About 20 minutes from Dothan, AL – is one of my favorite places. Not much there, not much to see, but Columbia Manor is worth the drive.
It seems like the norm that my first haunt of the season is typically Columbia Manor. They do what they call “13 nights of Halloween” and this year opened the 23rd of September. 13 nights of the actors giving it their all, 13 nights of behind the scene chaos for us patrons to get the best thrills and chills we can possibly get. So much goes into making this all so special, so much that we don’t even begin to fathom, ALL FOR US. ALL FOR THE SCARES. ALL FOR THE SMILES.
Todd Chandler runs Columbia Manor with an amazing team. They have always made us feel like family since day 1.
A little history of Columbia Manor. The house was built in 1864. It became a hospital where patients were quarantined with an illness called Pellagra. Not only were there deaths from this disease, there’s also been several deaths by suicide. It’s a very interesting story that a REAL haunted house was turned into a haunted attraction. Columbia Manor was featured on the Biography Channel – “My Ghost Story.”
We always arrive a few hours early to look around, get a feel for the atmosphere, the people, speak with the owners, if available. Todd and the crew always make time for us. We got there 2 ½ hours early this time and there were already about 20 people in line waiting. I imagine the closer they get to Halloween, the busier they get and the earlier they arrive. They offer General Admission tickets for $15.00 per person and Fast Pass tickets for $35.00 per person. They also offer advance ticket sales, which I highly recommend purchasing.
Even though we were there hours ahead of time, time seemed to fly by. “Time flies when you’re having fun!!” We stood there talking and laughing and soaking up all around us. They have a huge screen outside playing music and videos. Patrons are laughing and singing and dancing and having a great time. Freddy and other characters are roaming around, jumping out at people, yet still taking the time for a photo op. They have one “house” where you can purchase your tickets at if you didn’t purchase them in advance. They have two lines, strategically mapped out to separate the general admission from the Fast Pass line and it almost makes a little maze all the way to the fence where the “clown” house is. Even though it seems like a million people are there, you don’t feel “crowded.” They have a Parlor house – which is for meet and greets for their yearly special guest appearance. This year it will be October 22nd and Douglas Tait – he’s an actor, director and stunt man. Then they have the “Manor” which is my favorite part. The inside of the manor isn’t the last of it, they also have a graveyard in the back and more twists and turns.
Let’s start with the clown house. This is their warm up house. It’s about a 10-minute house, but the details of the house are spectacular. Lots of circus colors and bright neon’s and glow in the dark colors. So many details you can’t even begin to soak it all in. I was mesmerized by the attention to detail going room to room, hallway to hallway. Stay on your toes though, you never know who or WHAT is going to catch you off guard. Once you leave the clown house, you make your way through another maze-type line that keeps you separated and leads you to the Manor house.
The Manor brings you in the main room, gives you a little background about the house and the Lady of the Manor. It’s also a good distraction to keep the lines separated until they’re ready for the next group to go in. The Manor always blows me away. It’s room to room full of excitement, Columbia Manor does a great job utilizing the entire room, working off of theme to theme. Music, lighting, characters transitioning smoothly for each area. They use the entire house! Rooms, Hallways, up the stairs, down the stairs, into a crawlspace. Just when you think you’re out of the house and there’s no more left, you go through “mines” and “camp crystal lake” may even run into Jeepers creepers, along with a graveyard full of zombies. There’s just SO MUCH to take in! I think from the time we entered the first house until we completed the last it took about 45 minutes. We weren’t rushed and Columbia Manor is great at spacing it out and allowing the number of YOUR group to enter instead of with a bunch of strangers together. Even if you have two in your group like we did.
Every year Columbia Manor gets bigger and better. Every year, our expectations are met – and more! A huge thank you for allowing us to come back year after year. If you want a great haunt experience, whether it’s your first ever haunt, or if you’re a veteran haunter- Columbia Manor is the place to be!