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Lights-On or Lights-Off?

How to know which type of haunted house is right for your child

The Haunted House at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis!

Children's Museum Haunted House
October 2012

By the beginning of October, many children are already excitedly telling their parents what they want to be for Halloween and looking forward to a trip through their neighborhood to gather as many sweet treats as their bags can hold. Often parties and other fun Halloween events are on the agenda for many families, but sometimes it can be hard to know how much holiday fun can be too much for your little one – particularly those children who are preschool-aged and younger.

As members of The Children's Museum Guild, this is a challenge we are all too familiar with since our biggest fundraiser is our annual Haunted House! Now in its 49th year, the Haunted House offers both a lights-on experience for children who scare easily and a lights-off experience for those who dare to be scared. Many parents ask us how to determine if their child is ready for our lights-off or lights-on hours and. Although each child is different and there is no correct answer, we do offer the following ideas to help parents know:


• Includes fun, upbeat music with all lights turned up.

• Friendly-faced greeters are in each room of the house passing out treats to visitors similar to trick-or-treating.

• Children can play seek-and-find with pictures of the annual Haunted House mascot – Winny the Witch this year – as they move through the rooms of the house to help play up the fun of each room.

• Each room also features a Halloween-related fun fact to ask your child such as "how many bones are in the human body?". (A: 206!)


• Includes spooky music and minimal lighting.

• Haunters hide throughout the house to jump out and scare unsuspecting visitors.

• Although visual effects are used to maximize the scare experience, the frightening-factor of the Haunted House focuses more on the "startle" rather than gore.

• Many visitors will scream with surprise or fear as they move throughout the House.

If you are still questioning which version of the Haunted House to bring your child to, consider how they handle scary books, movies and TV shows. If they are often afraid of spooky things outside of Halloween, they might prefer a lights-on experience for at least another year.

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Alison Steck and Kate Orme are the "Head Witches" of the 2012 Haunted House at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Tags: In This Issue, Local, Parenting

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