Circle of Ash

Keaton Maier, A&E Editor

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The Halloween season is marked by many staples: costumes, pumpkins, and most importantly, spooks. Lots of people will find themselves at some form of haunted attraction during the month of October. One such attraction is Circle of Ash Scream Park, located in Central City, Iowa. Some may recognize this name from its location in downtown Cedar Rapids from 2010 to 2014. After a year long hiatus, Circle of Ash returned in 2016 at its new and current location and continues today. However, the real comeback is in Frightmare Forest, which returned last year after having been absent since 2009, when it haunted land just west of Xavier High School. Both Frightmare Forest and Circle of Ash, along with a third haunted maze attraction, Pandemonium, are all bundled together for one scary visit at the Linn County Fairgrounds.

The biggest challenge for any haunted attraction is to actually scare its guests. Most attractions, Circle of Ash included, achieve this by two means: creepy actors and jump scares.

As far as jump scares go, Circle of Ash did pretty well. The maze attraction, Pandemonium, was almost entirely built for jump scares, and it paid off in a big way. The maze was bright enough to find my way through yet dark enough that I could not see actors until they were in my face.

Where Circle of Ash fell short was its creepiness. For the most part, if it was not a jump scare, it did not scare me. However, this did not stop me from having a good experience. Once the actors realized that they were not going to scare me quite like others, they quickly switched up their approach and made things fun for me. One of my favorite moments was when an actor gave my friend and me fistbumps after he walked into a room to scare us, only to catch us jokingly trying to blend in with the props. It was personal moments like this that made our visit fun and memorable. Keep in mind, this does not mean that the attractions were not scary. A different person would most likely have a completely different experience.

Unfortunately, Circle of Ash is not cheap, costing $20 total for general admission to all three attractions. Additionally, the attractions only take around 30 minutes to navigate in total. For the same price, one could watch two recent movie releases, and get more than five times the duration of entertainment. However, there is something unique about going to a haunted house with a group of friends that cannot be emulated.

Overall, I would say that Circle of Ash is only worth the price for those who generally enjoy haunted attractions. For those who often feel unsatisfied with haunted attractions, Circle of Ash would be no different.

Keaton Maier

A&E Editor

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