Published on November 2nd, 2017 | by Jeremy Raines


Spooks and Smiles (A Tour of Nearby Haunted Experiences and Fall Family Fun)

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” When you hear this phrase, what’s your initial thought? I’m sure you’re thinking of Kris Kringle and his velvety red suit with faux white fur trim. As with most, Christmas/wintertime is usually everyone’s favorite season, but put those string-lights and fake reindeer back in the attic because there is plenty in store for this fall in the Wiregrass area.

For me, the autumn/fall season is the best time of the year, because of near-perfect temperatures, prime football action, pumpkin carving, backyard fire-pits and the most important of them all—haunted adventures! Luckily for the citizens of the Wiregrass region, there are plenty of terrorizing haunted adventures locals have the opportunity to experience during the Halloween season. So, climb aboard the Wiregrass Local’s Haunted Express as we travel on highlight trail of some of the most ghoulishly delightful experiences for you and yours to experience in October. (Cue the creepy laugh and Michael Myers music.)


We start this trip by outlining the haunted adventures closest to those of us here in the Dothan, Alabama area. Located just up the street from the downtown intersection of US Highway 84 and Foster Street in beautiful downtown Dothan, Frightmares Dothan features a 1900-era style home with an assortment of characters and scenes sure to spook even the bravest of souls. Frightmares Dothan is set to showcase their haunted experiences from October 21st through October 31st. There is no age limit to attend Frightmares Dothan, and the cost is just $10. Their physical location is just across the road from the Greyhound Station. After you stop screaming for help and running from all the monsters that lurk throughout the rooms of Frightmares Dothan, be sure to stop in and support the other local businesses in the downtown Dothan area! Continuing our trip near the city of Dothan, we will now head out to Columbia, Alabama where a local haunted house has created quite the bone-chilling experience for its patrons who dare to enter through their doors. Travel back in time as former residents return from the afterlife accompanied by familiar friends as you tour through their past abode known now as COLUMBIA MANOR. Columbia Manor isn’t just a haunted house experience; they actually give back to their community. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Columbia Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Departments, and the Regional Land and Water Rescue provides guests with concessions with all of their proceeds going directly back to their organization. General admission for this year’s event has been set at $13, or you can elect to go the speedier route with a $30 fast-pass. This year’s event will also showcase 3 celebrity guests throughout the haunted house’s run. For a full listing of this year’s celebrity list and schedule, checkout Columbia Manor on Facebook. Up the road a bit in Daleville, Alabama, Titan Magic, Entertainment, Party Rentals and Printing will be hosting an experience that will showcase a two-story multi-room haunted adventure with a Harry Potter theme! They will be open from October 21st through October 31st from 5pm to 10pm, and they will extend their hours of operation to midnight each Saturday night and on Halloween night. Ticket prices for this year’s event are $5 for advanced tickets until October 13th, $8 at the door, and $15 for VIP access that allows you to skip all lines and bring a friend with a red ticket! For additional information including pricing and venue details, visit the venue’s website and Facebook.

Once you’ve had your fun in Dothan, Columbia and Daleville, take a short 45-minute drive down to Marianna in Jackson County, Florida where you can experience REAL FEAR. According to Executive Director of the Jackson County Tourist Development Council Christy Andreasen, the historic Russ House has a unique story all its own showcasing the true story of entrepreneur Joseph Russ and his family who built the grandiose Victorian-style mansion on the outskirts of Marianna, Florida in 1895. Five generations of the Russ family lived in the iconic home during the 1900s. They reveled in wealth and prosperity until Joseph Russ lost his fortune and in 1930 ended his life. This story is already getting creepy! His daughter, Frances, had no money, but continued to live in the home hosting parties and events to raise money. Legend has it that the grandiose mansion has spirits roaming its hallways and rooms. Currently, the mystery remains as to whether the ghostly visitors are members of the Russ family or soldiers from the Battle of Marianna.  Are you creeped-out yet? Wait, there’s more! In October, Jackson County also hosts their Annual Ghost Walks at Bellamy Bridge, which is another reported haunted site located in Marianna. These walks attract hundreds of individuals over the two nights to walk the trail to learn about the history and legends behind the ghosts. Last year, the group decided to incorporate the Russ House during the same event.  The Emerald Coast Paranormal Concepts (ECPC) brought in equipment and allowed brave guests to conduct their very own paranormal investigations, and the Jackson County Tourist Development Council plans to do the same this year. The annual Ghost Walks are scheduled for October 27 and 28 and are by reservation only. Tours usually start around 6:30 pm and fill up fast.  Reservation sign-ups begin during the first week of October and can be made by calling the Russ House at (850) 482-8061.  This event is free, but donations are accepted to help with maintenance and repairs at Bellamy Bridge and restorations to the Russ House. Ok, now that we’ve all been freaked out by the spooky legends of Marianna, travel just a little further down the road to Panama City, Florida where Jaycees Haunted House is keeping its patrons with eyes on the backs of their heads. General Admission for this year’s Jaycees Haunted House is $10 per patron, and all ages allowed. The haunted house’s earnings benefit AMIKids/Panama City Marine Institute and the Stuff the Bus program. For more information about this venue, you can find the event’s page on Facebook, visit their website, or give them a call at (850) 855-7158.

If you still find yourself searching for more spine-tingling terror after visiting these great venues, be sure to venture out all across the Southeast to experiences some of the even larger haunted house experiences scattered throughout Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Some of these more notable venues include: Sloss Fright Furnace in Birmingham, Alabama, Atrox Factory in Leeds, Alabama, Warehouse 31 in Pelham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia’s Netherworld which has been labeled as one the scariest and most popular haunted houses in America. The Montgomery Humane Society will also be hosting its annual haunted house to haunt for the paws by scaring for a cause! Be sure to follow the Humane Society’s Facebook page as they will soon be adding information about this year’s event.

So paying someone to scare you isn’t really your thing…No worries, there is still fun to be had in our area. For those in the Houston and Henry County areas, two locations are offering a lot of fun for the whole family this October.  Located on the outskirts of Dothan between Slocomb and the west side of Dothan, Aplin Farms has long-been a destination for local and visiting families to go to for numerous fall fun-filled activities including wagon rides, pumpkin patches, corn-mazes, rubber duck races, a petting zoo, and sunflower fields; 2017 will be just as exciting for Aplin Farms! Similarly, Corndodgers Farm in Headland, Alabama offers corn mazes, a showcase of country critters, pony rides, jumping pillows and even a corn cannon! For a full listing of scheduled events and activities for Aplin Farms and Corndodgers Farm, be sure to check them both out on social media and each of their websites.

In closing, don’t let this wonderful season pass you by without getting out and experiencing all our area has to showcase during October. All of these great venues are made possible by the incredible employees or volunteers that work long days and nights to make sure there is plenty to do for residents and visitors alike. There is no way we could cover each and every event located throughout the tri-state area, so you’ll have to do your own research for the tons of other incredible venues and events that are spread throughout. Information regarding event times, costs of attendance, locations, and contact information can be found for each venue through social media or on their websites that are listed below. Be sure to tell all the places you visit that the Wiregrass Local sent you their way and use the hash tag #bewhatshappening to capture and track all your memorable moments through this fall season.


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