Back and ready to boo

Circle of Ash prepares for grand reopening at the Linn County Fairgrounds

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Fear not Halloween lovers, Circle of Ash Haunted Attraction is back and bigger than ever.

The volunteer-supported haunt has resurfaced at the Linn County Fairgrounds in Central City after leaving its warehouse on Seventh Avenue SE in downtown Cedar Rapids two years ago.

It had been at the warehouse since 2010, but volunteers felt they’d outgrown the space when they tried to add more attractions to their lineup.

“We felt trapped,” said Circle of Ash volunteer Ian Austin. “With everything we wanted to build, we ran out of space.”

This year, with somewhere between 6 acres and 8 acres of available space, Circle of Ash has revamped its signature maze to be darker, scarier and more difficult to navigate, Austin said.

Volunteers have revived the wooded trail haunt Frightmare Forest and added a new clown-themed maze called Pandemonium as well as a murder mystery game called Halloween Homicide, which will cost you a few extra bucks on top of the $20 entry ticket.

Three other attractions also require an additional fee, including a simulated coffin ride called Journey’s End, a falling elevator ride called Rigged and a mine shaft ride called Shafted. All three operate on a motion platform — meaning you don’t actually get buried in a coffin or fall in an elevator; however, a simulation makes it feel all too real.

A common area called Crow Creek offers a place to hang out next to a bonfire, purchase merchandise or snack on concessions between thrills.

In prior years, a $12 ticket would get you once through the maze, but this year, the attraction is set up “Scream park style,” Austin said, adding, “It’s not just a one and done anymore.”

Now, a $20 wristband allows you to stay and explore for as long as you’d like, he explained. So if you didn’t get enough the first time through, you can continue to go again and again throughout the night.

For $30 more ($50 total), you can get a VIP pass, which acts as a fast pass to help you skip long lines and get the most out of the night.

Circle of Ash now has about 140 volunteers on its roster, but is always looking for more, Austin said.

If you’re 16 or older and enjoy putting on elaborate makeup and costumes and scaring people, contact Circle of Ash through Facebook, or apply online at

“It’s a great resume builder,” said Chelsea Haugh of Mount Vernon.

Haugh, 26, has been volunteering at the haunted attraction for 10 years. She said she’s made lifelong friends from the experience as well as learned valuable skills in marketing, acting, problem solving, construction and more. Plus, it’s fun, she said.

“Once you make a grown adult pee their pants and get a reaction, it’s a big high,” she said.

The attraction will have its grand reopening at 8 p.m. Friday. It’ll be open Thursdays through Sundays throughout the season, which ends after Halloween night. On Thursdays and Sundays, it is open 8 to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays until midnight. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate.


What: Circle of Ash Haunted Attraction

Where: Linn County Fairgrounds, 201 Central City Rd., Central City

When: Thursdays through Sundays, Friday to Oct. 31

Thursdays and Sundays: 8 to 10 p.m.

Fridays and Saturdays: 8 p.m. to midnight

Cost: $20 general admission, $50 VIP admission

Details: Explore Circle of Ash’s new home with eight attractions and new “Scream park” style entry with a wristband that allows you to experience attractions more than once in one night.

Get involved: If you’re 16 or older, apply to become a volunteer cast member at

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