Our unique location, featuring 3,000 feet of choice waterfront on Lake Ballinger, is primed with a three-acre forested area and picnic shelters that undergo a terror transformation each fall, becoming one of Seattle’s best haunted houses.
How many scenes are there?
Enough to guarantee you’ll run screaming to mummy!
How long did it take to set up?
We have a giant warehouse (forklift and all) where we build all year long, but things really start heating up in June. Then, in mid-September, we take all the walls and props we’ve built and start actually constructing the haunt on the picnic grounds at the Nile.
What is the actor to animatronics ratio?
Hate to give away too much, but we do have some animatronics. Mostly we rely on our Scream Team, however, who never fail to deliver!
How did you get interested in the haunt business?
I had access to a warehouse in downtown Everett in 1997 and threw a Halloween party on a whim. That same warehouse was also available the next year so I went for it again. That was the last year at the warehouse, but the Halloween party was now an annual thing so I held it at various bars and houses during the years that followed concluding with 2008’s first annual Beers and Fears event at the Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville.
Then, in August of 2009 the perfect storm hit. I stumbled upon a facility, a bunch of walls from a closing haunt and a bunch of extra 3D clown props from another local haunt. When opportunity presents itself, you have to run with it. So I did…and learned a LOT that first year…like what a ridiculous decision that was. Kidding of course, but seriously, that first year was rough. I learned a lot though. In 2012, realizing we’d outgrown our facility with its one little 3D black light haunt, we partnered with a popular, but distant farm in Snohomish and added 2 haunted corn trails. We now had three attractions, which was perfect. Unfortunately all the corn blew down in a windstorm mid-month and we lost our butts. We joke that corn is now a four-letter word. We ultimately sold our remaining asset, the 3D attraction, to another local haunt to break even (It is funny how haunt stuff tends to make its rounds in the haunt community).
What do you like best about producing a haunted house?
The friendships. I’m a very social guy. Although, ironically, my next favorite part would have to be those times when few others are around and I’m able to take off my Producer hat, go back to where it all started and simply zone out as I build an awesome new prop or set piece.
How did you pick your location?
Two years prior, the Nile Shriners had begun haunting utilizing their youth group actors and consumer-level props. Although we still had a few high-end props, our main asset was our experienced adult team. They had an amazing location right on I-5 so we approached them and they welcomed us with open arms – essentially handing over the reins to us. It’s been an incredible partnership thus far and we look forward to many great years ahead.
Is there any scene or scare that you’re particularly impressed with this year?
Our Haunt Director, Shawn Morse, is incredibly talented with everything from set design to makeup and effects. We have different set designers responsible for each scene. Last year his was the Egyptian scene and he nailed it! He nailed it so much so that the Shriners surprised us by letting us know that they were going to build an entire new warehouse to store our panels in during the offseason and that warehouse would be his new scene. Growing that particular scene fits right in with the Nile brand as well.
Any haunted houses of the past or movies that have inspired you?
Honestly, I’m more of a Disney fan than a horror and gore fan, although I have become a lot more interested in the horror genre in recent years. Ultimately however, I just love creating immersive fantasy worlds and creating fun experiences for guests of all ages. Hopefully we’ll continue growing this thing and add a Christmas attraction as well.
So as not to totally dodge the question though, I will say that my all-time favorite movie is the Road Warrior. One of our corn trails in 2012 was a post-apocalyptic zombie trail called Hauntapocalypse. I built a gyrocopter just like in the movie and had a zombie stuck in the seatbelt – scary, but with a hint of humor. I had a lot of fun with that one.
Anything you’d like to add?
Our team has an absolute blast immersing ourselves in this industry. There’s always so much to learn and so much fun to be had. Halloween season is great, but for me, the offseason conventions are where the real fun is had. Meeting people, learning more about their interests, their latest props, sharing ideas…the social aspect is intoxicating (note the carefully chosen word, hehe). I value and appreciate everyone in the industry and hold everyone from the small yard haunter to the high-end pro haunter in the same regard. We do this because we have a passion for haunting and, ultimately, entertaining. Hopefully our Haunted Nightmare at the Nile guests sense our passion for Halloween and get a kick out of everything we’ve put into it.