In 2013, I presented my first batch of fun awards to area haunted houses. Unique categories were created with the intent that, once awarded, the category would be retired unless a new haunt stepped up to win. The idea was to prevent a haunt from winning for the same thing over and over.

For 2014, I created several new awards, and even a new survey to let DMHH visitors vote on the haunted houses in various subjective categories ("DMHH Victim's Choice" Awards).

And now it's time to do it again...

2016 DMHH Awards

For 2016, we received over three times the responses as the previous year -- and that was after discarding tons of duplicate votes. (In the case of a re-vote, we count only the last one submited.) Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, Zombie Hollow and Circus of Freaks all did aggressive promotion of the voting and that really changed things up. Sleepy Hollow, which grew it's Facebook page to over 7000 fans, benefited the most with the relatively new Freak Show and the classic Chaos taking many categories. Circus of Freaks didn't quite land any awards, but did beat out several other haunts and came very close to at least one Runner Up win. It will be very interesting to see what happens with the 2017 voting...

And now ... the reults from 2016.

Details

Best Actors - Trail of Terror

When a haunt has over 40 actors, the odds of some of them being exceptional increases. In the case of the new (this was their second year) Trail of Terror, we were quite impressed with a pair of female campers we encountered during the walk. They were completely in character, begging for our help and trying to warn us about some terrible thing that was about to happen. Great fun!

Best Home Haunt - Fright Manor

After running this home haunt in Kansas City, they relocated to Des Moines and decided to set up Fright Manor here. They had some of the best looking sets of any haunt in the area, with tons of animated props that moved, made noises and lit up. It was like walking through a haunted museum where everything came alive. Very impressive!

Best New Attraction - Infection: Laser Tag

Sleepy Hollow Sports Park is no stranger to laser tag haunts—they did their first one in 2010—but this year they had an all-new experience using advanced laser tag equipment. A new play field was used for a brand new game that let you either be zapping zombies, or get ‘infected’ and become a zombie and try to zap the survivors. Pew pew!

Can We Just Rest a Bit? - Trail of Terror

At 3/4 of a mile, the Trail of Terror is the largest haunted walk around. Our trek through these scary woods took almost half an hour, and included many steps, bridges and inclines along the way. By the time we made it to the exit, we felt fatigued from the long walk and the non-stop assault by over 40 actors. It was quite the Halloween workout!

Most Actors Per Foot - Haunted Garage

The Haunted Garage is a tiny home haunt in Grimes built in a three-car garage. Somehow, they managed to cram THIRTEEN actors in there! You couldn’t go more than a few feet without someone jumping out at you or trying to ‘grab’ at you. There are much larger commercial haunts in the area with far fewer actors. Well done!

Special Mentions

Ames Haunted Forest: The policy for these special awards is that once you win them, the category is retired until a different haunt steps up to claim them. If this were not the policy, Ames Haunted Forest would have won Best Dirty Trick again, this time for their final maze room. There were two mazes built back-to-back that were clones of each other. As visitors would wind their way in and around the maze, they would eventually find the other side, but it appeared they had just backtracked to where they started. (It got us, for sure!)

Circus of Freaks: This event was added to the voting for the first time in 2016, and it was just a few points shy of Best Value Runner Up. They actually received more points in three categories than some of the other haunts being voted on. This is a great start, and we look forward to thier support growing in future years.

Linn's Supermarket Haunted House: They missed out on Only One Runner Up by just a few points.

DMHH Victim's Choice

We asked you to tell us which haunts you visited this year, and then pick your favorite one from several categories. The more haunts you experienced, the more your vote would count (since you had more to compare with). Here are the questions we asked, and the results of our second annual non-scientific survey.

SCARIEST: First, which haunted house did you think was the "scariest"? (Not the overall best, but the one that scared you or startled you the most.)

Scariest - Freak Show

Scariest Runner Up - Chaos

FUNNEST: Second, which haunted attraction did you think was the "funnest"? (Again, not overall "best", but the one you had the most fun going through.)

Funnest - Freak Show

Funnest Runner Up - Linn's Supermarket Haunted House

COOLEST: Third, which haunted attraction did you think was the "coolest"? (For instance, best sound, coolest sets, neatest special effects -- regardless of if it was scary or not, or expensive or cheap.)

Coolest - Freak Show

Coolest Runner Up - Linn's Supermarket Haunted House

BEST VALUE: Fourth, which haunted attraction did you think was the "best value" for the ticket price? (For example, you might think a $5 haunt was great for the price, even if it wasn't anywhere as good as a $20 haunt you visited. Or, you may find a $16 haunt disappointing, but would have loved it if it was $10.)

Best Value - Linn's Supermarket Haunted House

Best Value Runner Up - Zombie Hollow

OVERALL BEST: Fifth, which haunted attraction did you think was the overall "best"? (For whatever reason - maybe it had the coolest special effects even if it wasn't scary, or it was the longest -- the one YOU personally liked the most.)

Overall Best - Linn's Supermarket Haunted House

Overall Best Runner Up - Zombie Hollow

ONLY ONE: And finally, for whatever reason (most fun, scariest, best for the money), if you had only gotten to choose just ONE haunted attraction to attend this year, which ONE would it have been?

Only One - Freak Show

Only One Runner Up - Chaos

See Awards from: 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.