haunt we visited. It was actually my second time doing that trail this year, and it scared me even more the second time.

The trail had a story line that helped move the experience along. The part of the house that I remember most vividly was when a (very talented) child scared me enough that once I saw her I ran away from our group, bumped into another scary person, ran back to the group and scared Rick because I was screaming.

While I was absolutely terrified multiple times throughout the trail, I had more fun laughing at the other editors’ reactions. I laughed the hardest when Rick got scared in the church part of the trail. He is a relatively easy going person, and where the other four of us weren’t particularly scared by the ghost in the chapel, Rick jumped a solid two feet off the ground. The actor in that room tried to talk to the rest of us but we were laughing too hard to interact with her.

All in all, the trail at Wicked World was a much better deal, and much more fun, than those at Jacobson Park. It had a shorter wait, longer trail and better screams.